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Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large
language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions b ...
of about 300 languages that are spoken predominantly in the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
,
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
, the
Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula of East Africa.Robert Stock, ''Africa South of the Sahara, Second Edition: A Geographical Interpretation'', (The Guilford Press; 2004), p. 26 Located on the ea ...

Horn of Africa
and parts of the
Sahel The Sahel (; ar, ساحل ' , "coast, shore") is the ecoclimatic and of in between the to the north and the to the south. Having a , it stretches across the south-central latitudes of between the Atlantic Ocean and the . The Sahel part o ...

Sahel
. With the exception of Semitic, which is also spoken in the Middle-East, all branches of the Afrosiatic family are spoken exclusively on the African continent. Afroasiatic languages have over 500 million native speakers, the fourth largest number of any language family (after
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation ...
,
Sino-Tibetan Sino-Tibetan, also known as Trans-Himalayan in a few sources, is a family of more than 400 languages, second only to Indo-European in number of native speakers. The vast majority of these are the 1.3 billion native speakers of Chinese languages ...

Sino-Tibetan
and Niger–Congo). The phylum has six branches:
Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifically Morocco ) , ...

Berber
,
Chadic The Chadic languages form a branch of the Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family of about 300 languages that are spoken predominantly in t ...
,
Cushitic The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken primarily in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA) om, Gaafa Afrikaa, am, የአፍሪካ ቀንድ, yäafrika qänd, so, Geeska Afrika 𐒌𐒜 ...

Cushitic
,
Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with thousands of years of r ...
,
Omotic The Omotic languages are a group of languages spoken in southwestern Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea and Djibouti ...
and
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
. By far the most widely spoken Afroasiatic language or dialect continuum is
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
. A ''
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law"), which refers to th ...
'' group of distinct language varieties within the Semitic branch, the languages that evolved from
Proto-Arabic Proto-Arabic is the name given to the hypothetical reconstructed ancestor of all the varieties of Arabic The varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polyno ...
have around 313 million native speakers, concentrated primarily in the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to languages spoken today, Afroasiatic includes several important ancient languages, such as
Ancient Egyptian Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient history, ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile, Nile River, situated in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistori ...
, which forms a distinct branch of the family, and
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
,
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew ( ''Ivrit Miqra'it'' or ''Leshon ha-Miqra''), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroas ...
and
Old Aramaic Old Aramaic refers to the earliest stage of the Aramaic language Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Aramaic alphabet, Imperial Aramaic: ; Hebrew alphabet, square script ) is a language that originated among the Aram ...
, all of which are from the Semitic branch. The original homeland of the Afroasiatic family, and when the parent language (i.e.
Proto-Afroasiatic Proto–Afroasiatic, sometimes referred to as Proto-Afrasian, is the reconstructed proto-language from which all modern Afroasiatic languages are descended. Though estimations vary widely, it is believed by scholars to have been spoken as a singl ...
) was spoken, are yet to be agreed upon by
historical linguists History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. Events occurring before the History of writing#Inventions of writing, invention of writing systems are considered ...
. Proposed locations include the
Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula of East Africa.Robert Stock, ''Africa South of the Sahara, Second Edition: A Geographical Interpretation'', (The Guilford Press; 2004), p. 26 Located on the ea ...

Horn of Africa
,
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
, the Eastern
Sahara The Sahara (, ; ar, الصحراء الكبرى, ', 'the Greatest Desert') is a desert on the African continent Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landma ...

Sahara
and the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
.


Etymology

In the early 19th century, linguists grouped the
Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifically Morocco ) , ...

Berber
,
Cushitic The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken primarily in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA) om, Gaafa Afrikaa, am, የአፍሪካ ቀንድ, yäafrika qänd, so, Geeska Afrika 𐒌𐒜 ...

Cushitic
and
Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with thousands of years of r ...
languages within a "Hamitic" phylum, in acknowledgement of these languages'
genetic relation Genetic genealogy is the use of genealogical DNA test A genealogical DNA test is a DNA-based test which looks at specific locations of a person's genome, in order to find or verify ancestral genealogical relationships or (with lower reliabil ...
with each other and with those in the
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
phylum. The terms "Hamitic" and "Semitic" were etymologically derived from the
Book of Genesis The Book of Genesis,, "''Bərēšīṯ''", "In hebeginning" the first book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including th ...

Book of Genesis
, which describes various Biblical tribes descended from
Ham Ham is pork Pork is the culinary name for the meat of a domestic pig The domestic pig (''Sus scrofa domesticus'' or only ''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or simply pig when there is no need to distinguish it from other ...
and
Shem Shem (; he, שֵׁם ''Šēm''; ar, سام, Sām ''Sḗm''; Ge'ez: ሴም, ''Sēm'') was one of the sons of Noah The Generations of Noah or Table of Nations, broadly referred to as ''Origines Gentium'', is a genealogy of the sons of No ...
, two sons of
Noah In the traditions of Abrahamic religions, Noah ''Nukh''; am, ኖህ, ''Noḥ''; ar, نُوح '; grc, Νῶε ''Nôe'' () features as the tenth and last of the Antediluvian , pre-Flood Patriarchs (Bible), patriarchs. His story appears in the ...

