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.
The yet simpler classification by Cuvier into Caucasian, Mongol and Negro corresponds in some measure with a division by mere complexion into white, yellow and black races; but neither this threefold division, nor the ancient classification into Semitic, Hamitic and Japhetic nations can be regarded as separating the human types either justly or sufficiently (see Prichard, Natural History of Man, sec. z5; Waitz, Anthropology, vol.
These emigrants, already affected by the Hamitic pastoral culture, and with a strain of Hamitic blood in their veins, passed rapidly down the open tract in the east, doubtless exterminating their predecessors, except such few as took refuge in the mountains and swamps.
This is due to the large number of slaves drawn by Arab dealers from the Nuba negroes of Kordofan, who appear to constitute the original stock of the Nubian races (but see Hamitic Races).
Eastward are the Zandeh peoples of the Welle district (primitive Negroids with a Hamitic or, more probably, Libyan strain), with whom the Dor tribe of Nilotes on their eastern border show certain affinities; while to the west along the coast are the Guinea Negroes of primitive type.
The Axumites belonged originally to the Hamitic race, but the immigration of the Himyaritic tribes of southern Arabia speedily imposed a new language and civilization.
Various sections of the Bantu division of the Negro race dwell around the lake, those on the west and south-west showing the most pronounced Negro type, while the tribes on the east exhibit some intermixture with representatives of the Hamitic stock, and (towards the south) some traces of Zulu influence.
At the same time it is extremely convenient and to a ceriain extent justifiable on physical and psychological grounds; and it may be said roughly that while the linguistic uniformity of the Bantu is accompanied by great variation of physical type, the converse is in the main true of the Negro proper, especially where least affected by Libyan and Hamitic admixture, e.g.
Although the Berber tongue shows a certain affinity with Semitic in the construction both of its words and sentences Berber is quite distinct from the Semitic languages; and a remarkable fact is that in spite of the enormous space over which the dialects are spread and the thousands of years that some of the Berber peoples have been isolated from the rest, these dialects show but slight differences from the long-extinct Hamitic speech from which all are derived.
The inhabitants of the interior may be divided into two classes, those namely of Bantu and those of Hamitic stock.