Questions tagged [semitic-languages]

The Semitic languages are a branch of related languages originating in the Near-East and a subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic language family.

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25 votes
5 answers
6k views

Was there a Semitic influence on Proto-Germanic?

One of the hypotheses supported by Theo Vennemann and other linguists is that Proto-Germanic was influenced by some Semitic language. The evidence they present for their case includes: Loss of some ...
1 vote
2 answers
203 views

Arabic word for door from root d-l-t or d-l-th

I know that the Hebrew letter 'daleth' originates from the word for 'door', indeed the Modern Hebrew word for door is 'dalet'. Is there an Arabic word for door from this same root - d-l-t or d-l-th? ...
6 votes
2 answers
243 views

What is Proto-Semitic *x̣?

In his Akkadian grammar (specifically the appendix on phonology), Huehnergard lists the following Proto-Semitic consonants: Most of this looks familiar to me. However, *x̣ caught me by surprise; I'm ...
7 votes
2 answers
723 views

Finding the root of an Aramaic or Hebrew word

I'm trying to make a dictionary on the web where people can automatically look up words in a text they're reading online. While I have the words and their definitions, the problem is that many times ...
9 votes
5 answers
5k views

Linguistic or etymological relationship between the words "Sabbath" and "seven"

The words for "Sabbath" and "seven" seem similar in both Hebrew and Aramaic. Is there an etymological relationship between them? Sabbath (Shabbat), שַׁבָּת, is Strong's H7676. It is spelled shin-bet-...
4 votes
1 answer
396 views

What is the Aramaic transliteration system used in the "Aramaic of Jesus" Wikipedia article?

The Wikipedia article "Aramaic of Jesus" contains many instances of transliterated Aramaic, using a system I have not seen before. Some of the notations are well-established, like ŝ for /ʃ/ and ...
3 votes
3 answers
879 views

Is there a common ancestor between the Hebrew לבן ("lavan", white) and the English "albino"?

I noticed these two words share the same central consonants, and wouldn't it be fascinating if the l-b-n semitic root has a common source to the English "albin-" as in albino and albinism? I ...
2 votes
1 answer
48 views

Are there spaces or other marks between word in Ancient Semitic epigraphs?

Are there spaces or other marks between word in Ancient Semitic (i.e. Hebrew, Aramaic, Canaanite) epigraphs?
-1 votes
3 answers
150 views

Is the word for "brother-in-law" in Germanic languages related to the Aramaic/Syriac גיס?

Here is the word for "brother-in-law" in various modern Germanic languages: schwager (German), shvugger (Yiddish), swaer (Afrikaans), svoger (Norweigan/Danish), sogor (Croatian), zwager (...
5 votes
1 answer
837 views

Is there some equivalent of a "Grimm's law" that applies to the Semitic language family?

Arabic has سلام‎ (salaam) and Hebrew has שָׁלוֹם‎ (shalom). The words have similar meanings of "peace". This seems like a case of an alveolar fricative shifting to post-alveolar fricative (...
4 votes
3 answers
436 views

How many sibilants did Old Akkadian cuneiform distinguish?

According to fdb's answer to another question: It is believed that Old Akkadian (at least) still retained the Semitic distinction of s₁, s₂ and s₃ and used different signs for syllables containing ...
-1 votes
1 answer
162 views

Are some numbers considered cognates between Semitic languages and Indo-European languages? [duplicate]

0 In hebrew and arabic, the number 7 is "sheva" and "sabah" respectively, and the number six is "shesh" and "sita" respectively. These numbers sound very ...
10 votes
3 answers
2k views

How well do Semitic languages preserve consonants over time?

I'm not too familiar with the details of Semitic languages, but as far as I can tell it seems the tri-consonantal roots of words are relatively important. If the consonants change over time, did they ...
7 votes
2 answers
751 views

Validity of aging estimation for Proto-Afro-Asiatic

Tl;dr: What reasons do we have--besides glottochronology--to think that Proto-Afro-Asiatic is actually 14,000 years old? So, if you know much about proto-languages, you might know that Proto-Afro-...
33 votes
6 answers
12k views

Can Modern Hebrew be considered an Indo-European language?

According to this Wikipedia page Zuckermann argues that Israeli Hebrew, which he calls "Israeli", is genetically both Indo-European (Germanic, Slavic and Romance) and Afro-Asiatic (Semitic). He ...
1 vote
1 answer
552 views

What's the origin of the word "br" in Yemeni Arabic?

Hello everyone What's the etymology of "ber بر", that means "moonlight" in Yemeni? The nearest words I can find in an Egyptian dictionary and in Amharic refer to light, but in ...
0 votes
1 answer
158 views

Both subject and object of an act defined by same verb?

