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Encyclopedia > Northwest Semitic
Northwest Semitic
Levantine
Geographic
distribution:
concentrated in the Middle East
Genetic
classification
:
Afro-Asiatic
 Semitic
  West Semitic
   Central Semitic
    Northwest Semitic
Subdivisions:

The Northwest Semitic languages form a medium-level division of the Semitic language family. The languages of this group are spoken by approximately eight million people today. The group is generally divided into three branches: Ugaritic (extinct), Canaanite (including Hebrew) and Aramaic. Semiticists often group the Northwest Semitic languages together with Arabic to form the larger Central Semitic group: noting Arabic's distinctive relationship to the languages of this group. 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. ... Current distribution of Human Language Families Most languages are known to belong to language families. ... The Afro-Asiatic languages constitute a language family with about 375 languages (SIL estimate) and more than 300 million speakers spread throughout North Africa, East Africa, the Sahel, and Southwest Asia (including some 200 million speakers of Arabic). ... 14th century BC diplomatic letter in Akkadian, found in Tell Amarna. ... The West Semitic languages are a proposed major sub-grouping of Semitic languages. ... 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. ... Aramaic is a group of Semitic languages with a 3,000-year history. ... The Ugaritic language is known to us only in the form of writings found in the lost city of Ugarit in Syria since its discovery by French archaeologists in 1928. ... An extinct language (also called a dead language) is a language which no longer has any native speakers. ... 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. ... 14th century BC diplomatic letter in Akkadian, found in Tell Amarna. ... The Ugaritic language is known to us only in the form of writings found in the lost city of Ugarit in Syria since its discovery by French archaeologists in 1928. ... An extinct language (also called a dead language) is a language which no longer has any native speakers. ... 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 redirects here. ... Aramaic is a group of Semitic languages with a 3,000-year history. ... The Arabic language ( ), or simply Arabic ( ), 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. ... 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. ...


The extinct Ugaritic language is the earliest witness to Northwest Semitic. Phonologically, Ugaritic has lost the sound /dˤ/ (), replacing it with /sˤ/ () (the same shift occurred in Akkadian). That this same sound became /ʕ/ in Aramaic (although in Ancient Aramaic, it was written with qoph), suggests that Ugaritic is not the parent language of the group. An example of this sound shift can be seen in the word for earth: Ugaritic /ʔarsˤ/ (’arṣ), Hebrew /ʔɛrɛsˤ/ (’ereṣ) and Aramaic /ʔarʕaː/ (’ar‘ā’). Ugaritic is also distinguished from the other Northwest Semitic languages in that it retains the word-initial /w/ where Canaanite and Aramaic languages replace it with /y/. The Ugaritic language is known to us only in the form of writings found in the lost city of Ugarit in Syria since its discovery by French archaeologists in 1928. ... The vowels of modern (Standard) Arabic and (Israeli) Hebrew from the phonological point of view. ... () is one of the six letters the Arabic alphabet added to the twenty-two inherited from the Phoenician alphabet (the others being , , , , ). It represents a pharyngealized voiced alveolar plosive (IPA ). In name and shape, it is a variant of . ... Tsade or Tsadi is the 18th letter in the Phoenician and Hebrew alphabets. ... Akkadian (lišānum akkadÄ«tum) was a Semitic language (part of the greater Afro-Asiatic language family) spoken in ancient Mesopotamia, particularly by the Assyrians and Babylonians. ... Ayin is the sixteenth letter in many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Hebrew, and Aramaic. ...   Qoph is the nineteenth letter in many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Hebrew, and Aramaic. ...


The Canaanite languages are best represented by Hebrew. They were originally spoken throughout the area that is covered by modern-day Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and the Sinai. The vowel shift from /aː/ to /oː/ distinguishes Canaanite from Ugaritic. Also, the series of Semitic interdental fricatives become sibilants: /ð/ (), /θ/ () and /zˤ/ () became /z/, /ʃ/ (š) and /sˤ/ () respectively. The effect of this sound shift can be seen by comparing the following words: 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. ... Palestine (from Latin: ; Hebrew: Pleshet, פלשתינה Palestina; Arabic: ‎ FilastÄ«n, FalastÄ«n) is one of several names for the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the banks of the Jordan River with various adjoining lands. ... Sinai Peninsula, Gulf of Suez (west), Gulf of Aqaba (east) from Space Shuttle STS-40 For other uses of the word Sinai, please see: Sinai (disambiguation). ... Interdental consonants are produced by placing the blade of the tongue against the upper incisors. ... Fricatives (or spirants) are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. ... A sibilant is a type of fricative or affricate, made by directing a jet of air through a narrow channel towards the sharp edge of the teeth. ... () is one of the six letters the Arabic alphabet added to the twenty-two inherited from the Phoenician alphabet (the others being , , , , ). It represents the voiced dental fricative (IPA ). In name and shape, it is a variant of . ... () is one of the six letters the Arabic alphabet added to the twenty-two inherited from the Phoenician alphabet (the others being , , , , ). It represents the voiceless dental fricative (IPA ). In name and shape, it is a variant of . ... () is one of the six letters the Arabic alphabet added to the twenty-two inherited from the Phoenician alphabet (the others being , , , , ). It represents a = pharyngealized voiced dental or alveolar fricative (IPA or ). In name and shape, it is a variant of . ... Zayin or Zain is the seventh letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Hebrew, and Aramaic. ... Shin (also spelled Sin or Sheen) is the twenty-first letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic (in abjadi order, 12th in modern order). ... Tsade or Tsadi is the 18th letter in the Phoenician and Hebrew alphabets. ...

shift Ugaritic Aramaic Biblical Hebrew Modern Hebrew translation
/ð/ ()→/z/ ḏhb דהב /dəhab/ - [dəhav] (dəhaḇ) זהב /zaːhaːb/ - [zaːhaːv] (zāhāḇ) זהב /zaˈhav/ gold
/θ/ ()→/ʃ/ (š) ṯlṯ תלת /təlaːt/ - [təlaːθ] (təlāṯ) שלש /ʃaːloːʃ/ (šālōš) שלש/שלוש /ʃaˈloʃ/ three
/zˤ/ ()→/sˤ/ () ṱw טור /tˤuːr/ (ṭûr) צור /sˤuːr/ (ṣûr) צור /tsur/ mountain

  Results from FactBites:
 
Northwest Semitic languages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (292 words)
The Northwest Semitic languages form a medium-level division of the Semitic language family.
Semiticists often group the Northwest Semitic languages together with Arabic to form the larger Central Semitic group: noting Arabic's distinctive relationship to the languages of this group.
The extinct Ugaritic language is the earliest witness to Northwest Semitic.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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