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Canaanite languages

Levant, Carthage
Linguistic classification: Afro-Asiatic
Glottolog: cana1267

The Canaanite languages or Canaanite dialects are one of the two subgroups of the Northwest Semitic languages, the other being the Aramaic language. They were spoken by the ancient peoples of the Canaan region, the Canaanites, broadly defined to include the Israelites, Phoenicians, Amorites, Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites.

All of them seem to have become extinct as native languages by the early 1st millennium CE, although distinct forms of Hebrew remained in continuous literary and religious use among Jews and Samaritans, while Punic remained in use in the Mediterranean.

This family of languages has the distinction of being the first historically attested group of languages to use an alphabet, derived from the Proto-Canaanite alphabet, to record their writings.

The primary reference for extra-biblical Canaanite inscriptions, together with Aramaic inscriptions, is the German-language book "Kanaanäische und Aramäische Inschriften", from which inscriptions are often referenced as KAI n (for a number n).

The Canaanite languages or dialects can be split into the following:

Other possible Canaanite languages:

Some distinctive typological features of Canaanite in relation to Aramaic are:

Modern Hebrew as a spoken language is the result of a revival by Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries in an effort spearheaded by Eliezer Ben Yehuda. It is currently spoken as the colloquial language by the majority of the Israeli population.


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