The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language
family originating in the Middle East.
Semitic languages are spoken by
more than 330 million people across much of Western Asia, North Africa
and the Horn of Africa, as well as in often large expatriate
North America and Europe, with smaller communities in
Caucasus and Central Asia. The terminology was first used in the
1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History, who derived
the name from Shem, one of the three sons of Noah in the Book of
The most widely spoken
Semitic languages today are (numbers given are
for native speakers only)
Arabic (300 million),
million), Tigrinya (7 million),
Hebrew (~5 million native/L1
speakers), Tigre (~1.05 million), Aramaic (575,000 to 1 million
largely Assyrian fluent speakers) and Maltese (482,880
Semitic languages occur in written form from a very early historical
Eblaite texts (written in a
script adapted from Sumerian cuneiform) appearing from the 30th
century BCE and the 25th century BCE in
Mesopotamia and the northern
Levant respectively. The only earlier attested languages are Sumerian,
Elamite (2800 BCE to 550 BCE) (both language isolates), Egyptian and
Lullubi from 30th century BCE. However, most scripts used
Semitic languages are abjads – a type of alphabetic
script that omits some or all of the vowels, which is feasible for
these languages because the consonants in the
Semitic languages are
the primary carriers of meaning.
Among them are the Ugaritic, Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac,
Arabic, and South Arabian alphabets. The
Ge'ez script, used initially
in Yemen, and later also for writing the
Semitic languages of Ethiopia
and Eritrea, is technically an abugida – a modified abjad in
which vowels are notated using diacritic marks added to the consonants
at all times, in contrast with other
Semitic languages which indicate
diacritics based on need or for introductory purposes. Maltese is the
only Semitic language written in the
Latin script and the only Semitic
language to be an official language of the European Union.
Semitic languages are notable for their nonconcatenative
morphology. That is, word roots are not themselves syllables or words,
but instead are isolated sets of consonants (usually three, making a
so-called triliteral root). Words are composed out of roots not so
much by adding prefixes or suffixes, but rather by filling in the
vowels between the root consonants (although prefixes and suffixes are
often added as well). For example, in Arabic, the root meaning "write"
has the form k-t-b. From this root, words are formed by filling in the
vowels and sometimes adding additional consonants, e.g. كتاب
kitāb "book", كتب kutub "books", كاتب kātib "writer",
كتّاب kuttāb "writers", كتب kataba "he wrote", يكتب
yaktubu "he writes", etc.
1 Name and identification
2.1 Ancient Semitic-speaking peoples
2.2 Common Era (AD)
3 Present situation
4.3 Correspondence of sounds with other Afroasiatic languages
5.1 Word order
5.2 Cases in nouns and adjectives
5.3 Number in nouns
5.4 Verb aspect and tense
5.5 Morphology: triliteral roots
5.6 Independent personal pronouns
5.7 Cardinal numerals
6 Common vocabulary
8 Semitic-speaking peoples
8.1 Central Semitic
8.2 East Semitic
8.3 South Semitic
9 See also
12 Additional reference literature
13 External links
Name and identification
1538 comparison of
Hebrew and Arabic, by Guillaume Postel –
possibly the first such representation in Western European
The similarity of the Hebrew,
Arabic and Aramaic languages was
accepted by Jewish and Islamic scholars since medieval times. The
languages were familiar to Western European scholars due to historical
contact with neighbouring
Near Eastern countries and through Biblical
studies, and a comparative analysis of Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic was
published in Latin in 1538 by Guillaume Postel. Almost two
Hiob Ludolf described the similarities between these
three languages and the Ethiopian Semitic languages. However,
neither scholar named this grouping as "Semitic".
The term "Semitic" was created by members of the Göttingen School of
History, and specifically by August Ludwig von Schlözer
(1781) and Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (1787) first coined
the name "Semitic" in the late 18th century to designate the languages
closely related to Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew. The choice of name
was derived from Shem, one of the three sons of Noah in the
genealogical accounts of the biblical Book of Genesis, or more
precisely from the
Koine Greek rendering of the name, Σήμ (Sēm).
Eichhorn is credited with popularising the term, particularly via
a 1795 article "Semitische Sprachen" (Semitic languages) in which he
justified the terminology against criticism that
Hebrew and Canaanite
were the same language despite
Canaan being "Hamitic" in the Table of
In the Mosaic Table of Nations, those names which are listed as
Semites are purely names of tribes who speak the so-called Oriental
languages and live in Southwest Asia. As far as we can trace the
history of these very languages back in time, they have always been
written with syllabograms or with alphabetic script (never with
hieroglyphs or pictograms); and the legends about the invention of the
syllabograms and alphabetic script go back to the Semites. In
contrast, all so called
Hamitic peoples originally used hieroglyphs,
until they here and there, either through contact with the Semites, or
through their settlement among them, became familiar with their
syllabograms or alphabetic script, and partly adopted them. Viewed
from this aspect too, with respect to the alphabet used, the name
"Semitic languages" is completely appropriate.
Previously these languages had been commonly known as the "Oriental
languages" in European literature. In the 19th century,
"Semitic" became the conventional name; however, an alternative name,
"Syro-Arabian languages", was later introduced by James Cowles
Prichard and used by some writers.
Ancient Semitic-speaking peoples
Main article: Ancient Semitic-speaking peoples
14th century BC diplomatic letter in Akkadian, found in Amarna, Egypt
There are several locations proposed as possible sites for prehistoric
origins of Semitic-speaking peoples: Mesopotamia, the Levant,
Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa, with the most
recent Bayesian studies indicating Semitic originated in the Levant
circa 3800 BC, and was later also introduced to the
Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa in
approximately 800 BC.
Semitic languages were spoken across much of the
Middle East and Asia
Minor during the
Bronze Age and Iron Age, the earliest attested being
Akkadian of the Mesopotamian and south eastern
Anatolian polities of Akkad,
Assyria and Babylonia, and the also East
Eblaite language of the kingdom of
Ebla in the north eastern
Levant. The various closely related
Northwest Semitic Canaanite
languages included Amorite, Edomite, Hebrew, Ammonite, Moabite,
Phoenician (Punic/Carthaginian), Samaritan, Ekronite and Sutean,
encompassed what is today Israel, western, north western and southern
Syria, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Jordan, the Sinai peninsula,
northern parts of the
Arabian peninsula and in the case of Phoenician,
coastal regions of
Libya and Algeria, as well as
Ugaritic was spoken in the kingdom of
north western Syria.
South Arabian languages (distinct from the later
attested Arabic) were spoken in the kingdoms of Dilmun, Meluhha,
Sheba, Ubar and Magan, which in modern terms encompassed part of the
eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, Qatar,
Oman and Yemen.
