A family of languages, characterized by internal vowel
change for grammatical function. It comprises six branches:
- Semitic (Arabic, Hebrew, Amharic, Assyrian, Babylonian, Phoenician, Aramaic, etc.)
- Cushitic (Somali, Oromo, etc. of East Africa)
- Chadic (Hausa of Nigeria etc.)
- Ancient Egyptian (and descendant Coptic)
- Omotic, another group in Ethiopia
s believe it is more distantly linked to Indo-European
theory). It used to be called Hamito-Semitic
with the false implication that all the non-Semitic branches are closer to each other.
New information: History of the classification! The name Hamito-Semitic was used by Müller in 1877. He added Berber and Cushitic to the already known group of Egyptian and Semitic. Lepsius in 1880 added Hausa, correctly, but also Hottentot and Masai on what seem to be anthropological rather than linguistic grounds, making the Hamites herders in a socially superior position to their neighbours. Delafosse in 1914 used the term afro-asiatique and recognised the multiple branches, but not Chadic. Joseph Greenberg included Chadic in 1950, and the last stage in classification was that Fleming in 1969 and Bender in 1971 decided that the West Cushitic group should be a separate Omotic branch. There is now a question whether it should have been two, North and South Omotic.