|Horn of Africa, North Africa, Sahel, Middle East|
|Linguistic classification:||One of the world's primary language families|
|ISO 639-2 / 5:||afa|
Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian and traditionally as Hamito-Semitic (Chamito-Semitic), is a large language family of several hundred related languages and dialects. It comprises about 300 or so living languages and dialects, according to the 2009 Ethnologue estimate. It includes languages spoken predominantly in the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and parts of the Sahel. The Afro-Asiatic family is significant to the field of historical linguistics as possessing the longest recorded history of any language family.
Afro-Asiatic languages have 350+ million native speakers, the fourth largest number of any language family. The most widely spoken Afroasiatic language, Arabic (including literary Arabic and the spoken colloquial varieties), has about 200 to 230 million native speakers, living mostly in the Middle East and in parts of North Africa. Berber (including all its varieties) is spoken in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, northern Mali, and northern Niger by about 25 to 35 million people. Other widely spoken Afroasiatic languages include:
- Hausa, the dominant language of northern Nigeria and southern Niger, spoken as a first language by 25 million people and used as a lingua franca by another 20 million across West Africa and the Sahel
- Oromo of Ethiopia and Kenya, with about 33 million speakers total
- Amharic of Ethiopia, with over 25 million native speakers, not including the millions of other Ethiopians speaking it as a second language
- Somali, spoken by 15.5 million people in Greater Somalia
- Modern Hebrew, spoken by about seven million people worldwide
- Modern Aramaic, spoken by about 550,000 people worldwide. This isn't just one language — It includes a number of subdivisions, with Assyrian Neo-Aramaic being the most spoken variety (232,300).
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Distribution and branches
- 3 Classification history
- 4 Position among the world's languages
- 5 Date of Afroasiatic
- 6 Afroasiatic Urheimat
- 7 Similarities in grammar and syntax
- 8 Shared vocabulary
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 External links
The Afroasiatic language family was originally referred to as "Hamito-Semitic", a term introduced in the 1860s by the German scholar Karl Richard Lepsius. The name was later popularized by Friedrich Müller in his Grundriss der Sprachwissenschaft (Wien 1876-88).
The term "Afroasiatic" (often now spelled as "Afro-Asiatic") was later coined by Maurice Delafosse (1914). However, it did not come into general use until Joseph Greenberg (1963) formally proposed its adoption. In doing so, Greenberg sought to emphasize the fact that Afroasiatic was represented transcontinentally, in both Africa and Asia.
Individual scholars have also called the family "Erythraean" (Tucker 1966) and "Lisramic" (Hodge 1972). In lieu of "Hamito-Semitic", the Russian linguist Igor Diakonoff later suggested the term "Afrasian", meaning "half African, half Asiatic", in reference to the geographic distribution of the family's constituent languages.
The term "Hamito-Semitic" remains in use in the academic traditions of some European countries.
Distribution and branches
The Afroasiatic language family is usually considered to include the following branches:
Although there is general agreement on these six families, there are some points of disagreement among linguists who study Afroasiatic. In particular:
- The Omotic language branch is the most controversial member of Afroasiatic, because the grammatical formatives that most linguists have given greatest weight in classifying languages in the family "are either absent or distinctly wobbly" (Hayward 1995). Greenberg (1963) and others considered it a subgroup of Cushitic, whereas others have raised doubts about it being part of Afroasiatic at all (e.g. Theil 2006).
- The Afroasiatic identity of Ongota is also broadly questioned, as is its position within Afroasiatic among those who accept it, due to the "mixed" appearance of the language and a paucity of research and data. Harold Fleming (2006) proposes that Ongota constitutes a separate branch of Afroasiatic. Bonny Sands (2009) believes the most convincing proposal is by Savà and Tosco (2003), namely that Ongota is an East Cushitic language with a Nilo-Saharan substratum. In other words, it would appear that the Ongota people once spoke a Nilo-Saharan language but then shifted to speaking a Cushitic language but retained some characteristics of their earlier Nilo-Saharan language.
- Beja is sometimes listed as a separate branch of Afroasiatic but is more often included in the Cushitic branch, which has a high degree of internal diversity.