These languages (in the form of Ge'ez) later spread to the Horn of
Africa circa 8th century BC.
Arabic and the
Arabs were attested in
Assyrian annals as being extant in the northern
Arabian peninsula from
the 9th century BC. Aramaic, a
Northwest Semitic language first
attested in the 12th century BC in the
Levant gradually replaced the
East Semitic and
Canaanite languages across much of the Near East,
particularly after being adopted as the lingua franca of the vast
Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC) by
Tiglath-Pileser III during the 8th
century BC, and being retained by the succeeding Neo-Babylonian Empire
and Achaemenid Empires.
Common Era (AD)
Approximate distribution of
Semitic languages around the 1st century
Syriac, a 5th-century BC Assyrian Mesopotamian descendant of
Aramaic used in northeastern Syria,
Mesopotamia and south east
Anatolia, rose to importance as a literary language of early
Christianity in the third to fifth centuries and continued into the
early Islamic era.
With the advent of the early
Muslim conquests of the seventh and
eighth centuries, the hitherto largely uninfluential
slowly but surely replaced many (but not all) of the indigenous
Semitic languages and cultures of the Near East. Both the Near East
North Africa saw an influx of
Arabs from the Arabian
Peninsula, followed later by non-Semitic
Muslim Iranian and Turkic
peoples. The previously dominant Aramaic dialects gradually began to
be sidelined, however descendant dialects of Eastern Aramaic
Akkadian influenced Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean
Turoyo and Mandaic) survive to this day among the
Mandaeans of northern Iraq, northwestern Iran,
Syria and southeastern Turkey, with up to a million
Western Aramaic is now only spoken by a few thousand
Syriac Christians in western Syria. The
Arabs spread their Central
Semitic language to
North Africa (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria,
Morocco and northern
Sudan and Mauritania) where it gradually replaced
Egyptian Coptic and many
Berber languages (although Berber is still
largely extant in many areas), and for a time to the Iberian Peninsula
Portugal and Gibraltar) and Malta.
Page from a 12th-century
Quran in Arabic
With the patronage of the caliphs and the prestige of its liturgical
Arabic rapidly became one of the world's main literary
languages. Its spread among the masses took much longer, however, as
many (although not all) of the native populations outside the Arabian
Peninsula only gradually abandoned their languages in favour of
Bedouin tribes settled in conquered areas, it became the
main language of not only central Arabia, but also Yemen, the
Fertile Crescent, and Egypt. Most of the
particularly in the wake of the Banu Hilal's incursion in the 11th
Arabic became the native language of many inhabitants of
al-Andalus. After the collapse of the Nubian kingdom of
Dongola in the
Arabic began to spread south of
Egypt into modern Sudan;
soon after, the
Beni Ḥassān brought
Arabization to Mauritania. A
South Arabian languages distinct from
Arabic still survive,
such as Soqotri, Mehri and Shehri which are mainly spoken in Socotra,
Yemen and Oman, and are likely descendants of the languages spoken in
the ancient kingdoms of Sheba, Magan, Ubar,
Meluhha and Dilmun.
Semitic languages that had arrived from southern Arabia
in the 8th century BC were diversifying in
Ethiopia and Eritrea,
where, under heavy Cushitic influence, they split into a number of
Amharic and Tigrinya. With the expansion of
Ethiopia under the Solomonic dynasty, Amharic, previously a minor
local language, spread throughout much of the country, replacing both
Semitic (such as Gafat) and non-Semitic (such as Weyto) languages, and
Ge'ez as the principal literary language (though Ge'ez
remains the liturgical language for
Christians in the region); this
spread continues to this day, with Qimant set to disappear in another
Map showing the distribution of Semitic (orange) and other
Afro-Asiatic language speakers today.
Map showing the historical distribution of Semitic (yellow) and other
Afro-Asiatic language speakers about 1000 – 2000 years ago.
Arabic languages and dialects are currently the native languages of
Mauritania to Oman, and from
Iraq to the Sudan.
Arabic is the language of the Quran, it is also studied
widely in the non-Arabic-speaking
Muslim world. The Maltese language
is genetically a descendant of the extinct Siculo-Arabic, a variety of
Arabic formerly spoken in Sicily. The modern Maltese alphabet
is based on the
Latin script with the addition of some letters with
diacritic marks and digraphs. Maltese is the only Semitic official
language of a nation state within the European Union.
Wildly successful as second languages far beyond their numbers of
contemporary first-language speakers, a few
Semitic languages today
are the base of the sacred literature of some of the world's great
Hebrew and Aramaic),
churches of Syriac
Christianity (Syriac) and Ethiopian Christianity
(Ge'ez). Millions learn these as a second language (or an archaic
version of their modern tongues): many Muslims learn to read and
Jews speak and study Biblical Hebrew, the
language of the Torah, Midrash, and other Jewish scriptures. Ethnic
Assyrian followers of the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean
Catholic Church, Ancient Church of the East, Assyrian Pentecostal
Assyrian Evangelical Church and Assyrian members of the Syriac
Orthodox Church both speak Mesopotamian eastern Aramaic and use it
also as a liturgical tongue. The language is also used liturgically by
the primarily Arabic-speaking followers of the Maronite, Syriac
Catholic Church and some
Arabic itself is the main
liturgical language of Oriental Orthodox
Christians in the Middle
East, who compose the patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem and
Alexandria. Mandaic is both spoken and used as a liturgical language
by the Mandaeans.
Despite the ascendancy of
Arabic in the Middle East, other Semitic
languages still exist. Biblical Hebrew, long extinct as a colloquial
language and in use only in Jewish literary, intellectual, and
liturgical activity, was revived in spoken form at the end of the 19th
Hebrew is the main language of Israel, while remaining
the language of liturgy and religious scholarship of
Several smaller ethnic groups, in particular the Assyrians, Kurdish
Jews, and Gnostic Mandeans, continue to speak and write Mesopotamian
Aramaic languages, particularly
Neo-Aramaic languages descended from
Syriac, in those areas roughly corresponding to
Iraq, northeast Syria, south eastern
Turkey and northwestern Iran) and
Syriac language itself, a descendant of Eastern Aramaic
languages (Mesopotamian Old Aramaic), is used also liturgically by the
Syriac Christians throughout the area. Although the majority of
Neo-Aramaic dialects spoken today are descended from Eastern
Western Neo-Aramaic is still spoken in 3 villages in Syria.
