Gǝʕǝz (Classical Ethiopic)

Authored by: Aaron Michael Butts

The Semitic Languages

Print publication date:  March  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415731959
eBook ISBN: 9780429025563
Adobe ISBN:


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Gǝʕǝz – also called “Classical Ethiopic” or simply “Ethiopic” – was the language of the kingdom of Axum during Late Antiquity. Geographically, Gǝʕǝz had its homeland in what is today Eritrea and northern Ethiopia. It is, however, attested across a larger expanse covering all of Ethiopia (Map 6.1) and reaching east into the Arabian peninsula (especially modern Yemen) and north all the way up to Egypt. After the fall of the Axumite kingdom, toward the beginning of the 9th century, Gǝʕǝz continued to be used as a religious and literary language by the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches, and this remains the case up until the present day.

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