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Encyclopedia > Central Semitic languages
12th century Hebrew Bible script
12th century Hebrew Bible script

The Semitic languages are a family of languages spoken by more than 250 million people across much of the Middle East, where they originated, and North and East Africa. They constitute the northeastern subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic languages, and the only family of this group spoken in Asia. Download high resolution version (946x1102, 141 KB)The Schøyen Collection MS 206, Oslo and London. ... Download high resolution version (946x1102, 141 KB)The Schøyen Collection MS 206, Oslo and London. ... 11th century manuscript of the Hebrew Bible with Targum Hebrew Bible refers to the common portions of the Jewish and Christian canons. ... A map showing countries commonly considered to be part of the Middle East The Middle East is a region comprising the lands around the southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, a territory that extends from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. ... North Africa is a region generally considered to include: Algeria Egypt Libya Mauritania Morocco Sudan Tunisia Western Sahara The Azores, Canary Islands, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Madeira are sometimes considered to be a part of North Africa. ... East Africa is a region generally considered to include: Djibouti Eritrea Ethiopia Kenya Somalia Tanzania Uganda Burundi, Rwanda, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Sudan are sometimes considered a part of East Africa. ... Map showing the distribution of Afro-Asiatic languages The Afro-Asiatic languages are a language family of about 240 languages and 285 million people widespread throughout North Africa, East Africa, the Sahel, and Southwest Asia. ... World map showing location of Asia Asia is the central and eastern part of Eurasia, defined by subtracting Europe from Eurasia. ...


The most widely spoken Semitic language today is Arabic by far, followed by Amharic, Hebrew, and Tigrinya. Semitic languages were among the earliest to attain a written form, with Akkadian writing beginning in the middle of the third millennium BC. The term "Semitic" for these languages, after Shem son of Noah, is etymologically a misnomer in some ways (see Semitic), but is nonetheless standard. Arabic (العربية al-arabiyyah, or less formally arabi) is the largest member of the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family (classification: South Central Semitic) and is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. ... Amharic (አማርኛ) is a Semitic language spoken in North Central Ethiopia. ... Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family spoken by 6 million people mainly in Israel, parts of the Palestinian territories, the United States and by Jewish communities around the world. ... Tigrigna (or ትግሪኛ) is a Semitic language spoken in Eritrea, where it is the official language, and in parts of Ethiopia and Israel. ... Akkadian (lišānum akkadÄ«tum) was a Semitic language (part of the greater Afro-Asiatic language famaily) spoken in ancient Mesopotamia, particularly by the Assyrians and Babylonians. ... Shem (שֵׁם renown; prosperity, Standard Hebrew Å em, Tiberian Hebrew Å Ä“m; Greek Σημ, SÄ“m) was one of the sons of Noah in the Bible. ... Noah or Nóach (Rest, Standard Hebrew נוֹחַ Nóaḥ, Tiberian Hebrew × Ö¹×—Ö· Nōªḥ; Arabic نوح Nūḥ), is a Biblical figure who according to Genesis built an ark to save his family and a selection of the worlds animals from the Deluge (an example of divine retribution). ... Etymology is the study of the origins of words. ... Look up Misnomer in Wiktionary, the free dictionary This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... Semitic is an adjective referring to the peoples who have traditionally spoken Semitic languages or to things pertaining to them. ...

