Central Semitic languages

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Central Semitic
Middle East and North Africa
Linguistic classification: Afro-Asiatic
Glottolog: cent2236[1]

The Central Semitic languages are a proposed intermediate group of Semitic languages, comprising Arabic and Northwest Semitic languages (which include Aramaic, Ugaritic, and the Canaanite languages of Hebrew and Phoenician). In this reckoning Central Semitic itself is one of three divisions of Semitic along with East Semitic (Akkadian) and South Semitic (South Arabian, and the Semitic languages of Ethiopia).

Different classification systems disagree on the precise structure of the group. The most common approach divides it into Arabic and Northwest Semitic, while SIL Ethnologue has South Central Semitic (including Arabic and Hebrew) vs. Aramaic.

The main distinction between Arabic and the Northwest Semitic languages is the presence of broken plurals in the former. The majority of Arabic masculine non-human nouns form plurals in this manner (called inanimate plural), whereas almost all nouns in the Northwest Semitic languages form their plurals with a suffix. For example, the Arabic بيت bayt ("house") becomes بيوت buyūt ("houses"); the Hebrew בית bayit ("house") becomes בתים battīm ("houses").

See also[edit]


  • Sabatino Moscati (1980). An Introduction to Comparative Grammar of Semitic Languages Phonology and Morphology. Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 3-447-00689-7. 
  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Central Semitic". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.