Noah
. By the 1860s, the main constituent elements within the broader Afroasiatic family had been worked out. Friedrich Müller introduced the name "Hamito-Semitic" for the entire language family in his ''Grundriss der Sprachwissenschaft'' (1876). (1914) later coined the term "Afroasiatic" (often now spelled "Afro-Asiatic"). However, it did not come into general use until
Joseph Greenberg Joseph Harold Greenberg (May 28, 1915 – May 7, 2001) was an American linguistics, linguist, known mainly for his work concerning linguistic typology and the genetic relationship (linguistics), genetic classification of languages. Life Early ...
(1950) formally proposed its adoption. In doing so, Greenberg sought to emphasize the fact that 'Hamitic' was not a valid group and that language
cladistics Cladistics (; ) is an approach to biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular ...

cladistics
did not reflect race.
Gerrit Dimmendaal Gerrit Jan Dimmendaal (born 1955) is a Dutch linguist and Africanist. His research interests focused mainly on the Nilo-Saharan languages The Nilo-Saharan languages are a proposed family of African languages spoken by some 50–60 million people ...
(2008) 'Language Ecology and Linguistic Diversity on the African Continent', ''Language and Linguistics Compass''
Individual scholars have also called the family "Erythraean" (Tucker 1966) and "Lisramic" (Hodge 1972). In lieu of "Hamito-Semitic", the Russian linguist
Igor Diakonoff Igor Mikhailovich Diakonoff (russian: И́горь Миха́йлович Дья́конов; 12 January 1915 – 2 May 1999) was a Russian historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earlie ...
later suggested the term "Afrasian", meaning "half African, half Asiatic", in reference to the geographic distribution of the family's constituent languages. The term "Hamito-Semitic" remains in use in the academic traditions of some European countries, as well as in the official census of the government of India.


Distribution and branches

Scholars generally treat the Afroasiatic language family as including the following five branches, whereas Omotic is disputed: *
Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifically Morocco ) , ...

Berber
*
Chadic The Chadic languages form a branch of the Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family of about 300 languages that are spoken predominantly in t ...
*
Cushitic The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken primarily in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA) om, Gaafa Afrikaa, am, የአፍሪካ ቀንድ, yäafrika qänd, so, Geeska Afrika 𐒌𐒜 ...

Cushitic
*
Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with thousands of years of r ...
*
Omotic The Omotic languages are a group of languages spoken in southwestern Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea and Djibouti ...
*
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
Although there is general agreement on these six families,
linguists Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include phonetics, phonet ...

linguists
who study Afroasiatic raise some points of disagreement, in particular: * The
Omotic The Omotic languages are a group of languages spoken in southwestern Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea and Djibouti ...
language branch is the most controversial member of Afroasiatic because the grammatical formatives to which most linguists have given the greatest weight in classifying languages in the family "are either absent or distinctly wobbly" (Hayward 1995). Greenberg (1963) and others considered it a subgroup of Cushitic, whereas others have raised doubts about its being part of Afroasiatic at all (e.g. Theil 2006). * The Afroasiatic identity of Ongota is also broadly questioned, as is its position within Afroasiatic among those who accept it, due to the "mixed" appearance of the language and a paucity of research and data. Harold Fleming (2006) proposes that Ongota constitutes a separate branch of Afroasiatic. Bonny Sands (2009) finds the proposal by Savà and Tosco (2003) the most convincing: namely that Ongota is an East Cushitic language with a
Nilo-Saharan The Nilo-Saharan languages are a proposed family of African languages The languages of Africa are divided into several major Language family, language families: *Niger–Congo languages, Niger–Congo or perhaps Atlantic–Congo languages (in ...
substratum In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the m ...
. In other words, it would appear that the Ongota people once spoke a Nilo-Saharan language but then shifted to speaking a Cushitic language but retained some characteristics of their earlier Nilo-Saharan language. *
BejaBeja may refer to: Ethnicity *Beja people, an ethnic group in northeast Africa **Blemmyes, historical name for the people *Beja language, language spoken by the Beja people *Beja Congress, a group formed primarily of Beja opposing the government of ...
, sometimes listed as a separate branch of Afroasiatic, is more often included in the Cushitic branch, which has a substantial degree of internal diversity. * There is no consensus on the interrelationships of the five non-Omotic branches of Afroasiatic (see § Subgrouping below). This situation is not unusual, even among long-established language families: scholars also frequently disagree on the internal classification of the
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
, for instance. * The extinct
Meroitic language The Meroitic language () was spoken in Meroë (in present-day Sudan) during the Meroitic period (attested from 300 BCE) and became extinct about 400 CE. It was written in two forms of the Meroitic alphabet: Meroitic Cursive, which was written with ...
has been proposed (
Bruce Trigger Bruce Graham Trigger (June 18, 1937 – December 1, 2006) was a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, ...
, 1964,Trigger, Bruce G., ''‘Meroitic and Eastern Sudanic: A Linguistic Relationship?’'', Kush 12, 1964, 188–194. 1977Trigger, Bruce, G.,''‘The Classification of Meroitic: Geographical Considerations’'', Schriften zur Geschichte und Kultur des Alten Orients 13, 1977, 421–435.) as an unclassified Afroasiatic language, because it shares the
phonotactics Phonotactics (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ...
characteristic of the family, but there is not enough evidence to secure a classification (Fritz Hintze, 1974,Hintze, Fritz, ''‘Some Problems of Meroitic Philology’'', Abdel Gadir Mahmoud Abdalla (ed.), Studies of the Ancient Languages of the Sudan, Sudanese Studies 3, Khartoum University Press, Khartoum, 1974, 73–78. 1979Hintze, Fritz ''‘Beiträge zur meroitische Grammatik.’'' Meroitica 3, Berlin, 1979, 1–214.). * The classification of Kujargé within Afroasiatic is not agreed upon. Blench (2008) notes that much of the basic vocabulary looks
Cushitic The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken primarily in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA) om, Gaafa Afrikaa, am, የአፍሪካ ቀንድ, yäafrika qänd, so, Geeska Afrika 𐒌𐒜 ...

