Undeciphered -k language of ancient Yemen

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(no name)
Eraattested early centuries CE
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Among inscriptions in the Sayhadic (Old South Arabian) languages of ancient Yemen, there a few undeciphered inscriptions that suggest a different, otherwise unknown language or languages. This language is unnamed in literature. Beeston (1981:181) summarizes our meager knowledge of it:[2]

One inscription from Marib is a votive text beginning with a formulaic preamble in 'classical' Sabaic, but then switches abruptly to an unknown language: though this contains a fair number of lexical items congruous with Sabaic, it shows an incidence of words ending in -k which would be wholly unnatural in Sabaic, and it cannot in any way be interpreted as Sabaic. A preponderance of words ending in -k is found also in an as yet indecipherable text from the southern esca[r]pment. A third is a still unpublished rock inscription again showing a high proportion of -k endings – and which, most interestingly, looks as if it is in verse.


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "South-Arabian-Unknown-k". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ A. F. L. Beeston 1981, 'Languages of Pre-Islamic Arabia', Arabica 28:2/3