Cushitic Languages

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Cushitic Languages


a language group of the Hamito-Semitic family in northeastern and eastern Africa. It consists of five subgroups: (1) Northern Cushitic (the Bedauye language on the shores of the Red Sea in Sudan and Ethiopia); (2) Central Cushitic (the Agau languages in isolated settlements in northern and central Ethiopia); (3) Eastern Cushitic (Somali Democratic Republic, the French territory of the Afars and Issas, eastern, southern, and part of southwestern Ethiopia, northern Kenya), which includes the Afar-Saho languages, the Galla-Somali languages (Somali, Boni, Bayso, Rendile, Galla, Tsamai), the Sidamo languages (Sidamo, Hadiya, Burji), and possibly the Konso-Geleba languages (Konso, Gato, Gidole, Arbore, Geleba); (4) Western Cushitic (Ometo, Kaffa, and others in southwestern and western Ethiopia); and (5) Southern Cushitic: the Iraqu languages (in Tanzania), Asa and Ngomwia (in Tanzania, Kenya). The little-known Mogogodo, Dume, and Sanye languages (in eastern Kenya) are also related to the Cushitic languages. The Cushitic languages are spoken by approximately 12.7 million people (1967, estimate).

The Cushitic languages are characterized by a large number of consonants: many languages have glottalized ejectives (ḳ and, less frequently, ṭ, c̣, and č̣), the glottalized injective , retroflex d, labialized kw, gw, xw, and Arabic-type laryngeals and pharyngeals. Most of the Cushitic languages distinguish masculine and feminine noun gender. The rich system of verb inflection (conjugation according to person, number, and gender of subject, derived [verb] stems; tenses; morphological markers of syntactic verbal functions, which correspond to subordinating conjunctions in European langauges) and noun inflection (number, singularity; less often, cases) are achieved by means of suffixes, sometimes prefixes (the old Hamito-Semitic prefixai conjugation in Bedauye, Afar-Saho, and other languages) and internal inflection (Bedauye, Afar-Saho, the Agau languages).


Dolgopol’skii, A. B. Sravnitel’no-istoricheskaia fonetika kushitskikh iazy-kov. Moscow, 1973.
Cerulli, E. Studi etiopici, vols. 1–4. Rome, 1936–51.
Tucker, A. N., and M. Bryan. Linguistic Analyses: The Non-Bantu Languages of Northeastern Africa. London, 1966.


References in periodicals archive ?
The languages are the Semitic Tigrinya, the Cushitic Oromo, and Amharic, a Semitic language that is considered to have undergone significant Cushitic influence and thus is often assumed to be structurally intermediate between the Semitic and Cushitic language families.
Most of its people speak a Semitic or Cushitic language.
We then exemplify our claim by a comparative analysis in some detail of incorporation-like phenomena in two unrelated languages: object-verb constructions in Iraqw, a Cushitic language spoken in Tanzania, and so-called "separable noun-verb compounds" in Modern Standard Dutch.
His linguistic range was extraordinary, including two of the Semitic languages of Ethiopia (Amharic and Tigrinya), a Cushitic language (Oromo), Maasai, which is often classified as Nilo-Hamitic, and several Bantu languages.
Tigrinya (official), Arabic (official), English (official), Tigre, Kunama, Afar, other Cushitic languages
As for Cushitic, size-related gender shifts were found only in 3 languages (Awngi, Bedawiyet and Daasanach), but I cannot exclude that they also exist in those Cushitic languages for which no information was retrieved in my sources.
One the other hand, Somali language is a member of the Cushitic languages spoken mostly in Somalia and nearby Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
Likewise, students of evolution and distribution of languages now believe that Semitic and Cushitic languages are of African origin.
His works include: Afafka banda kushitigga iyo taariikhda af Soomaaliga [Cushitic languages and the history of the Somalian language] (1983); "A Lexical Aspect of Somali and Eastern Cushitic Languages," in Puglielli A.
Andrezejewski, is a distinguished authority on Cushitic languages and literatures.
Eritrea's population comprises nine ethnic groups, most of whom speak Semitic or Cushitic languages.