Cushitic
, and speculates that Kujarge could even be a conservative language transitional between Chadic and Cushitic.


Demographics

In descending order of the number of speakers, widely-spoken Afroasiatic languages include: *
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
(
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
), the most widely spoken Afroasiatic language, has over 300 million native speakers. *
Hausa Hausa may refer to: * Hausa people, an ethnic group of West Africa * Hausa language, spoken in West Africa * Hausa Kingdoms, a historical collection of Hausa city-states * Hausa (horse) or Dongola horse, an African breed of riding horse See also

(
Chadic The Chadic languages form a branch of the Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family of about 300 languages that are spoken predominantly in t ...
), the dominant language of northern
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...

Nigeria
and southern
Niger ) , official_languages = French , languages_type = National language A national language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed languag ...

Niger
, spoken as a first language by over 40 million people and used as a ''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
'' by another 20 million across West Africa and the
Sahel The Sahel (; ar, ساحل ' , "coast, shore") is the ecoclimatic and of in between the to the north and the to the south. Having a , it stretches across the south-central latitudes of between the Atlantic Ocean and the . The Sahel part o ...

Sahel
. * Oromo (
Cushitic The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken primarily in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA) om, Gaafa Afrikaa, am, የአፍሪካ ቀንድ, yäafrika qänd, so, Geeska Afrika 𐒌𐒜 ...
), spoken in
Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the ...

Ethiopia
and
Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (, ) is the national anthem of Kenya. History "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"'s lyrics were originally written in Swahili language, Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya ...

Kenya
by around 34 million people *
Amharic Amharic ( or ; (Amharic: ), ', ) is an Ethiopian Semitic languages, Ethiopian Semitic language, which is a subgrouping within the Semitic languages, Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic languages. It is spoken as a first language by the Amhara pe ...

Amharic
(Semitic), spoken in Ethiopia, with over 25 million native speakers in addition to millions of other Ethiopians speaking it as a second language. *
Somali Somali refers to an East African tribe (ethnic group) native to Somalia Somalia,; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of Somalia, is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, D ...
(Cushitic), spoken by 16 million people in
Somalia Somalia,, Osmanya script: 𐒈𐒝𐒑𐒛𐒐𐒘𐒕𐒖; ar, الصومال, aṣ-Ṣūmāl officially the Federal Republic of SomaliaThe ''Federal Republic of Somalia'' is the country's name per Article 1 of thProvisional Constitutio ...

Somalia
,
Somaliland Somaliland ( so, Soomaaliland; ar, صوماليلاند ', '), officially the Republic of Somaliland ( so, Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliland, ar, جمهورية صوماليلاند ''Jumhūrīyat Ṣūmālīlānd''), is a de facto sovereign ...

Somaliland
,
Djibouti Djibouti, ar, جيبوتي ', french: link=no, Djibouti, so, Jabuuti officially the Republic of Djibouti, is a country located in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsu ...

Djibouti
, and northeastern Kenya. * Afar (Cushitic), spoken by around 7.5 million people in Ethiopia, Djibouti, and
Eritrea Eritrea ( ), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a ...

Eritrea
. * Shilha (
Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifically Morocco ) , ...
), spoken by around 7 million people in
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
. * Tigre (Semitic), spoken by around 2 million people in
Eritrea Eritrea ( ), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a ...

Eritrea
*
Tigrinya Tigrinya (ትግርኛ; also spelled Tigrigna) is a Semitic language spoken in Eritrea Eritrea ( ), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in Eastern Africa, with its capital at Asmara. It is bordered by Ethiopia in the south, Su ...
(Semitic), spoken by around 9.73 million people in
Eritrea Eritrea ( ), officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a ...

Eritrea
and Tigray * Kabyle (Berber), spoken by around 5.6 million people in
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
. *
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-survivi ...
(Semitic), spoken by around 9 million people (5 million native first-language speakers and 4 million second-language speakers) in
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
and the
Jewish diaspora The Jewish diaspora ( he, תְּפוּצָה, təfūṣā) or exile (Hebrew: ; Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a High German languages, High German–derived language historically spoken by As ...
; premodern Hebrew is the
liturgical language A sacred language, holy language or liturgical language is any language that is cultivated and used primarily in church service or for other religion, religious reasons by people who speak another, primary language in their daily lives. Concep ...
of
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
and of the
Samaritan Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Shomronim; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) or Samaritan people are members of an ethnoreligious group originating from the Israelites of historical History of ancient Israel a ...

Samaritan
people. *
Central Atlas Tamazight Central Atlas Tamazight or Atlasic (also known as Central Morocco Tamazight, Middle Atlas Tamazight, Tamazight, Central Shilha and, rarely, Beraber or Braber; native name: ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ ''Tamazight'' ) is a Berber language The Berb ...
(Berber), spoken by around 4.6 million people in Morocco. * Riffian (Berber), spoken by around 4.2 million people in Morocco. *
Gurage languages The Gurage languages (Gurage: ጉራጌ), also known as Guragie, is a dialect-continuum language, which belong to the Semitic languages, Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken by the Gurage peop ...
(Semitic), a group of languages spoken by more than 2 million people in
Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the ...

Ethiopia
. *
Maltese Maltese may refer to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to Malta * Maltese alphabet * Maltese cuisine * Maltese culture * Maltese language, the Semitic language spoken by Maltese people * Maltese people, people from Malta or of Maltese ...
(Semitic), spoken by around half a million people in
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
and the
Maltese diaspora Emigration from Malta was an important demographic phenomenon throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, leading to the creation of large Maltese communities in English-speaking countries abroad. History File:Types_algériens_(2e_série) ...
. It descended from
Classical Arabic Classical Arabic ( ar, links=no, ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ, al-ʿarabīyah al-fuṣḥā) or Quranic Arabic is the standardized literary form of the Arabic language Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, ...
independently from modern
Arabic dialects Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Stre ...
, features
Romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love) Romance or Romantic love is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the Court ...

