The Info List - Ge'ez

(/ˈɡiːɛz/;[6][7] ግዕዝ, Gəʿəz IPA: [ˈɡɨʕɨz] ( listen); also transliterated Giʻiz)[citation needed] is an ancient South Semitic language and a member of the Ethiopian Semitic group. The language originated in southern regions of Eritrea
and the northern region of Ethiopia
in the Horn of Africa. It later became the official language of the Kingdom of Aksum and Ethiopian imperial court. Today, Ge'ez
remains only as the main language used in the liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Ethiopian Catholic Church, the Eritrean Catholic Church, and the Beta Israel
Beta Israel
community. However, in Ethiopia, Amharic (the main lingua franca of modern Ethiopia) or other local languages, and in Eritrea
and Tigray Region
Tigray Region
in Ethiopia, Tigrinya may be used for sermons. Amharic, Tigrinya, and Tigre are closely related to Ge'ez.[8] Some linguists do not believe that Ge'ez
constitutes the common ancestor of modern Ethiopian languages, but that Ge'ez
became a separate language early on from some hypothetical, completely unattested language,[9] and can thus be seen as an extinct sister language of Amharic, Tigre and Tigrinya.[10] The foremost Ethiopian experts such as Amsalu Aklilu point to the vast proportion of inherited nouns that are unchanged, and even spelled identically in both Ge'ez
and Amharic
(and to a lesser degree, Tigrinya).[11]


1 Phonology

1.1 Vowels 1.2 Consonants

1.2.1 Transliteration 1.2.2 Phonemes of Ge'ez 1.2.3 Ge'ez
consonants in relation to Proto-Semitic

2 Morphology

2.1 Nouns

2.1.1 Internal plural

2.2 Pronominal morphology 2.3 Verb conjugation

3 Syntax

3.1 Noun phrases 3.2 Prepositional phrases 3.3 Sentences 3.4 Negation

4 Writing system 5 History and literature

5.1 Origins 5.2 5th to 7th centuries 5.3 13th to 14th centuries 5.4 15th to 16th centuries 5.5 Current usage in Eritrea, Ethiopia
and Israel

6 Sample 7 See also 8 Notes 9 References 10 Further reading

10.1 Grammar 10.2 Literature 10.3 Dictionaries

11 External links

Phonology[edit] Vowels[edit]

a /æ/ < Proto-Semitic
*a; later e u /u/ < Proto-Semitic
*ū i /i/ < Proto-Semitic
*ī ā /aː/ < Proto-Semitic
*ā; later a e /e/ < Proto-Semitic
*ay ə /ɨ/ < Proto-Semitic
*i, *u o /o/ < Proto-Semitic

Also transliterated as ä, ū/û, ī/î, a, ē/ê, e/i, ō/ô. Consonants[edit] Transliteration[edit] Ge'ez
is transliterated according to the following system:

translit. h l ḥ m ś r s sh ḳ b t ḫ n ʾ

Ge'ez ሀ ለ ሐ መ ሠ ረ ሰ ሸ ቀ በ ተ ኀ ነ አ

translit. k w ʿ z y ṣ g ṭ p̣ ṣ ḍ f p

Ge'ez ከ ወ ዐ ዘ የ ደ ገ ጠ ጰ ጸ ፀ ፈ ፐ

Because Ge'ez
is no longer a spoken language, the pronunciation of some consonants is not completely certain. Gragg (1997:244) writes "The consonants corresponding to the graphemes ś ( Ge'ez
ሠ) and ḍ ( Ge'ez
ፀ) have merged with s and ṣ respectively in the phonological system represented by the traditional pronunciation—and indeed in all modern Ethiopian Semitic. ... There is, however, no evidence either in the tradition or in Ethiopian Semitic [for] what value these consonants may have had in Ge'ez." A similar problem is found for the consonant transliterated ḫ. Gragg (1997:245) notes that it corresponds in etymology to velar or uvular fricatives in other Semitic languages, but it was pronounced exactly the same as ḥ in the traditional pronunciation. Though the use of a different letter shows that it must originally have had some other pronunciation, what that pronunciation was is not certain. The chart below lists /ɬ/ and /ɬʼ/ as possible values for ś (ሠ) and ḍ (ፀ) respectively. It also lists /χ/ as a possible value for ḫ (ኀ). These values are tentative, but based on the reconstructed Proto-Semitic
consonants that they are descended from. Phonemes of Ge'ez[edit] In the chart below, IPA values are shown. When transcription is different from the IPA, the character is shown in angular brackets. Question marks follow phonemes whose interpretation is controversial (as explained in the preceding section).


Labial Dental Palatal Velar, Uvular Pharyn- geal Glottal

plain lateral plain labialized

Nasal m n

Plosive voiceless p t

k kʷ

ʔ ⟨’⟩

voiced b d

ɡ ɡʷ

emphatic1 pʼ ⟨p̣⟩ tʼ ⟨ṭ⟩

kʼ ⟨ḳ⟩ kʷʼ ⟨ḳʷ⟩

Affricate emphatic

t͡sʼ ⟨ṣ⟩

Fricative voiceless f s ɬ? ⟨ś⟩

χ? ⟨ḫ⟩

ħ ⟨ḥ⟩ h



ʕ ⟨‘⟩


ɬʼ? ⟨ḍ⟩




l j ⟨y⟩


In Ge'ez, Emphatic consonants are phonetically ejectives. As is the case with Arabic, emphatic velars may actually be phonetically uvular ([q] and [qʷ]).