Yemen and Oman, on the southern rim of the Arabian
Peninsula, a few tribes continue to speak Modern South Arabian
languages such as Mahri and Soqotri. These languages differ greatly
from both the surrounding
Arabic dialects and from the (unrelated but
previously thought to be related) languages of the Old South Arabian
Historically linked to the peninsular homeland of Old South Arabian,
of which only one language, Razihi, remains,
Ethiopia and Eritrea
contain a substantial number of Semitic languages; the most widely
Amharic in Ethiopia, Tigre in Eritrea, and Tigrinya in
Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia. Tigrinya is a
working language in Eritrea. Tigre is spoken by over one million
people in the northern and central Eritrean lowlands and parts of
eastern Sudan. A number of
Gurage languages are spoken by populations
in the semi-mountainous region of southwest Ethiopia, while Harari is
restricted to the city of Harar.
Ge'ez remains the liturgical language
for certain groups of
Ethiopia and in Eritrea.
The phonologies of the attested
Semitic languages are presented here
from a comparative point of view. See
for details on the phonological reconstruction of
in this article.
Proto-Semitic consonant phonemes
Note: the fricatives *s, *z, *ṣ, *ś, *ṣ́, *ṱ may also be
interpreted as affricates (/t͡s/, /d͡z/, /t͡sʼ/, /t͡ɬ/,
/t͡ɬʼ/, /t͡θʼ/), as discussed below.
This comparative approach is natural for the consonants, as sound
correspondences among the consonants of the
Semitic languages are very
straightforward for a family of its time depth; for the vowels there
are more subtleties.
Proto-Semitic phoneme was reconstructed to explain a certain
regular sound correspondence between various Semitic languages. Note
that Latin letter values (italicized) for extinct languages are a
question of transcription; the exact pronunciation is not recorded.
Most of the attested languages have merged a number of the
reconstructed original fricatives, though South Arabian retains all
fourteen (and has added a fifteenth from *p > f).
In Aramaic and Hebrew, all non-emphatic stops occurring singly after a
vowel were softened to fricatives, leading to an alternation that was
often later phonemicized as a result of the loss of gemination.
In languages exhibiting pharyngealization of emphatics, the original
velar emphatic has rather developed to a uvular stop [q].
Regular correspondences of the
ḏ > d
ܖ ז3/ܕ ד
ܫ שׁ3/ܬ ת
ܥ שׂ3/ܤ ס
ṱ > ġ
צ ܨ3/ט ܛ
ק ܩ3/ע ܥ
Proto-Semitic *ś was still pronounced as [ɬ] in Biblical Hebrew, but
no letter was available in the Phoenician alphabet, so the letter ש
did double duty, representing both /ʃ/ and /ɬ/. Later on, however,
/ɬ/ merged with /s/, but the old spelling was largely retained, and
the two pronunciations of ש were distinguished graphically in
Hebrew as שׁ /ʃ/ vs. שׂ /s/ < /ɬ/.
Hebrew as of the 3rd century BCE apparently still
distinguished the phonemes ġ /ʁ/ and ḫ /χ/, based on
transcriptions in the Septuagint. As in the case of /ɬ/, no letters
were available to represent these sounds, and existing letters did
double duty: ח /χ/ /ħ/ and ע /ʁ/ /ʕ/. In both of these cases,
however, the two sounds represented by the same letter eventually
merged, leaving no evidence (other than early transcriptions) of the
Although early Aramaic (pre-7th century BCE) had only 22 consonants in
its alphabet, it apparently distinguished all of the original 29
Proto-Semitic phonemes, including *ḏ, *ṯ, *ṱ, *ś, *ṣ́, *ġ
and *ḫ – although by
Middle Aramaic times, these had all
merged with other sounds. This conclusion is mainly based on the
shifting representation of words etymologically containing these
sounds; in early Aramaic writing, the first five are merged with z,
š, ṣ, š, q, respectively, but later with d, t, ṭ, s, ʿ.
(Also note that due to begadkefat spirantization, which occurred after
this merger, OAm. t > ṯ and d > ḏ in some positions, so that
PS *t,ṯ and *d, ḏ may be realized as either of t, ṯ and d, ḏ
respectively.) The sounds *ġ and *ḫ were always represented using
the pharyngeal letters ʿ ḥ, but they are distinguished from the
pharyngeals in the Demotic-script papyrus Amherst 63, written about
200 BCE. This suggests that these sounds, too, were distinguished
Old Aramaic language, but written using the same letters as they
later merged with.
The earlier pharyngeals can be distinguished in
Akkadian from the zero
reflexes of *h, *ʔ by e-coloring adjacent *a, e.g. pS *ˈbaʕal-um
'owner, lord' > Akk. bēlu(m).
Hebrew and Aramaic underwent begadkefat spirantization at a certain
point, whereby the stop sounds /b ɡ d k p t/ were softened to the
corresponding fricatives [v ɣ ð x f θ] (written ḇ ḡ ḏ ḵ p̄
ṯ) when occurring after a vowel and not geminated. This change
probably happened after the original
Old Aramaic phonemes /θ, ð/
disappeared in the 7th century BCE, and most likely occurred after
the loss of
Hebrew /χ, ʁ/ c. 200 BCE.[nb 1] It is known to have
Hebrew by the 2nd century CE. After a certain point
this alternation became contrastive in word-medial and final position
(though bearing low functional load), but in word-initial position
they remained allophonic. In Modern Hebrew, the distinction has a
higher functional load due to the loss of gemination, although only
the three fricatives /v χ f/ are still preserved (the fricative /x/
is pronounced /χ/ in modern Hebrew). (The others are pronounced like
the corresponding stops, apparently under the influence of later
non-native speakers whose native European tongues lacked the sounds
/ɣ ð θ/ as phonemes.)
Northwest Semitic languages, */w/ became */j/ at the beginning
of a word, e.g.
Hebrew yeled "boy" < *wald (cf.
There is evidence of a rule of assimilation of /j/ to the following
coronal consonant in pre-tonic position,[clarification needed] shared
by Hebrew, Phoenician and Aramaic.
In Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, [ħ] is nonexistent. In general cases, the
language would lack pharyngeal fricative [ʕ] (as heard in Ayin).
However, /ʕ/ is retained in educational speech, especially among
Ugaritic orthography indicated the vowel after the glottal stop.
