Arabic and IE

Theo Vennemann tvn at
Sun Jan 31 23:34:03 UTC 1999

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Alice Faber wrote on 30 Jan. 1999:

>If there are Semitic forms or
>structures that aren't widely attested in Afro-Asiatic but that show up in
>Indo-European, insisting that these bespeak a genetic link between Semitic and
>Indo-European also requires explaining away the evidence supporting an
>Afro-Asiatic language family. My understanding of most larger affiliations for
>Semitic is that are in fact filiations for Afro-Asiatic and not merely
>Semitic, but it's worth making that explicit.

Since the similarities are overwhelmingly between Indo-European and Semitic
rather than between Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic as a whole (or Proto-Afro-
Asiatic), they do not owe their origin to genetic relatedness of Indo-European
and Semitic but to language contact between Indo-European languages and Semit-
ic langiages (or--Prof. Trask may be listenig--to chance).

Contacts with Indo-European may have included those branches of Afro-Asiatic
that stand close to Semitic, especially Aegyptian and Berber. To the extent
related languages may share certain properties, it is not always trivial to
mine the donor langiage, so that the designation Hamito-Semitic (as in
dissertation) remains useful. An example would be the VSO syntax of Insular

Theo Vennemann
31 January 1999

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