Contents


History

Cuneiform script
Cuneiform script

Since Semitic is a member of Afro-Asiatic, a principally African family, the first speakers of proto-Semitic are generally believed to have arrived in the Middle East from Africa, although this question is still much debated. Within recorded history, the spread of Semitic languages has consisted largely of a series of migrations from Arabia, overwhelming the populations of more fertile areas. When records begin in the third millennium BC, the Semitic-speaking Akkadians and Amorites were entering Mesopotamia from the deserts to the south, and were probably already present in places such as Ebla in Syria. By the end of the millennium, East Semitic languages dominated in Mesopotamia, while West Semitic languages were probably spoken from Syria to Yemen, although data is sparse. Akkadian became the dominant literary language of the Fertile Crescent, using the cuneiform script they adapted from the Sumerians, while the sparsely attested Eblaite disappeared with the city, and Amorite is attested only from proper names. File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Proto-Semitic is the hypothetical proto-language of the Semitic languages. ... // Etymology World map showing Africa (geographically) The name Africa came into Western use through the Romans, who used the name Africa terra — land of the Afri (plural, or Afer singular) — for the northern part of the continent, as the province of Africa with its capital Carthage, corresponding to modern-day... Akkad (or Agade) was a city and its region of northern Mesopotamia, (located in present-day Iraq) between Assyria to the northwest and Sumer to the south. ... Amorite (Hebrew ’emōrî, Egyptian Amar, Akkadian Amurrū (corresponding to Sumerian MAR.TU or Martu) refers to a Semitic people who occupied the middle Euphrates area from the second half of the third millennium BC and also appear in the Tanakh. ... Mesopotamia (Greek: Μεσοποταμία, translated from Old Persian Miyanrudan the fertile cresent; Aramaic name being Beth-Nahrain House of Two Rivers) is a region of Southwest Asia. ... Ebla was an ancient city located in northern Syria, about 55 km southwest of Aleppo. ... Akkadian (lišānum akkadītum) was a Semitic language (part of the greater Afro-Asiatic language famaily) spoken in ancient Mesopotamia, particularly by the Assyrians and Babylonians. ... The Fertile Crescent is a region in the Middle East incorporating present-day Israel, West Bank, and Lebanon and parts of Jordan, Syria, Iraq and south-eastern Turkey. ... The Cuneiform script is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. ... Sumer (or Shumer, Sumeria, Shinar, native ki-en-gir) formed the southern part of Mesopotamia from the time of settlement by the Sumerians until the time of Babylonia. ... Eblaite is an extinct East Semitic language which was spoken in the 3rd millennium BC in the ancient city Ebla, in modern Syria. ... The Amorite language is the term used for the early (North-)West Semitic language, spoken by the north Semitic Amorite tribes prominent in early Middle Eastern history. ...


For the following millennium, somewhat more data is available, thanks to the spread of an invention first used to capture the sounds of Semitic languages - the alphabet. In this millennium, brief Proto-Canaanite texts yield the first undisputed attestations of a West Semitic language, soon followed by the much more extensive Ugaritic tablets of northern Syria. Akkadian continued to flourish, splitting into Babylonian and Assyrian dialects, despite the incursions of nomadic Aramaeans from the Syrian desert. An alphabet is a complete standardized set of letters — basic written symbols — each of which roughly represents a phoneme of a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it may have been in the past. ... Drawing of the 16 and 12 characters Wadi el-Hol inscriptions The Proto-Canaanite (also Proto-Sinaitic) alphabet is identified as the prototype of the Semitic alphabets that, mostly via the successful Phoenician alphabet became the ancestor of most scripts in use today. ... The Ugaritic language is known to us only in the form of writings found in the lost city of Ugarit since its discovery by French archaeologists in 1928. ... The Arameans or Aramaeans (also called Syriacs) were a Semitic, nomadic people who dwelt in Aram-Naharaim or Aram of the two rivers, also known as Mesopotamia a region including modern Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Iran that is mentioned six times in the Hebrew Bible. ...

