Dr Christian Robin is the director of research emeriti of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, the founder of the French research center in Sana’a (Yemen) and has served as director for many archaeological expeditions and research projects. He is the author of numerous books and scientific papers, most related to Yemen and its history. He also edited several publications and created two important archaeological maps, one of ancient Yemen and the other of Yemen’s Al-Jawf Valley.
The Origins of the Arabic Language
In ancient times, the linguistic diversity of Arabia was greater than today. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the languages of pre-Islamic Arabia have been divided into two groups: the South Arabian and the North Arabian languages. The foundations of this ranking were more cultural than linguistic. The discovery of new texts in great number and the study of these texts reveal a much more complex situation. Old denominations that have no foundation must be abandoned. As for the Arabic language, we have now clues in the south-west (Najrân and Qaryat al-Fa’w), the north of the Hijâz and the Syrian desert, from about 300 BCE, in various scripts. But it is only after 300 CE that the movement of unification begins with a new alphabet that derives from the Nabatean Aramaic.