Gurage languages

East Gurage
Gurage Zone (Ethiopia)
Linguistic classificationAfro-Asiatic
Glottologsilt1239  (Silte–Wolane)
zayy1238  (Zay)
North Gurage
Gurage Zone (Ethiopia)
Linguistic classificationAfro-Asiatic
West Gurage
Gurage Zone (Ethiopia)
Linguistic classificationAfro-Asiatic

The Gurage language (Amharic: ጉራጌ Guragē, also known as Guragie) is a dialect-continuum language, which belong to the Ethiosemitic South Semitic-Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken by the Gurage people, who inhabit the Gurage Zone within the larger multi-ethnic Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region in central Ethiopia.


The Gurage dialects form the Gurague Af or language, and Guraginya in Italian. Some dialects are not intelligible with other dialects but have organic relationship indicating that they originated from a proto-Gurage language. Gurage Af and its dialects belong to the Southern subdivision of the Ethiopian Semitic languages within the Afroasiatic family. The languages are often referred to collectively as "Guraginya" by other Ethiopians (-inya is the Amharic suffix for most Ethiopian Semitic languages).

There are three major dialect subgroups: Northern, Eastern and Western. All the Gurage subgroups (Northern, Western, and Eastern Gurage) belong to South Ethiopic. East Gurage is related to Harari, while Northern and Western Gurage are related to each other and Gafat.

The Gurage Af is written with the Ge'ez script. The Gurage subset of this script has 44 independent glyphs.

There is no general agreement on how many dialects there are, in particular within the West Gurage grouping.


In the following listing, the distinction between languages and dialects follows Ethnologue.

In the Northern group
  • Soddo (Kistane)
    • Dialects: Soddo, Goggot (Dobi)
In the Eastern group
  • Silt'e (Selti; not, strictly speaking, a Gurage language, since the people do not consider themselves Gurage)
    • Dialects: Ulbare, Wolane, Inneqor
  • Zay (Zway)
In the Western group

Sebat Bet (or Sebat Beit), in particular, is best understood as a grouping in itself; the term means literally "Seven Houses," and refers to seven specific Western Gurage groups and varieties. Silt'e is more closely related to Amharic than to Soddo.


This page was last updated at 2021-02-23 21:18, update this pageView original page

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