25 Facts About Semitic languages


Semitic languages occur in written form from a very early historical date in West Asia, with East Semitic Akkadian and Eblaite texts appearing from the 30th century BCE and the 25th century BCE in Mesopotamia and the north eastern Levant respectively.

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Maltese is the only Semitic languages language written in the Latin script and the only Semitic languages language to be an official language of the European Union.

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Similarity of the Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic Semitic languages has been accepted by all scholars since medieval times.

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The Semitic 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.

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Previously these Semitic languages had been commonly known as the "" in European literature.

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Semitic languages were spoken and written across much of the Middle East and Asia Minor during the Bronze Age and Iron Age, the earliest attested being the East Semitic Akkadian of Mesopotamia from the third millennium BC.

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Several locations were proposed as possible sites of a prehistoric origin of Semitic languages-speaking peoples: Mesopotamia, the Levant, Ethiopia the Eastern Mediterranean region, the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa.

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Some claim that the Semitic languages originated in the Levant around 3800 BC, and were introduced to the Horn of Africa at about 800 BC from the southern Arabian peninsula, and to North Africa via Phoenician colonists at approximately the same time.

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Various extremely closely related and mutually intelligible Canaanite languages, a branch of the Northwest Semitic languages included Amorite, first attested in the 21st century BC, Edomite, Hebrew, Ammonite, Moabite, Phoenician, Samaritan Hebrew, Ekronite, Amalekite and Sutean.

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Old South Arabian languages were spoken in the kingdoms of Dilmun, Meluhha, Sheba, Ubar, Socotra and Magan, which in modern terms encompassed part of the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Yemen.

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South Semitic languages are thought to have spread to the Horn of Africa circa 8th century BC where the Ge'ez language emerged.

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Meanwhile, the 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.

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Syriac language itself, a descendant of Eastern Aramaic Semitic languages, is used liturgically by the Syriac Christians throughout the area.

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These Semitic languages differ greatly from both the surrounding Arabic dialects and from the Semitic languages of the Old South Arabian inscriptions.

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Semitic languages'storically 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.

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Phonologies of the attested Semitic languages are presented here from a comparative point of view.

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The reconstruction of Proto-Semitic languages was originally based primarily on Arabic, whose phonology and morphology (particularly in Classical Arabic) is very conservative, and which preserves as contrastive 28 out of the evident 29 consonantal phonemes.

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In Semitic languages exhibiting pharyngealization of emphatics, the original velar emphatic has rather developed to a uvular stop.

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The history of vowel changes in the Semitic languages makes drawing up a complete table of correspondences impossible, so only the most common reflexes can be given:.

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Semitic languages originally had three grammatical numbers: singular, dual, and plural.

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All Semitic languages show two quite distinct styles of morphology used for conjugating verbs.

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Proto-Semitic languages 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 stress.

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The South Semitic languages show a system somewhere between the East and Central Semitic languages.

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Roger Blench notes, that the Gurage Semitic languages are highly divergent and wonders whether they might not be a primary branch, reflecting an origin of Afroasiatic in or near Ethiopia.

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Himyaritic and Sutean languages appear to have been Semitic, but are unclassified due to insufficient data.

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