Talk:West Semitic languages

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Is anyone on here familiar with a reconstructed, hypothetical Proto-West Semitic language? Gringo300 13:24, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

The reconstruction of this early stage of Semitic language development is not clear, and there is insufficient agreement to build a detailed sketch of the language. This stage floats somewhere between the more generalised proto-Semitic and the more specific reconstructions of smaller language groups. For some, West Semitic is proto-Semitic with Akkadian tendencies removed or reduced; for others, it is a rough mixture of the smaller, constituent proto-languages. — Gareth Hughes 16:42, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

I want ask, if West Semitic languages and Central Semitic languages are the same (or they contain the same languages). Thanks. --UP3 14:59, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

I'm kind of confused on that subject myself... Gringo300 22:31, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
West Semitic refers to the major of the two main subdivisions of Semitic languages. Akkadian (and Eblaite) are considered different enough to be classed as East Semitic (this group is extinct). The remainder of Semitic languages are classed as West Semitic. The term Central Semitic is a less-accepted term an generally refers to the NW Semitic languages (Canaanite, Aramaic and Ugaritic) grouped with the Arabic language. The difficulty is with Arabic, which seems to have some links with South Semitic languages and some with NW Semitic. Thus, West Semitic is divided into NW Semitic and South Semitic with Arabic. Central Semitic is then posited as a grouping of NW Semitic and Arabic. However, different authors might use the terms slightly differently, but this is a good general agreement of how these terms are used. — Gareth Hughes 11:41, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

South Semitic afaik isn't usually subsumed under West Semitic, but considered a node on equal footing with West and South Semitic. So at SIL. I won't rule out the possibility that there are other proposals, but we'll have to state exactly which scheme was proposed by whom, and figure out which is the current mainstream view. dab (𒁳) 13:32, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

Dbachmann, the problem is that there is no "mainstream" view. I have seen just about as many different classification schemes for Semitic as there are linguists doing comparative Semitic linguistics. A "vote" of 6 to 4 doesn't even really indicate "mainstream". The best approach is to pick one scheme and be consistent in all the relevant articles (not just this one), even if that approach is not accepted by all the interested parties here. Right now, I'm editing based on the following: Semitic > West, East; West > Central, South; South > Ethiopic, South Arabian [NOT "South Arabic"]; Central > Northwest, Arabic; Northwest > Aramaic, Canaanite. That's not what Ethnologue uses, but it's close to what I see quite often (I'm not even going to say "most often"). The current Wiki templates generally follow this pattern. Unless you're ready to make a strong argument for something else based on a plurality of sources and then make changes in multiple Wikipedia pages, that's the way it should stay for now. (Taivo (talk) 15:04, 5 March 2008 (UTC))

Some pages are placing South Semitic under West Semitic and others place South Semitic aside West Semitic and East Semetic. That (latter) way though, the only subdivision under West Semitic would would be Central Semitic, which would make both West Semitic and Central Semitic interchangable, which wouldn't make sense either. Also Arabic is debated to be more like Northwestern Semitic or South Semetic languages. There needs to be an agreement on the divisions. Until then the only logical way to put it would be to put them all (Northwest Semetic, South Semetic and Arabic Languages) in seperate sub-categories under Semetic next to East Semetic until further research and agreement. I don't know if this sounds a little extreme but I believe it is the only fair and logical way to categorize them given the interwindedness of similarities of Semitic Languages (talk) 22:17, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

The fundamental problem is that many of these pages were created at different times by different editors based on different classification schemes. We all know that the intro to Hetzron's "The Semitic Languages" shows two different schemes, neither of which is exactly like that in Ethnologue. At the present time, there just isn't a fully-agreed upon consensus about how to classify Semitic into primary groups. Before the templates can be standardized, there needs to be a discussion and agreement among the editors over which scheme to follow. (Taivo (talk) 22:36, 13 August 2008 (UTC))
If there is no agreed-upon scheme, the obvious solution is to stick to the primary groups accepted by consensus, namely East Semitic, Northwest Semitic, Ancient North Arabian, Arabic, Sayhadic, Modern South Arabian and Ethiopic. This is the minimal consensus. (Remember that we don't bother with proposals such as Graeco-Aryan, Graeco-Armenian, Armeno-Phrygian etc. either in our classification of Indo-European.)
However, groups that are justified by the current scientific standard of shared innovations (in phonology and morphology) should be taken more seriously than groups that are postulated on other grounds, including merely impressionistically or by typological, geographical, cultural or even phenotypical characteristics. The scheme in Hetzron is the best we have so far, but as pointed out in de:Semitische Sprachen#Klassifikation, the validity of South Semitic as a node is increasingly questioned and Sayhadic seems to be part of Central Semitic.
By the way, I have noticed that Kwamikagami has removed West Semitic from the infoboxes of languages conventionally classified as this. West Semitic, however, seems to be one of the better-supported groupings to me, certainly better than South Semitic, in any case. I would like to know the reason for the removal. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:07, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
This seems to be the reason. However, my impression is that Kwamikagami confused something, because the classification presented in Hetzron 1997 (at least in the chapter dedicated to the question, written by Alice Faber) retains West Semitic as a node, if I recall correctly. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 10:51, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
I just saw that this issue is discussed in Talk:Semitic languages#Classification. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 18:03, 30 September 2011 (UTC)