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The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 467 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa. They constitute a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, the only branch of that family to be spoken not only in Africa but also in Asia.

The most widely spoken Semitic language today is Arabic (322 million native speakers, approx 422 million total speakers). It is followed by Amharic (27 million), Tigrinya (about 6.7 million), and Hebrew (about 5 million).

Semitic languages are attested in written form from a very early date, with texts in Eblaite and Akkadian appearing from around the middle of the third millennium BCE, written in a script adapted from Sumerian cuneiform. The other scripts used to write Semitic languages are alphabetic. Among them are the Ugaritic, Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, South Arabian, and Ge'ez alphabets. Maltese is the only Semitic language to be written in the Latin alphabet and is the only official Semitic language within the European Union.

The term "Semitic" for these languages, after Shem, the son of Noah in the Bible, is etymologically a misnomer in some ways, but is nonetheless in standard use.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Semitic languages. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.