9th century Syriac manuscript
9th century Syriac manuscript

In the first millennium BC, the alphabet spread much further, giving us a picture not just of Canaanite but also of Aramaic, and Old South Arabian. During this period, the case system, still vigorous in Ugaritic, seems to have started decaying in Northwest Semitic. Phoenician colonies spread their Canaanite language throughout much of the Mediterranean, while its close relative Hebrew became the vehicle of a religious literature, the Torah and Tanakh, that would have global ramifications. However, as an ironic result of the Assyrian Empire's conquests, Aramaic became the lingua franca of the Fertile Crescent, gradually pushing Akkadian, Hebrew, Phoenician, and several other languages to extinction and developing a substantial literature. Meanwhile, speakers of Semitic languages from Yemen spread south into Ethiopia, where their language would develop into Ge'ez, still the liturgical language there. Download high resolution version (594x992, 126 KB)The Schøyen Collection MS 574, Oslo and London. ... Download high resolution version (594x992, 126 KB)The Schøyen Collection MS 574, Oslo and London. ... Syriac is an Eastern Aramaic language that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. ... The Canaanite languages are a subfamily of the Semitic languages, spoken by the ancient peoples of the Canaan region, including Canaanites, Hebrews, Phoenicians, and eventually Philistines. ... Aramaic is a Semitic language with a 3,000-year history. ... The South Arabian alphabet branched from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet in ca. ... Phoenician was a language originally spoken in the coastal region of what is now Lebanon. ... Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family spoken by 6 million people mainly in Israel, parts of the Palestinian territories, the United States and by Jewish communities around the world. ... Torah, (תורה) is a Hebrew word meaning teaching, instruction, or especially law. It primarily refers to the first section of the Tanakh–the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, or the Five Books of Moses, but can also be used in the general sense to also include both the Written... 11th century Targum Tanakh [תנ״ך] (also spelt Tanach or Tenach) is an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible. ... Assyria in earliest historical times referred to a region on the Upper Tigris river, named for its original capital, the city of Ashur. ... Aramaic is a Semitic language with a 3,000-year history. ... Lingua franca, literally Frankish language in Italian, was originally a mixed language consisting largely of Italian plus a vocabulary drawn from Turkish, Persian, French, Greek and Arabic and used for communication throughout the Middle East. ... The Geez language (or Giiz language) is an ancient language that developed in the Ethiopian Highlands of the Horn of Africa as the language of the peasantry. ... A sacred language is a language, frequently a dead language, that is cultivated for religious reasons by people who speak another language in their daily life. ...

With the emergence of Islam, the ascendancy of Aramaic was dealt a fatal blow by the Arab conquests, which made another Semitic language - Arabic - the official language of an empire stretching from Morocco to Pakistan. With the patronage of the caliphs and the prestige of its liturgical status, it rapidly became one of the world's main literary languages. Its spread among the masses took much longer; however, as natives abandoned their tongue for Arabic and as Bedouin tribes settled in conquered areas, it became the language not only of central Arabia, but also of Yemen, the Fertile Crescent, and Egypt. Most of the Maghreb followed, particularly in the wake of the Banu Hilal's incursion in the 11th century, and Arabic became the native language even of many inhabitants of Spain. After the collapse of the Nubian kingdom of Dongola in the 14th century, Arabic began to spread south of Egypt; soon after, the Beni Hassan brought Arabization to Mauritania. The spread of Arabic continues even today in Sudan and Chad, both by peaceful sociolinguistic processes and by wars such as the Darfur conflict. Download high resolution version (576x672, 265 KB)12th century Quran page, from http://faculty. ... Download high resolution version (576x672, 265 KB)12th century Quran page, from http://faculty. ... (11th century - 12th century - 13th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 12th century was that century which lasted from 1101 to 1200. ... The Quran (Arabic: al-qurān literally the recitation; also called Al Qurān Al KarÄ«m or The Noble Quran; or transliterated Quran, Koran, and less commonly Alcoran) is the holy book of Islam. ...   Islam[?] (Arabic: الإسلام al-islām) the submission to God is a monotheistic faith, one of the Abrahamic religions, and the worlds second largest religion. ... The Arabs (Arabic: عرب Ê»arab) are an originally Arabian ethnicity widespread in the Middle East and North Africa. ... Arabic (العربية al-arabiyyah, or less formally arabi) is the largest member of the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family (classification: South Central Semitic) and is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. ... Caliph is the term or title for the Islamic leader of the Ummah, or community of Islam. ... A sacred language is a language, frequently a dead language, that is cultivated for religious reasons by people who speak another language in their daily life. ... Bedouin resting at Mount Sinai Bedouin, derived from the Arabic badawi بدوي, a generic name for a desert-dweller, is a term generally applied to Arab nomadic groups, who are found throughout most of the desert belt extending from the Atlantic coast of the Sahara via the Western Desert, Sinai, and... (see also North Africa, Tamazgha, Arab Maghreb Union, Mashreq) The Maghreb (المغرب العربي ; sometimes also rendered Moghreb), meaning western in Arabic, is the region of the continent of Africa north of the Sahara desert and west of the Nile - specifically, the modern countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya- and to a much... The Banu Hilal were an Arab tribe that migrated from Arabia into North Africa in the 11th century, having been sent by the Fatimids to punish the Zirids for abandoning Shiism. ... 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. ... Dongola (also spelled Dunqulah or Dunqula and formerly sometimes known as Al Urdi) is the capital of the state of Northern in Sudan, on the banks of the Nile. ... Beni Hasan (or Bani Hasan, or also Beni-Hassan) is a village in Middle Egypt about 25 km south of Al Minya (or Minieh), on the east bank of the Nile, with remarkable catacombs that have been excavated. ... Arabization is the gradual transformation of an area into one that speaks Arabic and is part of the Arab culture. ... Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used. ... The country of Sudan The Darfur conflict is an ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, mainly between the Janjaweed, a government-supported militia recruited from local Arab tribes, and the non-Arab peoples of the region. ...