consonants in relation to Proto-Semitic[edit] Ge'ez
consonants have a triple opposition between voiceless, voiced, and ejective (or emphatic) obstruents. The Proto-Semitic
"emphasis" in Ge'ez
has been generalized to include emphatic p̣. Ge'ez
has phonologized labiovelars, descending from Proto-Semitic
biphonemes. Ge'ez
ś ሠ Sawt (in Amharic, also called śe-nigūś, i.e. the se letter used for spelling the word nigūś "king") is reconstructed as descended from a Proto-Semitic
voiceless lateral fricative [ɬ]. Like Arabic,[clarification needed] Ge'ez
merged Proto-Semitic
š and s in ሰ (also called se-isat: the se letter used for spelling the word isāt "fire"). Apart from this, Ge'ez
phonology is comparably conservative; the only other Proto-Semitic
phonological contrasts lost may be the interdental fricatives and ghayin. Morphology[edit] Nouns[edit] Ge'ez
distinguishes two genders, masculine and feminine, which in certain words is marked with the suffix -t. These are less strongly distinguished than in other Semitic languages, in that many nouns not denoting persons can be used in either gender: in translated Christian texts there is a tendency for nouns to follow the gender of the noun with a corresponding meaning in Greek.[12] There are two numbers, singular and plural. The plural can be constructed either by suffixing -āt to a word, or by internal plural.

Plural using suffix: ʿāmat – ʿāmatāt 'year(s)', māy – māyāt 'water(s)' (Note: In contrast to adjectives and other Semitic languages, the -āt suffix can be used for constructing the plural of both genders). Internal plural: bet – ʾābyāt 'house, houses'; qərnəb – qarānəbt 'eyelid, eyelids'.

Nouns also have two cases, the nominative which is not marked and the accusative which is marked with final -a (e.g. bet, bet-a). Internal plural[edit] Internal plurals follow certain patterns. Triconsonantal nouns follow one of the following patterns.

Patterns of internal plural for triconsonantal nouns.[2][13] (C=Consonant, V=Vowel)

Pattern Singular Meaning Plural


ləbs 'garment' ālbās

faras 'horse' āfrās

bet 'house' ābyāt

tzom 'fast' ātzwām

səm 'name' āsmāt


hāgar 'country' āhgur


rəʾs 'head' arʾəst

gabr 'servant, slave' āgbərt


bagʾ 'sheep' ābāgəʾ

gānen 'devil' āgānənt


əzn 'ear' ā'zan

əgr 'foot' ā'gar


əd 'hand' ā'daw

ab 'father' ābaw

əḫʷ 'brother' āḫaw

Quadriconsonantal and some triconsonantal nouns follow the following pattern. Triconsonantal nouns that take this pattern must have at least one long vowel[2]

Patterns of internal plural for quadriconsonantal nouns.[2][13] (C=Consonant, V=Vowel)

Pattern Singular Meaning Plural


dəngəl 'virgin' danāgəl

masfən 'prince' masāfənt

kokab 'star' kawākəbt

qasis 'priest' qasāwəst

Pronominal morphology[edit]

Number Person Isolated personal pronoun Pronominal suffix

With noun With verb

Singular 1. ʾāna -ya -ni

2. masculine ʾānta -ka

2. feminine ʾānti -ki

3. masculine wəʾətu -(h)u

3. feminine yəʾəti -(h)a

Plural 1. nəḥna -na

2. masculine ʾāntəmu -kəmu

2. feminine ʾāntən -kən

3. masculine wəʾətomu / əmuntu -(h)omu

3. feminine wəʾəton / əmāntu -(h)on

Verb conjugation[edit]

Person Perfect qatal-nn Imperfect

Indicative -qattəl Jussive -qtəl

Singular 1. qatal-ku ʾə-qattəl' ʾə-qtəl

2. m. qatal-ka tə-qattəl tə-qtəl

2. f. qatal-ki tə-qattəl-i tə-qtəl-i

3. m. qatal-a yə-qattəl yə-qtəl

3. f. qatal-at tə-qattəl tə-qtəl

Plural 1. qatal-na nə-qattəl nə-qtəl

2. m. qatal-kəmmu tə-qattəl-u tə-qtəl-u

2. f. qatal-kən tə-qattəl-ā tə-qtəl-ā

3. m. qatal-u yə-qattəl-u yə-qtəl-u

3. f. qatal-ā yə-qattəl-ā yə-qtəl-ā

Syntax[edit] Noun phrases[edit] Noun phrases have the following overall order: (demonstratives) noun (adjective)-(relative clause)

ba-za: hagar

in-this:f city

in this city

nəguś kəbur

king glorious

the glorious king

Adjectives and determiners agree with the noun in gender and number:

za:ti nəgəśt kəbərt

this:fem queen glorious:fem

this glorious queen

'əllu nagaśt kəbura:n

these:mpl kings glorious:pl

these glorious kings

Relative clauses are introduced by a pronoun which agrees in gender and number with the preceding noun:

bə'si za=qatal-əww-o la=wald-o

man which:masc=kill-3mp-3ms to=son=3ms

the man whose son they killed

As in many Semitic languages, possession by a noun phrase is shown through the construct state. In Ge'ez, this is formed by suffixing /-a/ to the possessed noun, which is followed by the possessor, as in the following examples (Lambdin 1978:23):

wald-a nəguś

son-construct king

the son of the king

səm-a mal'ak

name-construct angel

the name of the angel

Possession by a pronoun is indicated by a suffix on the possessed noun, as seen in the following table:

Possessor affix

1sg 'my' -əya

2msg 'your (masc)' -əka

2fsg 'your (fem)' -əki

3msg 'his' -u

3fsg 'her' -a:

1pl 'our' -əna

2mpl 'your (masc. plur)' -əkəma

2fpl 'your (fem. plur)' -əkən

3mpl 'their (masc)' -omu

3fpl 'their (fem)' -on

The following examples show a few nouns with pronominal possessors:

səm-əya səm-u

name-1sg name-3sg

my name his name

Another common way of indicating possession by a noun phrase combines the pronominal suffix on a noun with the possessor preceded by the preposition /la=/ 'to, for' (Lambdin 1978:44):

səm-u la = neguś

name-3sg to = king

'the king's name; the name of the king'

Lambdin (1978:45) notes that in comparison to the construct state, this kind of possession is only possible when the possessor is definite and specific. Lambdin also notes that the construct state is the unmarked form of possession in Ge'ez. Prepositional phrases[edit] Ge'ez
is a prepositional language, as in the following example (Lambdin 1978:16):

wəsta hagar

to city

to the city

There are three special prepositions, /ba=/ 'in, with', /la=/ 'to, for', /'əm=/ 'from', which always appear as proclitics on the following noun, as in the following examples:

'əm = hagar

from = city

from the city


in = city

in the city

These proclitic prepositions in Ge'ez
are similar to the inseparable prepositions in Hebrew. Sentences[edit] The normal word order for declarative sentences is VSO. Objects of verbs show accusative case marked with the suffix /-a/:

Takal-a bə'si ʕətsʼ-a

plant-3ms man tree-acc

The man planted a tree

Questions with a wh-word ('who', 'what', etc.) show the question word at the beginning of the sentence:

'Ayya hagar ḥanaṣ-u

which city flee-3pl

Which city did they flee?

Negation[edit] The common way of negation is the prefix ʾi- which descends from ʾey- (which is attested in Axum inscriptions) from ʾay from Proto-Semitic
*ʾal by palatalization.[2] It is prefixed to verbs as follows:

nəḥna ʾi-nəkl ḥawira

we (we) cannot go

we cannot go

Writing system[edit] Main article: Ge'ez

Genesis 29.11–16 in Ge'ez

is written with Ethiopic or the Ge'ez
abugida, a script that was originally developed specifically for this language. In languages that use it, such as Amharic
and Tigrinya, the script is called Fidäl, which means script or alphabet. Ge'ez
is read from left to right. The Ge'ez script
Ge'ez script
has been adapted to write other languages, usually ones that are also Semitic. The most widespread use is for Amharic
in Ethiopia
and Tigrinya in Eritrea
and Ethiopia. It is also used for Sebatbeit, Meʻen, Agew and most other languages of Ethiopia. In Eritrea
it is used for Tigre, and it is often used for Bilen, a Cushitic language. Some other languages in the Horn of Africa, such as Oromo, used to be written using Ge'ez
but have switched to Latin-based alphabets. It also uses 4 symbols for labialized velar consonants, which are variants of the non-labialized velar consonants:

Basic sign ḳ ḫ k g

ቀ ኀ ከ ገ

Labialized variant ḳʷ ḫʷ kʷ gʷ

ቈ ኈ ኰ ጐ

History and literature[edit]

Example of Ge'ez
taken from a 15th-century Ethiopian Coptic prayer book

Although it is often said that Ge'ez
literature is dominated by the Bible
including the Deuterocanon, in fact there are many medieval and early modern original texts in the language. Most of its important works are also the literature of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which include Christian
liturgy (service books, prayers, hymns), Lives of Saints, and Patristic literature. For instance, around 200 texts were written about indigenous Ethiopian saints from the fourteenth through the nineteenth century. This religious orientation of Ge'ez
literature was a result of traditional education being the responsibility of priests and monks. "The Church thus constituted the custodian of the nation's culture", notes Richard Pankhurst, and describes the traditional education as follows:

Traditional education was largely biblical. It began with the learning of the alphabet, or more properly, syllabary... The student's second grade comprised the memorization of the first chapter of the first Epistle General of St. John in Geez. The study of writing would probably also begin at this time, and particularly in more modern times some arithmetic might be added. In the third stage the Acts of the Apostles were studied, while certain prayers were also learnt, and writing and arithmetic continued. ... The fourth stage began with the study of the Psalms
of David and was considered an important landmark in a child's education, being celebrated by the parents with a feast to which the teacher, father confessor, relatives and neighbours were invited. A boy who had reached this stage would moreover usually be able to write, and might act as a letter writer.[14]