Romance
superstrates and has been written in the
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequ ...

Latin script
since at least the 14th century. *
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic Assyrian Neo-Aramaic or simply Assyrian ( or ''Sūreṯ''), also known as Syriac, Eastern Syriac, Neo-Syriac and Modern Syriac, is an Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also kn ...
(Semitic), a variety of
modern Aramaic The Neo-Aramaic or Modern Aramaic languages are variety (linguistics), varieties of Aramaic language, Aramaic, that evolved during the late medieval and early modern periods, and continue to the present day as vernacular (spoken) languages of moder ...
, spoken by more than 500,000 people in the
Assyrian diaspora Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people Assyrians (, ) are an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East. Some self-identify as Terms for Syriac Christians#Syriac identity, Syriacs, Chaldean ...
.


Classification history

In the 9th century, the Hebrew grammarian Judah ibn Quraysh of
Tiaret Tiaret ( ar, تاهرت / تيارت; Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated ...

Tiaret
in
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
was the first to link two branches of Afroasiatic together; he perceived a relationship between Berber and Semitic. He knew of Semitic through his study of Arabic, Hebrew, and
Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac ...
. In the course of the 19th century, Europeans also began suggesting such relationships. In 1844,
Theodor Benfey:''This is about the German philologist. For Theodor Benfey (born 1925) who developed a spiral periodic table of the elements in 1964, see Otto Theodor Benfey.'' Theodor Benfey (28 January 1809, in Nörten near Göttingen26 June 1881, in Göttinge ...
suggested a language family consisting of Semitic, Berber, and Cushitic (calling the latter "Ethiopic"). In the same year, T.N. Newman suggested a relationship between Semitic and Hausa, but this would long remain a topic of dispute and uncertainty. Friedrich Müller named the traditional Hamito-Semitic family in 1876 in his ''Grundriss der Sprachwissenschaft'' ("Outline of Linguistics"), and defined it as consisting of a Semitic group plus a "Hamitic" group containing Egyptian, Berber, and Cushitic; he excluded the Chadic group. It was the
Egyptologist Egyptology (from ''Egypt'' and Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populat ...
Karl Richard Lepsius Karl Richard Lepsius ( la, Carolus Richardius Lepsius) (23 December 181010 July 1884) was a pioneering Prussian egyptologist, Linguistics, linguist and modern archaeology, modern archaeologist. Biography Karl Richard Lepsius was the son of :de ...

Karl Richard Lepsius
(1810–1884) who restricted Hamitic to the non-Semitic languages in Africa, which are characterized by a grammatical gender system. This "Hamitic language group" was proposed to unite various, mainly North-African, languages, including the Ancient
Egyptian language The Egyptian language or Ancient Egyptian ( egy, 𓂋𓏺𓈖 𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖, , cop, ϯⲙⲉⲧⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ) is an Afro-Asiatic language Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamiti ...
, the
Berber languages The Berber languages, also known as the Amazigh languages (Berber name: , ; Neo-Tifinagh: ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ, Tuareg Tifinagh: ⵜⵎⵣⵗⵜ, , ), are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They comprise a group of closely related l ...

Berber languages
, the
Cushitic languages The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family A language is a structured system of communication ...

Cushitic languages
, the
Beja language Beja (''Bidhaawyeet'') is an Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language of the Cushitic languages, Cushitic branch spoken on the western coast of the Red Sea by the Beja people. Its speakers number around one to two million individuals, and inhab ...
, and the
Chadic languages The Chadic languages form a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken in parts of the Sahel. They include 150 languages spoken across northern Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in ...
. Unlike Müller, Lepsius considered that
Hausa Hausa may refer to: * Hausa people, an ethnic group of West Africa * Hausa language, spoken in West Africa * Hausa Kingdoms, a historical collection of Hausa city-states * Hausa (horse) or Dongola horse, an African breed of riding horse See also

and Nama were part of the Hamitic group. These classifications relied in part on non-linguistic anthropological and racial arguments. Both authors used the skin-color, mode of subsistence, and other characteristics of native speakers as part of their arguments that particular languages should be grouped together.
Merritt Ruhlen Merritt Ruhlen (May 10, 1944 – January 29, 2021) was an American linguist who worked on the classification of languages and what this reveals about the origin and evolution of modern humans. Amongst other linguists, Ruhlen's work was recognized ...

Merritt Ruhlen
, ''A Guide to the World's Languages: Classification'', Stanford University Press, 1991, pp. 80–1
In 1912,
Carl Meinhof Carl Friedrich Michael Meinhof (July 23, 1857 – February 11, 1944) was a German linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoke ...

