The Central Semitic languages are a proposed intermediate group of Semitic languages, comprising Arabic and the Northwest Semitic languages: Aramaic, Ugaritic, and the Canaanite languages of Hebrew and Phoenician. In this reckoning, Central Semitic itself is one of three divisions of Semitic along with East Semitic (Akkadian and Eblaite) and South Semitic (Modern and Old South Arabian, and the Ethiopian Semitic languages).
Distinctive features of Central Semitic languages include the following:
Different classification systems disagree on the precise structure of the group. The most common approach divides it into Arabic and Northwest Semitic, while SIL Ethnologue has South Central Semitic (including Arabic and Hebrew) vs. Aramaic.
The main distinction between Arabic and the Northwest Semitic languages is the presence of broken plurals in the former. The majority of Arabic nouns (apart from participles) form plurals in this manner, whereas virtually all nouns in the Northwest Semitic languages form their plurals with a suffix. For example, the Arabic bayt ("house") becomes buy?t ("houses"); the Hebrew bayit ("house") becomes b?tt?m ("houses").