- Whether the various branches of Cushitic actually form a language family is sometimes questioned, but not their inclusion in Afroasiatic itself.
- There is no consensus on the interrelationships of the five non-Omotic branches of Afroasiatic (see "Subgrouping" below). This situation is not unusual, even among long-established language families: there are also many disagreements concerning the internal classification of the Indo-European languages, for instance.
- Meroitic has been proposed as an unclassified Afroasiatic language, because it shares the phonotactics characteristic of the family, but there is not enough evidence to secure a classification.
In the 9th century, the Hebrew grammarian Judah ibn Quraysh of Tiaret in Algeria was the first to link two branches of Afroasiatic together; he perceived a relationship between Berber and Semitic. He knew of Semitic through his study of Arabic, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
In the course of the 19th century, Europeans also began suggesting such relationships. In 1844, Theodor Benfey suggested a language family consisting of Semitic, Berber, and Cushitic (calling the latter "Ethiopic"). In the same year, T.N. Newman suggested a relationship between Semitic and Hausa, but this would long remain a topic of dispute and uncertainty.
Friedrich Müller named the traditional "Hamito-Semitic" family in 1876 in his Grundriss der Sprachwissenschaft. He defined it as consisting of a Semitic group plus a "Hamitic" group containing Egyptian, Berber, and Cushitic; he excluded the Chadic group. These classifications relied in part on non-linguistic anthropological and racial arguments that have largely been discredited (see Hamitic hypothesis).
Leo Reinisch (1909) proposed linking Cushitic and Chadic, while urging a more distant affinity to Egyptian and Semitic, thus foreshadowing Greenberg, but his suggestion found little resonance.
Marcel Cohen (1924) rejected the idea of a distinct Hamitic subgroup and included Hausa (a Chadic language) in his comparative Hamito-Semitic vocabulary.
Joseph Greenberg (1950) strongly confirmed Cohen's rejection of "Hamitic", added (and sub-classified) the Chadic branch, and proposed the new name "Afroasiatic" for the family. Nearly all scholars have accepted Greenberg's classification.
In 1969, Harold Fleming proposed that what had previously been known as Western Cushitic is an independent branch of Afroasiatic, suggesting for it the new name Omotic. This proposal and name have met with widespread acceptance.
Several scholars, including Harold Fleming and Robert Hetzron, have since questioned the traditional inclusion of Beja in Cushitic.
Glottolog does not accept that the inclusion or even unity of Omotic has been established, nor that of Ongota or the unclassified Kujarge, and so splits off the following groups as small families:
|Greenberg (1963)||Newman (1980)||Fleming (post-1981)||Ehret (1995)|
|Orel & Stobova (1995)||Diakonoff (1996)||Bender (1997)||Militarev (2000)|
Little agreement exists on the subgrouping of the five or six branches of Afroasiatic: Semitic, Egyptian, Berber, Chadic, Cushitic, and Omotic. However, Christopher Ehret (1979), Harold Fleming (1981), and Joseph Greenberg (1981) all agree that the Omotic branch split from the rest first.
- Paul Newman (1980) groups Berber with Chadic and Egyptian with Semitic, while questioning the inclusion of Omotic in Afroasiatic. Rolf Theil (2006) concurs with the exclusion of Omotic, but does not otherwise address the structure of the family.
- Harold Fleming (1981) divides non-Omotic Afroasiatic, or "Erythraean", into three groups, Cushitic, Semitic, and Chadic-Berber-Egyptian. He later added Semitic and Beja to Chadic-Berber-Egyptian and tentatively proposed Ongota as a new third branch of Erythraean. He thus divided Afroasiatic into two major branches, Omotic and Erythraean, with Erythraean consisting of three sub-branches, Cushitic, Chadic-Berber-Egyptian-Semitic-Beja, and Ongota.
- Like Harold Fleming, Christopher Ehret (1995: 490) divides Afroasiatic into two branches, Omotic and Erythrean. He divides Omotic into two branches, North Omotic and South Omotic. He divides Erythrean into Cushitic, comprising Beja, Agaw, and East-South Cushitic, and North Erythrean, comprising Chadic and "Boreafrasian." According to his classification, Boreafrasian consists of Egyptian, Berber, and Semitic.