However works of history and chronography, ecclesiastical and civil law, philology, medicine, and letters were also written in Ge'ez.[15] The Ethiopian collection in the British Library
British Library
comprises some 800 manuscripts dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries, notably including magical and divinatory scrolls, and illuminated manuscripts of the 16th to 17th centuries. It was initiated by a donation of 74 codices by the Church of England Missionary Society
Church of England Missionary Society
in the 1830s and 1840s, and substantially expanded by 349 codices, looted by the British from the Emperor Tewodros II's capital at Magdala in the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
in New York City has at least two illuminated manuscripts in Ge'ez. Origins[edit] The Ge'ez language
Ge'ez language
is classified as a South Semitic language. It evolved from an earlier proto-Ethio-Semitic ancestor used to write royal inscriptions of the kingdom of Dʿmt
in the Epigraphic South Arabian script. The Ge'ez language
Ge'ez language
is no longer universally thought of, as previously assumed, to be an offshoot of Sabaean or Old South Arabian,[16] and there is some linguistic (though not written) evidence of Semitic languages
Semitic languages
being spoken in Eritrea
and Ethiopia since approximately 2000 BC.[17] However, the Ge'ez script
Ge'ez script
later replaced Epigraphic South Arabian in the Kingdom of Aksum. Epigraphic South Arabian letters were used for a few inscriptions into the 8th century, though not any South Arabian language since Dʿmt. Early inscriptions in Ge'ez
and Ge'ez script
Ge'ez script
have been dated[18] to as early as the 5th century BC, and in a sort of proto- Ge'ez
written in ESA since the 9th century BC. Ge'ez
literature properly begins with the Christianization of Ethiopia
(and the civilization of Axum) in the 4th century, during the reign of Ezana of Axum.[15] 5th to 7th centuries[edit] The oldest known example of the old Ge'ez script
Ge'ez script
is found on the Hawulti obelisk in Matara, Eritrea. The oldest surviving Ge'ez manuscript is thought to be the 5th or 6th century Garima Gospels.[19][20] Almost all texts from this early "Aksumite" period are religious (Christian) in nature, and translated from Greek. The Ethiopic Bible
contains 81 Books: 46 of the Old Testament and 35 of the New. A number of these Books are called "deuterocanonical" (or "apocryphal" according to certain Western theologians), such as the Ascension of Isaiah, Jubilees, Enoch, the Paralipomena of Baruch, Noah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Maccabees, and Tobit. The Book of Enoch
Book of Enoch
in particular is notable since its complete text has survived in no other language. Also to this early period dates Qerlos, a collection of Christological writings beginning with the treatise of Saint Cyril (known as Hamanot Rete’et or De Recta Fide). These works are the theological foundation of the Ethiopic Church. In the later 5th century, the Aksumite
Collection --an extensive selection of liturgical, theological, synodical and historical materials-- was translated into Ge'ez
from Greek, providing a fundamental set of instructions and laws for the developing Ethiopian Church. Another important religious document is Ser'ata Paknemis, a translation of the monastic Rules of Pachomius. Non-religious works translated in this period include Physiologus, a work of natural history also very popular in Europe.[21] 13th to 14th centuries[edit] After the decline of the Aksumites, a lengthy gap follows; no works have survived that can be dated to the years of the 8th through 12th centuries. Only with the rise of the Solomonic dynasty
Solomonic dynasty
around 1270 can we find evidence of authors committing their works to writings. Some writers consider the period beginning from the 14th century an actual "Golden Age" of Ge'ez
literature—although by this time Ge'ez
was no longer a living language. While there is ample evidence that it had been replaced by the Amharic language
Amharic language
in the south and by the Tigrigna and Tigre languages in the north, Ge'ez
remained in use as the official written language until the 19th century, its status comparable to that of Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
in Europe. Important hagiographies from this period include:

the Gadle Sama’etat "Acts of the Martyrs" the Gadle Hawaryat "Acts of the Apostles" the Senkessar or Synaxarium, translated as "The Book of the Saints of the Ethiopian Church" Other Lives of Saint Anthony, Saint George, Saint Tekle Haymanot, Saint Gabra Manfas Qeddus

Also at this time the Apostolic Constitutions
Apostolic Constitutions
was retranslated into Ge'ez
from Arabic. Another translation from this period is Zena 'Ayhud, a translation (probably from an Arabic translation) of Joseph ben Gurion's "History of the Jews" ("Sefer Josippon") written in Hebrew in the 10th century, which covers the period from the Captivity to the capture of Jerusalem by Titus. Apart from theological works, the earliest contemporary Royal Chronicles of Ethiopia
are date to the reign of Amda Seyon I
Amda Seyon I
(1314–44). With the appearance of the "Victory Songs" of Amda Seyon, this period also marks the beginning of Amharic literature. The 14th century Kebra Nagast
Kebra Nagast
or "Glory of the Kings" by the Nebura’ed Yeshaq of Aksum is among the most significant works of Ethiopian literature, combining history, allegory and symbolism in a retelling of the story of the Queen of Sheba
Queen of Sheba
(i.e. Saba), King Solomon, and their son Menelik I of Ethiopia. Another work that began to take shape in this period is the Mashafa Aksum or "Book of Axum".[22] 15th to 16th centuries[edit] The early 15th century Fekkare Iyasus "The Explication of Jesus" contains a prophecy of a king called Tewodros, which rose to importance in 19th century Ethiopia
as Tewodros II chose this throne name. Literature flourished especially during the reign of Emperor Zara Yaqob. Written by the Emperor himself were Mats'hafe Berhan ("The Book of Light") and Mats'hafe Milad ("The Book of Nativity"). Numerous homilies were written in this period, notably Retu’a Haimanot ("True Orthodoxy") ascribed to John Chrysostom. Also of monumental importance was the appearance of the Ge'ez
translation of the Fetha Negest ("Laws of the Kings"), thought to have been around 1450, and ascribed to one Petros Abda Sayd — that was later to function as the supreme Law for Ethiopia, until it was replaced by a modern Constitution in 1931. By the beginning of the 16th century, the Islamic invasions put an end to the flourishing of Ethiopian literature. A letter of Abba 'Enbaqom (or "Habakkuk") to Imam Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim, entitled Anqasa Amin ("Gate of the Faith"), giving his reasons for abandoning Islam, although probably first written in Arabic and later rewritten in an expanded Ge'ez
version around 1532, is considered one of the classics of later Ge'ez
literature.[23] During this period, Ethiopian writers begin to address differences between the Ethiopian and the Roman Catholic Church in such works as the Confession of Emperor Gelawdewos, Sawana Nafs ("Refuge of the Soul"), Fekkare Malakot ("Exposition of the Godhead") and Haymanote Abaw ("Faith of the Fathers"). Around the year 1600, a number of works were translated from Arabic into Ge'ez
for the first time, including the Chronicle of John of Nikiu and the Universal History of Jirjis ibn al'Amid Abi'l-Wasir (also known as al-Makin). Current usage in Eritrea, Ethiopia
and Israel[edit] Ge'ez
is the liturgical language of Ethiopian Orthodox, Eritrean Orthodox, Ethiopian Catholic and Eritrean Catholic Christians, and is used in prayer and in scheduled public celebrations. It is also used liturgically by the Beta Israel
Beta Israel
(Falasha Jews). The liturgical rite used by the Christian
churches is referred to as the Ethiopic Rite[24][25][26] or the Ge'ez
Rite.[27][28][29][30] Sample[edit] The first sentence of the Book of Enoch:

