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Afroasiatic languages

Horn of Africa, North Africa, Sahel, Middle East
Linguistic classification: One of the world's primary language families
Proto-language: Proto-Afroasiatic
ISO 639-2 / 5:
Glottolog: afro1255
Distribution of the Afro-Asiatic languages. Yellow signifies areas without any languages in that family.

Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian and traditionally as Hamito-Semitic (Chamito-Semitic), is a large language family of several hundred related languages and dialects. It comprises about 300 or so living languages and dialects, according to the 2009 Ethnologue estimate. It includes languages spoken predominantly in the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and parts of the Sahel.

Afroasiatic languages have 350+ 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.

The most widely spoken Afroasiatic language is Arabic, including literary Arabic and the spoken colloquial varieties. It has around 200 to 230 million native speakers concentrated primarily in the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and Malta.Tamazight and other Berber varieties are spoken in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, northern Mali, and northern Niger by about 25 to 35 million people.

Other widely spoken Afroasiatic languages include:

In addition to languages spoken today, Afroasiatic includes several important ancient languages, such as Ancient Egyptian, Akkadian, Biblical Hebrew, and Old Aramaic. It is uncertain when or where the original homeland of the Afroasiatic family existed. Proposed locations include North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Eastern Sahara, and the Levant.


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