I have in my hand a rather ancient text in Arabic. There's a frequent construction which I couldn't grasp the full meaning. It is [ transitive verb + preposition ], in which the preposition is fixed ...
6 votes
2 answers
1k views

Pronunciation of P in Latin, versus Ph in Greek

In Latin, it seems some sounds that are pronounced like an "F" in Greek, are pronounced like a "P", why is this? For example, we have the Greek word Phoenicians, and this word ...
0 votes
1 answer
165 views

what is the etymology of Hebrew word lasse‘irim לַשְּׂעִירִם

Why would this be translated as a demon/goat? I'm also unclear as to the lemma. Is seems unrelated. Is it שָׂעַר
2 votes
2 answers
230 views

How similar are the prototype writing systems of Ugarit-Tyre ("Phoenician") and Safaitic?

I understand that that in the ancient Levant, two main writing system patterns were used by the different peoples of the region: Phoenician and Ancient North Arabian. I further understand that both ...
5 votes
3 answers
1k views

Is the Fifa'a language of Saudi Arabia a dialect of Arabic or a separate language?

A Saudi friend on our sister site, travel.stackexchange.com, was just telling me there is an isolated language in his country called "Fifa'a", but that nothing is written about it on the internet as ...
1 vote
0 answers
92 views

What is the etymological difference bewteen ب ر ك and ص ل و‎ roots?

The roots ب ر ك (BRK) and ص ل و‎ (ṢLW) shares a common meaning related to the act of blessing. Is the first one related to the knees, while the later one is rather connected to the notion of eulogy? (...
6 votes
2 answers
369 views

How widespread across language families is the root, krt, meaning cut/short?

How widespread across language families is the root, krt, meaning cut/short? This root is prevalent across the Indo-European and Semitic language families. It may have spread across languages like ...
0 votes
1 answer
158 views

What can limit the plausibility of the Arabic "š-k-l"(ش ك ل) being in the same lineage as the German "gestalt" via its assumed PIE ancestor "*stel"?

They have near-fully overlapping meanings (I would be going out on a limb to say fully equivalent translations) with both the Arabic and German words having their primary use in expressing the meaning ...
-3 votes
1 answer
133 views

Semitic and Hebrew etymology

Semitic has historically been used to describe ancient languages spanning from Oman to Morocco through Egypt and Somalia. Today, Antisemitic is different to it's etymology, it doesnt refer to berber ...
0 votes
1 answer
387 views

Parallels between h₂ and t in PIE and Nostratic, what is the explanation?

In Afro-Asiatic we have the feminine ending -a which has the following evolution history: -a < -aha < -at < et where ha is a glottal fricative. In IE (for instance, in Russian, Greek, Latin) ...
2 votes
2 answers
176 views

Amharic Emphatics vs Arabic pharyngeals

I grew up speaking Arabic, and I am very comfortable with sounds like ص,ط,ض, etc. However, I was looking at Amharic out of curiosity, and noticed that in place of these pharyngeals, Amharic has ...
5 votes
1 answer
339 views

Is the Ethiopian word "falash[a]" related to the words Philistine or Palestine?

I apologize I don't know how to read Amharic or Ge'ez well (at all) [I am most certainly only an amateur at linguistics], and my Hebrew and Arabic are also poor. But I can't help but wonder if the the ...
6 votes
3 answers
620 views

Is a final -u in Semitic languages known outside of Akkadian?

Consider Akkadian bētu vs. Hebrew bayit (בַּיִת) (meaning "house") and Akkadian daltu vs. Hebrew delet (דֶּלֶת) (meaning "door"). Are these endings known outside of Akkadian? If so, when did they ...
6 votes
1 answer
250 views

Can Semitic (Hebrew & Arabic) roots have vowels?

To the best of my knowledge, roots in Semitic, both Arabic & Hebrew, do not contain vowels. They are purely consonantal at the base. I read this a couple of years ago about Hebrew in Levin & ...
8 votes
2 answers
415 views

Why does Hebrew transcribe Akkadian š inconsistently?

Biblical Hebrew consistently uses the letter ס (s) to transcribe names with the Akkadian consonant š. For example, Esarhaddon for Aššur-aḥa-iddina, Esther from Ištar, Sargon from Šarru-ukīn (all ...
3 votes
1 answer
302 views

Similarities between Sumerian and Semitic languages

I noticed that the Sumerian words for mother and father, ama and abba respectively, are very similar to the Hebrew words for mother and father, being ema and abba respectively. Given that Sumerian is ...
2 votes
1 answer
102 views

What is the Protosemitic root for asher?

What is the protosemitic root for asher(אשר) in: ehyeh asher ehyeh אהיה אשר אהיה from Exodus 3:14 Note: I'm not sure but I'm guessing it's probably either ʔṯr, ʔšr, or ʔśr.
5 votes
5 answers
10k views

Linguistic relationship between Hebrew and Greek

In the modern linguistic school of thought, are Ancient Hebrew and Ancient Greek related? Hebrew is classified as Afroasiatic->Semitic, while Greek is Indo-European->Hellenic. However, in Jewish ...
9 votes
1 answer
522 views

How do I gloss a Semitic verb?

