Agaw languages

Central Cushitic
Ethiopia and central Eritrea
Linguistic classification:


Glottolog: cent2193[1]

The Agaw or Central Cushitic languages are spoken by small groups in Ethiopia and, in one case, Eritrea. They form the main substratum influence on Amharic and other Ethiopian Semitic languages.


The Central Cushitic languages are classified as follows (after Appleyard):

(Kunfal, spoken west of Lake Tana, is poorly recorded but most likely a dialect of Awngi)[2]
  • Blin–Xamtanga:
(dialects Qwara – nearly extinct, spoken by Beta Israel formerly living in Qwara, now in Israel; Kayla – extinct, formerly spoken by some Beta Israel, transitional between Qimant and Xamtanga)

There is a rich literature in Agaw but it is widely dispersed: from fascinating mediaeval texts in the Qimant language, now mostly in Israeli museums, to the modern, flourishing and topical in the Blin language, with its own newspaper, based in Keren, Eritrea. Much historical material is also available in the Xamtanga language, and there is a deep tradition of folklore in the Awngi language.

Agaw / Blin syllables are among the Ethiopic glyphs computerized by Dr. Aberra Molla in the 1980s.

See also



  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Central Cushitic". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Joswig/Mohammed (2011)
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