Meanwhile, Semitic languages were diversifying in Ethiopia and Eritrea, where, under heavy Cushitic influence, they split into a number of languages, including Amharic and Tigrinya. With the expansion of Ethiopia under the Solomonid dynasty, Amharic, previously a minor local language, spread throughout much of the country, replacing languages both Semitic (such as Gafat) and non-Semitic (such as Weyto) and replacing Ge'ez as the principal literary language; this spread continues to this day, with Kemant set to disappear in another generation. The Cushitic languages are a subgroup of the Afro-Asiatic languages phylum, named after the Biblical figure Cush by analogy with Semitic. ... Amharic (አማርኛ) is a Semitic language spoken in North Central Ethiopia. ... Tigrigna (or ትግሪኛ) is a Semitic language spoken in Eritrea, where it is the official language, and in parts of Ethiopia and Israel. ... The Solomonid dynasty is the traditional royal house of Ethiopia, claming descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, who is said to have given birth to the traditional first king Menelik I after her Biblically-described visit to Solomon in Jerusalem. ... The Gafat language is an extinct Semitic language that was once spoken along the Abbay River in Ethiopia. ... The Weyto language is believed to be an extinct language formerly spoken in the Lake Tana region of Ethiopia by a small group of hippopotamus hunters who now speak Amharic. ...


Present situation

Arabic is spoken natively by majorities from Mauritania to Oman, and from Iraq to the Sudan; as the language of the Qur'an and as a lingua franca, it is widely studied in much of the Muslim world as well. Its spoken form is divided into a number of dialects, some not mutually comprehensible, united by a single written form. Maltese, genetically a descendant of Arabic, is the principal exception, having adopted a Latin orthography in accordance with its cultural situation. The Quran (Arabic: al-qurān literally the recitation; also called Al Qurān Al Karīm or The Noble Quran; or transliterated Quran, Koran, and less commonly Alcoran) is the holy book of Islam. ... The Islamic world is the world-wide community of all believers in Islam, who are known as Muslims, and who number approximately one-and-a-half billion people. ... Arabic language has many varieties. ...