The following table shows the development of the various fricatives in
Hebrew, Aramaic and
Arabic through cognate words:
'water melon like plant'
possibly affricated (/dz/ /tɬʼ/ /ʦʼ/ /tθʼ/ /tɬ/)
Proto-Semitic vowels are, in general, harder to deduce due to the
nonconcatenative morphology of Semitic languages. The history of vowel
changes in the languages makes drawing up a complete table of
correspondences impossible, so only the most common reflexes can be
Vowel correspondences in
Semitic languages (in proto-Semitic stressed
a, e, ē5
BA, JA ay(i), ē,
WSyr. ay/ī & ay/ē
in a stressed open syllable
in a stressed closed syllable before a geminate
in a stressed closed syllable before a consonant cluster
when the proto-Semitic stressed vowel remained stressed
pS *a,*ā > Akk. e,ē in the neighborhood of pS *ʕ,*ħ and before
i.e. pS *g,*k,*ḳ,*χ >
Ge'ez gʷ, kʷ,ḳʷ,χʷ / _u
Correspondence of sounds with other Afroasiatic languages
See table at Proto-Afroasiatic language#
Semitic languages share a number of grammatical features, although
variation — both between separate languages, and within the
languages themselves — has naturally occurred over time.
The reconstructed default word order in
verb–subject–object (VSO), possessed–possessor (NG), and
noun–adjective (NA). This was still the case in Classical
Biblical Hebrew, e.g. Classical
Arabic رأى محمد فريدا
ra'ā muħammadun farīdan. (literally "saw Muhammad Farid", Muhammad
saw Farid). In the modern
Arabic vernaculars, however, as well as
sometimes in Modern Standard
Arabic (the modern literary language
based on Classical Arabic) and Modern Hebrew, the classical VSO order
has given way to SVO. Modern
Ethiopian Semitic languages
Ethiopian Semitic languages follow a
different word order: SOV, possessor–possessed, and
adjective–noun; however, the oldest attested Ethiopian Semitic
language, Ge'ez, was VSO, possessed–possessor, and
Akkadian was also predominantly SOV.
Cases in nouns and adjectives
The proto-Semitic three-case system (nominative, accusative and
genitive) with differing vowel endings (-u, -a -i), fully preserved in
Arabic (see ʾIʿrab),
Akkadian and Ugaritic, has disappeared
everywhere in the many colloquial forms of Semitic languages. Modern
Arabic maintains such case distinctions, although they are
typically lost in free speech due to colloquial influence. An
accusative ending -n is preserved in Ethiopian Semitic. The
archaic Samalian dialect of
Old Aramaic reflects a case distinction in
the plural between nominative -ū and oblique -ī (compare the same
distinction in Classical Arabic). Additionally, Semitic nouns
and adjectives had a category of state, the indefinite state being
expressed by nunation.
Number in nouns
Semitic languages originally had three grammatical numbers: singular,
dual, and plural. Classical
Arabic still has a mandatory dual (i.e. it
must be used in all circumstances when referring to two entities),
marked on nouns, verbs, adjectives and pronouns. Many contemporary
Arabic still have a dual, as in the name for the nation of
Bahrain (baħr "sea" + -ayn "two"), although it is marked only on
nouns. It also occurs in
Hebrew in a few nouns (šana means "one
year", šnatayim means "two years", and šanim means "years"), but for
those it is obligatory. The curious phenomenon of broken plurals –
e.g. in Arabic, sadd "one dam" vs. sudūd "dams" – found most
profusely in the languages of Arabia and Ethiopia, may be partly of
proto-Semitic origin, and partly elaborated from simpler origins.
Verb aspect and tense
Paradigm of a regular Classical
Form I kataba (yaktubu) "to write"
Semitic languages show two quite distinct styles of morphology
used for conjugating verbs. Suffix conjugations take suffixes
indicating the person, number and gender of the subject, which bear
some resemblance to the pronominal suffixes used to indicate direct
objects on verbs ("I saw him") and possession on nouns ("his dog").
So-called prefix conjugations actually takes both prefixes and
suffixes, with the prefixes primarily indicating person (and sometimes
number and/or gender), while the suffixes (which are completely
different from those used in the suffix conjugation) indicate number
and gender whenever the prefix does not mark this. The prefix
conjugation is noted for a particular pattern of ʔ- t- y- n- prefixes
where (1) a t- prefix is used in the singular to mark the second
person and third-person feminine, while a y- prefix marks the
third-person masculine; and (2) identical words are used for
second-person masculine and third-person feminine singular. The prefix
conjugation is extremely old, with clear analogues in nearly all the
Afroasiatic languages (i.e. at least 10,000 years old).
The table on the right shows examples of the prefix and suffix
conjugations in Classical Arabic, which has forms that are close to
In Proto-Semitic, as still largely reflected in East Semitic, prefix
conjugations are used both for the past and the non-past, with
different vocalizations. Cf.
Akkadian niprus "we decided" (preterite),
niptaras "we have decided" (perfect), niparras "we decide" (non-past
or imperfect), vs. suffix-conjugated parsānu "we are/were/will be
deciding" (stative). Some of these features, e.g. gemination
indicating the non-past/imperfect, are generally attributed to
Afroasiatic. According to Hetzron,
Proto-Semitic had an additional
form, the jussive, which was distinguished from the preterite only by
the position of stress: the jussive had final stress while the
preterite had non-final (retracted) stress.
West Semitic languages significantly reshaped the system. The most
substantial changes occurred in the
Central Semitic languages (the
ancestors of modern Hebrew,
Arabic and Aramaic). Essentially, the old
prefix-conjugated jussive and/or preterite became a new non-past (or
imperfect), while the stative became a new past (or perfect), and the
old prefix-conjugated non-past (or imperfect) with gemination was
discarded. New suffixes were used to mark different moods in the
non-past, e.g. Classical
Arabic -u (indicative), -a (subjunctive), vs
no suffix (jussive). (It is not generally agreed whether the systems
of the various
Semitic languages are better interpreted in terms of
tense, i.e. past vs. non-past, or aspect, i.e. perfect vs. imperfect.)
A special feature in classical
Hebrew is the waw-consecutive,
prefixing a verb form with the letter waw in order to change its tense
or aspect. The
South Semitic languages show a system somewhere between
the East and Central Semitic languages.
Later languages show further developments. In the modern varieties of
Arabic, for example, the old mood suffixes were dropped, and new mood
prefixes developed (e.g. bi- for indicative vs. no prefix for
subjunctive in many varieties). In the extreme case of Neo-Aramaic,
the verb conjugations have been entirely reworked under Iranian
Morphology: triliteral roots
Main article: Semitic root
Semitic languages exhibit a unique pattern of stems called Semitic
roots consisting typically of "triliteral", or 3-consonant consonantal
roots (2- and 4-consonant roots also exist), from which nouns,
adjectives, and verbs are formed in various ways: e.g. by inserting
vowels, doubling consonants, lengthening vowels, and/or adding
prefixes, suffixes, or infixes.
