Semitic languages  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The term Semitic languages is the traditional way of refering to those languages which constitute the Northeastern subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic languages.

The most common Semitic languages spoken today are Arabic, Amharic, Hebrew, and Tigrinya.


The Eastern Semitic Languages

The Central Semitic languages

North & West Central Semitic languages

South Central (Arabic) languages

The South Semitic languages

Western (within South Semitic)

Eastern (within South Semitic)

Common characteristics

These languages all exhibit a pattern of words consisting of triconsonantal roots, with vowel changes, prefixes, and suffixes used to inflect them. For instance, in Hebrew:

gdl means "big" but is no part of speech and not a word, just a root
gadol means "big" and is an masculine adjective
gdola means "big" (feminine adjective)
giddel means "he grew" (transitive verb)
gadal means "he grew" (intransitive verb)
higdil means "he magnified" (transitive verb)
magdelet means "magnifier" (lens)
spr is the root for "count" or "recount"
sefer means "book" (containing tales which are recounted)
sofer means "scribe" (Masoretic scribes counted verses)
mispar means "number".

Other Afro-Asiatic languages show similar patterns, but more usually with biconsonantal roots; e.g. in Kabyle afeg means "fly!", while affug means "flight", and yufeg means "he flew.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Semitic languages" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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