Semitic languages are a subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic languages. The most common Semitic languages spoken today are Arabic, Amharic, Hebrew, and Tigrinya.
The Central Semitic languages
- Northwest Semitic languages
The South Semitic languages
The Eastern Semitic Languages
These languages all exhibit a pattern of words consisting of triconsonantal roots, with vowel changes, prefixes, and suffixes used to inflect them. For instance, in Hebrew:
- gdl means "big" but is no part of speech and not a word, just a root
- gadol means "big" and is an adjective
- giddel means "he magnified"
- magdelet means "magnifier" (lens)
- spr is the root for "count" or "recount"
- sefer means "book" (containing tales which are recounted)
- sofer means "scribe" (Masoretic scribes counted verses)
- mispar means "number".
Other Afro-Asiatic languages show similar patterns; e.g. in Tamashek Tawa akhluk means "creation" and ikhlakdu "he created".
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