Talk:Ge'ez language

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work done[edit]

I merged in Gi'iz and did a very little research. Corrections are welcome.

Also, I kept the phrase 'main lingua franca' even though it sounds wrong to me - can there be more than one lingua franca in a region? Key45 03:00, 9 Sep 2004 (UTC)

historical Ge'ez speakers?[edit]

Was Ge'ez ever used as a primary language by any specific ethnic group? ("The peasantry" is kind of vague.) Gringo300 06:38, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

As far i i've read geez was orginated in eastern sudan/norther eritrea between 1000bc and 1500bc as they are discoevring evidence lately,still not confirmed but it seems its going to be confirmed soon.also the alphabets are mostly similar to the old meriote alphabets which derived from the hylographic writing i would guess geez was firstly spoken by either the tegre (beja) ethnic group before tegre and tegrenya derived from that language. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Yaya7 (talkcontribs) 05:13, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

I think we would need to see where you read that, before we could do anything about it! Til Eulenspiegel (talk) 11:43, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
I've since read that Ge'ez was spoken by an ethnic group that the Amhara and Tigre ethnic groups descended from. I've also read that the languages of those two ethnic groups descended from Ge'ez. Gringo300 (talk) 15:35, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

the alphabet[edit]

maybe Ge'ez alphabet should be a separate article? We badly need a phoneme table, the Unicode allocations are less than useful if you want to read the script... dab () 12:31, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

What's wrong with the changes I've made?[edit]

Someone named User:Yom has reverted all of my changes. I hope these changes can be discussed here rather than starting an editing war. yhever 21:58, 25 January 2006 (UTC)


I didn't mean to revert your changes. I was just adding a link for an edit I made earlier. I must have been editing an older version and saved over your changes. I'll revert it and edit back in my change into the new version.


I'm sorry for responding harshly earlier, I didn't understand it was a mistake.
I was trying to make the transcription more accurate. The most important thing to fix was ሰ and ሠ which are s and ś, respectively, and not the other way round.
As for ፀ, I think it is more accurate to transcribe it as ṣ́, though has been used by Wolf Leslau in his dictionaries on account of the correspondance with Arabic ض (). In modern pronunciation, "ፀ" is pronounced the same as ጸ (i.e. ), but it is unlikely that this sound was a voiced ejective (I believe it is not even possible phonetically to pronounce such a sound) - and all emphatic consonants are ejectives in the traditional pronunciation of Ge'ez, and in the other related modern languages. yhever 19:59, 27 January 2006 (UTC)


I am aware that Ge'ez and Amharic are very different languages. Perhaps the difference should be mentioned somewhere in the article. Since I am primarily and Arabist, working toward being a Semitist, I am incapable of adding the information. User:Yom likely has the expertise to do so.

IbnBatriq 19:59, 17 March 2006 (UTC)


The article states that Ge'ez replaced the Sabaean language, although all the evidence we have indicates a concurrence of the two languages, rather than an evolution. I'm aware of some experts arguing for rather a common origin (as opposed to an evolution), and I think the dispute should be included in the form of "The origins of the Ge'ez language and script are still controversial." (as removed by Llywrch) and some sort of qualifier (as in, "it is thought to be the descendent...."). I acknowledge my bias and the possibility of POV, however, so I will not do any such edit unilaterally.

Dr. Pankhurst (the foremost or one of the foremost Ethiopian historians) and some others agree with my view.

Yom 05:26, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Geez and Amharic are two different languages. But they use the same alphabet. I think geez is the former language. It is the orgin of Amharic. They have words in common and the remaining are related. If one can speak only Geez, defintely he could understand Amharic. They are generally very similar but different languages.

