Language diversity is essential to the human heritage. Every language embodies the unique cultural wisdom of a people. The loss of any language is thus a loss for all humanity.

GE-EZ, is the root language for Amarigna and Tigrigna. Just like Latin is to French, Spanish, etc.. GE-EZ is dead. No point in debating how dead.

On the other hand. GE-EZ is the liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Oddly, only 99% of the followers do not speak it. Not withstanding reciting memorized prayer.

Amarigna and Tigrigna (A&T) are two of approximately 6,000 languages on death row. There is an imperative need for language documentation, new policy initiatives, and new materials to enhance the vitality of these languages. The benefits out-weigh the effort.

There is no rime-or-reason to abandon these two languages (A&T). And I mean zero reasons. Will articulate this point in the near future.

Understandable diaspora that were educated and think in another language. Will have difficult debating their domain in pure Amarigna, Tigrigna or Ge-ez. Moving forward however this needs to be rectified.

Unfortunately the new ridiculous fad in Addis Abeba. Is to use English words, to sound better educated.

If you are still on the same page. You will like this quote:

  “I speak my favorite language because that’s who I am.”“We teach our children our favorite language, because we want them to know who they are.”  Tohono O’odham elder, 2002

So what can be done to preserve AMHARIC AND TIGRIGNA?

For starters, I should be a like to ensure there is a custodian for each. The language are properly enabled for the current and future electronic usage. i.e. Official machine level standard -UNICODE registration for AMHARIC and TIGRIGNA. Thereby allowing a computer user to select the language (Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems).

From a governance point of view. Neglecting to enforce this standard with vendors (Samsung, Apple, HP, IBM, …). Is tantamount to negligence!

Secondly, e-government should first and foremost use the people’s language. Not English.

Thirdly. Software developers can therefore focus on the user interface/experience, only. TBD with your help.

Fourth,….TBD

A language is endangered when it is on a path toward extinction. Without adequate documentation, a language that is extinct can never be revived. Above all, speakers of these languages may experience the loss of their language as a loss of their original ethnic and cultural identity -Bernard 1992, Hale 1998.

Endangerment may be a result of internal and external factors. Military, economic, religious, cultural, or educational subjugation. This can only solved with internal factors/actors.

Raising awareness about language loss is not enough. Contemporary roles in everyday life, commerce, education, writing, the arts, and media. Economic and political support by both local communities and national governments are needed to establish such a role.

Tigrigna is taught only up to the 4th grade in Eritrea but it is treated better in Tigray where, I believe, Tigrigna language courses are given at the university level. Overall Amharic seems to have a much higher chance of survival. It is a shame Geez as the only written script in all of Sub Saharan Africa was not adopted by other languages in Africa. Its sylabic nature is much easier than the Latin characters adopted by Oromigna, Swahili etc. Once you learn the roughly 35 by 7 matrix, you cannot make spelling mistakes and it accommodates almost all sounds (I think exceptions are few, one of them being the clicking sound In Khoxa). Probably a reflection of how poor marketeers we are

 

Unicode is described as follows:

Ethiopic 1200–137F

Number of characters: 384

  • Number of characters: 384
  • type: abugida
  • Countries: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Israel

Ethiopic Unicode block is in 1200-137F range as illustrated here: Ethiopic

Ethiopic is a Unicode block containing characters for writing the Ge'ez, Tigrinya, Amharic, Tigre, and Oromo languages. Ge'ez (ግዕዝ Gəʿəz), (also known as Ethiopic) is a script used as an abugida (syllable alphabet) for several languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea. It originated as an abjad (consonant-only alphabet) and was first used to write Ge'ez, now the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church. In Amharic and Tigrinya, the script is often called fidäl (ፊደል), meaning «script» or «alphabet». The Ge'ez script has been adapted to write other, mostly Semitic, languages, particularly Amharic in Ethiopia, and Tigrinya in both Eritrea and Ethiopia. It is also used for Sebatbeit, Me'en, and most other languages of Ethiopia. In Eritrea it is used for Tigre, and it has traditionally been used for Blin, a Cushitic language. Tigre, spoken in western and northern Eritrea, is considered to resemble Ge'ez more than do the other derivative languages. Some other languages in the Horn of Africa, such as Oromo, used to be written using Ge'ez, but have migrated to Latin-based orthographies. For the representation of sounds, this article uses a system that is common (though not universal) among linguists who work on Ethiopian Semitic languages. This differs somewhat from the conventions of the International Phonetic Alphabet.

 

Acknowledgment:

UNESCO researchers for exploring this domain and source for this note.

All other contributors.