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date: 18 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Phoenician is the conventional name (from Greek) of a language belonging to the Canaanite group of the Semitic languages, spoken in a group of cities of the Lebanese coast and by inhabitants of their settlements abroad, established in the western Mediterranean since about the early eighth century bce. The western language, from about the sixth century bce, is usually called Punic, with a Late Punic phase. The Phoenician language is written from right to left, in a consonantal alphabetic script, and is attested from the beginning of the Iron Age until the second century bce; several dialects were probably used, but only some of them can be identified, particularly the Byblian dialect. In the West, in the Roman period, a group of inscriptions in the Latin alphabet, called Latino-Punic, attest the latest phase of the language (from the second until the fourth–fifth centuries ce). The grammar of the Phoenician language is based almost only on inscriptions; consequently it is still incomplete in several respects. The chapter summarizes the main features of the language, mainly in regard to phonology and morphology; some specific features of syntax are described, too.

Keywords: Phoenician language, Punic and Late Punic, alphabet, grammar, phonology, morphology, syntax, inscription

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