Arabic, Hijazi Spoken
Arabic, Sudanese Spoken
[bej] Anseba and Gash Barka regions. 158,000 in Eritrea (2006). Status: 5 (Developing). Alternate Names: Bedauye, Bedawi, Bedawiye, Bedawye, Bedja, Bedwi, Bedya, Beja, Bidhaaweet, Lobat Dialects: Ababda, Amara, Beni-Amir, Bisharin (Bisariab, Bisarin), Hadareb (Hadaareb), Hadendoa (Hadendowa). Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Cushitic, North Comments: Muslim.
[byn] Anseba region, Keren town area. 91,000 (2006). 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.
[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: Only few highly educated priests can understand the language. Christian.
[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. 187,000 in Eritrea (2006), increasing. Population total all countries: 194,430. Status: 4 (Educational). Alternate Names: Baada, Baaden, Baaza, Baazayn, Baazen, Bada, Baden, Baza, Bazen, Cunama, Diila Dialects: Aymasa (Aaimasa, Aimara, Odasa), Barka (Berka), Bitama (Bitaama), Ilit (Iiliit, Iilit, Iliit), Marda, Sokodasa (Sogadas, Sogodas), Takazze-Setiit (Setiit, Setit), Tigray, Tika (Lakatakura-Tika, Tiika). 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, Kunama Comments: Laka-Takura and Tika have been influenced by Arab culture and by the Beni-Amer. Traditional religion, Muslim (Bitama), Muslim (Ilit).
[nrb] Gash Barka region: north of Barentu. 81,400 (2006). Status: 6a (Vigorous). Alternate Names: “Barea” (pej.), “Baria” (pej.), “Barya” (pej.) Dialects: Higir, Koyta, Mogareb, Santora. Little intelligibility of Kunama [kun]. Classification: Nilo-Saharan, Eastern Sudanic, Eastern, Nara Comments: Considerable dialect variation within 4 main groups: Higir, Mogareb, Koyta, and Santora. Muslim.
[ssy] Debub, Semenawi K’eyih Bahri, Debubawi K’eyih Bahri regions. 191,000 in Eritrea (2006), increasing. Population total all countries: 223,800. Status: 5 (Developing). 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.
[tig] Anseba, Gash Barka, Semenawi K‘eyih Bahri regions. Widespread except in Debubawi K’eyih Bahri. 1,050,000 in Eritrea (2006), increasing. Status: 4 (Educational). Alternate Names: Khasa, Xasa Dialects: Algeden, Beni-Amir, Dahalik, Habab, Mansa’ (Mensa), Semhar, Senhit (Ad-Tekleis, Ad-Temariam, Bet-Juk, Marya Kayah, Mensa). 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, 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.
[tir] Widespread, especially south and central. 2,540,000 in Eritrea (2006), increasing. Status: 1 (National). De facto language of national identity. Alternate Names: Habashi, Tigray, Tigrinya Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, South, Ethiopian, North Comments: Christian, Muslim.