Home    Number 6, 2022

A Lexicostatistical Classification of Afrasian Languages: New Approaches

[Leksikostatisticheskaia klassifikatsiia afraziiskikh yazykov: novye podkhody]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522060082


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted:  04.04.2022

Accepted: 23.07.2022

About author(s)

Aleхandеr Kozintsev | https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0165-8109 | alexanderkozintsev@yandex.ru | Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences (3 University Emb., St. Petersburg, 199034, Russia)

Aleхandеr Militarev | http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5684-3053 | amilitarev@gmail.com | Russian State University for the Humanities (6 Miusskaya sq., Moscow, GSP-3, 125993, Russia)


Lexicostatistics, Afroasiatic languages, Semitic languages, Egyptian language, Berber languages, Chadic languages, Cushitic languages, Omotic languages


A lexicostatistical classification of 205 Afrasian languages was carried out on Alexander Militarev’s database according to 100-item lists using various clustering and dimensionality reduction methods. Rooted trees and networks were constructed, and a quasi-spatial model was applied. The separation of Afrasian languages into two groups, northern (Semitic, Egyptian, Berber, and Chadic) and southern (Cushitic and Omotic) is supported, although the monophyly of the Cushitic family is questionable. Within the Semitic family, Aramaic languages together with the apparently related Sabaic take a central position, being connected with all others. Whether or not the Levantine group, which, apart from the above, includes Canaanite languages and Ugaritic, is a clade or a Sprachbund is not clear. Ethiosemitic and Modern South Arabian are not sister branches. Northern Ethiosemitic languages are intermediate between Southern Ethiosemitic and other Semitic languages, possibly evidencing the spread of Semitic inland from the Red Sea coast.


Kozintsev, A.G., and A.Y. Militarev. 2022. Leksikostatisticheskaia klassifikatsiia afraziiskikh yazykov: novye podkhody [A Lexicostatistical Classification of Afrasian Languages: New Approaches]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 6: 132–159. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522060082 EDN: MRORLQ

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