Carl Meinhof
published ''Die Sprachen der Hamiten'' ("The Languages of the Hamites"), in which he expanded Lepsius's model, adding the Fula, Maasai,
Bari Bari ( , ; nap, label= Barese, Bare ; lat, Barium; grc, Βάριον, translit=Bárion) is the capital city of the Metropolitan City of Bari The Metropolitan City of Bari ( it, Città Metropolitana di Bari) is a Metropolitan cities of Italy, ...
, Nandi, Sandawe and Hadza languages to the Hamitic group. Meinhof's model was widely supported in the 1940s. Meinhof's system of classification of the Hamitic languages was based on a belief that "speakers of Hamitic became largely coterminous with cattle herding peoples with essentially Caucasian origins, intrinsically different from and superior to the 'Negroes of Africa'." However, in the case of the so-called Nilo-Hamitic languages (a concept he introduced), it was based on the typological feature of gender and a "fallacious theory of language mixture." Meinhof did this although earlier work by scholars such as Lepsius and Johnston had substantiated that the languages which he would later dub "Nilo-Hamitic" were in fact Nilotic languages, with numerous similarities in vocabulary to other Nilotic languages.Merritt Ruhlen, ''A Guide to the World's Languages'', (Stanford University Press: 1991), p.109 (1909) had already proposed linking Cushitic and Chadic while urging their more distant affinity with Egyptian and Semitic. However, his suggestion found little acceptance. Marcel Cohen (1924) rejected the idea of a distinct "Hamitic" subgroup and included
Hausa Hausa may refer to: * Hausa people, an ethnic group of West Africa * Hausa language, spoken in West Africa * Hausa Kingdoms, a historical collection of Hausa city-states * Hausa (horse) or Dongola horse, an African breed of riding horse See also

(a Chadic language) in his comparative Hamito-Semitic vocabulary. Finally,
Joseph Greenberg Joseph Harold Greenberg (May 28, 1915 – May 7, 2001) was an American linguistics, linguist, known mainly for his work concerning linguistic typology and the genetic relationship (linguistics), genetic classification of languages. Life Early ...
's 1950 work led to the widespread rejection of "Hamitic" as a language category by linguists. Greenberg refuted Meinhof's linguistic theories and rejected the use of racial and social evidence. In dismissing the notion of a separate "Nilo-Hamitic" language category, in particular, Greenberg was "returning to a view widely held a half-century earlier." He consequently rejoined Meinhof's so-called Nilo-Hamitic languages with their appropriate Nilotic siblings. He also added (and sub-classified) the Chadic languages, and proposed the new name Afroasiatic for the family. Almost all scholars have accepted this classification as the new and continued consensus. Greenberg's model was fully developed in his book ''The Languages of Africa'' (1963), in which he reassigned most of Meinhof's additions to Hamitic to other language families, notably Nilo-Saharan. Following Isaac Schapera and rejecting Meinhof, he classified the Hottentot language, Khoekhoe language as a member of the Khoisan languages, a grouping that has since proven inaccurate and excessively motivated on the presence of Click consonant, click sounds. To Khoisan he also added the Tanzanian Hadza and Sandawe, though this view has been discredited as linguists working on these languages consider them to be Language isolate, linguistic isolates. Despite this, Greenberg's classification remains a starting point for modern work of many languages spoken in Africa, and the Hamitic category (and its extension to Nilo-Hamitic) has no part in this. Since the three traditional branches of the Hamitic languages (Berber, Cushitic and Egyptian) have not been shown to form an exclusive (Monophyly, monophyletic) phylogenetic unit of their own, separate from other Afroasiatic languages, linguists no longer use the term in this sense. Each of these branches is instead now regarded as an independent subgroup of the larger Afroasiatic family. In 1969, Harold C. Fleming, Harold Fleming proposed that what had previously been known as Western Cushitic is an independent branch of Afroasiatic, suggesting for it the new name
Omotic The Omotic languages are a group of languages spoken in southwestern Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea and Djibouti ...
. This proposal and name have met with widespread acceptance. Based on typological differences with the other Cushitic languages, Robert Hetzron proposed that Beja has to be removed from Cushitic, thus forming an independent branch of Afroasiatic. Most scholars, however, reject this proposal, and continue to group Beja as the sole member of a Northern branch within Cushitic. ''Glottolog'' does not accept that the inclusion or even unity of Omotic has been established, nor that of Ongota or the unclassified Kujarge. It therefore splits off the following groups as small families: South Omotic languages, South Omotic, Mao languages, Mao, Dizoid languages, Dizoid, Gonga–Gimojan languages, Gonga–Gimojan (North Omotic apart from the preceding), Ongota, Kujarge language, Kujarge.


Subgrouping

Little agreement exists on the subgrouping (linguistics), subgrouping of the five or six branches of Afroasiatic: Semitic, Egyptian, Berber, Chadic, Cushitic, and Omotic. However, Christopher Ehret (1979), Harold Fleming (1981), and Joseph Greenberg (1981) all agree that the Omotic branch split from the rest first. Otherwise: * Paul Newman (linguist), Paul Newman (1980) groups Berber with Chadic and Egyptian with Semitic, while questioning the inclusion of Omotic in Afroasiatic. Rolf Theil (2006) concurs with the exclusion of Omotic but does not otherwise address the structure of the family. * Harold Fleming (1981) divides non-Omotic Afroasiatic, or "Erythraean", into three groups, Cushitic, Semitic, and Chadic-Berber-Egyptian. He later added Semitic and Beja to Chadic-Berber-Egyptian and tentatively proposed Ongota as a new third branch of Erythraean. He thus divided Afroasiatic into two major branches, Omotic and Erythraean, with Erythraean consisting of three sub-branches, Cushitic, Chadic-Berber-Egyptian-Semitic-Beja, and Ongota. * Like Harold Fleming, Christopher Ehret (1995: 490) divides Afroasiatic into two branches, Omotic and Erythrean. He divides Omotic into two branches, North Omotic and South Omotic. He divides Erythrean into Cushitic, comprising Beja, Agaw, and East-South Cushitic, and North Erythrean, comprising Chadic and "Boreafrasian." According to his classification, Boreafrasian consists of Egyptian, Berber, and Semitic. * Vladimir Orel and Olga Stolbova (1995) group Berber with Semitic and Chadic with Egyptian. They split up Cushitic into five or more independent branches of Afroasiatic, viewing Cushitic as a Sprachbund rather than a
language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions b ...
. * Igor M. Diakonoff (1996) subdivides Afroasiatic in two, grouping Berber, Cushitic, and Semitic together as East-West Afrasian (ESA), and Chadic with Egyptian as North-South Afrasian (NSA). He excludes Omotic from Afroasiatic. * Lionel Bender (linguist), Lionel Bender (1997) groups Berber, Cushitic, and Semitic together as "Macro-Cushitic". He regards Chadic and Omotic as the branches of Afroasiatic most remote from the others. * Alexander Militarev (2000), on the basis of lexicostatistics, groups Berber with Chadic and both more distantly with Semitic, as against Cushitic and Omotic. He places Ongota in South Omotic.