ቃለ፡ በረከት፡ ዘሄኖክ፡ ዘከመ፡ ባረከ፡ ኅሩያነ፡ ወጻድቃነ፡ እለ፡ ሀለዉ፡ ይኩኑ፡ በዕለተ፡ ምንዳቤ፡ ለአሰስሎ፡ ኵሉ፡ እኩያን፡ ወረሲዓን። Ḳāla barakat za-Henok zakama bāraka ḫəruyāna waṣādəḳāna ʾəlla hallawu yəkunu baʿəlata məndābe laʾasassəlo kʷəllu ʾəkuyān warasiʿān "Word of blessing of Henok, wherewith he blessed the chosen and righteous who would be alive in the day of tribulation for the removal of all wrongdoers and backsliders."

See also[edit]

Ethiopian chant


^ De Lacy O'Leary, 2000 Comparative grammar of the Semitic languages. Routledge. p. 23. ^ a b c d e Gene Gragg 1997. The Semitic Languages. Taylor & Francis. Robert Hetzron ed. ISBN 978-0-415-05767-7. ^ a b "No longer in popular use, Ge'ez
has always remained the language of the Church", [CHA] ^ "They read the Bible
in Geez" (Leaders and Religion of the Falashas); "after each passage, recited in Geez, the translation is read in Kailina" (Festivals). [PER]. Note the publication date of this source. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Geez". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh ^ "Geez". Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
(3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) ^ Bulakh, Maria; Kogan, Leonid (2010). "The Genealogical Position of Tigre and the Problem of North Ethio-Semitic Unity". Zeitschriften der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft. 160 (2): 273–302.  ^ Connell, Dan; Killion, Tom (2010). Historical Dictionary of Eritrea (2nd, illustrated ed.). Scarecrow Press. p. 508. ISBN 978-0-8108-7505-0.  ^ Haarmann, Harald (2002). Lexikon der untergegangenen Sprachen [Lexicon of extinct languages] (in German) (2nd ed.). C. H. Beck. p. 76. ISBN 978-3-406-47596-2.  ^ Amsalu Aklilu, Kuraz Publishing Agency, ጥሩ የአማርኛ ድርሰት እንዴት ያለ ነው! p. 42 ^ Lambdin, Thomas O. (1978). ^ a b Gene Gragg, 2008. "The Ancient Languages of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Aksum". Cambridge University Press. Roger D. Woodard Ed. ^ [PAN], pp. 666f.; cf. the EOTC's own account at its official website. Church Teachings. Retrieved from the Internet Archive
Internet Archive
on March 12, 2014. ^ a b http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/E/ethiopic-langua…[permanent dead link] ^ Weninger, Stefan, "Ge'ez" in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha, p.732. ^ Stuart, Munro-Hay (1991). Aksum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity. Edinburgh: University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-7486-0106-6.  ^ [MAT] ^ A conservator at work on the Garima Gospels
Garima Gospels
(2010-07-14). ""Discovery of earliest illustrated manuscript," Martin Bailey, June 2010". Theartnewspaper.com. Retrieved 2012-07-11. [permanent dead link] ^ "The Arts Newspaper June 2010 – Abuna Garima Gospels". Ethiopianheritagefund.org. Archived from the original on 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2012-07-11.  ^ [BUD], pp. 566f. ^ [BUD], p. 574 ^ [PAN03] ^ Bryan D. Spinks, The Sanctus in the Eucharistic Prayer (Cambridge University Press 2002 ISBN 978-0-521-52662-3), p. 119 ^ Anscar J. Chupungco, Handbook for Liturgical Studies (Liturgical Press 1997 ISBN 978-0-8146-6161-1), p. 13 ^ Archdale King, The Rites of Eastern Christendom, vol. 1 (Gorgias Press LLC 2007 ISBN 978-1-59333-391-1), p. 533 ^ Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia
(C. Hurst & Co. 2000 ISBN 978-1-85065-393-6), p. 127 ^ Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley (editors), The Encyclopedia of Christianity, vol. 2 (Eerdmans 1999 ISBN 978-90-04-11695-5), p. 158 ^ David H. Shinn, Thomas P. Ofcansky (editors), Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia
(Scarecrow Press 2013), p. 93 ^ Walter Raunig, Steffen Wenig (editors), Afrikas Horn (Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005, ISBN 978-3-447-05175-0), p. 171


