Region Dadān (modern al-ʿUlā)
Era mid-1st millennium BCE
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog dada1236[1]

Dadanitic is the dialect and script of the oasis of Dadān (modern al-ʿUlā) in northwestern Arabia, spoken probably some time during the second half of the first millennium BCE.[2]


The grammar of Dadanitic is poorly understood, and while several of the following features exclude its belonging to the Arabic category, more work is required to establish its correct position in the Semitic family.[3] Dadanitic exhibits a few forms which seem to have been lost at the Proto-Arabic stage:[3]

  1. It retains the anaphoric use of the 3rd person pronoun, hʾ.
  2. It does not exhibit the innovative form *ḥattay (= Classical Arabic ḥattā), but instead preserves ʿdky, probably */ʿadkay/,
  3. It does not level the -at ending, e.g. mrʾh */marʾah/ < *marʾat ‘woman’ vs. qrt */qarīt/ ‘town’, ‘settlement’ compare with Arabic qaryatun.
  4. Some dialects have a C-stem (form IV) beginning with an h- rather than an ʾ- (hafʿala instead of ʾafʿala), while Proto-Arabic seems to have undergone the change h > ʾ in this verb form.
  5. Variation is also reflected in the definite articles, where both h(n) and ʾ (l) are attested in the corpus.
  6. The special dissimilation of *ṯ to /t/ in the word ‘three’, ṯlt instead of ṯlṯ.
  7. The dual pronoun hmy */humay/.



The following prepositions are attested in the corpus of Dadanitic inscriptions:[4]

Form Meaning
ʿly, ʿl "on", "for the sake of"
bʿd (*/bi-ʿad/) "for the sake of"
l "to", "for", "of", "during"
b "at", "in", "by"
qbl "before"
ḫlf "after"
mʿ "with"
mn (*/mina/) "from"
ʿdky (*/ʿadkay/) "to", "until"
ldy "on account of"

Writing System

Dadanitic has the same repertoire of 28 phonemes as Arabic and is the only ancient member of the South Semitic script family to use matres lectionis.[2]


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Dadanitic". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. 1 2 dan. "The Online Corpus of the Inscriptions of Ancient North Arabia - Home". Retrieved 2016-05-29.
  3. 1 2 "Al-Jallad. The earliest stages of Arabic and its linguistic classification (Routledge Handbook of Arabic Linguistics, forthcoming)". Retrieved 2015-12-08.
  4. "Prepositional Phrases in the Dadanitic Inscriptions". Retrieved 2016-08-30.
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