The characteristic triliteral roots of all the Semitic languages seemed to separate them widely from others; but certain traits have caused the Egyptian, Berber and Cushite groups to be classed together as three subfamilies of a Hamitic group, remotely related to the Semitic. The biliteral character of Coptic, and the biliteralism which was believed to exist in Egyptian, led philologists to suspect that Egyptian might be a surviving witness to that far-off stage of the Semitic languages when triliteral roots had not yet been formed from presumed original biliterals; Sethes investigations, however, prove that the Coptic biliterals are themselves derived from Old Egyptian triliterals, and that the triliteral roots enormously preponderated in Egyptian of the earliest known form; that view is, therefore, no longer tenable.
Strong consonants gave place to weak consonants (as t.3 has done to), in the modern Arabic of Egypt), and then the weak consonants disappearing altogether produced biliterals from the triliterals.
Properly triliterals, but, with the 2nd or 3rd radical alike, these coalesced in many forms where no vowel intervened, and gave the word the appearance of a biliteraL
Four letter-names are triliterals, and resemble in their form Semitic words."
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