|Native to||Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia|
|Region||Horn of Africa|
The Afar language (Afar: Qafaraf) (also known as 'Afar Af, Afaraf, Qafar af) is an Afroasiatic language belonging to the Cushitic branch. It is spoken by the Afar people inhabiting Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Afar is classified within the Cushitic branch of the Afroasiatic family. It is further categorized in the Lowland East Cushitic sub-group, along with Saho and Somali. Its closest relative is the Saho language.
In Eritrea, Afar is recognized as one of nine national languages which formally enjoy equal status although Tigrinya and Arabic are by far of greatest significance in official usage. There are daily broadcasts on the national radio and a translated version of the Eritrean constitution. In education, however, Afar speakers prefer Arabic - which many of them speak as a second language - as the language of instruction.
In the Afar Region of Ethiopia, Afar is also recognized as an official working language.
The consonants of the Afar language in the standard orthography are listed below (with IPA notation in brackets):
|Stops||voiceless||t [t]||k [k]|
|voiced||b [b]||d [d]||g [?]|
|Fricatives||voiceless||f [f]||s [s]||c [?]||h [h]|
|Nasals||m [m]||n [n]|
|Approximants||w [w]||l [l]||y [j]|
|Tap||r [?]||x [?]|
Voiceless stop consonants which close syllables are released, e.g., [?k?'me].
Sentence final vowels of affirmative verbs are aspirated (and stressed), e.g. abeh = /a'be?/ 'He did.' Sentence final vowels of negative verbs are not aspirated (nor stressed), e.g. maabinna = /'maabinna/ 'He did not do.' Sentence final vowels of interrogative verbs are lengthened (and stressed), e.g. abee? = /a'be:/ 'Did he do?' Otherwise, stress in word-final.
Possible syllable shapes are V, VV, VC, VVC, CV, CVV and CVVC.
In Ethiopia, Afar is written with the Ge'ez script (Ethiopic script). Since around 1849, the Latin script has been used in other areas to transcribe the language. Additionally, Afar is also transcribed using the Arabic script.
In the early 1970s, two Afar intellectuals and nationalists, Dimis and Redo, formalized the Afar alphabet. Known as Qafar Feera, the orthography is based on the Latin script.
Officials from the Institut des Langues de Djibouti, the Eritrean Ministry of Education, and the Ethiopian Afar Language Studies and Enrichment Center have since worked with Afar linguists, authors and community representatives to select a standard orthography for Afar from among the various existing writing systems used to transcribe the language.