[BUD] Budge, E. A. Wallis. 1928. A History of Ethiopia: Nubia and Abyssinia, Oosterhout, the Netherlands: Anthropological Publications, 1970. CHA Chain, M. Ethiopia
transcribed by: Donahue M. in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Published 1909. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. + John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York [DIR] Diringer, David. 1968. The Alphabet, A Key To The History of Mankind. [KOB] Kobishchanov, Yuri M. 1979. Axum in SomeCollectionOfWritings,[citation needed] edited by Joseph W. Michels; translated by: Lorraine T. Kapitanoff. University Park, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania. ISBN 978-0-271-00531-7. MAT Matara Aksumite
& Pre- Aksumite
City Webpage MUN[permanent dead link] Munro-Hay Stuart. 1991. Aksum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity. Edinburgh: University Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-0106-6. [PAN68] Pankhurst, Richard K.P. 1968.An Economic History of Ethiopia, 1800–1935, Addis Ababa: Haile Selassie I University Press. PAN03 Pankhurst, Richard K.P. A Glimpse into 16th. Century Ethiopian History Abba 'Enbaqom, Imam Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim, and the "Conquest of Abyssinia". Addis Tribune. November 14, 2003. PER[permanent dead link] Perruchon, J. D. and Gottheil, Richard. "Falashas" in The Jewish
Encyclopedia. 1901–1906.

Further reading[edit] Grammar[edit]

Aläqa Tayyä, Maṣḥafa sawāsəw. Monkullo: Swedish Mission 1896/7 (= E.C. 1889). Chaîne, Marius, Grammaire éthiopienne. Beyrouth (Beirut): Imprimerie catholique 1907, 1938 (Nouvelle édition). (electronic version at the Internet Archive. Cohen, Marcel, "la pronunciation traditionelle du Guèze (éthiopien classique)", in: Journal asiatique (1921) Sér. 11 / T. 18 (electronic version in Gallica
digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France PDF). Dillmann, August; Bezold, Carl, Ethiopic Grammar, 2nd edition translated from German by James Crichton, London 1907. ISBN 978-1-59244-145-7 (2003 reprint). (Published in German: ¹1857, ²1899). (Online version at the Internet Archive) Gäbrä-Yohannəs Gäbrä-Maryam, Gəss – Mäzgäbä-ḳalat – Gə'əz-ənna Amarəñña; yä-Gə'əz ḳʷanḳʷa mämmariya (A Grammar of Classical Ethiopic). Addis Ababa 2001/2002 (= E.C. 1994)[1][dead link] Gene Gragg "Ge`ez Phonology," in: Phonologies of Asia and Africa (Vol 1), ed. A. S. Kaye & P. T. Daniels, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, Indiana (1997). Kidanä Wäld Kəfle, Maṣḥafa sawāsəw wagəss wamazgaba ḳālāt ḥaddis ("A new grammar and dictionary"), Dire Dawa: Artistik Matämiya Bet 1955/6 (E.C. 1948). Lambdin, Thomas O., Introduction to Classical Ethiopic, Harvard Semitic Studies 24, Missoula, Mont.: Scholars Press 1978. ISBN 978-0-89130-263-6. Mercer, Samuel Alfred Browne, "Ethiopic grammar: with chrestomathy and glossary" 1920 (Online version at the Internet Archive) Ludolf, Hiob, Grammatica aethiopica. Londini 1661; 2nd ed. Francofurti 1702. Praetorius, Franz, Äthiopische Grammatik, Karlsruhe: Reuther 1886. Prochazka, Stephan, Altäthiopische Studiengrammatik, Orbis Biblicus Et Orientalis – Subsidia Linguistica (OBO SL) 2, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Verlag 2005. ISBN 978-3-525-26409-6. Qeleb, Desie (2010). The Revival of Geez. MPID 3948485819. Tropper, Josef, Altäthiopisch: Grammatik der Ge'ez
mit Übungstexten und Glossar, Elementa Linguarum Orientis (ELO) 2, Münster: Ugarit-Verlag 2002. ISBN 978-3-934628-29-8 Vittorio, Mariano, Chaldeae seu Aethiopicae linguae institutiones, Rome 1548. Weninger, Stefan, Ge‘ez grammar, Munich: LINCOM Europa, ISBN 978-3-929075-04-5 (1st edition, 1993), ISBN 978-3-89586-604-3 (2nd revised edition, 1999). Weninger, Stefan, Das Verbalsystem des Altäthiopischen: Eine Untersuchung seiner Verwendung und Funktion unter Berücksichtigung des Interferenzproblems", Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2001. ISBN 978-3-447-04484-4. Wemmers, J., Linguae aethiopicae institutiones, Rome 1638.

