The Afroasiatic family is divided into six branches: Egyptian, Semtic, Berber, Cushitic, Omotic, and Chadic. According to one theory, the languages of the Afroasiatic family are thought to have first been spoken along the shores of the Red Sea. Another theory holds that the language family came into being in Africa, for only in Africa are all its members found, aside from some Semitic languages encountered in SW Asia. The existence of the Semitic languages in W Asia is explained by assuming that African Semitic speakers migrated from E Africa to W Asia in very ancient times. At a later date, some Semitic speakers returned from Arabia to Africa.
Sections in this article:
- The Egyptian Languages
- The Semitic Languages
- The Berber Languages
- The Cushitic and Omotic Languages
- The Role of Semitic Languages in the Development of Writing Systems
- The Chadic Languages
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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