There are no Geez only speakers. The language used in Ethiopian Orthodox Church, however, is Geez.


the question raised here is: were there EVER any geez only speakers? i've read things implying there were. Gringo300 10:12, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
There were, prior to the early middle Ages, when Amharic, Tigrinya, and Tigre began to separate into independent languages (Tigrinya and Tigre directly from Ge'ez, while Amharic from a dialect or cluster of dialects). Moreover, I've cleared up the disambiguity about the alphabet and language. The alphabet is for sure descended from Epigraphic South Arabian (interestingly, the earliest inscriptions are in Eritrea in the 9th c. BC, so far, though), and Ge'ez is definitely not descended from the Sabaean language (the inscriptions of the D`mt state, for instance, where recorded in proto-Ge'ez); see See Weninger, Stefan "Ge'ez" in von Uhlig, ed., Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha, Wiesbaden:Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005, p.732:
"Ge'ez is not, as was stated by earlier researchers, an offshoot of Old South Arabian (Appleyard 1996)."
Today, however, there are no Ge'ez speakers as a first language. It holds a position similar to Latin did in the (later) Middle Ages (it's still holds a lot of importance, though not as much as it used to). — ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 20:06, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Most Amharic scholars of their own language (Amsalu Aklilu etc.) state that Amharic DID come directly from Ge'ez. Indeed, the substantial Ge'ez vocabulary in Amharic shows less change than the other modern languages, usually no change at all. (Many simple everyday vocabulary items in Amharic are identical to Ge'ez). However, know it all European scholars who couldn't even say one sentence in AMharic always have to re-write everything Ethiopian books state and turn it upside down. Stating that Amharic came directly from Ge'ez is just too obvious, therefore they proclaim that this notion has to be changed, and they come up with the dry armchair theory that it DIDn't come from Ge'ez, but from some hypothetical, imaginary, and completely unattested dialect. They fail to appreciate that these are literate people, and have been for millennia, and therefore there are no unattested dialects they can invent that Amharic could have come from. But the Truth hurts these kind of people. What I don't get is how you swallow all their hypothetical book-theories hook line and sinker, before you would trust anything an Ethiopian wrote about their own tradition. ፈቃደ (ውይይት) 20:17, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Lateral consonants[edit]

Wouldn't it be better if ś - l - ṣ́ would be placed on the same column under "Lateral"?

Also, I think that classifying and ṣ́ as affricates is wrong. can find its place under s and z as "emphatic" or "ejective", and ṣ́ can be placed on the same row under "Lateral". Thus, the whole row of affricates can be removed.

One more thing, why is š in the table? The only palatals in Ge‘ez are y and the vowels i and e. yhever 15:23, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

"history of the jews" by ben gurion[edit]

-was written in Hebrew in the 10th cent. (according to the highly authoritative prof David Flusser who published an annotated version a few decades ago), so its Ge'ez translation (probably a translation of the Arabic translation of the book) could not have been produced in the 5th-7th century, of course; the mistake originates from Wallis Budge p.566. I deleted it there and moved it to the next period (12-15th cent).

A single professor may be "authoritative" to you, but the Ethiopian Church, which actually includes this in its "broad canon", is even more "authoritative" to others. I'm sure not everyone agrees with this dating. ፈቃደ (ውይይት) 22:58, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Image of film cover[edit]

Just wanted to add this to the discussion, as i had previously promised to show the usage of Ge'ez in an African American film. The Ge'ez title actually appears at the end of the film, and it is also in the DVD cover. But what does it mean in Amharic?--Halaqah 22:21, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Title cover using Ge'ez fedel, cover uses Ge'ez numbers which are now rarely used
It's actually Amharic, and says "500 years later" or "after 500 years"... ፈቃደ (ውይይት) 22:54, 19 October 2006 (UTC)
Correct. be-hWala, for instance, is a pure Amharic term, derived from the Ge'ez ከወላ/ከዋላ kawalā/kawālā "behind" (prefixed "be-" meaning "by, in" or showing that it's related to time). `Ametat (ዓመታት) has the -at plural more common in Ge'ez in Tigrinya, but is still standard Amharic. — ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 23:31, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

THere needs to be a link[edit]

You might understand the difference but it can be very confusing the language and the script, if it is at the top, as with most articles where confusion can occur it is just much better, i dont wanna read an article to realize it is the wrong thing---Halaqah 19:04, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

writing direction?[edit]

is this written right to left (like arabic) or left to right (like english) thanks in advance Scott Free 20:57, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Like English --Halaqah 23:03, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Left to right, it's predecessor script, ESA (actually first inscriptions in Ethiopia and Eritrea, though) was written in boustrophedon (right to left, then left to right, then right to left again, switching each line). — ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 23:12, 4 December 2006 (UTC)


what is geez? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 03:25, 28 March 2007 (UTC).


