Semitic studies

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As a comparative linguistics, Semitic studies deals with the Semitic languages , a branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages . The methodological basis of Semitic studies is the assumption that the individual Semitic languages ​​attested to can be traced back to a reconstructable basic language "Proto-Semitic" (or Ur-Semitic), from which they arose through regular processes such as phonetic change, analogic language change or grammaticalization. In addition, Semitic studies often also refer to individual philologies of Semitic languages, unless they are covered by other subjects such as Old Testament theology , Hebrew studies , Arabic studies or ancient Near Eastern studies . Another important task of Semitic studies is the documentation of modern, spoken (often threatened) Semitic languages ​​and dialects.


European Semitic studies go back to the 16th century. The underlying adjective Semitic was coined in 1781 by the historian August Ludwig Schlözer (1735–1809). Around 1900 there was extensive research, especially by Theodor Nöldeke (1836–1930) and Carl Brockelmann (1868–1956). In particular, impulses came from epigraphs , for example the recent discoveries about the Eblaite language .

Locations and neighboring disciplines of Semitic Studies

Semitic studies are taught at the following German universities:

The Semitist courses at the Universities of Cologne, Munich, Mainz and Halle have been canceled or expired for several years.

Neighboring disciplines with which Semitic Studies traditionally works closely and which often overlap with it are:

After the elimination of Semitic studies, some of these last-mentioned disciplines still offer semitistically oriented courses and modules (in particular Syrian and Aramaic courses) at numerous locations.

There is a working group for Semitic Studies in the German Oriental Society .

See also


  • Gotthelf Bergsträsser : Introduction to the Semitic languages , language samples and grammatical sketches, reprint, Darmstadt 1993
  • Carl Brockelmann : Outline of the comparative grammar of the Semitic languages , Vol. 1–2, 1908/1913
  • David Cohen: Dictionnaire des racines sémitiques ou attestées dans les langues sémitiques (several, still incomplete volumes)
  • Robert Hetzron (ed.): Semitic Languages , London 1997
  • Burkhart Kienast : Historical Semitic Linguistics , Wiesbaden 2001
  • Stefan Weninger, Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet CE Watson (eds.): The Semitic Languages , Berlin 2011

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Hadumod Bußmann (ed.) With the assistance of Hartmut Lauffer: Lexikon der Sprachwissenschaft. 4th, revised and bibliographically supplemented edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-520-45204-7 , Lemma Semitic Languages.