"Standard" glossing (following the Leipzig rules) uses a linear model of breaking down words into morphemes. In other words, it assumes you can draw lines between all the morphemes to separate them. ...
7 votes
2 answers
602 views

What does Eastern Aramaic have to say about "(definite) articles are acquired, not lost"?

The current answers on Definite/indefinite articles vs. inflections agree that (definite) articles are acquired by languages, not lost. I'm wondering what Eastern Aramaic has to say about this. ...
-2 votes
1 answer
172 views

Is there is a theory according to which both West Asian and East Asian form a sprachbund?

I have noticed that Southwest Asian Languages (SWAL) such as Arabic and Hebrew and Southeast Asian languages (SEAL) such as Thai and Vietnamese and maybe also others, tend to share usage of different ...
2 votes
2 answers
435 views

Is there a name for the form "فعلان" (faʿlan)?

I've noticed the form فعلان (faʿlan) seems to imply emphasis, like in رحمان (raḥmân) which seems to means "All-Merciful". This form seems to exist in other Semitic languages like Hebrew (maybe רַבָּן, ...
0 votes
2 answers
139 views

is english excellent and arabic galaal related?

in Arabic calāl جلال [#cll msd.] means : great and majestic greatness this word derives from Arabic calla " great"- Aramean gēl, galā " mound" When I saw this Arabic word, I compared it to the word ...
6 votes
2 answers
220 views

Wanderwörter between IE and Semitic

Animals have legs, and so it seems do terms for animals. Bulls in particular: Hebrew šūr (שור), Arabic θaur (ثور), Sanskrit sthūra, Greek ταυρος, Latin taurus, Russian туръ, Gothic stiur. Is there ...
6 votes
1 answer
403 views

When did the contraction "Allah" originate?

The Arabic word Allāh "God" is notable for a few different features. For one, it contains the sound [ɫ] not found in any other Arabic word; it's also an irregular contraction of the article al- and ...
6 votes
1 answer
185 views

At what point did the feminine ending fall silent in Semitic languages?

Hebrew and Arabic both mark feminine nouns with a final consonant in writing, which is pronounced /t/ in certain sandhi-conditioned environments (and is otherwise silent). From what little I know of ...
2 votes
0 answers
157 views

Is there a connection between the Sumerian En and the Semite El?

En means lord in Sumerian and El god or deity in Semitic. Semitic peoples use the word lord as a synonym of god, it seems that the same happens with Sumerian and its gods like Enlil, Enki, Enzu etc. ...
5 votes
3 answers
529 views

Have linguistics found any evidence that Semitic languages influenced Germanic languages or vice versa (in ancient times)?

Have linguistics found any evidence that Semitic languages influenced Germanic languages or vice versa (in ancient times)? BACKGROUND: I suggested to a forum of linguists that a certain Semitic word (...
2 votes
0 answers
168 views

Pre-Hilalian Hilalian dialects comparaison

What are the main differences between Pre-Hilalian Tunisian dialects ( or any other Maghrebi dialects ) and the Hilalian ones ( Pronunciation , vocabulary ... ) . Let’s take the dialect I speak as an ...
15 votes
2 answers
3k views

If the Arabic script is suited to Arabic grammar, how do speakers of non-Semitic languages cope with it?

The Arabic script is an Abjad writing system or consonantal alphabet. Most letters stand for a consonant, and short vowels are usually not indicated (but can exceptionally be indicated with diacritic ...
3 votes
1 answer
618 views

Is it possible for two Semitic (e.g. Arabic, Hebrew) words with the same triliteral root to have different origins?

Learning Arabic, I see some examples of triliteral roots from which words with apparently different meanings are derived. Example: ف ط ر (f-ṭ-r) "to break apart or tear": فَطَرَ • (faṭara) (maybe ...
5 votes
1 answer
154 views

Why is it that Babylonian king names do not match their Akkadian equivalent?

I am trying to figure out why it is that Babylonian (and Assyrian) king names do not match their Akkadian transcription. For example, in the one known inscription for Nabonassar, which is written in ...
0 votes
1 answer
234 views

What's the difference between לזכור and להיזכר in Modern Hebrew? [closed]

In Modern Hebrew, the words לזכור and להיזכר both mean "to remember" and they both come from the root 'זכר'. As an English speaker, it's as if there were two words, "remember" and "remomber" and there ...
5 votes
1 answer
214 views

What is the concept of verb agreement with passive-active level in Hebrew?

In this Duolingo discussion, 'S.Liebermann' mentions that in Hebrew and Arabic, "the verb needs to agree with the level of passive/active" and "Hebrew has 7 degrees of passive/active, while Arabic has ...