What language is spoken in Ethiopia? Ethiopia is one of the largest countries in Africa, which has the strongest ethno-cultural diversity. On such a huge area, about 95,000,000 people live, who belong to hundreds of ethnic groups and peoples. As a result, the country has a large number of dialects and dialects, but only Amharic is recognized as the official language of Ethiopia.
What is the language in Ethiopia?
In Ethiopia, eighty-six known languages that belong to the indigenous peoples of Ethiopia were spoken: eighty-two are still spoken, four languages \u200b\u200bare extinct. The vast majority of the languages spoken in the country can be classified into three families of Afro-Asiatic languages: Semitic, Cushitic, and Omotic.
The speakers of the Semitic family of languages mainly live in the highlands in the center and north of the country. Speakers of the Cushitic language family live in the highlands and lowlands of the south-central region, as well as in the north-central region. The Omotic language family belongs to the inhabitants of the south of the country.
Also in Ethiopia, there are representatives of the Nilo-Saharan language family, they make up about 2 percent of the population, most often these languages can be heard on the border with Sudan.
Amharic has been the dominant and official language for the past 150 years because political power has been completely in the hands of the Amharic people. The spread of the Amharic language was closely linked to the Ethiopian nationalization of the country.
Today, many Oromos write in the Latin alphabet as a political protest against their history of domination by the Amhara people, who have a much smaller population.
English is the most widely spoken foreign language and is also the language of education in high school and university. French is heard occasionally in some parts of the country, especially near Djibouti, formerly French Somalia.
Italian can sometimes be heard too, especially among older people in the Tigre region. Remnants of the Italian occupation during World War II still live in the capital.
Some statistics and facts
- Ethiopia has 89 languages and dialects.
- Despite the status of the state language, Amharic is not the most common in Ethiopia. It is spoken by only about 25 million people or 29% of all residents of the republic.
- The most common people in the country who speak the Oromo language. Its speakers make up more than a third of all Ethiopian citizens.
- And in recent years, Amharic has ceased to be the language of primary school education in many territories of the republic. It was replaced by the same Oromo or another popular one – Tigrinya. The mother tongue education system is an important achievement of the young democracy in Ethiopia.
From the antique store
Ethiopians use the Geez or Ethiopian script for writing. Interestingly, it is used as the main orthography for several languages in the country. For the first time, Ethiopian writing appeared as early as the 5th century to record the Geez language, common in the Aksun kingdom.
Today, the Ethiopian script is also the language of the liturgy of the Orthodox and Catholic churches of Ethiopia.
The beginnings of literature in the Amharic language appeared as early as the 14th century, when the Ethiopians began to record war songs and keep a historical chronicle.
The exotic name of the Tigrinya language is consonant with the name of the province of Ethiopia, where the largest number of its speakers live in the country. In the province of Tigray, Tigrinya is spoken by at least 7 million people. Another two million live in the neighboring state of Eritrea which gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993.
Note to tourists
The main and most widely spoken foreign language in Ethiopia is English. It is taught in secondary schools and higher educational institutions of the country. In tourist places, menus in restaurants, maps, traffic patterns and even road signs are necessarily translated into English. In museums and attractions, it is better to use the services of English-speaking guides.
The Tigrinya language is highly uncommon in Ethiopia. It is mainly popular in one of the eponymous provinces of the state. So, in the province of Tigray, about 8,000,000 inhabitants speak this language. Also, over 2,000,000 people in Eritrea also speak Tigrinya.
English in Ethiopia
English is already considered to be the most popular foreign language in Ethiopia.It is used in the teaching process, most of the country’s government agencies work on it.If you go to Ethiopia, then it will not be difficult to find a common language with the locals, of course, if you take an English phrase book or use the help of a local translator.True, in tourist places there is a dubbing of all establishments and places in English, which greatly simplifies the life of tourists.