For instance, the root k-t-b, (dealing with "writing" generally)
yields in Arabic:
kataba كَتَبَ or كتب "he wrote" (masculine)
katabat كَتَبَت or كتبت "she wrote" (feminine)
katabtu كَتَبْتُ or كتبت "I wrote" (f and m)
kutiba كُتِبَ or كتب "it was written" (masculine)
kutibat كُتِبَت or كتبت "it was written" (feminine)
katabū كَتَبُوا or كتبوا "they wrote" (masculine)
katabna كَتَبْنَ or كتبن "they wrote" (feminine)
katabnā كَتَبْنَا or كتبنا "we wrote" (f and m)
yaktub(u) يَكْتُب or يكتب "he writes" (masculine)
taktub(u) تَكْتُب or تكتب "she writes" (feminine)
naktub(u) نَكْتُب or نكتب "we write" (f and m)
aktub(u) أَكْتُب or أكتب "I write" (f and m)
yuktab(u) يُكْتَب or يكتب "being written" (masculine)
tuktab(u) تُكتَب or تكتب "being written" (feminine)
yaktubūn(a) يَكْتُبُونَ or يكتبون "they write"
yaktubna يَكْتُبْنَ or يكتبن "they write" (feminine)
taktubna تَكْتُبْنَ or تكتبن "you write" (feminine)
yaktubān(i) يَكْتُبَانِ or يكتبان "they both write"
(masculine) (for 2 males)
taktubān(i) تَكْتُبَانِ or تكتبان "they both write"
(feminine) (for 2 females)
kātaba كاتَبَ or كاتب "he exchanged letters (with sb.)"
yukātib(u) يُكَاتِب or يكاتب "he exchanges (with sb.)"
yatakātabūn(a) يَتَكَاتَبُونَ or يتكاتبون
"they write to each other" (masculine)
iktataba اِكْتَتَبَ or اكتتب "he is registered"
(intransitive) or "he contributed (a money quantity to sth.)"
(ditransitive) (the first t is part of a particular verbal transfix,
not part of the root)
istaktaba اِسْتَكْتَبَ or استكتب "to cause to write
kitāb كِتَاب or كتاب "book" (the hyphen shows end of stem
before various case endings)
kutub كُتُب or كتب "books" (plural)
kutayyib كُتَيِّب or كتيب "booklet" (diminutive)
kitābat كِتَابَة or كتابة "writing"
kātib كاتِب or كاتب "writer" (masculine)
kātibat كاتِبة or كاتبة "writer" (feminine)
kātibūn(a) كاتِبونَ or كاتبون "writers" (masculine)
kātibāt كاتِبات or كاتبات "writers" (feminine)
kuttāb كُتاب or كتاب "writers" (broken plural)
katabat كَتَبَة or كتبة "clerks" (broken plural)
maktab مَكتَب or مكتب "desk" or "office"
makātib مَكاتِب or مكاتب "desks" or "offices"
maktabat مَكتَبة or مكتبة "library" or "bookshop"
maktūb مَكتوب or مكتوب "written" (participle) or "postal
katībat كَتيبة or كتيبة "squadron" or "document"
katā'ib كَتائِب or كتائب "squadrons" or "documents"
iktitāb اِكتِتاب or اكتتاب "registration" or
"contribution of funds"
muktatib مُكتَتِب or مكتتب "subscription"
istiktāb اِستِكتاب or استكتاب "causing to write"
and the same root in Hebrew:
kāṯaḇti כתבתי "I wrote"
kāṯaḇtā כתבת "you (m) wrote"
kāṯaḇ כתב "he wrote"
kattāḇ כתב "reporter" (m)
katteḇeṯ כתבת "reporter" (f)
kattāḇā כתבה "article" (plural kattāḇōṯ כתבות)
miḵtāḇ מכתב "postal letter" (plural miḵtāḇīm
miḵtāḇā מכתבה "writing desk" (plural miḵtāḇōṯ
kəṯōḇeṯ כתובת "address" (plural kəṯōḇōṯ
kəṯāḇ כתב "handwriting"
kāṯūḇ כתוב "written" (f kəṯūḇā כתובה)
hiḵtīḇ הכתיב "he dictated" (f hiḵtīḇā הכתיבה)
hiṯkattēḇ התכתב "he corresponded (f hiṯkattəḇā
niḵtaḇ נכתב "it was written" (m)
niḵtəḇā נכתבה "it was written" (f)
kəṯīḇ כתיב "spelling" (m)
taḵtīḇ תכתיב "prescript" (m)
məḵuttāḇ מכותב "addressee" (meḵutteḇeṯ מכותבת
kəṯubbā כתובה "ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract)" (f)
In Tigrinya and Amharic, this root survives only in the noun kitab,
meaning "amulet", and the verb "to vaccinate". Ethiopic-derived
languages use different roots for things that have to do with writing
(and in some cases counting) primitive root: ṣ-f and trilateral root
stems: m-ṣ-f, ṣ-h-f, and ṣ-f-r are used. This roots also exists
Semitic languages like (Hebrew: sep̄er "book", sōp̄er
"scribe", mispār "number" and sippūr "story"). (this root also
Arabic and is used to form words with a close meaning to
"writing", such as ṣaḥāfa "journalism", and ṣaḥīfa
"newspaper" or "parchment"). Verbs in other non-Semitic Afroasiatic
languages show similar radical patterns, but more usually with
biconsonantal roots; e.g. Kabyle afeg means "fly!", while affug means
"flight", and yufeg means "he flew" (compare with Hebrew, where
hap̄lēḡ means "set sail!", hap̄lāḡā means "a sailing trip",
and hip̄līḡ means "he sailed", while the unrelated ʕūp̄,
təʕūp̄ā and ʕāp̄ pertain to flight).
Independent personal pronouns
*ʔanāku,[nb 3] *ʔaniya
ʔanā, anā, ana, āni, āna, ānig
אנכי, אני ʔānōḵī, ʔănī
You (sg., masc.)
*ʔanka > *ʔanta
ʔant, ant, inta, inti, int, (i)nta
āt, āty, āten
You (sg., fem.)
ʔanti, anti, inti, init (i)nti, intch
āt, āty, āten
هو huwa, hū
huwwa, huwwe, hū
هي hiya, hī
hiyya, hiyye, hī
niħna, iħna, ħinna
אנו, אנחנו ʔānū, ʔănaħnū
Plural form is used
Plural form is used
Ye (pl., masc.)
ʔantum, antum, intu, intum, (i)ntūma
Ye (pl., fem.)
