The Info List - Semitic Languages

--- Advertisement ---

The Semitic languages[2][3] are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East. Semitic languages
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 communities in North America
North America
and Europe, with smaller communities in the Caucasus
and Central Asia. The terminology was first used in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History,[4] who derived the name from Shem, one of the three sons of Noah in the Book of Genesis. The most widely spoken Semitic languages
Semitic languages
today are (numbers given are for native speakers only) Arabic
(300 million),[5] Amharic
(22 million),[6] Tigrinya (7 million),[7] Hebrew
(~5 million native/L1 speakers),[8] Tigre (~1.05 million), Aramaic (575,000 to 1 million largely Assyrian fluent speakers)[9][10][11] and Maltese (482,880 speakers).[12] Semitic languages
Semitic languages
occur in written form from a very early historical date, with East Semitic Akkadian
and 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 unclassified Lullubi
from 30th century BCE. However, most scripts used to write Semitic languages
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
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
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
Semitic languages
which indicate diacritics based on need or for introductory purposes. Maltese is the only Semitic language written in the Latin script
Latin script
and the only Semitic language to be an official language of the European Union. The Semitic languages
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 History

2.1 Ancient Semitic-speaking peoples 2.2 Common Era (AD)

3 Present situation 4 Phonology

4.1 Consonants 4.2 Vowels 4.3 Correspondence of sounds with other Afroasiatic languages

5 Grammar

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 5.8 Typology

6 Common vocabulary 7 Classification 8 Semitic-speaking peoples

8.1 Central Semitic 8.2 East Semitic 8.3 South Semitic 8.4 Unknown

9 See also 10 Notes 11 References 12 Additional reference literature 13 External links

Name and identification[edit]

1538 comparison of Hebrew
and Arabic, by Guillaume Postel – possibly the first such representation in Western European literature[13]

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
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.[13] Almost two centuries later, Hiob Ludolf
Hiob Ludolf
described the similarities between these three languages and the Ethiopian Semitic languages.[13] However, neither scholar named this grouping as "Semitic".[13] The term "Semitic" was created by members of the Göttingen School of History, and specifically by August Ludwig von Schlözer[14] (1781)[15] and Johann Gottfried Eichhorn[16] (1787)[17] first coined the name "Semitic" in the late 18th century to designate the languages closely related to Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew.[14] 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,[14] or more precisely from the Koine Greek
Koine Greek
rendering of the name, Σήμ (Sēm). Eichhorn is credited with popularising the term,[18] 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 Nations:[19][18]

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.[14][16] 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.[16] History[edit] Ancient Semitic-speaking peoples[edit] 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.[20][21] Semitic languages
Semitic languages
were spoken across much of the Middle East
Middle East
and Asia Minor during the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
and Iron Age, the earliest attested being the East Semitic Akkadian
of the Mesopotamian and south eastern Anatolian polities of Akkad, Assyria
and Babylonia, and the also East Semitic Eblaite language
Eblaite language
of the kingdom of Ebla
in the north eastern Levant. The various closely related Northwest Semitic
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
Arabian peninsula
and in the case of Phoenician, coastal regions of Tunisia
(Carthage), Libya
and Algeria, as well as possibly Malta
also. Ugaritic
was spoken in the kingdom of Ugarit
in 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
Arabian peninsula
from the 9th century BC. Aramaic, a Northwest Semitic
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
Neo-Assyrian Empire
(911-605 BC) by Tiglath-Pileser III
Tiglath-Pileser III
during the 8th century BC, and being retained by the succeeding Neo-Babylonian Empire and Achaemenid Empires.[22] Common Era (AD)[edit]

Approximate distribution of Semitic languages
Semitic languages
around the 1st century


Syriac, a 5th-century BC Assyrian[23] Mesopotamian descendant of Aramaic used in northeastern Syria, Mesopotamia
and south east Anatolia,[24] 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 Arabic
language slowly but surely replaced many (but not all) of the indigenous Semitic languages
Semitic languages
and cultures of the Near East. Both the Near East and North Africa
North Africa
saw an influx of Muslim
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 (including the Akkadian
influenced Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, Turoyo and Mandaic) survive to this day among the Assyrians and Mandaeans
of northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, northeastern Syria
and southeastern Turkey, with up to a million fluent speakers. Western Aramaic is now only spoken by a few thousand Syriac Christians
Syriac Christians
in western Syria. The Arabs
spread their Central Semitic language to North Africa
North Africa
(Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco
and northern Sudan
and Mauritania) where it gradually replaced Egyptian Coptic and many Berber languages
Berber languages
(although Berber is still largely extant in many areas), and for a time to the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain, 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 status, 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 Arabic. As Bedouin
tribes settled in conquered areas, it became the main language of not only central Arabia, but also Yemen,[25] the Fertile Crescent, and Egypt. Most of the Maghreb
followed, particularly in the wake of the Banu Hilal's incursion in the 11th century, and Arabic
became the native language of many inhabitants of al-Andalus. After the collapse of the Nubian kingdom of Dongola
in the 14th century, Arabic
began to spread south of Egypt
into modern Sudan; soon after, the Beni Ḥassān brought Arabization
to Mauritania. A number of 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. Meanwhile, the Semitic languages
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 languages, including 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 replacing 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 generation. Present situation[edit]

