Research topic: Semitic

Semitic languages (from the Biblical name «Shem») are a language family originating in the Middle East, an area with great political, cultural and religious dynamism which is of scholarly interest on many levels.

The language family includes some of the most famous languages in history and literature, and some of the languages with the longest known history

Semitic languages were widespread in the Middle East in early historical times. Since then they have played a decisive role in the area, while also spreading to Africa.

The Ethiopic languages came into being when people migrated from southern Arabia to what is now Ethiopia.

Arabic has over time spread to large parts of northern Africa, where it is today the mother tongue for many, and is used as a communication language by others.

The language with the most speakers today is Arabic (about 270 million), followed by Amharic (about 21 million), Hebrew (about 5.5 million) and Tigrinya (about 4.5 million).

One of the most important characteristics of Semitic languages is that many words consist basically of a root with a few consonants, usually three, which are inflected by the insertion of different vowels, and the addition of different prefixes and suffixes.

 

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Published Feb. 5, 2013 10:03 AM - Last modified Jan. 25, 2016 11:12 AM