Dr Ahmad Al-Jallad, Sofia Chair of Arabic at Ohio State University,USA, is a philologist, epigraphist, and historian of language. His work focuses on the languages and writing systems of pre-Islamic Arabia and the ancient Near East.
He has authored and edited four books and many articles on the early history of Arabic, language classification, North Arabian and Arabic epigraphy, Quranic Studies, and historical Semitic linguistics. He has worked at excavation sites in Saudi Arabia, and conducts yearly epigraphic surveys in Jordan.
The Rise of Arabic: From an Epic Past to an Evidence-based History
The origins of Arabic, both the language and its script, became the subject of great speculation and disagreement in traditional sources. Some believed Arabic originated in Babylon while others placed the first Arabic speaker in ancient Yemen. This talk begins with a reconstruction of the linguistic geography of the Arabian Peninsula and adjacent areas based on the pre-Islamic inscriptions. In the earliest periods, Arabic was concentrated in Northwest Arabia but over the centuries, beginning perhaps at the turn of the era, the language began to spread south and east, until eventually dominating the Peninsula. I develop a historical scenario to explain the spread of Arabic, and its script, in the centuries before the rise of Islam.