Canaanite languages are a subfamily of the Semitic languages, which were spoken by the ancient peoples of the Canaan region, including Canaanites, Israelites, Phoenicians, Amorites, Edomites and Moabites. All of them seem to have become extinct as native languages by the early 1st millennium CE (although it is uncertain how long Punic survived), although distinct forms of Hebrew remained in continuous literary and religious use among Jews and Samaritans.
The Phoenician and
Carthaginian expansion spread the Phoenician language and its Punic dialect to the Western Mediterranean for a time, but there too it died out, although it seems to have survived slightly longer than in Phoenicia itself. 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. Classification [edit ] Phoenician – extinct Hebrew Ammonite – extinct Hebrewic dialect of the Ammonite people mentioned in the Bible (not a distinct language ) [1 ] Moabite – extinct Hebrewic dialect of the Moabite people mentioned in the Bible (not a distinct language ) [2 ] Edomite – extinct Hebrewic dialect of the Edomite people mentioned in the Bible (not a distinct language ) [3 ] Biblical Hebrew – extinct Hebrewic dialect of the ancient Jewish Israelites. Literary, poetical, liturgical; also known as Classical Hebrew, the oldest form of the language attested in writing. The original pronunciation of Biblical Hebrew is only accessible through reconstruction. There are different pronunciations traditions associated with different diaspora groups, influenced by vernacular languages spoken locally, which are listed below. Tiberian Hebrew – Masoretic scholars living in the Jewish community of Tiberias in Palestine c. 750-950 CE. Mizrahi Hebrew – Mizrahi Jews, liturgical Yemenite Hebrew – Yemenite Jews, liturgical Sephardi Hebrew – Sephardi Jews, liturgical Ashkenazi Hebrew – Ashkenazi Jews, liturgical Mishnaic Hebrew (Rabbinical Hebrew) – Jews, liturgical, rabbinical, any of the Hebrew dialects found in the Talmud. Medieval Hebrew – Jews, liturgical, poetical, rabbinical, scientific, literary; lingua franca based on Bible, Mishna and neologisms forms created by translators and commentators Haskala Hebrew – Jews, scientific, literary and journalistic language based on Biblical but enriched with neologisms created by writers and journalists, a transition to the later Modern Hebrew – Transformation and enlargement of the former into a spoken language which, in turn emerged as the new contemporary Israeli Hebrew Ancient Samaritan Hebrew) – extinct dialect spoken by the ancient Samaritan Israelites
The main sources for study of Canaanite languages are the Hebrew Bible (
Tanakh), and inscriptions such as:
Deir Alla Inscription is written in a dialect with Aramaic and South Canaanite characteristics, which is classified as Canaanite in Hetzron.
The extra-biblical Canaanite inscriptions are gathered along with Aramaic inscriptions in editions of the book "
Kanaanäische und Aramäische Inschriften", from which they may be referenced as KAI (for a number n n); for example, the Mesha Stele is " KAI 181". Distinctive features [edit ]
The Canaanite languages, together with the
Aramaic languages and Ugaritic, form the Northwest Semitic subgroup. Some distinctive features of Canaanite in relation to Aramaic are: The prefix 'h-' used as the definite article (whereas Aramaic has a postfixed -a). This seems to be an innovation of Canaanite. The first person pronoun being ' ʼnk' (אנכ – anok(i), versus Aramaic – ʼnʼ/ ʼny) – which is similar to Akkadian, Ancient Egyptian and Berber. The *ā > ō vowel shift ( Canaanite shift). References [edit ] ^  ^  ^  The Semitic Languages. Routledge Language Family Descriptions. Edited by Robert Hetzron. New York: Routledge, 1997. External links [edit ]