- Vladimir Orel and Olga Stolbova (1995) group Berber with Semitic and Chadic with Egyptian. They split up Cushitic into five or more independent branches of Afroasiatic, viewing Cushitic as a Sprachbund rather than a language family.
- Igor M. Diakonoff (1996) subdivides Afroasiatic in two, grouping Berber, Cushitic, and Semitic together as East-West Afrasian (ESA), and Chadic with Egyptian as North-South Afrasian (NSA). He excludes Omotic from Afroasiatic.
- Lionel Bender (1997) groups Berber, Cushitic, and Semitic together as "Macro-Cushitic". He regards Chadic and Omotic as the branches of Afroasiatic most remote from the others.
- Alexander Militarev (2000), on the basis of lexicostatistics, groups Berber with Chadic and both more distantly with Semitic, as against Cushitic and Omotic. He places Ongota in South Omotic.
Position among the world's languages
Afroasiatic is one of the four language families of Africa identified by Joseph Greenberg in his book The Languages of Africa (1963). It is the only one that extends outside of Africa, via the Semitic branch.
There are no generally accepted relations between Afroasiatic and any other language family. However, several proposals grouping Afroasiatic with one or more other language families have been made. The best-known of these are the following:
- Hermann Möller (1906) argued for a relation between Semitic and the Indo-European languages. This proposal was accepted by some linguists (e.g. Holger Pedersen and Louis Hjelmslev) but has little currency today. (For a fuller account, see Indo-Semitic languages.)
- Apparently influenced by Möller (a colleague of his at the University of Copenhagen), Holger Pedersen included Hamito-Semitic (the term replaced by Afroasiatic) in his proposed Nostratic macro-family (cf. Pedersen 1931:336–338), which also included the Indo-European, Finno-Ugric, Samoyed, Turkish, Mongolian, Manchu, and Yukaghir languages. This inclusion was retained by subsequent Nostraticists, starting with Vladislav Illich-Svitych and Aharon Dolgopolsky.
- Joseph Greenberg (2000–2002) did not reject a relationship of Afroasiatic to these other languages, but he considered it more distantly related to them than they were to each other, grouping instead these other languages in a separate macro-family, which he called Eurasiatic, and to which he added Chukotian, Gilyak, Korean, Japanese-Ryukyuan, Eskimo–Aleut, and Ainu.
- Most recently, Sergei Starostin's school has accepted Eurasiatic as a subgroup of Nostratic, with Afroasiatic, Dravidian, and Kartvelian in Nostratic outside of Eurasiatic. An even larger Borean group would contain Nostratic as well as Dené-Caucasian and Austric.
Date of Afroasiatic
The earliest written evidence of an Afroasiatic language is an Ancient Egyptian inscription of c. 3400 BC (5,400 years ago). Symbols on Gerzean pottery resembling Egyptian hieroglyphs date back to c. 4000 BC, suggesting a still earlier possible date. This gives us a minimum date for the age of Afroasiatic. However, Ancient Egyptian is highly divergent from Proto-Afroasiatic (Trombetti 1905: 1–2), and considerable time must have elapsed in between them. Estimates of the date at which the Proto-Afroasiatic language was spoken vary widely. They fall within a range between approximately 7,500 BC (9,500 years ago) and approximately 16,000 BC (18,000 years ago). According to Igor M. Diakonoff (1988: 33n), Proto-Afroasiatic was spoken c. 10,000 BC. According to Christopher Ehret (2002: 35–36), Proto-Afroasiatic was spoken c. 11,000 BC at the latest and possibly as early as c. 16,000 BC. These dates are older than dates associated with most other proto-languages.
The term Afroasiatic Urheimat (Urheimat meaning "original homeland" in German) refers to the 'hypothetical' place where Proto-Afroasiatic speakers lived in a single linguistic community, or complex of communities, before this original language dispersed geographically and divided into distinct languages. Afroasiatic languages are today primarily spoken in the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and parts of the Sahel. Their distribution seems to have been influenced by the Saharan pump operating over the last 10,000 years.
