Tigre (language)

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Tigre ( ትግረ Tigre / ትግሬ tigré ; ኻሳ Xasa )

Spoken in

Eritrea , Sudan
speaker approx. 800,000 (as of 1997)
Official status
Recognized minority /
regional language in
EritreaEritrea Eritrea
Language codes
ISO 639-3


Tigre (also: Tigré in Ethiopian font ትግረ Tigre or ትግሬ Tigre ; in Sudan ኻሳ Xasa , Arabic ألخاصية al-ḫāṣiyah ) is a Semitic language that is very close to Old Ethiopian and Tigrinya .

It is spoken by around 800,000 people, mostly Tigre , (as of 1997), mainly in Eritrea , but also in Sudan .

Speech situation

In addition to the Tigre, many Beni Amir (who belong to the Bedscha ) in Eritrea have adopted Tigre as their main language. The language has two groups of dialects: Mansa ' that in the region of, Keren and on the Mansa' is spoken -Plateau and Beni Amir , the Tigre of the Beni Amir with Beja - substrate .

The Dahlik spoken on islands of the Dahlak Archipelago was once thought to be a dialect of the Tigre. According to more recent findings, however, it is an independent language that developed in isolation from the rest of the Tigre and was influenced by Arabic and Afar .

Tigre is recognized as one of nine "national languages" of Eritrea, which are formally regarded as equal (in fact, Tigrinya and Arabic are by far the most important official languages). This is how the constitution of Eritrea was translated to Tigre.

Linguistic characteristics

The old laryngal consonants of the Semitic languages ​​are preserved in the Tigre.

The Tigre has the basic word sequence subject-object-verb (SOV).


The language has no written tradition, but is now written using the Ethiopian script .


  • Helmut Glück (Ed.): Metzler Lexicon Language . Metzler, Stuttgart a. Weimar 1993.
  • AC Beaton, A. Paul: A grammar and vocabulary of the Tigre language (as spoken by the Beni Amer) . Publications Bureau, Khartoum 1954.
  • Wolf Leslau: Short Grammar of Tigré . American Oriental Society, New Haven 1945.
  • Enno Littmann , Maria Höfner : Dictionary of the Tigrē language: Tigrē-German-English . Franz Steiner, Wiesbaden 1962.
  • Shlomo Raz: Tigre grammar and texts . Undena Publications, Malibu (California) 1983.
  • Rainer Voigt: To the Tigre . In: Aethiopica (International Journal of Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies) , Volume 11, 2008, pp. 173–191.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Marie-Claude Simeone-Senelle: Les langues en Erythrée . In: Chroniques Yeménites , 8, 2000 (French)