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By Wolfgang Schulze

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According to a "short" chronology. Like in the case of Palaeosyrian, its 54 SEMITIC L A N G U A G E S writing is of Sumerian or non-Semitic origin and has the same general characteristics, but cuneiform signs are generally used with their normal Sumerian value, contrary to the Ebla practice, and certain speech elements are not omitted in writing, as it happens frequently at Ebla and at Mari. On the other side, there seems to be no convincing way of deriving the earliest attested Assyrian or Babylonian texts from Old Akkadian, that obviously was a local dialect of northern Babylonia that owed its prestige and literary character to the fact of being spoken in the power centre of the Kish dynasties and of the Akkadian Empire.

May testify to the arrival of these new population groups. , seem to confirm this hypothesis, since a very similar type of sepulture characterizes pre-historic North Africa, especially Algeria, and it is a typical feature of the old Libyco-Berber tradition. Thus, from North Africa, wave after wave of Semitic migrations would seem to have set forth. The earliest of these migrants, and those who went farthest to the East, were the Akkadians who, journeying along the Fertile Crescent through Palestine and Syria, and crossing over into Mesopotamia, reached Northern Babylonia ca.

C. C. Therefore, classifications based on important literary languages, as Arabic, Ethiopic, Hebrew, and Syriac, and the interpretation of other forms of speech as mere dialects of these literary languages cannot be sustained any more. For a time, varying in length in the various regions, all spoken dialects were of equal prestige, and the epigraphical documentation transmits fuller information on dialectal varieties than has since been available. But with the formation of literary languages in cultural and political centres, certain local dialects augmented their prestige and with their grammatical codifica­ tion came some measure of petrifaction allowing for clearly cut linguis­ tic features.

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