Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Cushitic languages are a subgroup of the Afro-Asiatic languages phylum, named after the Biblical figure Cush by analogy with Semitic. They are spoken in the Horn of Africa. The most prominent language is Oromo with about 21 million speakers, followed by Somali (in Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya) with about 15 million speakers, Sidamo (in Ethiopia) with about 2 million speakers, and Afar (in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Djibouti) with about 1.5 million. It is divided into the following subgroups, following Joseph Greenberg as modified by Harold Fleming :
- Beja language (often placed outside Cushitic proper)
- Central Cushitic languages (or Agaw languages)
- East Cushitic languages (including Oromo, Somali, Sidamo , and Afar)
- South Cushitic languages (or Rift, including Iraqw and arguably Dahalo )
Robert Hetzron has suggested that the South Cushitic languages are a subgroup of East Cushitic. Others have instead suggested breaking up East Cushitic into Sidamic or Highlands, Somalic or Lowlands (including Oromo), and Yaaku-Dullay, for a Cushitic with five branches: Agaw, Sidamic, Somalic, Yaaku-Dullay, Rift.
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