ʔantin, antin, ʔantum, intu, intum, (i)ntūma
hum, humma, hūma, hom, hinne
הם, המה hēm, hēmmā
hin, hinne, hum, humma, hūma
הן, הנה hēn, hēnnā
See also: List of numbers in various languages
واحد، أحد waːħid-, ʔaħad-
אחד ʼeḥáḏ ʔeˈχad
*ṯin-ān (nom.), *ṯin-ayn (obl.), *kilʼ-
θinaːn, θinajn, kilʔ
اثنان iθn-āni (nom.), اثنين iθn-ajni (obj.), اثنتان
fem. iθnat-āni, اثنتين iθnat-ajni
שנים šənáyim ˈʃn-ajim, fem. שתים šətáyim ˈʃt-ajim
*śalāṯ- > *ṯalāṯ-[nb 5]
ɬalaːθ > θalaːθ
fem. שלוש šālṓš ʃaˈloʃ
fem. ארבע ʼárbaʻ ˈʔaʁba
fem. חמש ḥā́mēš ˈχameʃ
ستّ sitt- (ordinal سادس saːdis-)
fem. שש šēš ʃeʃ
fem. שבע šéḇaʻ ˈʃeva
fem. שמונה šəmṓneh ʃˈmone
fem. תשע tḗšaʻ ˈtejʃa
fem. עשר ʻéśer ˈʔeseʁ
These are the basic numeral stems without feminine suffixes. Note that
in most older Semitic languages, the forms of the numerals from 3 to
10 exhibit gender polarity (also called "chiastic concord" or reverse
agreement), i.e. if the counted noun is masculine, the numeral would
be feminine and vice versa.
Semitic languages are speculated to have had weak ergative
Due to the Semitic languages' common origin, they share many words and
roots. Others differ. For example:
mû (root *mā-/*māy-)
Terms given in brackets are not derived from the respective
Proto-Semitic roots, though they may also derive from Proto-Semitic
(as does e.g.
Arabic dār, cf. Biblical
Hebrew dōr "dwelling").
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
"cow" in Ethiopian Semitic; the original meaning was most probably
"food". The word medina (root: m-d-n) has the meaning of "metropolis"
in Amharic, "city" in
Arabic and Ancient Hebrew, and "State" in Modern
Of course, there is sometimes no relation between the roots. For
example, "knowledge" is represented in
Hebrew by the root y-d-ʿ, but
Arabic by the roots ʿ-r-f and ʿ-l-m and in Ethiosemitic by the
roots ʿ-w-q and f-l-ṭ.
For more comparative vocabulary lists, see Wiktionary appendices:
Swadesh lists for Afro-Asiatic languages
There are six fairly uncontroversial nodes within the Semitic
languages: East Semitic, Northwest Semitic, North Arabian, Old South
Arabian (also known as Sayhadic), Modern South Arabian, and Ethiopian
Semitic. These are generally grouped further, but there is ongoing
debate as to which belong together. The classification based on shared
innovations given below, established by
Robert Hetzron in 1976 and
with later emendations by John Huehnergard and Rodgers as summarized
in Hetzron 1997, is the most widely accepted today. In particular,
several Semiticists still argue for the traditional (partially
nonlinguistic) view of
Arabic as part of South Semitic, and a few
Alexander Militarev or the German-Egyptian professor Arafa
Hussein Mustafa) see the South Arabian
languages[clarification needed] as a third branch of Semitic alongside
East and West Semitic, rather than as a subgroup of South Semitic.
Roger Blench notes that the
Gurage languages are
highly divergent and wonders whether they might not be a primary
branch, reflecting an origin of Afroasiatic in or near Ethiopia. At a
lower level, there is still no general agreement on where to draw the
line between "languages" and "dialects" – an issue
particularly relevant in Arabic, Aramaic, and Gurage – and the
strong mutual influences between
Arabic dialects render a genetic
subclassification of them particularly difficult.
Himyaritic language and
Sutean language appear to have been
Semitic, but they're unclassified due to insufficient data.
Western: Ethiopian Semitic and Old South Arabian
Eastern: Modern South Arabian
The following is a list of some modern and ancient Semitic-speaking
peoples and nations:
Ammonite speakers of Ammon
Amorites – 20th century BC
Ancient North Arabian-speaking bedouins
Arameans – 16th to 8th centuries BC / Akhlames (Ahlamu)
14th century BC.
Canaanite-speaking nations of the early Iron Age:
Chaldea – appeared in southern
Mesopotamia c. 1000 BC and
eventually disappeared into the general Babylonian population.
Hebrews/Israelites – founded the nation of
Israel which later
split into the Kingdoms of
Israel and Judah. The remnants of these
people became the
Jews and the Samaritans.
Mhallami – A minority of Syriac-
Arameans who converted to
Islam but retained Syriac identity
Phoenicia – founded Mediterranean colonies including Tyre,
Sidon and ancient Carthage. The remnants of these people became the
modern inhabitants of Lebanon.
Ugarit, 14th to 12th centuries BC
Nasrani (Syrian Christian)
Akkadian Empire – ancient Semitic speakers moved into
Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BC and settled among the local
peoples of Sumer. The remnants of these people became the
Assyrian people (also known as Chaldo-Assyrians) of Iraq, Iran,
Turkey and northeast Syria.
Ebla – 23rd century BC
Kingdom of Aksum – 4th century BC to 7th century AD
Old South Arabian-speaking peoples
Sabaeans of Yemen – 9th to 1st centuries BC
Suteans – 14th century BC
Thamud – 2nd to 5th centuries AD
Bronze Age alphabets
^ According to the generally accepted view, it is unlikely that
begadkefat spirantization occurred before the merger of /χ, ʁ/ and
/ħ, ʕ/, or else [x, χ] and [ɣ, ʁ] would have to be contrastive,
which is cross-linguistically rare. However, Blau argues that it is
possible that lenited /k/ and /χ/ could coexist even if pronounced
identically, since one would be recognized as an alternating allophone
(as apparently is the case in Nestorian Syriac). See Blau (2010:56).
^ see Canaanite shift
^ While some believe that *ʔanāku was an innovation in some branches
of Semitic utilizing an "intensifying" *-ku, comparison to other
Afro-Asiatic 1ps pronouns (e.g. Eg. 3nk, Coptic anak, anok,
proto-Berber *ənakkʷ) suggests that this goes further back.
(Dolgopolsky 1999, pp. 10–11.)
Akkadian form is from Sargonic Akkadian. Among the Semitic
languages, there are languages with /i/ as the final vowel (this is
the form in Mehri). For a recent discussion concerning the
reconstruction of the forms of the dual pronouns, see Bar-Asher,
Elitzur. 2009. "Dual Pronouns in Semitics and an Evaluation of the
Evidence for their Existence in Biblical Hebrew," Ancient Near Eastern
Studies 46: 32–49
^ Lipiński, Edward, Semitic languages: outline of a comparative
grammar . This root underwent regressive assimilation. This
parallels the non-adjacent assimilation of *ś... > *š...š in
proto-Canaanite or proto-North-West-Semitic in the roots *śam?š >
*šamš 'sun' and *śur?š > *šurš 'root'. (Dolgopolsky pp.