Is the Ge'ez language of the liturgy comprehensible to a modern Amharic or Tigrinya speaker who has not specifically learned Ge'ez? -- 00:23, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

It wouldn't be comprehensible spoken as it was originally (to an Amharic speaker, especially), but but any Amharic or Tigrinya speaker would be able to half-understand it reading a passage in Ge'ez or listening to modern liturgy read Ge'ez, who read it with an Amharic accent (i.e. do not pronounce the pharyngeals). Probably even more if they knew the historical origins of certain sounds in Amharic and Tigrinya (e.g. sometimes an original Ts -> T' -> CH' in Amharic, cf. Ge'ez Tsewa and Amh. Ch'ewa. If you knew the historical connection, you could understand it, otherwise it wouldn't make sense). — ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 01:48, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

The article states that this is no longer a spoken language yet mentions it is used inthe liturgy of the church making the point that sermons are done in the local common language implying that the scripture or the spoken liturgy would be in Ge'ez. Which is it? a written only language or a religious use only language? It seems counter productive for a church to have scripture and tradition in a language no one can communicate to a convert or youth coming up in the church. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:20, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

It is exactly parallel to the use of Latin, and services can include a mixture of Ge'ez and local languages or be entirely in local languages. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 23:53, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Also clergy and monks might speak be able to speak Ge'ez to each other, but would not address someone in Ge'ez who does not understand Ge'ez. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 23:55, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

The earlier editor raised a good point, "It seems counter productive for a church to have scripture and tradition in a language no one can communicate to a convert or youth coming up in the church." For many, the traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church have put more emphasis on continuity, the importance of the clergy, and the glory of tradition than on understanding by individuals. This is not uniform across the EOC, but helps explain the continued importance of the language, even if it is poorly understood.Pete unseth (talk) 00:32, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

I must be missing something, what exactly is hoped to be accomplished by discussing here how "counterproductive" it may or may not be in the observation of wikipedia editors? Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 00:42, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

Lateral fricative[edit]

I removed the portion of this article saying that the lateral fricative is "kept as a distinct phoneme in no other Semitic daughter language," since the lateral fricative actually is preserved in South Arabian languages such as Soqotri. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:40, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Need for Exterior Links[edit]

I typed up a summary of the language and put it in the external links but it was deleted as "spam" on 22:25, 22 July 2008. Can anyone justify this? The move seems wholly non-sequitor to me.

English-speaking students would benefit from such exterior links.

Does anyone have any links to pages on Ge'ez as a language (grammars, dictionaries, texts) in English OR Amharic or any other language (something in German, perhaps?).

Epigraphist (talk) 15:41, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

I have deleted these links from the article for these reasons:

If you want more information on what are proper links please review the article on External links Mesfin (talk) 20:50, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

You're being petty and you're doing a disservice to English-reading students of Classical Ethiopic. I'm certain that I'm more of an authority on the language than you are, good Sir. I study under Dr. Grover Hudson, long-time student of Dr. Wolf Leslau, neither of whom I am certain you know. And the blog which you so hastily slander is in fact concerning my scholarly work on the language. Are you some Afrocentrist out to exclude me from this work because of my skin color?

And your English shows innumerable signs of being a second language. You may wish to spend some time on that. And so where exactly are you at the professional conferences for these things? No one I've ever met or heard of in relation to this field matches your description. The Ethiopians who come have better English and would not be so petty about their edits. It is perhaps ironic that you are the one whose arguements amount to conflict of interest.

