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Encyclopedia > Old Nubian language
A page from an Old Nubian translation of Liber Institutionis Michaelis Archangelis from the 9th-10th century AD, found at Qasr Ibrim, now at the British Museum. The name of Michael appears in red.
A page from an Old Nubian translation of Liber Institutionis Michaelis Archangelis from the 9th-10th century AD, found at Qasr Ibrim, now at the British Museum. The name of Michael appears in red.

Old Nubian is the name given to the written language used in medieval Nubia from the 8th to the 15th century AD. It is an ancient variety of the Nubian languages, which is still spoken in the area; in particular, it is probably ancestral to the modern-day Nobiin variety. It is preserved in at least a hundred pages of documents, mostly of a Christian religious nature, written using a modified form of the Coptic (Greek) script; the best known is The Martyrdom of Saint Menas. It is the oldest written sub-Saharan African language apart from Meroitic and Ge'ez. Download high resolution version (552x634, 105 KB)A page from an Old Nubian language manuscript of Liber Institutionis Michaelis Archangeli from Qasr Ibrim, 9th-10th cent. ... Download high resolution version (552x634, 105 KB)A page from an Old Nubian language manuscript of Liber Institutionis Michaelis Archangeli from Qasr Ibrim, 9th-10th cent. ... As a means of recording the passage of time the 9th century was that century that lasted from 801 to 900. ... As a means of recording the passage of time, the 10th century was that century which lasted from 901 to 1000. ... Qasr Ibrim is an archeological site in Lower Nubia. ... The centre of the museum was redeveloped in 2000 to become the Great Court, with a tessellated glass roof by Buro Happold and Foster and Partners surrounding the original Reading Room. ... Guido Renis archangel Michael (in the Capuchin church of Sta. ... Today Nubia is the region in the south of Egypt, along the Nile and in northern Sudan, but in ancient times it was an independent kingdom. ... (7th century — 8th century — 9th century — other centuries) Events The Iberian peninsula is taken by Arab and Berber Muslims, thus ending the Visigothic rule, and starting almost 8 centuries of Muslim presence there. ... (14th century - 15th century - 16th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 15th century was that century which lasted from 1401 to 1500. ... The Nubian language group, according to the most recent research by Bechhaus-Gerst] comprises the following varieties: Nobiin (previously know by the geographic terms Mahas or Fadicca/Fiadicca). ... Nobiin is a Northern Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan phylum. ... Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. ...   The Coptic alphabet is an alphabet used for writing the Coptic language. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The term African languages refers to the approximately 1800 languages spoken in Africa. ... Meroitic funerary stela of Waleye son or daughter of Kadeye, from Sai, now at the British Museum. ... Geez (also transliterated Giiz, , and pronounced IPA: ; ISO 639-2 gez) is an ancient South Semitic language that had developed in the current region of Eritrea and northern Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa, as the language of the peasantry. ...



Old Nubian is written with an uncial variety of the Greek alphabet, extended with three Coptic letters — ϣ "sh", ϩ "h", and ϭ "j" — and three unique to Nubian: "ny" and "w", apparently derived from Meroitic; and "ng", thought to be a ligature of two Greek gammas. Each letter could have a line drawn above it, when it was: The Book of Kells, c. ... Because of technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article. ...   The Coptic alphabet is an alphabet used for writing the Coptic language. ... The Meroitic script is an alphabet of Egyptian (Hieroglyphic) origin used in Kingdom of Meroë. Some scholars, e. ... In writing and typography, a ligature occurs where two or more letterforms are written or printed as a unit. ... Gamma (uppercase Γ, lowercase γ) is the third letter of the Greek alphabet. ...

  • a vowel which formed a syllable by itself, or was preceded by one of l, n, r, or j;
  • a consonant with an i (sometimes unwritten) preceding it.

The sound /i/ could be written ε,  ̄ ει, η;, ι, or υ; /u/ was normally written ου. In diphthongs, a dieresis was sometimes used over ι to indicate the semivowel y. Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture of the vocal tract sufficient to cause audible turbulence. ... In linguistics, a diaeresis or dieresis (AE) (from Greek diairein, to divide) is the modification of a syllable by distinctly pronouncing one of its vowels. ... Semivowels (also called semiconsonants or glides) are vowels that function phonemically as consonants. ...

Geminate consonants were written double; long vowels were usually not distinguished from short ones. Tones were not marked. In phonetics, gemination is when a spoken consonant is doubled, so that it is pronounced for an audibly longer period of time than a single consonant. ...

Punctuation marks included a high dot •, sometimes substituted by a double backslash , used roughly like an English period or colon, a slash / used like a question mark, and a double slash // sometimes used to separate verses. A full stop or period (sometimes stop, full point or dot), is the punctuation mark commonly placed at the end of several different types of sentences in English and several other languages. ... This article is about colons in punctuation. ... ? redirects here. ...



Old Nubian has no gender, nor any articles. The noun consists of a stem to which grammatical case suffixes and postpositions are added; the main ones are: In common usage, the word gender often refers to the sexual distinction between male and female. ... An article is a word that is next to a noun or any word that modifies a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. ... In English, a noun or noun substantive is a lexical category which can co-occur with (in)definite articles and attributive adjectives, and function as the head of a noun phrase. ... In grammar, the case of a noun or pronoun is its grammatical function in a greater phrase or clause; such as the role of subject, of direct object, or of possessor. ... Suffix has meanings in linguistics, nomenclature and computer science. ... A postposition is a type of adposition, a grammatical particle that expresses some sort of relationship between a noun phrase (its object) and another part of the sentence; an adpositional phrase functions as an adjective or adverb. ...

