Hismaic (Old Arabic)

Region Hisma
Extinct (date missing)
Old North Arabian script
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog hism1236[1]

Hismaic is a variety of the Ancient North Arabian script and the language most commonly expressed in it. The Hismaic script may have been used to write Safaitic dialects of Old Arabic, but the language of most inscriptions differs from Safaitic in a few important respects, meriting its classification as a separate dialect or language. Hismaic inscriptions are attested in the Ḥismā region of Northwest Arabia.



There are clear instances of d being used for /ḏ/ in the variant spellings of the divine name Ḏū l-S2arā: ds2r/ds2ry as against ḏs2r/ḏs2ry.

The spelling of ʿbdmk < ʿbdmlk suggests an interchange of n for l, similar to that found in Nabataean where the name of the kings Malichos occurs as both mlkw and mnkw and the compound as both ʿbdmlkw and ʿbdmnkw.[2]


Perhaps the most salient distinction between Safaitic and Hismaic is the attestation of the definite articles h-, hn-, ʾ-, and ʾl- in the former. A prefixed definite article is not attested in Hismaic. Nevertheless, Hismaic seems to attest a suffixed -ʾ on nouns and hn in personal names. The use of the morpheme h- as a demonstrative is attested.[3]


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Hismaic". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. http://krc.orient.ox.ac.uk/resources/ociana/publications/early_north_arabian_hismaic.pdf
  3. Al-Jallad, A. (2015). An Outline of the Grammar of the Safaitic Inscriptions. Brill.
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