Gafat language

Native to Ethiopia
Extinct (date missing)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 gft
Glottolog gafa1240[1]

The Gafat language is an extinct South Ethiopian Semitic language that was once spoken along the Abbay River (Nile) in Ethiopia. Gafat was related to Harari and Gurage dialects.[2] The records of this language are extremely sparse. There is a translation of the Song of Songs written in the 17th or 18th Century held at the Bodleian Library.

Charles Beke collected a word list in the early 1840s with difficulty from the few who knew the language, having found that "the rising generation seem to be altogether ignorant of it; and those grown-up persons who profess to speak it are anything but familiar with it."[3] The most recent accounts of this language are the reports of Wolf Leslau, who visited the region in 1947 and after considerable work was able to find a total of four people who could still speak the language. Edward Ullendorff, in his brief exposition on Gafat, concludes that as of the time of his writing, "one may ... expect that it has now virtually breathed its last."[4]


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Gafat". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Pankhurst, Richard. The Ethiopian Borderlands. The Red Sea Press. p. 89. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  3. Charles T. Beke, "Abyssinia: Being a Continuation of Routes in That Country", Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, 14 (1844), p. 41
  4. Ullendorff, Edward. The Ethiopians: An Introduction to Country and People, Second Edition (London: Oxford University Press, 1965), p. 131.


External links

Gafat Documents: Records of a South Ethiopic Language (1945) by Leslau

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