Despite the ascendancy of Arabic in the Middle East, other Semitic languages are still to be found there. Hebrew, long extinct, was revived at the end of the 19th century by the Jewish linguist Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, owing to the ideology of Zionism, and has become the main language of Israel, while remaining the liturgical language of Jews worldwide. Descendants of Aramaic continue to be spoken by small minorities in the mountains of northern Iraq, eastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, and Syria, while an older descendant of Aramaic, Syriac, is used liturgically by many Iraqi Christians. In Yemen and Oman, a few tribes continue to speak "Modern South Arabian" languages such as Soqotri, very different both from Arabic and from the languages of the Old South Arabian inscriptions. Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... The word Jew (Hebrew: יהודי) is used in a wide number of ways, but generally refers to a follower of the Jewish faith, a child of a Jewish mother, or someone of Jewish descent with a connection to Jewish culture or ethnicity; and often a combination of these attributes. ... The following is a list of linguists, those who study linguistics. ... Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (אליעזר בן־יהודה) (b. ... For other meanings, please see Zionism (disambiguation) Zionism is a political movement and an ideology that supports a Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel, where the Jewish nation originated and where Jewish kingdoms and self governing states existed at various times in ancient history. ... Syriac is an Eastern Aramaic language that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. ... Soqotri is the native language of the island of Socotra off the southern coast of Yemen. ...


Ethiopia and Eritrea contain a substantial number of Semitic languages, of which Amharic in Ethiopia, and Tigrigna in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and are the most widely spoken. Both are official languages of their respective countries, while Ge'ez remains the liturgical language for Christians there. A number of Gurage languages are to be found in the mountainous center of Ethiopia, while Harari is restricted to the city of Harar; Tigre, spoken in the Eritrean highlands, has over a million speakers. Tigrigna (or ትግሪኛ) is a Semitic language spoken in Eritrea, where it is the official language, and in parts of Ethiopia and Israel. ... The Gurage are an ethnic group in Ethiopia. ... Harar, sometimes spelled Harrar or Harer, is a city in Ethiopia situated in the eastern extension of the Ethiopian highlands, about five hundred kilometers from Addis Ababa. ... Tigre is a Semitic language descended from Geez and is closely related to Tigrinya and Amharic. ...


Grammar

The Semitic languages vary substantially in many aspects of their grammar. The original Verb Subject Object word order has given way in most languages to typologically commoner orders, sometimes, as in Ethiopia, under influence from other languages, while the proto-Semitic case system, fully preserved in classical Arabic, Akkadian, and Ugaritic, has disappeared everywhere. In the extreme case of Neo-Aramaic, even the verb conjugations have been entirely reworked under Iranian influence. The curious phenomenon of broken plurals, found most profusely in the languages of Arabia and northern Ethiopia, may be partly of proto-Semitic origin, but has been very substantially elaborated from its simpler origins in languages such as Arabic. Nonetheless, one typologically unusual feature is preserved almost everywhere: all Semitic languages exhibit a pattern of stems consisting of consonantal roots (usually consisting of 3 consonants), from which words are formed by imposing vowel changes, prefixes, suffixes, or infixes. For instance, in Hebrew: Verb Subject Object—commonly used in its abbreviated form VSO—is a term in linguistic typology. ... Broken plurals refers to a phenomenon frequent in most Semitic languages. ... In the terminology used to discuss the grammar of the Semitic languages, a triliteral is a root containing a sequence of three consonants. ...

gdl means "big" but is not a part of speech and not a word, just a root
gadol means "big" and is a masculine adjective
gdola means "big" (feminine adjective)
giddel means "he raised" (transitive verb)
gadal means "he grew" (intransitive verb)
higdil means "he magnified" (transitive verb)
magdelet means "magnifier" (lens)
spr is the root for "count" or "recount"
sefer means "book" (containing tales which are recounted)
sofer means "scribe" (Masoretic scribes counted verses), but also means "count" in the masculine singular present tense
mispar means "number".

Other Afro-Asiatic languages show similar patterns, but more usually with biconsonantal roots; e.g. in Kabyle afeg means "fly!", while affug means "flight", and yufeg means "he flew". A lens is a device for either concentrating or diverging light, usually formed from a piece of shaped glass. ... Kabyle is a Berber language (Kabyle taqbaylit, pronounced thaqvayleeth) spoken by the Kabyle people. ...


Common vocabulary

Main article: List of Proto-Semitic stems.

