A language of Eritrea

ትግራይት‎ (Tigrayit/Tigraayit)

1,290,000 in Eritrea (2016), increasing.


Anseba, Gash-Barka, and Northern Red Sea regions. Widespread except in Southern Red Sea region.

Language Status

4 (Educational).


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).



Language Use

All domains. Used by all. Somewhat positive attitudes. Formerly they favored Arabic [arb]. Also use Sudanese Spoken Arabic [apd], Ta’izzi-Adeni Spoken Arabic [acq], Tigrigna [tir]. Used as L2 by Bilen [byn], Nara [nrb], Saho [ssy], Tigrigna [tir].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: Females: about 30%. Taught in primary schools. Fully developed. Bible: 1988.


Ethiopic script [Ethi], used since 1889, not written in Sudan.

Other 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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