• Zerezghi Haile, Learn Basic Geez Grammar (2015) for Tigrinya readers available at: https://uwontario.academia.edu/WedGdmhra Literature[edit]

Adera, Taddesse, Ali Jimale Ahmed (eds.), Silence Is Not Golden: A Critical Anthology of Ethiopian Literature, Red Sea Press (1995), ISBN 978-0-932415-47-9. Bonk, Jon, Annotated and Classified Bibliography of English Literature Pertaining to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Atla Bibliography Series, Scarecrow Pr (1984), ISBN 978-0-8108-1710-4. Charles, Robert Henry, The Ethiopic version of the book of Enoch. Oxford 1906. (Online version at the Internet Archive) Dillmann, August, Chrestomathia Aethiopica. Leipzig 1866. (Online version at the Internet Archive) Dillmann, August, Octateuchus Aethiopicus. Leipzig 1853. (The first eight books of the Bible
in Ge'ez. Online version) Dillmann, August, Anthologia Aethiopica, Herausgegeben und mit einem Nachwort versehen von Ernst Hammerschmidt. Hildesheim: Olms Verlag 1988, ISBN 978-3-487-07943-1 . The Royal Chronicles of Zara Yaqob and Baeda Maryam – French translation and edition of the Ge'ez
text Paris 1893 (electronic version[permanent dead link] in Gallica
digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France) Ethiopic recension of the Chronicle of John of Nikiû – Paris 1883 (electronic version[permanent dead link]) in Gallica


Dillmann, August, Lexicon linguæ Æthiopicæ cum indice Latino, Lipsiae 1865. (Online version at the Internet Archive) Leslau, Wolf, Comparative Dictionary of Geez (Classical Ethiopic): Geez-English, English-Geez, with an Index of the Semitic Roots, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 1987. ISBN 978-3-447-02592-8. Leslau, Wolf, Concise Dictionary of Ge‘ez (Classical Ethiopic), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 1989. ISBN 978-3-447-02873-8. Ludolf, Hiob, Lexicon Aethiopico-Latinum, Ed. by J. M. Wansleben, London 1661. Wemmers, J., Lexicon Aethiopicum, Rome 1638.

External links[edit]

test of at Wikimedia Incubator

J. M.Harden, An Introduction to Ethiopic Christian
Literature (1926)[permanent dead link] Unicode
Chart Researcher identifies second-oldest Ethiopian manuscript in existence in HMML's archives[permanent dead link], Walta Information Center (10 December 2010) LIBRARY OF ETHIOPIAN TEXTS

v t e

Languages of Ethiopia

Official language


Regional languages


Argobba Ge'ez Gurage Harari Inor Mesqan Muher Sebat Bet Gurage Silt'e Soddo Tigrinya Zay


Afar Alaba Arbore Awngi Baiso Bussa Burji Daasanach Dirasha Gawwada Gedeo Hadiyya Kambaata Konso Libido Oromo Qimant Saho Sidamo Somali Tsamai Xamtanga


Aari Anfillo Bambassi Basketo Bench Boro Chara Dime Dizi Dorze Gamo-Gofa-Dawro Ganza Gayil Hamer-Banna Hozo Kachama-Ganjule Kafa Karo Koorete Maale Melo Nayi Oyda Seze Shekkacho Sheko Wolaytta Yemsa Zayse-Zergulla


Anuak Berta Daats'iin Gumuz Kacipo-Balesi Komo Kwama Kwegu Majang Me'en Murle Mursi Nuer Nyangatom Opuuo Shabo Suri Uduk

Sign languages

Ethiopian sign languages

v t e

Types of writing systems


History of writing Grapheme


Writing systems

undeciphered inventors constructed

Languages by writing system / by first written accounts






Arabic Pitman shorthand Hebrew

Ashuri Cursive Rashi Solitreo

Tifinagh Manichaean Nabataean Old North Arabian Pahlavi Pegon Phoenician


Proto-Sinaitic Psalter Punic Samaritan South Arabian

Zabur Musnad

Sogdian Syriac

ʾEsṭrangēlā Serṭā Maḏnḥāyā

Teeline Shorthand Ugaritic




Asamiya (Ôxômiya) Bānglā Bhaikshuki Bhujinmol Brāhmī Devanāgarī Dogri Gujarati Gupta Gurmukhī Kaithi Kalinga Khojki Khotanese Khudawadi Laṇḍā Lepcha Limbu Mahajani Meitei Mayek Modi Multani Nāgarī Nandinagari Odia 'Phags-pa Newar Ranjana Sharada Saurashtra Siddhaṃ Soyombo Sylheti Nagari Takri Tibetan

Uchen Umê

Tirhuta Tocharian Zanabazar Square Zhang-Zhung

Drusha Marchen Marchung Pungs-chen Pungs-chung


Ahom Balinese Batak Baybayin Bhattiprolu Buhid Burmese Chakma Cham Grantha Goykanadi Hanunó'o Javanese Kadamba Kannada Karen Kawi Khmer Kulitan Lanna Lao Leke Lontara Malayalam Maldivian

Dhives Akuru Eveyla Akuru Thaana

Mon Old Makassarese Old Sundanese Pallava Pyu Rejang Rencong Sinhala Sundanese Tagbanwa Tai Le Tai Tham Tai Viet Tamil Telugu Thai Tigalari Vatteluttu

Kolezhuthu Malayanma



Boyd's syllabic shorthand Canadian syllabics

Blackfoot Déné syllabics

Fox I Ge'ez Gunjala Gondi Japanese Braille Jenticha Kayah Li Kharosthi Mandombe Masaram Gondi Meroitic Miao Mwangwego Sorang Sompeng Pahawh Hmong Thomas Natural Shorthand



Abkhaz Adlam Armenian Avestan Avoiuli Bassa Vah Borama Carian Caucasian Albanian Coorgi–Cox alphabet Coptic Cyrillic Deseret Duployan shorthand

Chinook writing

Early Cyrillic Eclectic shorthand Elbasan Etruscan Evenki Fox II Fraser Gabelsberger shorthand Garay Georgian

