Ethiopic languages

Group of Semitic languages, spoken by more than 25 million people in Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Ethiopic has been divided by linguists into North Ethiopic, comprising Geʾez, Tigré, and Tigrinya (or Tigrai), and South Ethiopic, comprising the rest of the 22 languages. Geʾez (or Ethiopic) is the oldest Ethiopian Semitic language, first attested in inscriptions from the kingdom of Aksum. It became the language of Christianity in the Aksumite period, and
though probably extinct as a vernacular sometime before the 10th century AD
it remained the classical language of highland Ethiopian civilization and the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox church into the 20th century. Tigré has about 800,000 speakers in northern Eritrea, while Tigrinya has about 4 million speakers. The estimated 1.3 million Tigrinya speakers in Eritrea constitute about 50% of the country's population. The most important South Ethiopic language is Amharic.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Ethiopic alphabet —       writing system used to write the Geʿez (Geʿez language) literary and ecclesiastical language and the Amharic, Tigre, and Tigrinya languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Apparently derived from Sabaean, a South Semitic (South Semitic alphabet)… …   Universalium

  • Ethiopic — I. adjective Date: 1631 1. Ethiopian 2. a. of, relating to, or constituting Ethiopic b. of, relating to, or constituting a group of related Semitic languages spoken in Ethiopia II. noun Date: 1677 1. a Semitic language formerly spoken in Ethiopia …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Ethiopic — /ee thee op ik, oh pik/, adj. 1. Ethiopian. n. 2. a subdivision of Semitic languages that includes Amharic, Tigré, Tigrinya, and Geez, all of Ethiopia. 3. Geez. [1650 60; < L Aethiopicus. See ETHIOP, IC] * * * …   Universalium

  • Ethiopic — n. subgroup of Semitic languages (includes Tigre, Amharic, Tigrinya, and Geez); Geez, ancient form of the Ethiopian language used during religious ceremonies of the Ethiopian Christian Church …   English contemporary dictionary

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  • Ethio-Semitic languages —       the Semitic languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea, including Geʿez (Geʿez language), the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox church; Amharic (Amharic language), one of the principal languages of modern Ethiopia; Tigré (Tigré language) …   Universalium

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