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Ethiopic languages Explained

Ethiopic languages at English => English (The Britannica Concise) Of Explained:

Group of about 22 languages, spoken by more than 25 million people in Eritrea and Ethiopia, that constitutes part of the S. Semitic branch of the Semitic language family. Ethiopic has been divided by linguists into N. Ethiopic, comprising Geez, Tigré , and Tigrinya (or Tigrai), and S. Ethiopic, comprising the rest of the languages. Geez (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 cent. AD--it remained the classical language of highland Ethiopian civilization and the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox church into the 20th cent. Tigré has about 800,000 speakers in N 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 S. Ethiopic language is Amharic.