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Semitic Languages

SEMITIC LANGUAGES

A group of languages, previously categorized as the Semito-Hamitic family, that are now described as a branch of the Afro-Asiatic linguistic family.

Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, and Ugaritic are derived from the Northwest Semitic group; Arabic and the Ethiopic languages belong to the South Semitic branch. The character-defining feature of Semitic languages is the system of consonant roots. Most words are triliteral (three consonants separated by vowels), though bi- and quadriliterals are also common. Each root represents a distinct meaning; variations from that root are derived by set patterns of vocalization, less important consonants, and prefixes or suffixes. The root sense of the verb is modified to express intensification, causation, reciprocity, etc., by vowel changes or prefixes. All members of the family have two genders, masculine and feminine, and, with the exception of Ethiopic languages, the adjective follows the noun and agrees with it in gender. Nominal sentences are ordered subject-verb-object, while verbal sentences are verb-subject-object.


Bibliography


Campbell, George L. Compendium of the World's Languages, 2d edition. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.

Hetzron, Robert, ed. The Semitic Languages. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Levin, Saul. "Semitic and Indo European II." In Comparative Morphology, Syntax and Phonetics (Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 226). Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing, 2002.

Shlonsky, Ur. Clause Structure and Word Order in Hebrew and Arabic: An Essay in Comparative Semitic Syntax. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.


david waldner

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"Semitic Languages." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Semitic Languages." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/semitic-languages

"Semitic Languages." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/semitic-languages

Semitic languages

Semitic languages Group of languages spoken by peoples native to n Africa and the Middle East and forming one of the five branches of the Afro-Asiatic language family. The Semitic languages divide into three sub-branches: North West Semitic (including Hebrew, Aramaic, and Eblaite); North East Semitic (consisting of Akkadian); and Central and Southern Semitic (including Arabic, South Arabian, and Ethiopic). Only Hebrew and Arabic survived to develop modern forms.

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"Semitic languages." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Semitic languages." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/semitic-languages

Semitic languages

Semitic languages, subfamily of the Afroasiatic family of languages. See Afroasiatic languages.

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"Semitic languages." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Semitic languages." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/semitic-languages

"Semitic languages." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/semitic-languages