Position among the world's languages

Afroasiatic is one of the four major Languages of Africa, language families spoken in Africa identified by Joseph Greenberg in his book ''The Languages of Africa'' (1963). It is one of the few whose speech area is transcontinental, with languages from Afroasiatic's Semitic branch also spoken in the Middle East and Europe. There are no generally accepted relations between Afroasiatic and any other language family. However, several proposals grouping Afroasiatic with one or more other language families have been made. The best-known of these are the following: * Hermann Möller (1906) argued for a relation between
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
and the
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
. This proposal was accepted by a few linguists (e.g. Holger Pedersen (linguist), Holger Pedersen and Louis Hjelmslev). (For a fuller account, see Indo-Semitic languages.) However, the theory has little currency today, although most linguists do not deny the existence of grammatical similarities between both families (such as grammatical gender, noun-adjective Agreement (linguistics), agreement, three-way Grammatical number, number distinction, and vowel alternation as a means of derivation). * Apparently influenced by Möller (a colleague of his at the University of Copenhagen), Holger Pedersen (linguist), Holger Pedersen included Hamito-Semitic (the term replaced by Afroasiatic) in his proposed Nostratic languages, Nostratic macro-family (cf. Pedersen 1931:336–338), also included the Indo-European, Uralic languages, Uralic, Altaic languages, Altaic, Yukaghir languages, and Dravidian languages. This inclusion was retained by subsequent Nostraticists, starting with Vladislav Illich-Svitych and Aharon Dolgopolsky. *
Joseph Greenberg Joseph Harold Greenberg (May 28, 1915 – May 7, 2001) was an American linguistics, linguist, known mainly for his work concerning linguistic typology and the genetic relationship (linguistics), genetic classification of languages. Life Early ...
(2000–2002) did not reject a relationship of Afroasiatic to these other languages, but he considered it more distantly related to them than they were to each other, grouping instead these other languages in a separate macro-family, which he called Eurasiatic languages, Eurasiatic, and to which he added Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages, Chukotian, Nivkh language, Gilyak, Korean language, Korean, Japonic languages, Japanese-Ryukyuan, Eskimo–Aleut languages, Eskimo–Aleut, and Ainu languages, Ainu. * Most recently, Sergei Anatolyevich Starostin, Sergei Starostin's school has accepted Eurasiatic as a subgroup of Nostratic, with Afroasiatic, Dravidian, and Kartvelian in Nostratic outside of Eurasiatic. The even larger Borean languages, Borean super-family contains Nostratic as well as Dené–Caucasian languages, Dené-Caucasian and Austric languages, Austric.


Date of Afroasiatic

The earliest written evidence of an Afroasiatic language is an
Ancient Egyptian Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient history, ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile, Nile River, situated in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistori ...
inscription dated to c. 3400 BC (5,400 years ago). Symbols on Gerzeh culture, Gerzean (Naqada II) pottery resembling Egyptian hieroglyphs#History and evolution, Egyptian hieroglyphs date back to c. 4000 BC, suggesting an earlier possible dating. This gives us a minimum date for the age of Afroasiatic. However, Ancient Egyptian is highly divergent from Proto-Afroasiatic language, Proto-Afroasiatic (Trombetti 1905: 1–2), and considerable time must have elapsed in between them. Estimates of the date at which the Proto-Afroasiatic language was spoken vary widely. They fall within a range between approximately 7,500 BC (9,500 years ago), and approximately 16,000 BC (18,000 years ago). According to Igor M. Diakonoff (1988: 33n), Proto-Afroasiatic was spoken circa, c. 10,000 BC. Christopher Ehret (2002: 35–36) asserts that Proto-Afroasiatic was spoken c. 11,000 BC at the latest, and possibly as early as c. 16,000 BC. These dates are older than those associated with other proto-languages.


Afroasiatic Urheimat

The Afroasiatic ''urheimat'', the hypothetical place where Proto-Afroasiatic language speakers lived in a single linguistic community, or complex of communities, before this original language dispersed geographically and divided into distinct languages, is unknown. Afroasiatic languages are today primarily spoken in Western Asia, West Asia,
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
, the
Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula of East Africa.Robert Stock, ''Africa South of the Sahara, Second Edition: A Geographical Interpretation'', (The Guilford Press; 2004), p. 26 Located on the ea ...

Horn of Africa
, and parts of the
Sahel The Sahel (; ar, ساحل ' , "coast, shore") is the ecoclimatic and of in between the to the north and the to the south. Having a , it stretches across the south-central latitudes of between the Atlantic Ocean and the . The Sahel part o ...

Sahel
. Their distribution seems to have been influenced by the Sahara pump theory, Sahara pump operating over the last 10,000 years. While there is no definitive agreement on when or where the original homeland of this language family existed, most scholarly work in linguistics favor an East African or Saharan origin. Blench R (2006) Archaeology, Language, and the African Past, Rowman Altamira, , , https://books.google.com/books?id=esFy3Po57A8C Bernal M (1987) Black Athena: the Afroasiatic roots of classical civilization, Rutgers University Press, , . https://books.google.com/books?id=yFLm_M_OdK4CBender ML (1997), Upside Down Afrasian, Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere 50, pp. 19–34Militarev A (2005
Once more about glottochronology and comparative method: the Omotic-Afrasian case, Аспекты компаративистики – 1 (Aspects of comparative linguistics – 1)
FS S. Starostin. Orientalia et Classica II (Moscow), p. 339-408.
A Levant/Fertile Crescent origin has also been proposed.


