Wikipedia has this to say about it:

Arabic (Arabic: العَرَبِيَّة‎‎, Al-ʻarabiyyah [ʔalʕaraˈbijːah] ( listen) or Arabic: عَرَبِيّ‎‎ ʻarabiyy [ʕaraˈbijː] ( listen)) is the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century and its modern descendants, excluding Maltese.

However, let's consider Vabalathus, the son of Zenobia, empress of the Palmyrene Empire, who lived in the 3rd century:

From Wikipedia:

Lucius Iulius (Julius) Aurelius Septimius Vabalathus Athenodorus (259-273) was a king of the Palmyrene Empire. Vabalathus is the Latinized form of his name in the Arabic language, Wahb Allat or gift of the Goddess.

The important part is "Latinized form of his name in the Arabic Language."

What form of the Arabic Language was spoken in the mid-3rd century?

  • 1
    Classical Latin also flourished around the first century - but there was an Arcaic Latin before it. So probably the language of Vabalathus was the immediate ancestor of Classical Arabic, whether we call it Arcaic or Pre-Classical Arabic or a different name. Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 0:19
  • 1
    Nice question. Good to see your username again.
    – Rathony
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 6:46
  • 1
    around the mid of the mid-3d there was no standard Arabic language and north tribes have diffrent language from the south tribes. Arabic and Aramaic are both Semitic languages you can find some names are very close
    – Mr.lock
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 10:39
  • 1
    Note that languages generally don't abruptly change. Labels such as "Old English", "Middle English" help us classify the history of a language, but can be misleading too. There's no sharp difference between the end of Old English and the beginning of Middle English. Similarly if we consider the language of 6th century "classical Arabic", the Arabic of 3th century would not be that much different from it. Similar to English 3 centuries ago are not that much different than today's english
    – user69715
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 6:26

1 Answer 1


A contemporary talking about Wahb Allat/Vabalathus might have used Old Arabic. A classification debate continues over which regions had more influence on the formation of Classical Arabic, a regional standard several centuries later. Hetzron (1997) provided a classification of Semitic language heritage. Britannica shows the relationships like this:

Britannica Semitic languages cladogram

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