Meʼen language

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Native toEthiopia
RegionEastern Africa
Native speakers
150,000 (2007 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3mym

Meʼen (also Mekan, Mieʼen, Mieken, Meqan, Men) is a Nilo-Saharan language (Eastern Sudanic, Surmic, Southeast Surmic[2]) spoken in Ethiopia by the Meʼen people. In recent years, it has been written with the Geʽez alphabet, but in 2007 a decision was made to use the Latin alphabet. Dialects include Bodi (Podi) and Tishena (Teshina, Teshenna).

Meʼen and Kwegu are unique among Surmic languages in that they have ejective consonants.

Reliable descriptions of some parts of the language have been produced by Hans-Georg Will, often contradicting Carlo Conti Rossini's work, the editing of the extensive language notes of a non-linguist.


Bilabial Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
ejective tʃʼ
implosive ɓ ɗ
Fricative voiceless (f) s ʃ h
voiced z
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Rhotic ɾ
Glide w l j

/p/ can be realized as a fricative [f] in initial and medial positions.

Front Central Back
Close i u
Close-mid e o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a

/i, u/ can have lax variants as [ɪ, ʊ].


  1. ^ Ethiopia 2007 Census Archived 2010-11-14 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Peter Unseth. 1988. The Validity and Unity of the Southeast Surma Language Grouping. Northeast African Studies 10.2/3:151-163
  3. ^ a b Will, Hans-Georg (1993) Meʼen phonology


  • Conti Rossini, Carlo. (1913). "I Mekan o Suro nell'Etiopia meridionale e il loro linguaggio." Rendiconti della Reale Accademia dei Lincei XXII (7-10): 397–463.
  • Diehl, Achim and Hans-Georg Will. (2007). "Meˀen language." In Siegbert Uhlig (ed.), Encyclopaedia Aethiopica 3, 907–909. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
  • Eba Teresa Garoma and Amanuel Raga Yadate. 2015. Sketch [of] Morphology and Syntax of Meʼenit. International Journal Advances in Social Science and Humanities Vol.3, Issue 7, pp. 30–50.
  • Will, Hans-Georg. 1989. "Sketch of Meʼen grammar." In M. Lionel Bender (ed.), Topics in Nilo-Saharan linguistics 129–50. Nilo-Saharan, 3. Hamburg: Helmut Buske.
  • Will, Hans-Georg. 1998. "The Meʼen verb system: Does Meʼen have tenses?." In Gerrit J. Dimmendaal and Marco Last (eds.), Surmic languages and cultures, 437–58. Nilo-Saharan, 13. Cologne: R. Köppe

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