Due to the Semitic languages' common origin, they share many words and roots in common. For example:

Akkadian Aramaic Arabic Hebrew English translation
zikaru dikrā ḏakar zåḵår Male
maliku malkā malik mĕlĕḵ King
imêru ḥamarā ḥimār ḥămōr Donkey
erṣetu ʔarʿā ʔarḍ ʔĕrĕṣ Land

Sometimes certain roots differ in meaning from one Semitic language to another. For example, the root b-y-ḍ in Arabic has the meaning of "white" as well as "egg", whereas in Hebrew it only means "egg". The root l-b-n means "milk" in Arabic, but the color "white" in Hebrew. The root l-ḥ-m means "meat" in Arabic, but "bread" in Hebrew; the original meaning in both languages was most probably "food". Akkadian (lišānum akkadÄ«tum) was a Semitic language (part of the greater Afro-Asiatic language famaily) spoken in ancient Mesopotamia, particularly by the Assyrians and Babylonians. ... Aramaic is a Semitic language with a four-thousand year history. ... Arabic (العربية al-arabiyyah, or less formally arabi) is the largest member of the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family (classification: South Central Semitic) and is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. ... Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family spoken by 6 million people mainly in Israel, parts of the Palestinian territories, the United States and by Jewish communities around the world. ...


Of course, there is sometimes no relation between the roots. For example, "knowledge" is represented in Hebrew by the root y-d-ʿ but in Arabic by the roots ʿ-r-f and ʿ-l-m.


Classification

The classification given below is probably the most widespread - following Robert Hetzron - but is still disputed; in particular, several Semitists still argue for the traditional view of Arabic as part of South Semitic, and a few (e.g. Alexander Militarev) see the South Arabian languages as a third branch of Semitic alongside East and West Semitic, rather than as a subgroup of South Semitic. Robert Hetzron (1937 – 1997) was a linguist who specialized in Afroasiatic languages and whose work embraced comparative studies, semantic analysis and theoretical aspects of grammar. ...


The Eastern Semitic Languages

Controversial (either East Semitic or Northwest Semitic): Eblaite language -- extinct Akkadian (lišānum akkadītum) was a Semitic language (part of the greater Afro-Asiatic language famaily) spoken in ancient Mesopotamia, particularly by the Assyrians and Babylonians. ... Eblaite is an extinct East Semitic language which was spoken in the 3rd millennium BC in the ancient city Ebla, in modern Syria. ...


The Central Semitic languages

Northwest Semitic languages

The Canaanite languages are a subfamily of the Semitic languages, spoken by the ancient peoples of the Canaan region, including Canaanites, Hebrews, Phoenicians, and eventually Philistines. ... Hebrew language most commonly refers to Modern Hebrew; in historical contexts, it commonly refers to the Biblical Hebrew language. ... The Ammonite language is the extinct Canaanite language of the Ammonite people mentioned in the Bible, who used to live in modern-day Jordan, and after whom its capital Amman is named. ... The Moabite language is an extinct Hebrew Canaanite dialect, spoken in Moab (modern-day northwestern Jordan) in the early first millennium BC. Most of our knowledge about Moabite comes from the Mesha Stele, as well as the El-Kerak Stela; this is sufficient to show that it was extremely similar... The Edomite language is the extinct Hebrew Canaanite language of the Edomites in southwestern Jordan in the first millennium BC. It is known only from a very small corpus. ... Biblical Hebrew or Classical Hebrew is the ancient form of the Hebrew languages as spoken by the Israelites, in which the Hebrew Bible (Torah and Tanakh) was originally written. ... Phoenician was a language originally spoken in the coastal region then called Phoenicia /Canaan (now Lebanon, coastal Syria and northern Israel ). Phoenician is a Semitic language of the Canaanite subgroup, closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. ... Punic (from Latin pūnicus) was a Latin version of the term Phoenician. (After the Punic Wars, Romans used this term as an adjective meaning treacherous.) In archaeological and linguistic usage, it refers to the Greco-Roman era culture and dialect of Carthage and its empire as distinct from their... Aramaic is a Semitic language with a 3,000-year history. ... Syriac is an Eastern Aramaic language that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. ... The Mandaic language is the liturgical language of the Mandaean religion; a vernacular form is still spoken by a small community in Iran around Ahwaz. ... The Ugaritic language is known to us only in the form of writings found in the lost city of Ugarit since its discovery by French archaeologists in 1928. ... The Amorite language is the term used for the early (North-)West Semitic language, spoken by the north Semitic Amorite tribes prominent in early Middle Eastern history. ...