  • -l nominative, marking the subject: eg diabolos-il "the devil (subj.)"; iskit-l "the earth (subj.)".
  • -n(a) genitive, marking the possessor: eg iart-na palkit-la "into the sea of thoughts".
  • -k(a) "directive", marking the direct or indirect object: eg Mikhaili-ka "Michael (obj.), to Michael"
  • -lo locative, meaning "at"
  • -la inessive, meaning "in(to)"
  • -do, meaning "on"
  • -dal meaning "with"

The most common plural is in -gu-; eg uru-gu-na "of kings", or gindette-gu-ka "thorns (object)", becoming -agui- in the predicative. Rarer plurals include -rigu- (eg mug-rigu-ka "dogs (obj.)" (predicative -regui-) and -pigu-. The nominative case is a grammatical case for a noun. ... The subject of a sentence is one of the two main parts of a sentence, the other being the predicate. ... The genitive case is a grammatical case that indicates a relationship, primarily one of possession, between the noun in the genitive case and another noun. ... The accusative case of a noun is, generally, the case used to mark the direct object of a verb. ... The dative case is a grammatical case for nouns and/or pronouns. ... Locative is a case which indicates a location. ... Inessive case is a locative grammatical case. ... An object in grammar is a sentence element and part of the sentence predicate. ...


The basic pronouns are: In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun phrase. ...

  • ai- "I"
  • ir- "you (singular)"
  • tar- "he, she, it"
  • er- "we (including you)"
  • u- "we (excluding you)"
  • ur- "you (plural)"
  • ter- "they"

Demonstratives include in- "this", man- "that"; interrogatives include ngai- "who?", min- "what?", islo "where?", iskal "how?".


The verb has five main forms: present, two different preterites, future, and imperative. For each of these, there are subjunctive and indicative forms. It conjugates according to person, eg for doll- "wish" in the present tense: This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... The present tense is the tense (form of a verb) that is often used to express: Action at the present time A state of being A habitual action An occurrence in the near future An action that occurred in the past and continues up to the present There are two... The preterite (also praeterite, in American English also preterit, or past historic) is the grammatical tense expressing actions which took place in the past. ... It has been suggested that Future perfect tense be merged into this article or section. ... Imperative programming, as opposed to functional programming, is a sort of programming employing side-effect as central execution feature. ... The subjunctive mood (sometimes referred to as the conjunctive mood) is a grammatical mood of the verb that expresses wishes, commands (in subordinate clauses), and statements that are contrary to fact. ... In linguistics, many grammars have the concept of grammatical mood, which describes the relationship of a verb with reality and intent. ...

  • dollire "I wish"
  • dollina "you (singular) wish", "he, she, it wishes"
  • dolliro "we wish", "you (plural) wish"
  • dollirana "they wish"

Example text

κτ̄κα γελγελο̄ςουανον ῑη̄ςουςι να⋊αν τρικα• δολλε πολγαρα πεςςνα• παπο ς̄κοελμ̄με εκ̄κα

Kitka gelgelosuannon Iisusi manyan trika• dolle polgara pessna• papo iskoelimme ikka.

Literally: "Rock and-when-they-rolled-away Jesus eye pair high raising he-said father I-thank you."

Translated: "And when they rolled away the rock, Jesus, raising his eyes high, said: Father, I thank you."

External link

  • http://dkuug.dk/jtc1/sc2/wg2/docs/n2744.pdf extended details on all the letters of the Old Nubian alphabet, especially the additional ones, can be found within this Unicode proposal.


  • Browne, Gerald M. (1982) Griffith's Old Nubian Lectionary. Rome/Barcelona.
  • Browne, Gerald M. (1988) Old Nubian Texts from Qasr Ibrim I (with J.M.Plumley), London.
  • Browne, Gerald M. (1989) Old Nubian Texts from Qasr Ibrim II. London.
  • Browne, Gerald M. (1996) Old Nubian dictionary. Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium, vol. 562. Leuven: Peeters. ISBN 90-6831-787-3.
  • Browne, Gerald M. (1997) Old Nubian dictionary - appendices. Leuven: Peeters. ISBN 90-6831-925-6
  • Browne, Gerald M. (2002) A grammar of Old Nubian. Münich: LINCOM. ISBN 3-89586-893-0.
  • Griffith, F. Ll. (1913) The Nubian Texts of the Christian Period. ADAW 8.
  • Zyhlarz, Ernst (1928) Grundzüge der nubischen Grammatik im christlichen Frühmittelalter (Altnubisch): Grammatik, Texte, Kommentar und Glossar. Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, vol. 18, no. 1. Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft.

  Results from FactBites:
Nubian language (521 words)
Nubian language is the common feature that characterizes Nubian of today and it is the centre of their identity.
His study is based on an assumption that since Old Nubian relies mainly on produced tones (intonation or chanting) then a Nubian who talks and masters the language is more qualified and capable to establish a standard method of writing.
The structure and formation of the Old Nubian language is characterized by its reliance on produced tones that is known as intonation or chanting.
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