Languages of Ethiopia

Languages of Ethiopia

According to Ethnologue, there are 90 individual languages spoken in Ethiopia. Most belong to the Afro-Asiatic language family, mainly of the Cushitic and Semitic branches. Languages from the Nilo-Saharan phylum are also spoken by the nation's Nilotic ethnic minorities.

English is the most widely spoken foreign language and is the medium of instruction in secondary schools. Amharic was the language of primary school instruction, but has been replaced in many areas by regional languages such as Somali, Oromifa and Tigrinya.

In terms of writing system, Ethiopia's principal orthography is Ge'ez or Ethiopic (ግዕዝ). Used as an abugida for several of the country's languages, it first came into use in the 5th–6th centuries BC as an abjad to transcribe the Semitic Ge'ez language. Ge'ez now serves as the liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches. Other writing systems have also been used over the years by different Ethiopian communities. The latter include Sheikh Bakri Sapalo's script for Oromo.

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Ethiopia, Languages of Ethiopia, history, history

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