Canaanite languages

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Canaanite language)
Jump to: navigation, search
Canaanite
Geographic
distribution:
Levant
Linguistic classification: Afro-Asiatic
Subdivisions:
Glottolog: cana1267[1]

The Canaanite languages are a subfamily of the Semitic languages, which were spoken by the ancient peoples of the Canaan region, the Canaanites (including the Israelites and Phoenicians), Amorites, Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites. All of them seem to have become extinct as native languages by the early 1st millennium CE (although it is uncertain how long Punic survived), although distinct forms of Hebrew remained in continuous literary and religious use among Jews and Samaritans. This family of languages has the distinction of being the first group of languages to use an alphabet, derived from the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, to record their writings.

The Phoenician and Carthaginian expansion spread the Phoenician language and its Punic dialect to the Western Mediterranean for a time, but there too it died out, although it seems to have survived slightly longer than in Phoenicia itself.

Modern Hebrew as a spoken language is the result of a revival by Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries in an effort spearheaded by Eliezer Ben Yehuda. It is currently spoken as the colloquial language by the majority of the Israeli population.

Classification[edit]

The main sources for study of Canaanite languages are the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), and inscriptions such as:

The Deir Alla Inscription is written in a dialect with Aramaic and South Canaanite characteristics, which is classified as Canaanite in Hetzron.

The extra-biblical Canaanite inscriptions are gathered along with Aramaic inscriptions in editions of the book "Kanaanäische und Aramäische Inschriften", from which they may be referenced as KAI n (for a number n); for example, the Mesha Stele is "KAI 181".

Distinctive features[edit]

The Canaanite languages, together with the Aramaic languages and Ugaritic, form the Northwest Semitic subgroup. Some distinctive features of Canaanite in relation to Aramaic are:

  • The prefix 'h-' used as the definite article (whereas Aramaic has a postfixed -a). This seems to be an innovation of Canaanite.
  • The first person pronoun being 'ʼnk' (אנכ – anok(i), versus Aramaic – ʼnʼ/ʼny) – which is similar to Akkadian, Ancient Egyptian and Berber.
  • The *ā > ō vowel shift (Canaanite shift).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Canaanite". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ [3]

External links[edit]