Epigraphist (talk) 21:23, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

WP:COI does not refer to "arguments" on a talkpage, or the ability to make them -- how absurd! It means editing articles to promote your own website or business, which many wikipedians naturally tend to resent, so it's against guidelines, and Mesfin is not being "petty" in his application of it. Your claims regarding your own credentials vs. his are also entirely out of place on this project. There are so many project pages I would suggest you read, but start with WP:EL (that stands for external, not exterior links), WP:AGF, and maybe even WP:DICK. And whether or not someone is at a "professional conference" is, I think, completely vainglorious in the long run, at least for establishing linguistic expertise. It's sort of like saying someone has to be at a "conference" to have Ethiopian citizenship, when in fact it has always been the Ethiopian Constitution that will determine who can and cannot have Ethiopian citizenship. But I think these things are liable to go over your head. It is good that you are studying the Ancient Ethiopian language, but it's statements like yours that make non-Ethiopian students of Ge'ez look arrogant, like as soon as they learn a little something, they are suddenly unsurpassed experts on the subject and may lecture everyone else. And I didn't see any problems at all with Mesfin's English either, but ironically I see a few awkward errors in yours that make me wonder. If you have any actual scholarly light to shed on the article, as opposed to trying to get an angry reaction, then by all means, please share it with us. Til Eulenspiegel (talk) 22:03, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

Latin transliteration?[edit]

Where does the latin transliteration (used on this and similar pages) come from? The use of ə and ä looks quite idiosyncratic to me... -- megA (talk) 23:10, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

on this page it comes from the tradition of Ge'ez scholars. And it is better to follow their way because they know the difficulties and pitfalls of transliterating the language of they are spacialists of. Transliteration is not a straight forward task you know. Hakeem.gadi (talk) 05:05, 6 March 2009 (UTC)
I didn't mean to criticize, I was just curious. This information should be included into the article. -- megA (talk) 12:39, 6 March 2009 (UTC)

Transliteration consistency?[edit]

Somebody should decide how the vowels are to be transcribed. In the grammar sections, the sixth order vowel is transcribed with ǝ; in the text example it's i. In the phonology section, two of the vowels are i. -- MikeG (talk) 19:09, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

I have made changes in the phonology section, I think now it agrees with text examples. The seven orders are now a u i ā e ǝ o, their phonemic values a u i ā e ɨ o. Length is only phonemic in a versus 'ā'. Msanzl (talk) 11:42, 24 September 2011 (UTC)


I copied this from the Gez(a locale in France), after I created a redirect from there to here.--Jondel (talk) 06:46, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
According to an article in the Jerusalem Post on November 3, 2009, Gez is the language of Ethiopian Jews, and used in prayer and in scheduled public celebrations. Reference : . (We could use an additional article on this subject.)

According to the "ethnologue" web site, an encyclopedia of languages, Gez is an "extinct" language of Ethiopia. (Have all the Gez-speaking Ethiopian Jews emigrated to Israel?) Reference:

Possibly redirect to the Wikipedia article on the "Ge'ez" language.


Philosophy in Ge'ez?[edit]

Could we add a reference to Ethiopian philosophers Zera Yacob and Walda Heywat? Seems to me they would be well worth a mention in the History and literature section.

The difficulty here is that there has been some dispute about authenticity. It was argued by Carlo Conti Rossini and Eugen Mittwoch that the work was a forgery by an Italian priest, Giusto d'Urbino. That was in the 1920s and 1930s, and my impression is that scholarly interest pretty much dried up at that point. More recently, though, Claude Sumner argued in the 1970s, on stylistic and other grounds, that it was not a forgery after all (or at least that the person alleged to have forged it could not have done so). But his stuff seems to be pretty obscure, and I'm not sure if there's been any back-and-forth since then. But there is some work out there now operating on the assumption that Sumner is correct. Sumner's argument (and references to other stuff) is contained in Ethiopian Philosophy, vol. II: The Treatise of Zara Yaecob and Walda Hewat: Text and Authorship, Addis Ababa: Commercial Printing Press, 1976. I have not investigated it terribly closely, though at present I'm satisfied by it. Here is a brief summary of his reasoning and conclusions from his Classical Ethiopian Philosophy (1985).

