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Ethiopian Semitic languages facts for kids

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Ethiopian Semitic
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan
Linguistic classification: Afro-Asiatic
North Ethiopic
South Ethiopic

Ethiopian Semitic (also called Ethio-Semitic, Ethiosemitic, Ethiopic or Abyssinian) is a family of languages. These languages are spoken in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan. They are a part of the South Semitic languages.

Amharic is the most used Ethiopian Semitic language. It is the official working language of Ethiopia and has about 62 million speakers (including second language speakers). Tigrinya has 7 million speakers and is the most spoken language in Eritrea. The Ge'ez language is a religious language that is used in the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches. There is writing in this language that is as old as the first century AD. It is no longer spoken in daily life.

The modern Ethiopian Semitic languages all have the subject–object–verb (SOV) word order. Ge'ez had the verb-subject-object (VSO) order.


Grover Hudson (2013) says that there are five main branches of Ethiosemitic. This classification is given below.

  • North
  • Gafat
  • Soddo–Mesqan–Gurage
    • Soddo
    • Mesqan–Gurage
      • Mesqan
      • Gurage
        • Muher
        • Chaha–Inor
  • Silt'e–Zay–Harari
    • Harari
    • Silt'e, Zay
  • Argobba–Amharic
  • Cohen, Marcel. 1931. Études d’éthiopien méridional. Paris.
  • Hetzron, Robert. 1972. Ethiopian Semitic: studies in classification. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Weninger, Stefan. Vom Altäthiopischen zu den neuäthiopischen Sprachen. Language Typology and Language Universals. Edited by Martin Haspelmath, Ekkehard König, Wulf Oesterreicher, Wolfgang Raible, Vol. 2: 1762-1774. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

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Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Lenguas etiópicas para niños

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