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Gurage languages

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Gurage languages

East Gurage
Geographic
distribution:
Gurage Zone (Ethiopia)
Linguistic classification: Afro-Asiatic
Glottolog: silt1239  (Silte–Wolane)[1]
zayy1238  (Zay)[2]
North Gurage
n-group
Geographic
distribution:
Gurage Zone (Ethiopia)
Linguistic classification: Afro-Asiatic
Glottolog: ngro1237[3]
West Gurage
tt-group
Geographic
distribution:
Gurage Zone (Ethiopia)
Linguistic classification: Afro-Asiatic
Glottolog: ttgr1237[4]

The Gurage languages (also known as Guragie or ጉራጌ) are Afro-Asiatic languages spoken by the Gurage people. The ethnic group inhabits the Gurage Zone within the larger multi-ethnic Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region in southwestern Ethiopia.

Overview

The Gurage languages do not constitute a coherent linguistic grouping. Instead, the term is both linguistic and cultural. The Gurage people speak a number of separate languages, all belonging to the Southern subdivision of the Ethiopian Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family (which also includes Amharic). The languages are often referred to collectively as "Guraginya" by other Ethiopians (-inya is the Amharic suffix for most Ethiopian Semitic languages).

There are three dialectically varied Gurage subgroups: Northern, Eastern and Western. East Gurage is more closely related to Amharic than to either of the other two groups.

The Gurage languages are written with the Ethiopic alphabet. The Gurage subset of Ethiopic has 44 independent glyphs.

There is no general agreement on how many languages or dialects there are, in particular within the West Gurage grouping.

As the Gurage people are surrounded by speakers of Cushitic languages, these languages have influenced the Gurage languages perhaps even more than they have other Ethiopian Semitic languages. For example, the East Gurage languages have a ten-vowel system characteristic of the neighboring Cushitic languages rather than the seven-vowel system common to most other Ethiopian Semitic languages, including the West Gurage languages.

Languages

In the following listing, the distinction between languages and dialects follows Ethnologue.

In the Northern group
  • Soddo (Kistane)
    • Dialects: Soddo, Goggot (Dobi)
In the Eastern group
  • Silt'e (Selti; not strictly speaking a Gurage language since the people do not consider themselves Gurage)
  • Zay (Zway)
In the Western group
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