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.

languages and dialects are currently the native languages of majorities from Mauritania
to Oman, and from Iraq
to the Sudan. Classical 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 Maghrebi Arabic
formerly spoken in Sicily. The modern Maltese alphabet is based on the Latin script
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
Semitic languages
today are the base of the sacred literature of some of the world's great religions, including Islam
(Arabic), Judaism
( 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 recite the Qur'an
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 Church, 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 Melkite
Christians. 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 century. Modern Hebrew
is the main language of Israel, while remaining the language of liturgy and religious scholarship of Jews
worldwide. 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 Kurdistan
(northern Iraq, northeast Syria, south eastern Turkey
and northwestern Iran) and the Caucasus. Syriac language
Syriac language
itself, a descendant of Eastern Aramaic languages (Mesopotamian Old Aramaic), is used also liturgically by the Syriac Christians
Syriac Christians
throughout the area. Although the majority of Neo-Aramaic dialects spoken today are descended from Eastern varieties, Western Neo-Aramaic
Western Neo-Aramaic
is still spoken in 3 villages in Syria. In Arab-dominated 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 inscriptions. 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 spoken are Amharic
in Ethiopia, Tigre in Eritrea, and Tigrinya in both. 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 Christians
in Ethiopia
and in Eritrea. Phonology[edit] The phonologies of the attested Semitic languages
Semitic languages
are presented here from a comparative point of view. See Proto-Semitic
language#Phonology for details on the phonological reconstruction of Proto-Semitic
used in this article.

consonant phonemes[26]

Type Labial Inter- dental Dental/ Alveolar Palatal Velar Pharyn- geal Glottal

Central Lateral

Nasal *m [m]

*n [n]

Stop voiceless *p [p]

*t [t]

*k [k]

*ʼ [ʔ]

voiced *b [b]

*d [d]

*g [ɡ]


*ṭ [tʼ]

*q [kʼ]

Fricative or Affricate voiceless

*ṯ [θ] *š [ʃ] *s [s] *ś [ɬ]

*ḫ [x] *ḥ [ħ] *h [h]


*ḏ [ð] *z [z]

*ġ [ɣ] *ʻ [ʕ]


*ṱ [θʼ] *ṣ [sʼ] *ṣ́ [ɬʼ]


*r [r]


*l [l] *y [j] *w [w]

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
Semitic languages
are very straightforward for a family of its time depth; for the vowels there are more subtleties. Consonants[edit] Each 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 Proto-Semitic

Proto Semitic IPA Arabic

Akkadian Ugaritic Phoenician


Aramaic Ge'ez

written Classical[27] Modern Standard written Tiberian Modern

*b [b] ب b /b/ b 𐎁 b

b ב‬ ḇ/b5 /v/, /b/ /v/, /b/ ܒ ב ḇ/b5 በ /b/

*d [d] د d /d/ d 𐎄 d

d ד‬ ḏ/d5 /ð/, /d/ /d/ ܕ ד ḏ/d5 ደ /d/

*g [ɡ] ج ǧ /ɟ/ /d͡ʒ~ʒ~ɡ/ g 𐎂 g

g ג‬ ḡ/g5 /ɣ/, /g/ /ɡ/ ܓ ג ḡ/g5 ገ /ɡ/

*p [p] ف f /f/ p 𐎔 p

p פ‬ p̄/p5 /f/, /p/ /f/, /p/ ܦ פ p̄/p5 ፈ /f/

*t [t] ت t /t/ t 𐎚 t

t ת‬ ṯ/t5 /θ/, /t/ /t/ ܬ ת ṯ/t5 ተ /t/

*k [k] ك k /k/ k 𐎋 k

k כ‬ ḵ/k5 /x/, /k/ /χ/, /k/ ܟ כ ḵ/k5 ከ /k/

*ṭ [tʼ] ط ṭ /tˤ/ ṭ 𐎉 ṭ

ṭ ט‬ ṭ /tˤ/ /t/ ܛ ט ṭ ጠ /tʼ/

*q [kʼ] ق q /q/ q 𐎖 ḳ

q ק‬ q /q/ /k/ ܩ ק q ቀ /kʼ/

Proto Semitic IPA Arabic Classical Standard Akkadian Ugaritic Phoenician Hebrew Tiberian Modern Aramaic Ge'ez

