Eritrea

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Afar
[aar] Debubawi K’eyih Bahri and Semenawi K’eyih Bahri regions. 526,000 in Eritrea (2010 J. Leclerc), increasing. Status: 5 (Dispersed). Alternate Names: Afaraf, “Danakil” (pej.), “Denkel” (pej.). Dialects: Central Afar, Northern Afar, Aussa, Ba’adu. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Saho-Afar. Comments: Nomadic. Muslim.

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Arabic, Hijazi Spoken
[acw] Debubawi K’eyih Bahri and Semenawi K’eyih Bahri regions. 31,700 in Eritrea (2010 J. Leclerc). Status: 6a (Vigorous). Alternate Names: Hijazi. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic. Comments: Non-indigenous.

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Arabic, Standard
[arb] Widespread. Status: 1 (National). De facto national language. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic. Comments: Non-indigenous.

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Arabic, Sudanese Spoken
[apd] Anseba and Gash Barka regions: possibly Asmara and other urban communities. 100,000 in Eritrea. Status: 6a (Vigorous). Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic. Comments: Non-indigenous.

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Bedawiyet
[bej] Anseba and Gash Barka regions. 209,000 in Eritrea (2010 J. Leclerc). Status: 5 (Developing). Alternate Names: Bedauye, Bedawi, Bedàwie, Bedawiye, Bedawye, Bedja, Bedwi, Bedya, Beja, Bidhaaweet, Lobat, Tu Bdhaawi. Dialects: Hadareb (Hadaareb), Bisharin (Bisariab, Bisarin), Hadendoa (Hadendowa), Beni-Amir, Ababda, Amara. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, North. Comments: Muslim.

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Bilen
[byn] Anseba region, Keren town area. 120,000 (2010 J. Leclerc). Status: 5 (Developing). Alternate Names: Balen, Belen, Beleni, Bilayn, Bilein, Bileno, Bilin, Bogo, Bogos, North Agaw. Dialects: Senhit, T’aqwur. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, Central, Northern. Comments: Muslim, Christian.

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Dahalik
[dlk] Semenawi K’eyih Bahri region: Dahlak Archipelago. 2,500 (2012 J. McLaughlin). Status: 6a (Vigorous). Dialects: None known. Reportedly similar to Tigré [tig]. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, South, Ethiopian, North.

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English
[eng] Status: 3 (Wider communication). De facto national working language. Classification: Indo-European, Germanic, West, English. Comments: Non-indigenous. Language of higher education and many technical fields.

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Geez
[gez] Widespread use; liturgical language used in Eritrean Orthodox Christian churches. No known L1 speakers in Eritrea. Status: 9 (Second language only). Alternate Names: Ancient Ethiopic, Ethiopic, Ge’ez, Giiz. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, South, Ethiopian, North. Comments: Non-indigenous. Only few highly educated priests can understand the language. Christian.

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Italian
[ita] Maekel (Central) region: Asmara sub-region. A few monolinguals. Status: 3 (Wider communication). Classification: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Italo-Dalmatian. Comments: Non-indigenous.

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Kunama
[kun] Gash Barka region: mainly between Gash river and Ethiopia border; Barka south of Barentu; Marda north, northeast, and east of Barentu and in Barentu; Aimara west of Barentu. 247,000 in Eritrea (2010 J. Leclerc), increasing. Total users in all countries: 254,570 (as L1: 254,430; as L2: 140). Status: 4 (Educational). Alternate Names: Baada, Baaden, Baaza, Baazayn, Baazen, Bada, Baden, Baza, Bazen, Cunama, Diila. Dialects: Barka (Berka), Marda, Aymasa (Aaimasa, Aimara, Odasa), Tika (Lakatakura-Tika, Tiika), Ilit (Iiliit, Iilit, Iliit), Bitama (Bitaama), Sokodasa (Sogadas, Sogodas), Takazze-Setiit (Setiit, Setit), Tigray. Bitama and Ilit are nearly unintelligible to other Kunama dialect speakers. Barka is largest and is intelligible to speakers of all others. Classification: Nilo-Saharan, Satellite-Core, Satellites, Kunama. Comments: Laka-Takura and Tika have been influenced by Arab culture and by the Beni-Amer. Traditional religion, Muslim.

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Nara
[nrb] Gash Barka region: north of Barentu. 108,000 (2010 J. Leclerc), increasing. Status: 6a (Vigorous). Alternate Names: “Barea” (pej.), “Baria” (pej.), “Barya” (pej.), Nera. Dialects: Higir, Koyta, Santora. Little intelligibility of Kunama [kun]. Classification: Nilo-Saharan, Satellite-Core, Core, Eastern Sudanic, Northern (k languages), Nara. Comments: Considerable dialect variation within 4 main groups: Higir, Mogareb, Koyta, and Santora. Muslim.

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Saho
[ssy] Debub, Semenawi K’eyih Bahri, Debubawi K’eyih Bahri regions. 253,000 in Eritrea (2010 J. Leclerc), increasing. Total users in all countries: 289,180 (as L1: 285,800; as L2: 3,380). Status: 5 (Dispersed). Alternate Names: Sao, Shaho, Shiho, Shoho. Dialects: Irob dialect only in Ethiopia. Very similar to Afar [aar]. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, East, Saho-Afar. Comments: Ethnic group names are Asa’orta, Hadu (Hazu), Miniferi. Nomadic. Not accepting of outsiders. Muslim, Christian.

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Tigré
[tig] Anseba, Gash Barka, Semenawi K‘eyih Bahri regions. Widespread except in Debubawi K’eyih Bahri. 1,390,000 in Eritrea (2010 J. Leclerc), increasing. Status: 4 (Educational). Alternate Names: Khasa, Xasa. Dialects: Mansa’ (Mensa), Habab, Beni-Amir, Semhar, Algeden, Senhit (Ad-Tekleis, Ad-Temariam, Bet-Juk, Marya Kayah, Mensa), Dahalik. Between dialects (except Dahalik) intelligibility is above 91% (Idris 2005); between Dahalik and the other dialects 24%–51% (Idris 2010). Lexical similarity: 71% with Ge’ez [gez], 64% with Tigrigna [tir] (Bender, M. 1971). Intelligibility of Dahalik undetermined, Tigre dialectical lexical similarity is 86%–97% (Idris 2005); 55%–60% with Dahalik and other Tigre dialects (Idris 2010). Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, South, Ethiopian, North. Comments: Spoken by some Beni-Amer called Lobot. Other ethnic groups are Ad Aha, Geden Sikta, Iddifer, and Teroa Beit Mushe. Believed by some to be the direct linguistic descendant of Ge’ez [gez]. Incorrectly called Ge’ez. Muslim, Christian.

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Tigrigna
[tir] Widespread, especially south and central. 3,360,000 in Eritrea (2010 J. Leclerc), increasing. Status: 3 (Wider communication). De facto national working language. Alternate Names: Beta Israel, Habashi, Tigray, Tigrinya. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, South, Ethiopian, North. Comments: Christian, Muslim.

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