61–62.) The form *ṯalāṯ- appears in most languages (e.g.
Aramaic, Arabic, Ugaritic), but the original form ślṯ appears in
the South Arabian languages, and a form with s < *ś (rather than
š < *ṯ) appears in Akkadian.
^ Lipiński, Edward, Semitic languages: outline of a comparative
grammar . This root was also assimilated in various ways. For
Hebrew reflects *šišš-, with total assimilation; Arabic
reflects *šitt- in cardinal numerals, but less assimilated *šādiš-
in ordinal numerals.
Epigraphic South Arabian
Epigraphic South Arabian reflects original
Ugaritic has a form ṯṯ, in which the ṯ has been
assimilated throughout the root.
^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds.
Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute
for the Science of Human History.
^ Bennett, Patrick R. (1998). Comparative Semitic Linguistics: A
Manual. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns.
^ Hetzron, Robert (1997). The Semitic Languages. London/New York:
^ Baasten 2003.
^ Jonathan, Owens (2013). The Oxford Handbook of
Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN 0199344094. Retrieved 18
Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
^ Tigrinya at
Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
^ ^ Jump up to: a b
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic at
Ethnologue (18th ed.,
Chaldean Neo-Aramaic at
Ethnologue (14th ed., 2000).
Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Ethnologue Entry for Maltese, 21st ed., 2018
^ a b c d Ruhlen, Merritt (1991), A Guide to the World's Languages:
Classification, Stanford University Press, ISBN 9780804718943,
The other linguistic group to be recognized in the eighteenth century
was the Semitic family. The German scholar Ludwig von Schlozer is
often credited with having recognizes, and named, the Semitic family
in 1781. But the affinity of Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic had been
recognized for centuries by Jewish, Christian and Islamic scholars,
and this knowledge was published in Western
Europe as early as 1538
(see Postel 1538). Around 1700 Hiob Ludolf, who had written grammars
of Geez and
Amharic (both Ethiopic Semitic languages) in the
seventeenth century, recognized the extension of the Semitic family
into East Africa. Thus when von Schlozer named the family in 1781 he
was merely recognizing genetic relationships that had been known for
Semitic languages (Aramaic, Arabic, and Hebrew) were
long familiar to Europeans both because of their geographic proximity
and because the Bible was written in
Hebrew and Aramaic.
^ a b c d Kiraz, George Anton (2001). Computational Nonlinear
Morphology: With Emphasis on Semitic Languages. Cambridge University
Press. p. 25. ISBN 9780521631969. The term "Semitic" is
borrowed from the Bible (Gene. x.21 and xi.10–26). It was first used
by the Orientalist A. L. Schlözer in 1781 to designate the languages
spoken by the Aramæans, Hebrews, Arabs, and other peoples of the Near
East (Moscati et al., 1969, Sect. 1.2). Before Schlözer, these
languages and dialects were known as Oriental languages.
^ Baasten 2003, p. 67.
^ a b c Kitto, John (1845). A Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature.
London: W. Clowes and Sons. p. 192. That important family of
languages, of which the
Arabic is the most cultivated and most
widely-extended branch, has long wanted an appropriate common name.
The term Oriental languages, which was exclusively applied to it from
the time of
Jerome down to the end of the last century, and which is
even now not entirely abandoned, must always have been an unscientific
one, inasmuch as the countries in which these languages prevailed are
only the east in respect to Europe; and when Sanskrit, Chinese, and
other idioms of the remoter East were brought within the reach of our
research, it became palpably incorrect. Under a sense of this
impropriety, Eichhorn was the first, as he says himself (Allg. Bibl.
Biblioth. vi. 772), to introduce the name Semitic languages, which was
soon generally adopted, and which is the most usual one at the present
day. [...] In modern times, however, the very appropriate designation
Syro-Arabian languages has been proposed by Dr. Prichard, in his
Physical History of Man. This term, [...] has the advantage of forming
an exact counterpart to the name by which the only other great family
of languages with which we are likely to bring the Syro-Arabian into
relations of contrast or accordance, is now universally known—the
Indo-Germanic. Like it, by taking up only the two extreme members of a
whole sisterhood according to their geographical position when in
their native seats, it embraces all the intermediate branches under a
common band; and, like it, it constitutes a name which is not only at
once intelligible, but one which in itself conveys a notion of that
affinity between the sister dialects, which it is one of the objects
of comparative philology to demonstrate and to apply.
^ Baasten 2003, p. 68.
^ a b Baasten 2003, p. 69.
^ Eichhorn 1794.
^ Kitchen, A; Ehret, C; Assefa, S; Mulligan, CJ. (2009). "Bayesian
phylogenetic analysis of
Semitic languages identifies an Early Bronze
Age origin of Semitic in the Near East". Proc Biol Sci. 276 (1668):
2703–10. doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.0408. PMC 2839953 .
^ "Semite". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
^ Waltke & O'Connor (1990:8): "The extrabiblical linguistic
material from the iron Age is primarily epigraphic, that is, texts
written on hard materials (pottery, stones, walls, etc.). The
epigraphic texts from Israelite territory are written in
Hebrew in a
form of the language which may be called Inscriptional Hebrew; this
"dialect" is not strikingly different from the
Hebrew preserved in the
Masoretic text. Unfortunately, it is meagerly attested. Similarly
limited are the epigraphic materials in the other South Canaanite
dialects, Moabite and Ammonite;
Edomite is so poorly attested that we
are not sure that it is a South Canaanite dialect, though that seems
likely. Of greater interest and bulk is the body of Central Canaanite
inscriptions, those written in the
Phoenician language of Tyre, Sidon,
and Byblos, and in the offshoot
Punic and Neo-
Punic tongues of the
Phoenician colonies in North Africa. An especially problematic body of
material is the Deir Alla wall inscriptions referring to a prophet
Balaam (ca. 700 BC), these texts have both Canaanite and Aramaic
features. W. R. Garr has recently proposed that all the Iron Age
Canaanite dialects be regarded as forming a chain that actually
includes the oldest forms of Aramaic as well."
^ ^ Averil Cameron, Peter Garnsey (1998). "The Cambridge Ancient
History, Volume 13". p. 708.
^ ^ Amir Harrak (1992). "The ancient name of Edessa". Journal of Near
Eastern Studies 51 (3): 209–214. doi:10.1086/373553.