There is no agreement on when and where this Urheimat existed, though Proto-Afroasiatic is generally believed to have originated somewhere in the area between the Eastern Sahara and the Horn of Africa, including Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.
Similarities in grammar and syntax
|↓ Number||Language →||Arabic||Coptic||Kabyle||Somali||Beja||Hausa|
Widespread (though not universal) features of the Afroasiatic languages include:
- A set of emphatic consonants, variously realized as glottalized, pharyngealized, or implosive.
- VSO typology with SVO tendencies.
- A two-gender system in the singular, with the feminine marked by the sound /t/.
- All Afroasiatic subfamilies show evidence of a causative affix s.
- Semitic, Berber, Cushitic (including Beja), and Chadic support possessive suffixes.
- Morphology in which words inflect by changes within the root (vowel changes or gemination) as well as with prefixes and suffixes.
One of the most remarkable shared features among the Afroasiatic languages is the prefixing verb conjugation (see table above), with a distinctive pattern of prefixes beginning with /ʔ t n y/, and in particular a pattern whereby third-singular masculine /y-/ is opposed to third-singular feminine and second-singular /t-/.
According to Ehret (1996), tonal languages appear in the Omotic and Chadic branches of Afroasiatic, as well as in certain Cushitic languages. The Semitic, Berber and Egyptian branches generally do not use tones phonemically.
- Source: Christopher Ehret, Reconstructing Proto-Afroasiatic (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995).
- Note: Ehret does not make use of Berber in his etymologies, stating (1995: 12): "the kind of extensive reconstruction of proto-Berber lexicon that might help in sorting through alternative possible etymologies is not yet available." The Berber cognates here are taken from previous version of table in this article and need to be completed and referenced.
- Abbreviations: NOm = 'North Omotic', SOm = 'South Omotic'. MSA = 'Modern South Arabian', PSC = 'Proto-Southern Cushitic', PSom-II = 'Proto-Somali, stage 2'. masc. = 'masculine', fem. = 'feminine', sing. = 'singular', pl. = 'plural'. 1s. = 'first person singular', 2s. = 'second person singular'.
- Symbols: Following Ehret (1995: 70), a caron ˇ over a vowel indicates rising tone, and a circumflex ^ over a vowel indicates falling tone. V indicates a vowel of unknown timbre. Ɂ indicates a glottal stop. * indicates reconstructed forms based on comparison of related languages.
|*Ɂân- / *Ɂîn- or *ân- / *în- ‘I’ (independent pronoun)||*in- ‘I’ (Maji (NOm))||*Ɂâni ‘I’||*nV ‘I’||ink 'I'||*Ɂn ‘I’||nek / nec "I, me"|
|*i or *yi ‘me, my’ (bound)||i ‘I, me, my’ (Ari (SOm))||*i or *yi ‘my’||*i ‘me, my’ (bound)||-i (1s. suffix)||*-i ‘me, my’||-iw / inu "my"|
|*Ɂǎnn- / *Ɂǐnn- or *ǎnn- / *ǐnn- ‘we’||*nona / *nuna / *nina (NOm)||*Ɂǎnn- / *Ɂǐnn- ‘we’||—||inn ‘we’||*Ɂnn ‘we’||nekni "we"|
|*Ɂânt- / *Ɂînt- or *ânt- / *înt- ‘you’ (sing.)||*int- ‘you’ (sing.)||*Ɂânt- ‘you’ (sing.)||—||ntt IInd pers fem||*Ɂnt ‘you’ (sing.)||keyy / kem "you" (sing.)|
|*ku, *ka ‘you’ (masc. sing., bound)||—||*ku ‘your’ (masc. sing.) (PSC)||*ka, *ku (masc. sing.)||-k (2s. masc. suffix)||-ka (2s. masc. suffix) (Arabic)||-k / nnek "your" (masc. sing.)|