*ḏ [ð]/[d͡ð] ذ ḏ /ð/ z 𐎏 ḏ > d

z ז‬ z /z/ /z/ ܖ ז3/ܕ ד ḏ3/d ዘ /z/

*z [z]/[d͡z] ز z /z/ 𐎇 z ܖ ז z

*s [s]/[t͡s] س s /s/ s 𐎒 s

s ס‬ s /s/ /s/ ܤ ס s ሰ /s/

*š [ʃ]/[t͡ʃ] š 𐎌 š

š שׁ‬ š /ʃ/ /ʃ/ ܫ שׁ š

*ṯ [θ]/[t͡θ] ث ṯ /θ/ 𐎘 ṯ ܫ שׁ3/ܬ ת ṯ3/t

*ś [ɬ]/[t͡ɬ] ش š /ɕ/ /ʃ/ 𐎌 š שׂ‬1 ś1 /s/ /s/ ܥ שׂ3/ܤ ס ś3/s ሠ /ɬ/

*ṱ [θʼ]/[t͡θʼ] ظ ẓ /ðˤ/ ṣ 𐎑 ṱ > ġ

ṣ צ‬ ṣ /sˤ/ /ts/ צ ܨ3/ט ܛ ṯʼ3/ṭ ጸ /tsʼ/

*ṣ [sʼ]/[t͡sʼ] ص ṣ /sˤ/ 𐎕 ṣ צ ܨ ṣ

*ṣ́ [ɬʼ]/[t͡ɬʼ] ض ḍ /ɮˤ/ /dˤ/ ק ܩ3/ע ܥ *ġʼ3/ʻ ፀ /ɬʼ/

Proto Semitic IPA Arabic Classical Standard Akkadian Ugaritic Phoenician Hebrew Tiberian Modern Aramaic Ge'ez

*ġ [ɣ]~[ʁ] غ ġ /ʁˤ/ /ɣ~ʁ/ – 𐎙 ġ,ʻ

/ʕ/ ע‬2 ʻ2 /ʕ/ /ʔ/, - ע ܥ3 ġ3/ʻ ዐ /ʕ/

*ʻ [ʕ] ع ʻ /ʕ/ -4 𐎓 ʻ ע ܥ ʻ

*ʼ [ʔ] ء ʼ /ʔ/ – 𐎀 𐎛 𐎜 ʼa ʼi ʼu9

/ʔ/ א‬ ʼ /ʔ/ /ʔ/, - א ܐ ʼ አ /ʔ/

*ḫ [x]~[χ] خ ḫ /χˤ/ /x~χ/ ḫ 𐎃 ḫ

ḥ ח‬2 ḥ2 /ħ/ /χ/ ח ܟ3 ḫ3/ḥ ኀ /χ/

*x̣[28] [xʼ] ح ḥ /ħ/ 𐎈 ח ܟ ḥ ሐ /ħ/

*ḥ [ħ] -4

*h [h] ه h /h/ – 𐎅 h

h ה‬ h /h/ /h/, - ה ܗ h ሀ /h/

Proto Semitic IPA Arabic Classical Standard Akkadian Ugaritic Phoenician Hebrew Tiberian Modern Aramaic Ge'ez

*m [m] م m /m/ m 𐎎 m

m מ‬ m /m/ /m/ מ ܡ m መ /m/

*n [n] ن n /n/ n 𐎐 n

n נ‬ n /n/ /n/ נ ܢ ר ܪ n r ነ /n/

*r [ɾ] ر r /r/ r 𐎗 r

r ר‬ r /ɾ/ /ʁ/ ר ܪ r ረ /r/

*l [l] ل l /l/ l 𐎍 l

l ל‬ l /l/ /l/ ל ܠ l ለ /l/

*y [j] ي y /j/ y 𐎊 y

y י‬ y /j/ /j/ י ܝ y የ /j/

*w [w] و w /w/ w 𐎆 𐎊 w y6

w y6 ו‬ י‬ w y6 /w/ /j/ /v/, /w/ /j/ ו ܘ י ܝ w y6 ወ /w/


*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 Tiberian Hebrew
as שׁ /ʃ/ vs. שׂ /s/ < /ɬ/. Biblical 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 former distinctions. 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
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.[29][30] (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.[31] This suggests that these sounds, too, were distinguished in Old Aramaic
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).[32] 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
Old Aramaic
phonemes /θ, ð/ disappeared in the 7th century BCE,[33] and most likely occurred after the loss of Hebrew
/χ, ʁ/ c. 200 BCE.[nb 1] It is known to have occurred in Hebrew
by the 2nd century CE.[34] 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.[35] 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.) In the Northwest Semitic
Northwest Semitic
languages, */w/ became */j/ at the beginning of a word, e.g. Hebrew
yeled "boy" < *wald (cf. Arabic
walad). 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.[36] 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 Assyrian priests.[37] 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:

Proto Semitic Arabic Aramaic Hebrew Examples

Arabic Aramaic Hebrew meaning

*/ð/ *ḏ */ð/ ذ */d/ ד */z/ ז ذهب ذَكَر דהב דכרא זהב זָכָר 'gold' 'male'

*/z/1 *z */z/ ز */z/ ז موازين زمن מאזנין זמן מאזנים זמן 'scale' 'time'

*/s/ *s */s/ س */ʃ/ ش */s/ ס */s/ ס سكين شهر סכין סהר סכין סהר 'knife' 'moon/month'

*/ɬ/ *ś */ʃ/ ش */s/ שׂ */s/ שׂ عشر עשׂר עשׂר 'ten'

*/ʃ/ *š */s/ س */ʃ/ שׁ */ʃ/ שׁ سنة سلام שׁנה שלם שׁנה שלום 'year' 'peace'

*/θ/ *ṯ */θ/ ث */t/ ת ثلاثة اثنان תלת תרין שלוש שתים 'three' 'two'