Similarities in grammar and syntax

Widespread (though not universal) features of the Afroasiatic languages include: * A set of emphatic consonants, variously realized as glottalized, pharyngealized, or implosive. * Verb–subject–object, VSO linguistic typology, typology with subject–verb–object, SVO tendencies. * A two-grammatical gender, gender system in the singular, with the feminine marked by the sound /t/. * All Afroasiatic subfamilies show evidence of a causative affix ''s''. * Semitic, Berber, Cushitic (including Beja), and Chadic support possessive suffixes. * Arabic nouns and adjectives#Nisba, Nisba derivation in ''-j'' (earlier Egyptian) or ''-ī'' (Semitic) * Morphology (linguistics), Morphology in which words inflect by changes within the root (vowel changes or gemination) as well as with prefixes and suffixes. One of the most remarkable shared features among the Afroasiatic languages is the prefixing verb conjugation (see the table at the start of this section), with a distinctive pattern of prefixes beginning with /ʔ t n y/, and in particular a pattern whereby third-singular masculine /y-/ is opposed to third-singular feminine and second-singular /t-/. According to Ehret (1996), tonal languages appear in the Omotic and Chadic branches of Afroasiatic, as well as in certain Cushitic languages. The Semitic, Berber and Egyptian branches generally do not use tones phoneme, phonemically. The Berber and Semitic branches share certain grammatical features (e.g. alternative feminine endings *-ay/*-āy; corresponding vowel templates for verbal conjugations) which can be reconstructed for a higher-order proto-language (provisionally called "Proto-Berbero-Semitic" by Kossmann & Suchard (2018) and Putten (2018)). Whether this proto-language is ancestral to Berber and Semitic only, or also to other branches of Afroasiatic, still remains to be established.


Shared vocabulary

The following are some examples of Afroasiatic cognates, including ten pronouns, three nouns, and three verbs. :'' Source:'' Christopher Ehret, ''Reconstructing Proto-Afroasiatic'' (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). :''Note:'' Ehret does not make use of Berber in his etymologies, stating (1995: 12): "the kind of extensive reconstruction of proto-Berber lexicon that might help in sorting through alternative possible etymologies is not yet available." The Berber cognates here are taken from the previous version of the table in this article and need to be completed and referenced. :''Abbreviations:'' NOm = 'North Omotic', SOm = 'South Omotic'. MSA = 'Modern South Arabian', PSC = 'Proto-Southern Cushitic', PSom-II = 'Proto-Somali, stage 2'. masc. = 'masculine', fem. = 'feminine', sing. = 'singular', pl. = 'plural'. 1s. = 'first person singular', 2s. = 'second person singular'. :''Symbols:'' Following Ehret (1995: 70), a caron ˇ over a vowel indicates rising Tone (linguistics), tone, and a circumflex ^ over a vowel indicates falling tone. V indicates a vowel of unknown quality. Ɂ indicates a glottal stop. * indicates Linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed forms based on Comparative method (linguistics), comparison of related languages. There are two etymological dictionaries of Afroasiatic, one by Christopher Ehret, and one by Vladimir Orel and Olga Stolbova. The two dictionaries disagree on almost everything. The following table contains the thirty roots or so (out of thousands) that represent a fragile consensus of present research:


Etymological bibliography

Some of the main sources for Afroasiatic etymologies include: * Cohen, Marcel. 1947. ''Essai comparatif sur le vocabulaire et la phonétique du chamito-sémitique.'' Paris: Champion. * Diakonoff, Igor M. et al. 1993–1997. "Historical-comparative vocabulary of Afrasian," ''St. Petersburg Journal of African Studies'' 2–6. * Ehret, Christopher. 1995. ''Reconstructing Proto-Afroasiatic (Proto-Afrasian): Vowels, Tone, Consonants, and Vocabulary'' (= ''University of California Publications in Linguistics'' 126). Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. * Orel, Vladimir E. and Olga V. Stolbova. 1995. ''Hamito-Semitic Etymological Dictionary: Materials for a Reconstruction.'' Leiden: Brill. .


See also

* Borean languages *
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
* Indo-Semitic languages * Languages of Africa * Languages of Asia * Languages of Europe * Nostratic languages * Proto-Afroasiatic language


