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Trends in the diachronic development of Semitic verbal morphology in typologically different contexts

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Abstract

Five languages belonging to two different Semitic language groups, namely Koranic Arabic, Egyptian Cairene Arabic, Maltese, Ge c ez and Harari are examined in order to assess the diachronic development of three areas of their verbal morphology: (a) how many inflectional classes can be distinguished in the Basic Form and in different derived forms, (b) how many stems they have for marking tense and mood distinctions, and (c) how the Imperfect and Jussive inflectional prefixes are vocalized. Because of the complexity of Semitic verbal systems, only the Basic Form and the derived D-, L-, <i>t </i>D- and <i>t </i>L-forms of strong triradical roots are examined. Within this strictly defi ned sample of languages and infl ectional paradigms, a marked difference is observed between how the Arabic languages and the Ethio-Semitic ones develop through time in the three above areas.

References

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