Perhaps someone (more scholarly than myself) has a better understanding of this? And if no one has anything to say about this in the next week or so, I'll add a reference to those authors. bhritchie (talk) 03:17, 11 September 2012 (UTC)


Don't delete the pronunciation unless you have something better to replace it with. It is not at all obvious how Ge'ez should be pronounced, and it's obscure enough that very few of our readers will have ever come across it. — kwami (talk) 00:04, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

Anything would be better than the sources you are imposing, the pronunciation according to them sounds idiotic. Til Eulenspiegel /talk/ 00:25, 26 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree that linguists and lexicographers the world over are idiots for not agreeing with you. However, WP is written for idiots, so idiotic pronunciations are appropriate. — kwami (talk) 02:00, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

Illuminated and post-16th-c. manuscripts[edit]

The website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has pictures of about 12 (out of 142) beautiful pages of The Harp of Praise, a late 17th-century illuminated prayer book from the Lasta region of Ethiopia, in the Museum's collection. The script is Ethiopic and the language presumably is Ge'ez, as that was and is the language of Christian worship in Ethiopia. There is also a 19th century manuscript prayer book with travel case. But the article leaves off at the 16th century.

I realize that without proper documentation that they are in Ge'ez, these documents cannot legitimately be included in the article. But I'm putting them here in case someone else can find such evidence.

However, the Met website does show (parts of) two manuscripts it describes as being in Ge'ez:

I'm adding these to the last paragraph of Ge'ez language#History and literature, right after the British Museum holdings.

--Thnidu (talk) 02:25, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Proper Latin script typography of name ‘Geʻez’[edit]

I have updated this article to use the ‘correct’ character for representing the glottal stop, ie the ʻOkina, within the body of the text. I confirmed this is the correct character by consulting Bright’s ‘The World’s Writing Systems’ (p. 98). However, it occurs to me that ideally this should be also reflected in the title of the article as well (as with the ʻOkina example). Of course this is a typographic quibble, but IMO it is an important one. pablohoney (talk) 22:05, 8 April 2015 (UTC)

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Ethiopic Bible[edit]

I have reverted the reference to obsolete scholarship that proposed that Syrian monks may have been responsible for the Ethiopic Bible translation. We need a seperate article on the Ethiopic Bible - and I am working on it - but in the meanwhile it should be enough to note that the theory of Syrian origins has been comprehensively relinquished by all current scholarship. The Aksumite translators of the 4th (and maybe 5th) centuries, worked solely from Greek for their New Testament; and most likely solely from Greek for their Old testamant and pseudopigrapha too. And they did it all on their own - with no assistance from outsiders. By the time of the Nine Saints (late 5th, early 6th, centuries) the whole Bible, and a great deal more, was already translated. TomHennell (talk) 12:41, 19 July 2016 (UTC)

Is this the same language (Ethiopic) as the Book of Jubilees survives in?[edit]

If the word "Ethiopic" used in scholarship like this, then the alternate name should be mentioned somewhere in the article body, as well as the lead. Most of the uses of the word "Ethiopic" in our article are with reference to a script or a church, but most of the usage in the page overall is in source titles that appear to be referring to the language itself. Hijiri 88 (やや) 12:47, 27 September 2016 (UTC)

Scholarship usage of the term is inconsistent. The general rule is that the script - which is used for around a dozen languages in Ethiopia and Eritrea - is 'Ethiopic'; while the main vernacular language of the Kindom of Axum (which has survived as the religious language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean churches; and the Beta Israel community) is Ge'ez. Several Axumite Ge'ez inscriptions are in Sabean scipt. But bibilical scholarship commonly uses the term 'Ethiopic' to stand for Jewish and Christian literature transmitted in Ge'ez versions (irrespective of script). So both usages are current.
It is important to bear in mind that the terms 'Ethiopia' and 'Ethopic' were adopted by the Christianised Axumites in the 4th century CE as self-descriptions from the Greek; almost certainly with reference to the Etiopian Eunuch story of Acts chapter 8. In which respect we may note that the 'Ethiopic' version of this story (both in the Ge'ez Book of Acts and in the Kebra Negast) renders the Greek 'road to Gaza' as 'the road to the land of Ge'ez'; although the context of the Greek clearly indicates that the Eunuch came from Meroë. TomHennell (talk) 14:00, 27 September 2016 (UTC)

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