*/θʼ/1 *ṱ */ðˤ/ ظ */tʼ/ ט */sˤ~ts/1 צ ظل ظهر טלה טהרא צל צהרים 'shadow' 'noon'

*/ɬʼ/1 *ṣ́ */dˤ/ ض */ʕ/ ע أرض ضحك ארע עחק ארץ צחק 'land' 'laughed'

*/sʼ/1 *ṣ */sˤ/ ص */sʼ/ צ صرخ صبر צרח צבר צרח צבר 'shout' 'water melon like plant'

*/χ/ *ḫ */χ/ خ */ħ/ ח */ħ~χ/ ח خمسة صرخ חַמְשָׁה צרח חֲמִשָּׁה צרח 'five' 'shout'

*/ħ/ *ḥ */ħ/ ح ملح حلم מלח חלם מלח חלום 'salt' 'dream'

*/ʁ/ *ġ */ʁ/ غ */ʕ/ ע */ʕ~ʔ/ ע غراب غرب ערב מערב עורב מערב 'raven' 'west'

*/ʕ/ *ʻ */ʕ/ ع عبد سبعة עבד שבע עבד שבע 'slave' 'seven'

possibly affricated (/dz/ /tɬʼ/ /ʦʼ/ /tθʼ/ /tɬ/)

Vowels[edit] 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 given:

correspondences in Semitic languages
Semitic languages
(in proto-Semitic stressed syllables)[38]

pS Arabic Aramaic Hebrew Ge'ez Akkadian

Classical Modern usually4 /_C.ˈV /ˈ_.1 /ˈ_Cː2 /ˈ_C.C3

*a a a a ə ā a ɛ a a, e, ē5

*i i i e, i, WSyr. ɛ ə ē e ɛ, e ə i

*u u u u, o ə ō o o ə, ʷə6 u

*ā ā ā ā

ō[nb 2]

ā ā, ē

*ī ī ī ī


ī ī

*ū ū ū ū

ū ū


*ay. ay ē, ay BA, JA ay(i), ē, WSyr. ay/ī & ay/ē

ayi, ay

ay, ē ī

*aw. aw ō, aw ō, WSyr. aw/ū

ō, pausal ˈāwɛ

ō ū

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 r. i.e. pS *g,*k,*ḳ,*χ > Ge'ez
gʷ, kʷ,ḳʷ,χʷ / _u

Correspondence of sounds with other Afroasiatic languages[edit] See table at Proto-Afroasiatic language# Consonant
correspondences. Grammar[edit] The Semitic languages
Semitic languages
share a number of grammatical features, although variation — both between separate languages, and within the languages themselves — has naturally occurred over time. Word order[edit] The reconstructed default word order in Proto-Semitic
is verb–subject–object (VSO), possessed–possessor (NG), and noun–adjective (NA). This was still the case in Classical Arabic
and 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 noun–adjective.[39] Akkadian
was also predominantly SOV. Cases in nouns and adjectives[edit] The proto-Semitic three-case system (nominative, accusative and genitive) with differing vowel endings (-u, -a -i), fully preserved in Qur'anic Arabic
(see ʾIʿrab), Akkadian
and Ugaritic, has disappeared everywhere in the many colloquial forms of Semitic languages. Modern Standard 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.[40] The archaic Samalian dialect of Old Aramaic
Old Aramaic
reflects a case distinction in the plural between nominative -ū and oblique -ī (compare the same distinction in Classical Arabic).[41][42] Additionally, Semitic nouns and adjectives had a category of state, the indefinite state being expressed by nunation.[citation needed] Number in nouns[edit] Semitic languages
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 dialects of 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[edit]

Paradigm of a regular Classical Arabic
verb: Form I kataba (yaktubu) "to write"

Past Present Indicative


1st katab-tu كَتَبْتُ ʼa-ktub-u أَكْتُبُ

2nd masculine katab-ta كَتَبْتَ ta-ktub-u تَكْتُبُ

feminine katab-ti كَتَبْتِ ta-ktub-īna تَكْتُبِينَ

3rd masculine katab-a كَتَبَ ya-ktub-u يَكْتُبُ

feminine katab-at كَتَبَتْ ta-ktub-u تَكْتُبُ


2nd masculine & feminine katab-tumā كَتَبْتُمَا ta-ktub-āni تَكْتُبَانِ

3rd masculine katab-ā كَتَبَا ya-ktub-āni يَكْتُبَانِ

feminine katab-atā كَتَبَتَا ta-ktub-āni تَكْتُبَانِ


1st katab-nā كَتَبْنَا na-ktub-u نَكْتُبُ

2nd masculine katab-tum كَتَبْتُمْ ta-ktub-ūna تَكْتُبُونَ

feminine katab-tunna كَتَبْتُنَّ ta-ktub-na تَكْتُبْنَ

3rd masculine katab-ū كَتَبُوا ya-ktub-ūna يَكْتُبُونَ

feminine katab-na كَتَبْنَ ya-ktub-na يَكْتُبْنَ

All Semitic languages
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 families of Afroasiatic languages
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 Proto-Semitic. 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,[43] 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. The 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
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 influence. Morphology: triliteral roots[edit] Main article: Semitic root All Semitic languages
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" (masculine) 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 (sth.)" 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 letter" (noun) 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 מכתבים) miḵtāḇā מכתבה "writing desk" (plural miḵtāḇōṯ מכתבות) kəṯōḇeṯ כתובת "address" (plural kəṯōḇōṯ כתובות) kəṯāḇ כתב "handwriting" kāṯūḇ כתוב "written" (f kəṯūḇā כתובה) hiḵtīḇ הכתיב "he dictated" (f hiḵtīḇā הכתיבה) hiṯkattēḇ התכתב "he corresponded (f hiṯkattəḇā התכתבה) 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 f) 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 in other Semitic languages
Semitic languages
like (Hebrew: sep̄er "book", sōp̄er "scribe", mispār "number" and sippūr "story"). (this root also exists in 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[edit]