^ Nebes, Norbert, "Epigraphic South Arabian," in von Uhlig, Siegbert,
Encyclopaedia Aethiopica (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005),
^ a b Kogan, Leonid (2012). "
Proto-Semitic Phonology and Phonetics".
In Weninger, Stefan. The Semitic Languages: An International Handbook.
Walter de Gruyter. pp. 54–151.
^ Watson, Janet (2002). The Phonology and Morphology of
New York: Oxford University Press. p. 13. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 2016-03-01.
^ Huehnergard, J. (2003) "
Akkadian ḫ and West Semitic ḥ." Studia
Semitica 3, ed. L. E. Kogan & A. Militarev. Moscow: Russian State
University for the Humanities. pp. 102-119.
Old Aramaic (c. 850 to c. 612 BCE)". Retrieved 2011-08-22.
^ "LIN325: Introduction to Semitic Languages. Common Consonant
Changes" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-08-21.
^ Kaufman, Stephen (1997), "Aramaic", in Hetzron, Robert, The Semitic
Languages, Routledge, pp. 117–119 .
^ Dolgopolsky 1999, p. 35.
^ Dolgopolsky (1999:72)
^ Dolgopolsky (1999:73)
^ Blau (2010:78–81)
^ Garnier, Romain; Jacques, Guillaume (2012). "A neglected phonetic
law: The assimilation of pretonic yod to a following coronal in
North-West Semitic". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African
Studies. 75.1: 135–145. doi:10.1017/s0041977x11001261.
^ Brock, Sebastian (2006). An Introduction to Syriac Studies.
Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press. ISBN 1-59333-349-8.
^ Dolgopolsky 1999, pp. 85–86.
^ Approaches to Language Typology by Masayoshi Shibatani and Theodora
Bynon, page 157
^ Moscati, Sabatino (1958). "On Semitic Case-Endings". Journal of Near
Eastern Studies. 17 (2): 142–43. doi:10.1086/371454. "In the
historically attested Semitic languages, the endings of the singular
noun-flexions survive, as is well known, only partially: in Akkadian
Ugaritic and, limited to the accusative, in Ethiopic.
Old Aramaic (c. 850 to c. 612 BC)". Retrieved 2011-08-22.
^ Hetzron, Robert (1997). The Semitic Languages. Routledge.
ISBN 978-0-415-05767-7. , page 123
^ Robert Hetzron. "Biblical Hebrew" in The World's Major Languages.
^ Weninger, Stefan (2011). "Reconstructive Morphology". In Semitic
languages: an international handbook, Stefan Weninger, ed. Berlin:
Walter de Gruyter. P. 166.
^ Müller, Hans-Peter (1995). "Ergative Constructions In Early Semitic
Languages". Journal of
Near Eastern Studies. 54: 261–271.
doi:10.1086/373769. JSTOR 545846. .
^ Coghill, Eleanor. The rise and fall of ergativity in Aramaic :
cycles of alignment change (First edition ed.). Oxford.
ISBN 9780198723806. OCLC 962895347. CS1 maint: Extra
^ "Aramaean – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com.
Akhlame – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com.
^ "Mesopotamian religion – Britannica Online Encyclopedia".
Britannica.com. Retrieved 2013-01-27.
Akkadian language – Britannica Online Encyclopedia".
Britannica.com. Retrieved 2013-01-27.
Additional reference literature
Baasten, Martin (2003). "A Note on the History of 'Semitic'". Hamlet
on a Hill: Semitic and Greek Studies Presented to Professor T. Muraoka
on the Occasion of His Sixty-fifth Birthday. Peeters Publishers.
p. 57–73. ISBN 9789042912151.
Bennett, Patrick R. 1998. Comparative Semitic Linguistics: A Manual.
Eisenbrauns. ISBN 1-57506-021-3.
Blau, Joshua (2010). Phonology and Morphology of Biblical Hebrew.
Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns. ISBN 1-57506-129-5.
Dolgopolsky, Aron (1999). From
Proto-Semitic to Hebrew. Milan: Centro
Studi Camito-Semitici di Milano.
Eichhorn, Johann Gottfried (1794). Allgemeine Bibliothek der
biblischen Literatur. 6. p. 772–776.
Bergsträsser, Gotthelf. 1995. Introduction to the Semitic Languages:
Text Specimens and Grammatical Sketches. Translated by Peter T.
Daniels. Winona Lake, Ind. : Eisenbrauns.
Garbini, Giovanni. 1984. Le lingue semitiche: studi di storia
linguistica. Naples: Istituto Orientale.
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Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Semitic genealogical tree (as well as the Afroasiatic one), presented
Alexander Militarev at his talk "Genealogical classification of
Afro-Asiatic languages according to the latest data" (at the
conference on the 70th anniversary of Vladislav Illich-Svitych,
Moscow, 2004; short annotations of the talks given there (in Russian)
Pattern-and-root inflectional morphology: the
Arabic broken plural
Ancient snake spell in Egyptian pyramid may be oldest Semitic
Swadesh vocabulary lists of
Semitic languages (from Wiktionary's
Links to related articles
Modern Semitic languages
varieties of Arabic
Koy Sanjaq Surat
Old South Arabian
Modern South Arabian
East Semitic languages
West Semitic and Central Semitic languages
Jewish Babylonian Aramaic
Koy Sanjaq Surat
Eastern Egyptian and Peninsular Bedawi
South Semitic languages
Silt'e (Wolane, Ulbareg, Inneqor)
Modern South Arabian
Varieties of Arabic
Central Asian Arabic
Arabic (extinct ancestor of Maltese which is not part of the
Creoles and pidgins
Italics indicate extinct languages.
Modern Aramaic languages
Koy Sanjaq Surat
Barzani Jewish Neo-Aramaic
Betanure Jewish Neo-Aramaic
Arabs in India
Arabs in Turkey
Jewish political movements
Jewish religious movements
Generations of Noah
Genetic studies on Jews
Haplogroup J (Y-DNA)
Y-DNA haplogroups in populations of the Near East
Kingdom of Aksum
Kingdom of Awsan
Israel (united monarchy)
Kingdom of Judah
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic1 (Western Sahara)
United Arab Emirates
coats of arms
Lion of Judah
Star of David
United Arab Emirates
Ancient Canaanite religion
Ancient Mesopotamian religion
Ancient Semitic religion
Arab European League
Assyrian Universal Alliance
World Council of
World Zionist Congress
1 Is a state with limited international recognition
Major Afroasiatic languages
Arabic (Varieties of Arabic)
Aramaic (Assyrian Neo-Aramaic)
Italics indicate extinct languages
BNF: cb11937564s (data)
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