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Ethiopian Treasures

Language

Ethiopia has 83 different languages with up to 200 different


dialects spoken. The largest ethnic and linguistic groups are the Oromos, Amharas
and Tigrayans.
Ge'ez is the ancient language, and was introduced as an official written language
during the first Aksumite kingdom when the Sabeans sought refuge in Aksum. The
Aksumites developed Ge'ez, a unique script derived from the Sabean alphabet, and
it is still used by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church today. Tigrigna and
Amharigna (Amharic) are the modern languages which are derived from Ge'ez.
Amharic is the official national language of Ethiopia. English, Arabic, Italian and
French are widely spoken by many Ethiopians.
The Ethiopian languages are divided into four major language groups.These are
Semitic, Cushitic, Omotic, and Nilo-Saharan.

Semitic
The Semitic languages are spoken in northern, central and eastern Ethiopia (mainly
in Tigray, Amhara, Harar and northern part of the Southern Peoples' State regions).
They use the Ge'ez script that is unique to the country, which consists of 33 letters,
each of which denotes 7 characters, making a total of 231 characters.

The Semitic Languages:

Adarigna

Amharigna

Argobba

Birale

Gafat

Ge'ez

Guragigna

Chaha group (Chaha, Muher, Ezha, Gumer, Gura)

Inor group (Inor, Enner, Endegegna, Gyeto, Mesemes)

Silt'e group (Silt'e, Ulbareg, Enneqor, Walane)

Soddo group (Soddo, Gogot, Galila)

Tigrigna

Zay

Cushitic
The Cushitic languages are mostly spoken in central, southern and eastern Ethiopia
(mainly in Afar, Oromia and Somali regions). The Cushitic languages use the
Roman alphabet and Ge'ez script. For example, Oromo is written in the Ge'ez script
whereas Somali is written in the Roman alphabet.
The Cushitic Languages:

Afarigna

Agewigna

Alaba

Arbore

Awngi

Baiso

Burji

Bussa

Daasanech

Gawwada

Gedeo

Hadiyya

Kambatta

Kemant

Konso

Kunfal

Libido

Oromigna

Saho

Sidamigna

Somaligna

Tsamai

Werize

Xamtanga

Omotic
The Omotic languages are predominantly spoken between the Lakes of southern
Rift Valley and the Omo River.
The Omotic Languages:

Anfillo

Ari

Bambassi

Basketto

Bench

Boro

Chara

Dime

Dizzi

Dorze

Gamo-Gofa

Ganza

Hammer-Banna

Hozo

Kachama-Ganjule

Kara

Kefa

Kore

Male

Melo

Mocha

Nayi

Oyda

Shakacho

Sheko

Welaytta (Welamo)

Yemsa

Zayse-Zergulla

Nilo-Saharan
The Nilo-Saharan languages are largely spoken in the western part of the country
along the border with Sudan (mainly in Gambella and Benshangul regions).
The Nilo-Saharan Languages:

Anuak

Berta

Gobato

Gumuz

Komo

Kunama

Kwama

Kwegu

Majang

Me'en

Murle

Mursi

Nera

Nuer

Nyangatom

Opuuo

Shabo

Suri

Uduk

Ethiopian Ethnic Groups:

Afar

Alaba

Agew/Awingi

Agew/Kamyr

Amhara

Anyiwak

Arborie

Argoba

Ari

Badi

Basketo

Bench

Burji

Charra

Dasenech

Dime

Dizi

Dorzie

Fekashi

Felasha

Gamo

Gamili

Ganjule

Gebato

Gedeo

Gewada

Gidole

Goffo

Guagu

Gurage

Hadiyya

Hamer

Harari/Adare

Jebelawi

Kebena

Kechama

Keffa

Kemant

Kembata

Konta

Kulo

Kewama

Koma

Konso

Koyra

Kunama

Mabaan

Macha

Mareko

Mao

Me'en

Malie

Mello

Mer

Mesengo

Mossiya

Mursi

Nao

Nuer

Nyangatom

Oromo

Oyda

Saho

She

Sheko

Shinasha

Shita

Sidama

Soddo

Somali

Suri

Tigrayan

Timbaro

Tsamay

Welaytta

Werji

Weyito

Yemsa

Zeysie

Zergula

References

Roderick Grierson and Stuart Munro-Hay, The Ark of the Covenant, 2000,
published by Phoenix, London, UK, ISBN 0753810107

Stuart Munro-Hay, Ethiopia, The Unknown Land a Cultural and Historical Guide,
2002, published by I.B. Tauris and Co. Ltd., London and New York, ISBN 1
86064 7448

Jenny Hammond, Fire From The Ashes, A Chronicle of the Revolution in Tigray,
Ethiopia, 1975-1991, 1999, published by The Read Sea Press, Inc., ISBN 1
56902 0868

Philip Briggs, Ethiopia, The Bradt Travel Guide, Third Edition, 2002, published
by Bradt Travel Guides Ltd, England, UK, ISBN 1 84162 0351

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (2003). The Ethiopian Orthodox


Tewahedo Church Faith and Order.
http://www.ethiopianorthodox.org/english/indexenglish.html

Binyam Kebede (2002). http://www.ethiopiafirst.com (4ladies.jpg, Afar-lady.jpg,


Afar-girl.jpg, lady-artful-lips.jpg, Man-face-art.jpg, Man-face-art2.jpg, Somallady.jpg, Debra-Damo.jpg, Buitiful-girls.jpg, lady-face-art.jpg, man-hair-style.jpg,
yeha.jpg, harar.jpg,). Many thanks to Binyam Kebede for his permission to copy
and use these pictures from his website.

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Office of Population and Housing


Census Commission Central Statistical Authority, November 1998, Addis Ababa

Edward Ullendorff, Ethiopia and The Bible, The Schweich Lectures, The British
Academy, Published by The Oxford University Press, first published 1968,
Reprinted 1989, 1992, 1997, Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street,
Oxford OX2 6DP, United Kingdom, ISBN 0-19-726076-4

Mr. Solomon Kibriye (2003). Imperial Ethiopia Homepage,


http://www.angelfire.com/ny/ethiocrown. Many thanks to Mr. Solomon Kibriye
for the contribution and comments he has made to this website.

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1: 16: 44 AM
Sunday
27 January 2013