Afroasiatic languages

Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian and in older sources as Hamito-Semitic (Chamito-Semitic) or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family of about 300 languages. It includes languages spoken predominantly in West Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and parts of the Sahel. Afroasiatic languages have over 495 million native speakers, the fourth largest number of any language family (after Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan and Niger–Congo). The phylum has six branches: Berber, Chadic, Cushitic, Egyptian, Omotic and Semitic. By far the most widely spoken Afroasiatic language or dialect continuum is Arabic. A de facto group of distinct language varieties within the Semitic branch, the languages that evolved from Proto-Arabic have around 313 million native speakers, concentrated primarily in West Asia and North Africa. Other widely spoken Afroasiatic languages include: Hausa (Chadic), the dominant language of northern Nigeria and southern Niger, spoken as a first language by over 40 million people and used as a lingua franca by another 20 million across West Africa and the Sahel. Oromo (Cushitic), spoken in Ethiopia and Kenya by around 34 million people Amharic (Semitic), spoken in Ethiopia, with over 25 million native speakers in addition to millions of other Ethiopians speaking it as a second language. Somali (Cushitic), spoken by 15 million people in Somalia, Djibouti, eastern Ethiopia and northeastern Kenya. Afar (Cushitic), spoken by around 7.5 million people in Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Eritrea. Shilha (Berber), spoken by around 7 million people in Morocco. Tigrinya (Semitic), spoken by around 6.9 million people in Eritrea and Ethiopia Kabyle (Berber), spoken by around 5.6 million people in Algeria. Hebrew (Semitic), spoken by around 9 million people (5 million native first-language speakers and 4 million second-language speakers) in Israel and the Jewish diaspora; also the liturgical language of the Jewish people and the Samaritan people. Central Atlas Tamazight (Berber), spoken by around 4.6 million people in Morocco. Riffian (Berber), spoken by around 4.2 million people in Morocco. Gurage languages (Semitic), a group of languages spoken by more than 2 million people in Ethiopia. In addition to languages spoken today, Afroasiatic includes several important ancient languages, such as Ancient Egyptian, which forms a distinct branch of the family, and Akkadian, Biblical Hebrew and Old Aramaic, all of which are from the Semitic branch. The original homeland of the Afroasiatic family, and when the parent language (i.e. Proto-Afroasiatic) was spoken, are yet to be agreed upon by historical linguists. Proposed locations include North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Eastern Sahara and the Levant (see below).


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