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  • Foto: Anna Barne


What is Semitology?

Semitology is one of the fields of comparative linguistics and is dedicated to the study of Semitic languages. Originally it was the technical term for the languages of the descendants of Shem, the biblical son of Noah. Semitology has a long research tradition, which applies to Marburg as well, where famous researchers such as Peter Jensen (1861-1936) and Otto Rössler (1907 – 1991) worked.

Nowadays, Semitic studies deal with more than 70 languages and dialects, some of which have written traditions of more than 3,500 years. Primary sources of the ancient languages are stone tablets, wall and grave inscriptions, or old documents. The geography of the research area stretches from West Africa to Afghanistan and from the Mediterranean to the Ethiopian mountains.

Comparative Semitic studies focuse on the language structure and lexicon and try to figure out the historical relationships between languages, and reconstruct Proto-Semitic forms and grammar. Another important task of contemporary Semitic studies is the research of modern, spoken and often endangered Semitic languages and dialects.