Afar-Saho Languages

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Afar-Saho Languages


Danakil languages, languages of the Afar peoples (northeastern Ethiopia and northern French Somaliland) and the Saho peoples (northeastern Ethiopia). They are spoken by approximately 500,000 people and belong to the Cushitic group of languages. The sound system of the Afar-Saho languages is characterized by a glot-talized velar k, retroflex d (changing to retroflex l between vowels), pharyngeal ‘ (like Arabic ’ayn), and the labialized velars gw, kw, and kw. Affixes, vocalic alternation, and reduplication of the final vowel of the root serve as the methods of inflection and word formation: in Saho the root dag “to know” generates the forms aliga “he knows,” alega “he knew,” the passive ämelegä “he was known,” the causative äselegä “he caused to know,” dag “message,” dagog “messages,” and so on. Part of the verbs retain the common Hamito-Semitic prefix-type conjugation, and others have a suffix-type conjugation, which arose from an analytical construction. The predicate occurs at the end of the sentence, and the modifier, before that which is modified.


Reinisch, L. Die Saho-Sprache, vols. 1–2. Vienna, 1889–1890.
Colizza.G. Lingua ‘Afar del Nord-Est dell’Africa. Vienna, 1887.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?