Asomtavruli Nuskhuri Mkhedruli

Glagolitic Gothic Gregg shorthand Greek Greco-Iberian alphabet Hangul Hanifi IPA Kaddare Latin

Beneventan Blackletter Carolingian minuscule Fraktur Gaelic Insular Kurrent Merovingian Sigla Sütterlin Tironian notes Visigothic

Luo Lycian Lydian Manchu Mandaic Medefaidrin Molodtsov Mongolian Mru Neo-Tifinagh New Tai Lue N'Ko Ogham Oirat Ol Chiki Old Hungarian Old Italic Old Permic Orkhon Old Uyghur Osage Osmanya Pau Cin Hau Runic

Anglo-Saxon Cipher Dalecarlian Elder Futhark Younger Futhark Gothic Marcomannic Medieval Staveless

Sidetic Shavian Somali Tifinagh Vagindra Visible Speech Vithkuqi Wancho Zaghawa


Braille Maritime flags Morse code New York Point Semaphore line Flag semaphore Moon type


Adinkra Aztec Blissymbol Dongba Ersu Shaba Emoji IConji Isotype Kaidā Míkmaq Mixtec New Epoch Notation Painting Nsibidi Ojibwe Hieroglyphs Siglas poveiras Testerian Yerkish Zapotec


Chinese family of scripts

Chinese Characters

Simplified Traditional Oracle bone script Bronze Script Seal Script

large small bird-worm

Hanja Idu Kanji Chữ nôm Zhuang


Jurchen Khitan large script Sui Tangut


Akkadian Assyrian Elamite Hittite Luwian Sumerian

Other logo-syllabic

Anatolian Bagam Cretan Isthmian Maya Proto-Elamite Yi (Classical)


Demotic Hieratic Hieroglyphs


Hindu-Arabic Abjad Attic (Greek) Muisca Roman



Celtiberian Northeastern Iberian Southeastern Iberian Khom


Espanca Pahawh Hmong Khitan small script Southwest Paleohispanic Zhuyin fuhao


ASLwrite SignWriting si5s Stokoe Notation


Afaka Bamum Bété Byblos Cherokee Cypriot Cypro-Minoan Ditema tsa Dinoko Eskayan Geba Great Lakes Algonquian syllabics Iban Japanese

Hiragana Katakana Man'yōgana Hentaigana Sogana Jindai moji

Kikakui Kpelle Linear B Linear Elamite Lisu Loma Nüshu Nwagu Aneke script Old Persian Cuneiform Vai Woleai Yi (Modern) Yugtun

v t e



1829 braille International uniformity ASCII braille Unicode
braille patterns


French-ordered scripts (see for more)

Albanian Amharic Arabic Armenian Azerbaijani Belarusian Bharati

(Hindi  / Marathi  / Nepali) Bengali Punjabi Sinhalese Tamil Urdu etc.

Bulgarian Burmese Cambodian Cantonese Catalan Chinese (Mandarin, mainland) Czech Dutch Dzongkha (Bhutanese) English (Unified English) Esperanto Estonian Faroese French Georgian German Ghanaian Greek Guarani Hawaiian Hebrew Hungarian Icelandic Inuktitut (reassigned vowels) Iñupiaq IPA Irish Italian Kazakh Kyrgyz Latvian Lithuanian Maltese Mongolian Māori Navajo Nigerian Northern Sami Persian Philippine Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Samoan Scandinavian Slovak South African Spanish Tatar Taiwanese Mandarin (largely reassigned) Thai & Lao (Japanese vowels) Tibetan Turkish Ukrainian Vietnamese Welsh Yugoslav

Reordered scripts

Algerian Braille

Frequency-based scripts

American Braille

Independent scripts

Japanese Korean Two-Cell Chinese

Eight-dot scripts

Luxembourgish Kanji Gardner–Salinas braille codes (GS8)

Symbols in braille

music Canadian currency marks Computer Braille
Code Gardner–Salinas braille codes (GS8/GS6) International Phonetic Alphabet
International Phonetic Alphabet
(IPA) Nemeth braille code


e-book Braille
embosser Braille
translator Braille
watch Mountbatten Brailler Optical braille recognition Perforation Perkins Brailler Refreshable braille display Slate and stylus Braigo


Louis Braille Charles Barbier Valentin Haüy Thakur Vishva Narain Singh Sabriye Tenberken William Bell Wait


Institute of America Braille
Without Borders Japan Braille
Library National Braille
Association Blindness organizations Schools for the blind American Printing House for the Blind

Other tactile alphabets

Decapoint Moon type New York Point Night writing Vibratese

Related topics

Accessible publishing Braille
literacy RoboBraille

v t e

Electronic writing systems

Emoticons Emoji iConji Leet Unicode

v t e

Internet slang
Internet slang

3arabizi Alay (Indonesia) Denglisch Doge Fingilish (Persian) Greeklish Gyaru-moji (Japan) Jejemon (Philippines) Leet
("1337") Lolspeak / LOLspeak / Kitteh Martian language (Chinese) Miguxês (Portuguese) Padonkaffsky jargon
Padonkaffsky jargon
(Russian) Translit Volapuk

See also English internet slang (at Wiktionary) SMS language

v t e

Writing systems


History of writing History of the alphabet Graphemes Scripts in Unicode


Writing systems Languages by writing system / by first written account Undeciphered writing systems Inventors of writing systems


Featural Alphabets Abjads Alphasyllabaries / Abugidas Syllabaries Semi-syllabaries Ideogrammic Pictographic Logographic Numeral

Authority control

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