|Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan|
Ethiopian Semitic (also Ethio-Semitic, Ethiosemitic, Ethiopic or Abyssinian) is a family of languages spoken in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan. Together with the Razihi language, the only surviving member of Old South Arabian, they form the western branch of the South Semitic languages, itself a sub-branch of Semitic, part of the Afroasiatic language family.
Amharic, the official working language of Ethiopia, has about 62 million speakers (including second language speakers) and is the most widely spoken Ethiopian Semitic language. Tigrinya has 7 million speakers and is the most widely spoken language in Eritrea. There is a small population of Tigre speakers in Sudan. The Ge'ez language has a literary history in its own Ge'ez script going back to the first century AD. It is no longer spoken but remains the liturgical language of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches.
A recent study proposes through the use of Bayesian computational techniques that Ethiopian Semitic was introduced to Africa from South Arabia "approximately 2800 years ago", and that this single introduction of Ethiosemitic underwent "rapid diversification" within Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The modern Ethiopian Semitic languages all share subject-object-verb (SOV) word order as part of the Ethiopian language area, but Ge'ez had verb-subject-object (VSO) order in common with other Semitic languages.
The division into northern and southern branches was established by Cohen (1931) and Hetzron (1972) and garnered broad acceptance, but this classification has recently been challenged by Rainer Voigt. Voigt rejects the classification that was put forward by Cohen and Hetzron, concluding that they are too closely related to be grouped separately into a north and south.
Hudson (2013) recognises five primary branches of Ethiosemitic. His classification is below.