English Proto-Semitic Akkadian Arabic Ge'ez Hebrew Aramaic Syriac

standard vernaculars

I *ʔanāku,[nb 3] *ʔaniya anāku أنا ʔanā ʔanā, anā, ana, āni, āna, ānig ʔana אנכי, אני ʔānōḵī, ʔănī אנא ʔanā ānā

You (sg., masc.) *ʔanka > *ʔanta atta أنت ʔanta ʔant, ant, inta, inti, int, (i)nta ʔánta אתה ʔattā אנת ʔantā āt, āty, āten

You (sg., fem.) *ʔanti atti أنت ʔanti ʔanti, anti, inti, init (i)nti, intch ʔánti את ʔatt אנת ʔanti āt, āty, āten

He *suʔa šū هو huwa, hū huwwa, huwwe, hū wəʔətu הוא hū הוא hu owā

She *siʔa šī هي hiya, hī hiyya, hiyye, hī yəʔəti היא hī היא hi ayā

We *niyaħnū, *niyaħnā nīnu نحن naħnu niħna, iħna, ħinna nəħnā אנו, אנחנו ʔānū, ʔănaħnū נחנא náħnā axnan

Ye (dual) *ʔantunā

أنتما ʔantumā Plural form is used

They (dual) *sunā[nb 4] *sunī(ti) هما humā Plural form is used

Ye (pl., masc.) *ʔantunū attunu أنتم ʔantum ʔantum, antum, intu, intum, (i)ntūma ʔantəmu אתם ʔattem אנתן ʔantun axtōxūn

Ye (pl., fem.) *ʔantinā attina أنتنّ ʔantunna ʔantin, antin, ʔantum, intu, intum, (i)ntūma ʔantən אתן ʔatten אנתן ʔanten axtōxūn

They (masc.) *sunū šunu هم hum hum, humma, hūma, hom, hinne ʔəmuntu הם, המה hēm, hēmmā הנן hinnun eni

They (fem.) *sinā šina هنّ hunna hin, hinne, hum, humma, hūma ʔəmāntu הן, הנה hēn, hēnnā הנן hinnin eni

Cardinal numerals[edit] See also: List of numbers in various languages

English Proto-Semitic[44] IPA Arabic Hebrew Tigrinya Sabaean Syriac

One *ʼaḥad-, *ʻišt- ʔaħad, ʔiʃt واحد، أحد waːħid-, ʔaħad- אחד ʼeḥáḏ ʔeˈχad ħade ʔḥd xā

Two *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 kelete *ṯny treh

Three *śalāṯ- > *ṯalāṯ-[nb 5] ɬalaːθ > θalaːθ ثلاث θalaːθ- fem. שלוש šālṓš ʃaˈloʃ seleste ( Ge'ez
śälas) *ślṯ ṭlā

Four *ʼarbaʻ- ʔarbaʕ أربع ʔarbaʕ- fem. ארבע ʼárbaʻ ˈʔaʁba arbaʕte *ʼrbʻ arpā

Five *ḫamš- χamʃ خمس χams- fem. חמש ḥā́mēš ˈχameʃ ħamuʃte *ḫmš xamšā

Six *šidṯ-[nb 6] ʃidθ ستّ sitt- (ordinal سادس saːdis-) fem. שש šēš ʃeʃ ʃduʃte *šdṯ/šṯ ëštā

Seven *šabʻ- ʃabʕ سبع sabʕ- fem. שבע šéḇaʻ ˈʃeva ʃewʕate *šbʻ šowā

Eight *ṯamāniy- θamaːnij- ثماني θamaːn-ij- fem. שמונה šəmṓneh ʃˈmone ʃemonte *ṯmny/ṯmn *tmanyā

Nine *tišʻ- tiʃʕ تسع tisʕ- fem. תשע tḗšaʻ ˈtejʃa tʃʕate *tšʻ *učā

Ten *ʻaśr- ʕaɬr عشر ʕaʃ(a)r- fem. עשר ʻéśer ˈʔeseʁ ʕaserte *ʻśr *uṣrā

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. Typology[edit] Some early Semitic languages
Semitic languages
are speculated to have had weak ergative features.[45][46] Common vocabulary[edit] Due to the Semitic languages' common origin, they share many words and roots. Others differ. For example:

English Proto-Semitic Akkadian Arabic Aramaic Syriac Hebrew Ge'ez Mehri Maltese

father *ʼab- ab- ʼab- ʼaḇ-āʼ bābā ʼāḇ ʼab ḥa-yb (missier)

heart *lib(a)b- libb- lubb-, (qalb-) lebb-āʼ lëbā lëḇ, lëḇāḇ libb ḥa-wbēb (qalb)

house *bayt- bītu, bētu bayt-, (dār-) bayt-āʼ bētā báyiṯ bet beyt, bêt (dar)

peace *šalām- šalām- salām- šlām-āʼ šlāmā šālôm salām səlōm sliem

tongue *lišān-/*lašān- lišān- lisān- leššān-āʼ lišānā lāšôn lissān əwšēn ilsien

water *may-/*māy- mû (root *mā-/*māy-) māʼ-/māy mayy-āʼ mēyā máyim māy ḥə-mō ilma

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 Hebrew
and "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 Hebrew. Of course, there is sometimes no relation between the roots. For example, "knowledge" is represented in Hebrew
by the root y-d-ʿ, but in Arabic
by the roots ʿ-r-f and ʿ-l-m and in Ethiosemitic by the roots ʿ-w-q and f-l-ṭ. For more comparative vocabulary lists, see Wiktionary appendices:

List of Proto-Semitic
stems Swadesh lists for Afro-Asiatic languages

Classification[edit] 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 (e.g. Alexander Militarev or the German-Egyptian professor Arafa Hussein Mustafa[citation needed]) 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[citation needed] 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. The Himyaritic language and Sutean language appear to have been Semitic, but they're unclassified due to insufficient data.

East Semitic Central Semitic

Northwest Semitic Arabic

South Semitic

Western: Ethiopian Semitic and Old South Arabian Eastern: Modern South Arabian

Semitic-speaking peoples[edit] The following is a list of some modern and ancient Semitic-speaking peoples and nations: Central Semitic[edit]

speakers of Ammon Amorites – 20th century BC Arabs Ancient North Arabian-speaking bedouins Arameans – 16th to 8th centuries BC[47] / Akhlames (Ahlamu) 14th century BC.[48] Canaanite-speaking nations of the early Iron Age: Chaldea
 – appeared in southern Mesopotamia
c. 1000 BC and eventually disappeared into the general Babylonian population. Edomites 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. Maltese Mandaeans Moab Mhallami – A minority of Syriac- Arameans
who converted to secular Islam
but retained Syriac identity Nabataeans 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)

East Semitic[edit]

Empire – ancient Semitic speakers moved into Mesopotamia
in the fourth millennium BC and settled among the local peoples of Sumer.[49][50] The remnants of these people became the modern Assyrian people
Assyrian people
(also known as Chaldo-Assyrians) of Iraq, Iran, south eastern Turkey
and northeast Syria. Ebla – 23rd century BC

South Semitic[edit]

Kingdom of Aksum – 4th century BC to 7th century AD Amhara people Argobba people Dahalik people Gurage people Harari people Mehri people Old South Arabian-speaking peoples Sabaeans
of Yemen – 9th to 1st centuries BC Silt'e people Tigrayans Tigre people Tigrinyas Zay people


Suteans – 14th century BC Thamud – 2nd to 5th centuries AD

See also[edit]

language Middle Bronze Age
Bronze Age


^ 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.) ^ The 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 example, 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 *šdṯ; Ugaritic
has a form ṯṯ, in which the ṯ has been assimilated throughout the root.


^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Semitic". 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: Routledge.  ^ Baasten 2003. ^ Jonathan, Owens (2013). The Oxford Handbook of Arabic
Linguistics. Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN 0199344094. Retrieved 18 February 2014.  ^ Amharic
at Ethnologue
(18th ed., 2015) ^ Tigrinya at Ethnologue
(18th ed., 2015) ^ Modern Hebrew
at Ethnologue
(18th ed., 2015) ^ ^ Jump up to: a b Assyrian Neo-Aramaic
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic
at Ethnologue
(18th ed., 2015) ^ Chaldean Neo-Aramaic
Chaldean Neo-Aramaic
at Ethnologue
(14th ed., 2000). ^ ^ Turoyo at 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 centuries. Three Semitic languages
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
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 . PMID 19403539. ^ "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
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. JSTOR 545546. ^ Nebes, Norbert, "Epigraphic South Arabian," in von Uhlig, Siegbert, Encyclopaedia Aethiopica (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005), pps.335. ^ 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. ISBN 978-3-11-025158-6.  ^ Watson, Janet (2002). The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic
(PDF). 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. ISBN 978-5-728-10690-6 ^ " Old Aramaic
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. Retrieved 2006-06-25.  ^ 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 and Arabic
and Ugaritic
and, limited to the accusative, in Ethiopic. ^ " Old Aramaic
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
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 text (link) ^ "Aramaean – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2013-01-27.  ^ " Akhlame
– Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2013-01-27.  ^ "Mesopotamian religion – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2013-01-27.  ^ " Akkadian language
Akkadian language
– Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 

Additional reference literature[edit]