|*ki ‘you’ (fem. sing., bound)||—||*ki ‘your’ (fem. sing.)||*ki ‘you’ (fem. sing.)||-ṯ (fem. sing. suffix, < *ki)||-ki (2s. fem. sing. suffix) (Arabic)||-m / nnem / inem "your" (fem. sing.)|
|*kūna ‘you’ (plural, bound)||—||*kuna ‘your’ (pl.) (PSC)||*kun ‘you’ (pl.)||-ṯn ‘you’ (pl.)||*-kn ‘you, your’ (fem. pl.)||kent, kennint "you" (fem. pl.)|
|*si, *isi ‘he, she, it’||*is- ‘he’||*Ɂusu ‘he’, *Ɂisi ‘she’||*sV ‘he’||sw ‘he, him’, sy ‘she, her’||*-šɁ ‘he’, *-sɁ ‘she’ (MSA)||-s / nnes / ines "his/her/its"|
|*ma, *mi ‘what?’||*ma- ‘what?’ (NOm)||*ma, *mi (interr. root)||*mi, *ma ‘what?’||m ‘what?’, ‘who?’||mā ‘what?’ (Arabic)||'Ma / Mayen / Min? "what?"|
|*wa, *wi ‘what?’||*w- ‘what?’||*wä / *wɨ ‘what?’ (Agaw)||*wa ‘who?’||wy ‘how ...!’||mamek? "how?"||amek / mamek|
|*dîm- / *dâm- ‘blood’||*dam- ‘blood’ (Gonga)||*dîm- / *dâm- ‘red’||*d-m- ‘blood’ (West Chadic)||i-dm-i ‘red linen’||*dm ‘blood’||idammen "bloods"|
|*îts ‘brother’||*itsim- ‘brother’||*itsan or *isan ‘brother’||*sin ‘brother’||sn ‘brother’||ax "brother"||awma / gwma "brother"|
|*sǔm / *sǐm- ‘name’||*sum(ts)- ‘name’ (NOm)||*sǔm / *sǐm- ‘name’||*ṣǝm ‘name’||smi ‘to report, announce’||*ism ‘name’||isem|
|*-lisʼ- ‘to lick’||litsʼ- ‘to lick’ (Dime (SOm))||—||*alǝsi ‘tongue’||ns ‘tongue’||*lsn ‘tongue’||iles "tongue"|
|*-maaw- ‘to die’||—||*-umaaw- / *-am-w(t)- ‘to die’ (PSom-II)||*mǝtǝ ‘to die’||mwt ‘to die’||*mwt ‘to die’||mmet "to die"|
|*-bǐn- ‘to build, to create; house’||bin- ‘to build, create’ (Dime (SOm))||*mǐn- / *mǎn- ‘house’; man- ‘to create’ (Beja)||*bn ‘to build’; *bǝn- ‘house’||—||*bnn ‘to build’||*bn (?)|
There are two etymological dictionaries of Afroasiatic, one by Christopher Ehret, and one by Vladimir Orel and Olga Stolbova. The two dictionaries disagree on almost everything. The following table contains the thirty roots or so (out of thousands) that represent a fragile consensus of present research:
|4||*(ʔa-)dVm||land, field, soil||✔||✔|
|6||ʔigar/ *ḳʷar-||house, enclosure||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|18||*ḳa(wa)l-/ *qʷar-||to say, call||✔||✔|
|30||*šun||to sleep, dream||✔||✔|
Some of the main sources for Afroasiatic etymologies include:
- Cohen, Marcel. 1947. Essai comparatif sur le vocabulaire et la phonétique du chamito-sémitique. Paris: Champion.
- Diakonoff, Igor M. et al. 1993–1997. "Historical-comparative vocabulary of Afrasian", St. Petersburg Journal of African Studies 2–6.
- Ehret, Christopher. 1995. Reconstructing Proto-Afroasiatic (Proto-Afrasian): Vowels, Tone, Consonants, and Vocabulary (= University of California Publications in Linguistics 126). Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
- Orel, Vladimir E. and Olga V. Stolbova. 1995. Hamito-Semitic Etymological Dictionary: Materials for a Reconstruction. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 90-04-10051-2.
- African languages
- Asian languages
- Indo-Semitic languages
- Nostratic languages
- Proto-Afroasiatic language
- Sands, Bonny (2009). "Africa’s Linguistic Diversity". Language and Linguistics Compass 3/2 (2009): 559–580, 10.1111/j.1749-818x.2008.00124.x
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Afroasiatic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Daniel Don Nanjira, African Foreign Policy and Diplomacy: From Antiquity to the 21st Century, (ABC-CLIO: 2010).
