A language of Ethiopia

Alternate Names
Beta Israel, Tigray, Tigrie, Tigrinya

4,467,000 in Ethiopia, all users. L1 users: 4,320,000 in Ethiopia (2007 census). L2 users: 147,000. 2,820,000 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 4,490,000 (2007 census). Total users in all countries: 7,659,780 (as L1: 7,507,780; as L2: 152,000).


Afar and Amhara regions; Tigray region border areas.

Language Status

2 (Provincial). Statutory provincial working language in Tigray Region (1994, Constitution, Article 47(3)).


SOV; noun head final; gender (masculine/feminine); definite article; verb affixes mark person, number, gender of subject; passives; aspect; 33 consonant and 14 vowel phonemes.

Language Use

Also use Amharic [amh]. Used as L2 by Amharic [amh], Kunama [kun], Xamtanga [xan].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: 27%. Taught in primary schools. Fully developed. Bible: 1956.


Ethiopic script [Ethi], used since 13th or 14th century.

Other Comments


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