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. ISBN 0-931464-10-2. Garbini, Giovanni. 1984. Le lingue semitiche: studi di storia linguistica. Naples: Istituto Orientale. Garbini, Giovanni; Durand, Olivier. 1995. Introduzione alle lingue semitiche. Paideia: Brescia 1995. Goldenberg, Gideon. 2013. Semitic Languages: Features, Structures, Relations, Processes. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-964491-9. Hetzron, Robert (ed.). 1997. The Semitic Languages. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-05767-1. (For family tree, see p. 7). Lipinski, Edward. 2001. Semitic Languages: Outlines of a Comparative Grammar. 2nd ed. Leuven: Orientalia Lovanensia Analecta. ISBN 90-429-0815-7 Mustafa, Arafa Hussein. 1974. Analytical study of phrases and sentences in epic texts of Ugarit. (German title: Untersuchungen zu Satztypen in den epischen Texten von Ugarit). Dissertation. Halle-Wittenberg: Martin-Luther-University. Moscati, Sabatino. 1969. An introduction to the comparative grammar of the Semitic languages: phonology and morphology. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. Ullendorff, Edward. 1955. The Semitic languages
Semitic languages
of Ethiopia: a comparative phonology. London: Taylor's (Foreign) Press. Woodard, Roger D. (ed.) (2008). The Ancient Languages of Syrio-Palestine and Arabia (PDF). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) Wright, William; Smith, William Robertson. 1890. Lectures on the comparative grammar of the Semitic languages. Cambridge University Press 1890. [2002 edition: ISBN 1-931956-12-X]

External links[edit]

has original text related to this article: Semitic Languages

Semitic genealogical tree (as well as the Afroasiatic one), 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 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 inscription Swadesh vocabulary lists of Semitic languages
Semitic languages
(from Wiktionary's Swadesh-list appendix)

Links to related articles

v t e

Modern Semitic languages


varieties of Arabic Judeo-Arabic Maltese

Modern Hebrew Aramaic

Western Neo-Aramaic Northeastern Neo-Aramaic Central Neo-Aramaic Assyrian Neo-Aramaic Chaldean Neo-Aramaic Bohtan Neo-Aramaic Hértevin Turoyo Koy Sanjaq Surat Senaya Syriac Mandaic Neo-Mandaic Mlahsô Judeo Aramaic

South Semitic

Old South Arabian

Jabal Razih

Modern South Arabian

Ethiopian Semitic

Gurage languages Arqobba Amharic Tigrinya Tigre Chaha Harari Silt'e Soddo Inor

v t e

Semitic languages

East Semitic languages

Akkadian Eblaite

West Semitic and Central Semitic languages




Biblical Mishnaic Medieval Mizrahi Yemenite Sephardi Ashkenazi Samaritan Modern




Ammonite Moabite Edomite



Jewish Palestinian Samaritan Christian Palestinian Nabataean Western Neo-Aramaic


Biblical Hatran Syriac Jewish Babylonian Aramaic Chaldean Neo-Aramaic Assyrian Neo-Aramaic Senaya Koy Sanjaq Surat Hértevin Turoyo Mlahsô Mandaic Judeo-Aramaic Syriac Malayalam


Amorite Eteocypriot Ugaritic



Classical Modern Standard


Mashriqi (Eastern)

Arabian Peninsular

Dhofari Gulf

Bahrani Shihhi

Hejazi Najdi Omani Yemeni



Eastern Egyptian and Peninsular Bedawi



Sa'idi Arabic


Cypriot Lebanese Palestinian


North Mesopotamian Judeo-Iraqi

Sudanese Central Asian

Tajiki Uzbeki


Maghrebi (Western)

Algerian Saharan Shuwa Hassānīya Andalusian Libyan Arabic




Moroccan Arabic


Tunisian Arabic



Old Arabic Nabataean Arabic

South Semitic languages

Western South

Old South

Sabaean Minaean Qatabanian Hadramautic Awsānian



Ge'ez Tigrinya Tigre Dahalik





Silt'e (Wolane, Ulbareg, Inneqor) Zay



Gafat Soddo


Mesmes Muher West Gurage

Mesqan Ezha Chaha Gura Gumer Gyeto Ennemor Endegen

Modern South Arabian

Bathari Harsusi Hobyot Mehri Shehri Soqotri

v t e

Varieties of Arabic


Old Arabic

Modern literary

Classical Modern Standard


Egyptian Chadian Sa'idi Sudanese




Omani Shihhi Dhofari Kuwaiti



Bareqi Hejazi

Sedentary Bedouin


Baharna Yemeni

Hadhrami San'ani Ta'izzi-Adeni Tihami Judeo-Yemeni


Northwest Arabian



North Mesopotamian

Cypriot Anatolian Judeo-Iraqi

South Mesopotamian

Baghdad Koiné Khuzestani

Central Asian

Afghani Khorasani Central Asian Arabic


North Levantine

North Syrian Central Levantine

Central Syrian Lebanese

South Levantine

Jordanian Palestinian

Urban Central village

Outer southern







North-Eastern Tunisian

Eastern Village

Sahel Sfaxian Lesser Kabylia

Western Village

Traras-Msirda Mountain

Judeo-Maghrebi Arabic

Judeo-Moroccan Judeo-Tripolitanian Judeo-Tunisian



Libyan koiné

Eastern Hilal

Tunisian koiné

Central Hilal

Algerian koiné Algerian Saharan Eastern Algerian Western Algerian


Western Moroccan Eastern Moroccan Moroccan koiné Hassānīya


Sicilian Arabic
(extinct ancestor of Maltese which is not part of the Arabic






Judeo-Moroccan Judeo-Tripolitanian Judeo-Tunisian Judeo-Yemeni

Creoles and pidgins

Babalia Bimbashi Juba Nubi Maridi Turku

Italics indicate extinct languages.