- Ethnologue family tree for Afroasiatic languages
- Summary by language family
- Languages of the World
- Ethnologue - Hausa
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Northeastern Neo-Aramaic". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Beyer, Klaus; John F. Healey (trans.) (1986). The Aramaic Language: its distribution and subdivisions. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht. p. 44. ISBN 3-525-53573-2.
- The New Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8; Volume 22. Encyclopædia Britannica. 1998. p. 722. ISBN 0-85229-633-9.
- Lipiński, Edward (2001). Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar. Peeters Publishers. pp. 21–22. ISBN 90-429-0815-7.
- Harrassowitz Verlag - The Harrassowitz Publishing House
- Is Omotic Afroasiatic? (In Norwegian)
- Earliest Egyptian Glyphs
- Blench R (2006) Archaeology, Language, and the African Past, Rowman Altamira, ISBN 0-7591-0466-2, ISBN 978-0-7591-0466-2, http://books.google.be/books?id=esFy3Po57A8C
- Ehret C, Keita SOY, Newman P (2004) The Origins of Afroasiatic a response to Diamond and Bellwood (2003) in the Letters of SCIENCE 306, no. 5702, p. 1680 DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5702.1680c
- Bernal M (1987) Black Athena: the Afroasiatic roots of classical civilization, Rutgers University Press, ISBN 0-8135-3655-3, ISBN 978-0-8135-3655-2. http://books.google.be/books?id=yFLm_M_OdK4C
- Bender ML (1997), Upside Down Afrasian, Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere 50, pp. 19-34
- Militarev A (2005) Once more about glottochronology and comparative method: the Omotic-Afrasian case, Аспекты компаративистики - 1 (Aspects of comparative linguistics - 1). FS S. Starostin. Orientalia et Classica II (Moscow), p. 339-408.
- Anthony, David. 2007. The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Barnett, William and John Hoopes (editors). 1995. The Emergence of Pottery. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 1-56098-517-8
- Bender, Lionel et al. 2003. Selected Comparative-Historical Afro-Asiatic Studies in Memory of Igor M. Diakonoff. LINCOM.
- Bomhard, Alan R. 1996. Indo-European and the Nostratic Hypothesis. Signum.
- Diakonoff, Igor M. 1988. Afrasian Languages. Moscow: Nauka.
- Diakonoff, Igor M. 1996. "Some reflections on the Afrasian linguistic macrofamily." Journal of Near Eastern Studies 55, 293.
- Diakonoff, Igor M. 1998. "The earliest Semitic society: Linguistic data." Journal of Semitic Studies 43, 209.
- Dimmendaal, Gerrit, and Erhard Voeltz. 2007. "Africa". In Christopher Moseley, ed., Encyclopedia of the world's endangered languages.
- Ehret, Christopher. 1995. Reconstructing Proto-Afroasiatic (Proto-Afrasian): Vowels, Tone, Consonants, and Vocabulary. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
- Ehret, Christopher. 1997. Abstract of "The lessons of deep-time historical-comparative reconstruction in Afroasiatic: reflections on Reconstructing Proto-Afroasiatic: Vowels, Tone, Consonants, and Vocabulary (U.C. Press, 1995)", paper delivered at the Twenty-fifth Annual Meeting of the North American Conference on Afro-Asiatic Linguistics, held in Miami, Florida on 21–23 March 1997.
- Finnegan, Ruth H. 1970. "Afro-Asiatic languages West Africa". Oral Literature in Africa, pg 558.
- Fleming, Harold C. 2006. Ongota: A Decisive Language in African Prehistory. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
- Greenberg, Joseph H. 1950. "Studies in African linguistic classification: IV. Hamito-Semitic." Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 6, 47-63.
- Greenberg, Joseph H. 1955. Studies in African Linguistic Classification. New Haven: Compass Publishing Company. (Photo-offset reprint of the SJA articles with minor corrections.)
- Greenberg, Joseph H. 1963. The Languages of Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University. (Heavily revised version of Greenberg 1955.)