South Central (Arabic) languages

Arabic (العربية al-arabiyyah, or less formally arabi) is the largest member of the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family (classification: South Central Semitic) and is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. ... Arabic language has many varieties. ... Maltese is the national language of Malta, and an official language of the European Union. ...

The South Semitic languages

Western (within South Semitic)

Ethiopic languages is a language group which belongs to the Western branch of the Southern Semitic languages. ... Tigrigna (or ትግሪኛ) is a Semitic language spoken in Eritrea, where it is the official language, and in parts of Ethiopia and Israel. ... Tigre is a Semitic language descended from Geez and is closely related to Tigrinya and Amharic. ... The Geez language (or Giiz language) is an ancient language that developed in the Ethiopian Highlands of the Horn of Africa as the language of the peasantry. ... Amharic (አማርኛ) is a Semitic language spoken in North Central Ethiopia. ... Argobba is an Ethiopic language that was spoken in an area north-east of Addis Ababa. ... The Gafat language is an extinct Semitic language that was once spoken along the Abbay River in Ethiopia. ... Soddo (autonym kəstane Christian; formerly called Aymälläl in Western sources, after a particular dialect of it) is a Gurage language spoken by about 300,000 people in southeastern Ethiopia. ... Old South Arabian is a geographic term for four closely related languages spoken in the southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. ... The Sabey language was a language and alphabet used in Ethiopia up until the 8th Century AD. The Sabay language was replaced by the Geez language and writing system. ...

Eastern (within South Semitic)

Soqotri is the native language of the island of Socotra off the southern coast of Yemen. ... Categories: Possible copyright violations ... Jibbali (Alternate names: Ehkili, Geblet, Jibali, Qarawi, Shahari, Shehri, Sheret) is a dialect of Oman, interesting to philologists as one of the oldest of Semitic tongues. ... Bathari is a language spoken in Yemen by around 200 speakers. ...

See Also

Proto-Semitic is the hypothetical proto-language of the Semitic languages. ... Drawing of the 16 and 12 characters Wadi el-Hol inscriptions The Proto-Canaanite (also Proto-Sinaitic) alphabet is identified as the prototype of the Semitic alphabets that, mostly via the successful Phoenician alphabet became the ancestor of most scripts in use today. ... Two similar but undeciphered scripts believed to be ancestral to all modern alphabets are attested from the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1500 BCE): the Proto-Sinaitic script discovered in the winter of 1904-1905 by William Flinders Petrie, and dated to 1500 BCE, and the Wadi el-Ħôl (or Wadi...

External links

  • Chart of the Semitic Family Tree

  Results from FactBites:
 
Central Semitic languages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (165 words)
The Central Semitic languages are an intermediate group of Semitic languages, of which the most prominent members are Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic.
The disagreement is usually on the relationship of Arabic (and Old North Arabian dialects) with the Northwest Semitic languages, and the other West Semitic languages.
The main distinction between Arabic and the Northwest Semitic languages is the presence of broken plurals in the former.
Semitic languages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2271 words)
Semitic languages were among the earliest to attain a written form, with Akkadian writing beginning in the middle of the third millennium BC.
Modern Ethiopian Semitic languages are SOV, possessor — possessed, and adjective — noun, probably due to Cushitic influence; however, the oldest attested Ethiopian Semitic language, Geez, was VSO, possessed — possessor, and noun — adjective[4].
All Semitic languages exhibit a unique pattern of stems consisting of "triliteral" or consonantal roots (normally consisting of three consonants), from which nouns, adjectives, and verbs are formed by inserting vowels with, potentially, prefixes, suffixes, or infixes (consonants inserted within the original root).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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