v t e

Modern Aramaic languages


Assyrian Neo-Aramaic Bohtan Neo-Aramaic Chaldean Neo-Aramaic Hértevin Koy Sanjaq Surat Mlahsô Senaya Turoyo


Lishanid Noshan Barzani Jewish Neo-Aramaic Hulaulá Lishana Deni Lishán Didán Betanure Jewish Neo-Aramaic




Western Neo-Aramaic

v t e

Semitic topics


Adnanites Algerians Amhara people Amorites Arab diaspora Arabs Arabs
in India Arabs
in Turkey Arameans Argobba people Arma people Assyrian people Bahrani people Bedouin Chaldeans Chaush Egyptians Emiratis Gurage people Habesha people Hadhrami people Harari people Hyksos Iranian Arabs Iraqis Ishmaelites Israelis

Israeli Arabs Israeli Jews

Israelites Jewish diaspora Jews Jordanians Lebanese people


Libyans Mandaeans Marsh Arabs Mauritanians Mhallami Moors Moroccans Nabataeans Omanis Palestinians Qahtanite Qataris Sabians Samaritans Saracen Soqotri Sudanese people Syrian people Tigrayans Tigre people Tigrinyas Tunisians Yemenis


Algerian nationalism Arab nationalism Arab socialism Assyrian nationalism Canaanism Egyptian nationalism Iraqi nationalism Jewish political movements

Bundism Zionism

Jewish religious movements Lebanese nationalism


Libyan nationalism Palestinian nationalism Pan-Arabism Pan-Islamism Syrian nationalism Tunisian nationalism


Generations of Noah Genetic studies on Jews Haplogroup IJ Haplogroup IJK Haplogroup J-M172 Haplogroup J-M267 Haplogroup J (Y-DNA) Shem Y-chromosomal Aaron Y-DNA haplogroups in populations of the Near East


Abbasid Caliphate Akkadian
Empire Amorites Arabization Aram Rehob Aram-Damascus Aram-Naharaim Assyria Babylonia Bit Adini Canaan Carthage Chaldea Davidic line Edom Fatimid Caliphate Ghassanids Hasmonean dynasty Herodian kingdom Herodian Tetrarchy Himyarite Kingdom Judaization Kindah Kingdom of Aksum Kingdom of Awsan Kingdom of Israel
(Samaria) Kingdom of Israel
(united monarchy) Kingdom of Judah Lakhmids Lihyan Midian Minaeans Moab Nabataeans Neo-Assyrian Empire Neo-Babylonian Empire Paddan Aram Palmyrene Empire Phoenicia Qataban Qedarite Rashidun Caliphate Sabaeans Solomonic dynasty Thamud Umayyad Caliphate Zagwe dynasty ʿĀd


Algeria Arab world Bahrain Comoros Djibouti Egypt Eritrea Ethiopia Iraq Israel Jordan Lebanon Libya Mauritania Palestinian territories1 Qatar Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic1 (Western Sahara) Saudi Arabia Somalia Sudan Syria Tunisia United Arab Emirates Yemen

Flags and coats of arms

Algeria Arab flags Aramean-Syriac flag Assyria Bahrain Cedrus libani The Coromos Crescent Djibouti Egypt Eritrea Ethiopia
(emblem) Ethiopia
(flag) Hamsa Iraq Israel
(emblem) Israel
(flag) Janbiya Jordan Khanjar Kuwait Lebanon Libya Lion of Judah Mauritania Menorah (Temple) Morocco Oman Palestine Pan-Arab colors Qatar Saudi Arabia Scimitar Shamash Star of David Sudan Syria Takbir Tanit Tunesia United Arab Emirates Yemen Zulfiqar


Arabist Assyriology Hebraist Semitic Museum Semitic studies Syriac studies


Abrahamic religions Ancient Canaanite religion Ancient Mesopotamian religion Ancient Semitic religion Babylonian religion Christianity Druze
religion Islam Judaism Mandaeism pre-Islamic Arabia Samaritan religion Semitic neopaganism


Arab European League Arab League Assyrian Universal Alliance World Council of Arameans
(Syriacs) World Zionist Congress

1 Is a state with limited international recognition

v t e

Major Afroasiatic languages


Kabyle Riffian Shawiya Shilha Tuareg




Afar Beja Oromo Somali


Ancient Egyptian Coptic




Akkadian Amharic Arabic
(Varieties of Arabic) Aramaic (Assyrian Neo-Aramaic) Ge'ez Hebrew Phoenician Tigrinya

Italics indicate extinct languages

Authority control

LCCN: sh85119961 GND: 4116476-3 SUDOC: 027304604 BNF: cb11937564s (data) NDL: 00570643

^ "Documentation for ISO 639 ident