- Greenberg, Joseph H. 1966. The Languages of Africa (2nd ed. with additions and corrections). Bloomington: Indiana University.
- Greenberg, Joseph H. 1981. "African linguistic classification." General History of Africa, Volume 1: Methodology and African Prehistory, edited by Joseph Ki-Zerbo, 292–308. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
- Greenberg, Joseph H. 2000–2002. Indo-European and Its Closest Relatives: The Eurasiatic Language Family, Volume 1: Grammar, Volume 2: Lexicon. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
- Hayward, R. J. 1995. "The challenge of Omotic: an inaugural lecture delivered on 17 February 1994". London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
- Heine, Bernd and Derek Nurse. 2000. African Languages, Chapter 4. Cambridge University Press.
- Hodge, Carleton T. (editor). 1971. Afroasiatic: A Survey. The Hague – Paris: Mouton.
- Hodge, Carleton T. 1991. "Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic." In Sydney M. Lamb and E. Douglas Mitchell (editors), Sprung from Some Common Source: Investigations into the Prehistory of Languages, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 141–165.
- Huehnergard, John. 2004. "Afro-Asiatic." In R.D. Woodard (editor), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages, Cambridge – New York, 2004, 138–159.
- Militarev, Alexander. "Towards the genetic affiliation of Ongota, a nearly-extinct language of Ethiopia," 60 pp. In Orientalia et Classica: Papers of the Institute of Oriental and Classical Studies, Issue 5. Мoscow. (Forthcoming.)
- Newman, Paul. 1980. The Classification of Chadic within Afroasiatic. Leiden: Universitaire Pers Leiden.
- Ruhlen, Merritt. 1991. A Guide to the World's Languages. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
- Sands, Bonny. 2009. "Africa’s linguistic diversity". In Language and Linguistics Compass 3.2, 559–580.
- Theil, R. 2006. Is Omotic Afro-Asiatic? Proceedings from the David Dwyer retirement symposium, Michigan State University, East Lansing, 21 October 2006.
- Trombetti, Alfredo. 1905. L'Unità d'origine del linguaggio. Bologna: Luigi Beltrami.
- Afro-Asiatic at the Linguist List MultiTree Project: Genealogical trees attributed to Delafosse 1914, Greenberg 1950–1955, Greenberg 1963, Fleming 1976, Hodge 1976, Orel & Stolbova 1995, Diakonoff 1996–1998, Ehret 1995–2000, Hayward 2000, Militarev 2005, Blench 2006, and Fleming 2006
- Afro-Asiatic and Semitic genealogical trees, presented by Alexander Militarev at his talk "Genealogical classification of Afro-Asiatic languages according to the latest data" at the conference on the 70th anniversary of V.M. Illich-Svitych, Moscow, 2004; short annotations of the talks given there (Russian)
- The prehistory of a dispersal: the Proto-Afrasian (Afroasiatic) farming lexicon, by Alexander Militarev in "Examining the Farming/Language Dispersal Hypothesis", eds. P. Bellwood & C. Renfrew. (McDonald Institute Monographs.) Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 2002, p. 135-50.
- Once More About Glottochronology And The Comparative Method: The Omotic-Afrasian case, by Alexander Militarev in "Aspects of Comparative Linguistics", v. 1. Moscow: RSUH Publishers, 2005, pp. 339–408.
- Root Extension And Root Formation In Semitic And Afrasian, by Alexander Militarev in "Proceedings of the Barcelona Symposium on comparative Semitic", 19-20/11/2004. Aula Orientalis 23/1-2, 2005, pp. 83–129.
- Akkadian-Egyptian lexical matches, by Alexander Militarev in "Papers on Semitic and Afroasiatic Linguistics in Honor of Gene B. Gragg." Ed. by Cynthia L. Miller. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 60. Chicago: The Oriental Institute, 2007, p. 139-145.
- A comparison of Orel-Stolbova's and Ehret's Afro-Asiatic reconstructions
- "Is Omotic Afro-Asiatic?" by Rolf Theil (2006)
- NACAL The North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics, now in its 35th year
- Afro-Asiatic webpage of Roger Blench (with family tree).