References


Citations


Works cited

*


General references

* Anthony, David. 2007. ''The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World.'' Princeton: Princeton University Press. * Barnett, William and John Hoopes (editors). 1995. ''The Emergence of Pottery.'' Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. * Bender, Lionel et al. 2003. ''Selected Comparative-Historical Afro-Asiatic Studies in Memory of Igor M. Diakonoff.'' LINCOM. * Bomhard, Alan R. 1996. ''Indo-European and the Nostratic Hypothesis.'' Signum. * Diakonoff, Igor M. 1988. ''Afrasian Languages.'' Moscow: Nauka. * Diakonoff, Igor M. 1996. "Some reflections on the Afrasian linguistic macrofamily." ''Journal of Near Eastern Studies'' 55, 293. * Diakonoff, Igor M. 1998. "The earliest Semitic society: Linguistic data." ''Journal of Semitic Studies'' 43, 209. * Dimmendaal, Gerrit, and Erhard Voeltz. 2007. "Africa". In Christopher Moseley, ed., ''Encyclopedia of the world's endangered languages''. * Ehret, Christopher. 1995. ''Reconstructing Proto-Afroasiatic (Proto-Afrasian): Vowels, Tone, Consonants, and Vocabulary.'' Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. * Ehret, Christopher. 1997
Abstract
of "The lessons of deep-time historical-comparative reconstruction in Afroasiatic: reflections on ''Reconstructing Proto-Afroasiatic: Vowels, Tone, Consonants, and Vocabulary'' (U.C. Press, 1995)", paper delivered at the Twenty-fifth Annual Meeting of the North American Conference on Afro-Asiatic Linguistics, held in Miami, Florida, on 21–23 March 1997. * Finnegan, Ruth H. 1970. "Afro-Asiatic languages West Africa". ''Oral Literature in Africa'', pg 558. * Fleming, Harold C. 2006. ''Ongota: A Decisive Language in African Prehistory.'' Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. * Greenberg, Joseph H. 1950
"Studies in African linguistic classification: IV. Hamito-Semitic."
''Southwestern Journal of Anthropology'' 6, 47–63. * Greenberg, Joseph H. 1955. ''Studies in African Linguistic Classification.'' New Haven: Compass Publishing Company. (Photo-offset reprint of the ''SJA'' articles with minor corrections.) * Greenberg, Joseph H. 1963. ''The Languages of Africa''. Bloomington: Indiana University. (Heavily revised version of Greenberg 1955.) * Greenberg, Joseph H. 1966. ''The Languages of Africa'' (2nd ed. with additions and corrections). Bloomington: Indiana University. * Greenberg, Joseph H. 1981. "African linguistic classification." ''General History of Africa, Volume 1: Methodology and African Prehistory'', edited by Joseph Ki-Zerbo, 292–308. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. * Greenberg, Joseph H. 2000–2002. ''Indo-European and Its Closest Relatives: The Eurasiatic Language Family, Volume 1: Grammar, Volume 2: Lexicon.'' Stanford: Stanford University Press. * Hayward, R. J. 1995. "The challenge of Omotic: an inaugural lecture delivered on 17 February 1994". London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. * Heine, Bernd and Derek Nurse. 2000. ''African Languages'', Chapter 4. Cambridge University Press. * Hodge, Carleton T. (editor). 1971. ''Afroasiatic: A Survey.'' The Hague – Paris: Mouton. * Hodge, Carleton T. 1991. "Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic." In Sydney M. Lamb and E. Douglas Mitchell (editors), ''Sprung from Some Common Source: Investigations into the Prehistory of Languages'', Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 141–165. * Huehnergard, John. 2004. "Afro-Asiatic." In R.D. Woodard (editor), ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages'', Cambridge – New York, 2004, 138–159. * Militarev, Alexander. "Towards the genetic affiliation of Ongota, a nearly-extinct language of Ethiopia," 60 pp. In ''Orientalia et Classica: Papers of the Institute of Oriental and Classical Studies'', Issue 5. Moscow. (Forthcoming.) * Newman, Paul. 1980. ''The Classification of Chadic within Afroasiatic.'' Leiden: Universitaire Pers Leiden. * Sands, Bonny. 2009. "Africa’s linguistic diversity". In ''Language and Linguistics Compass'' 3.2, 559–580. * Theil, R. 2006
Is Omotic Afro-Asiatic?
Proceedings from the David Dwyer retirement symposium, Michigan State University, East Lansing, 21 October 2006. * Trombetti, Alfredo. 1905. ''L'Unità d'origine del linguaggio.'' Bologna: Luigi Beltrami. * Ghil'ad Zuckermann, Zuckermann, Ghil'ad 2003. Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew, Palgrave Macmillan.


External links


Afro-Asiatic
at the Linguist List MultiTree Project (not functional as of 2014): Genealogical trees attributed to Delafosse 1914, Greenberg 1950–1955, Greenberg 1963, Fleming 1976, Hodge 1976, Orel & Stolbova 1995, Diakonoff 1996–1998, Ehret 1995–2000, Hayward 2000, Militarev 2005, Blench 2006, and Fleming 2006

presented by Alexander Militarev at his talk "Genealogical classification of Afro-Asiatic languages according to the latest data" at the conference on the 70th anniversary of V.M. Illich-Svitych, Moscow, 2004
short annotations of the talks given there

The prehistory of a dispersal: the Proto-Afrasian (Afroasiatic) farming lexicon
by Alexander Militarev in "Examining the Farming/Language Dispersal Hypothesis", eds. P. Bellwood & C. Renfrew. (McDonald Institute Monographs.) Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 2002, p. 135–50.
Once More About Glottochronology And The Comparative Method: The Omotic-Afrasian case
by Alexander Militarev in "Aspects of Comparative Linguistics", v. 1. Moscow: RSUH Publishers, 2005, pp. 339–408.
Root Extension And Root Formation In Semitic And Afrasian
by Alexander Militarev in "Proceedings of the Barcelona Symposium on comparative Semitic", 19-20/11/2004. Aula Orientalis 23/1-2, 2005, pp. 83–129.
Akkadian-Egyptian lexical matches
by Alexander Militarev in "Papers on Semitic and Afroasiatic Linguistics in Honor of Gene B. Gragg." Ed. by Cynthia L. Miller. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 60. Chicago: The Oriental Institute, 2007, p. 139–145.
A comparison of Orel-Stolbova's and Ehret's Afro-Asiatic reconstructions

"Is Omotic Afro-Asiatic?"
by Rolf Theil (2006)
NACAL
The North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics, now in its 35th year

of Roger Blench (wit
family tree
. {{DEFAULTSORT:Afroasiatic Languages Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic peoples, Language families