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Ge'ez
ግዕዝ Gəʿəz
Pronunciation [ɡɨʕɨz]
Native to Eritrea , Ethiopia
Extinct Estimates range from the 4th century AD to sometime before the 10th century.
Remains in use as a liturgical language.
Ge'ez script
Official status
Official language in
Liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Ethiopian Catholic Church, Eritrean Catholic Church and Beta Israel
Language codes
ISO 639-2 gez
ISO 639-3 gez
Glottolog geez1241
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
Drawing of the Virgin Mary 'with her beloved son,' from a Ge'ez manuscript copy of Weddasé Māryām, circa 1875.

Ge'ez (/ˈɡɛz/; ግዕዝ, Gəʿəz [ɡɨʕɨz]; also transliterated Giʻiz) is an ancient South Semitic language that originated in Eritrea and the northern region of Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa. It later became the official language of the Kingdom of Aksum and Ethiopian imperial court.

Today, Ge'ez remains only as the main language used in the liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Ethiopian Catholic Church, and the Beta Israel Jewish community. However, in Ethiopia Amharic (the main lingua franca of modern Ethiopia) or other local languages, and in Eritrea and Tigray Region in Ethiopia, Tigrigna (Tigrinya) may be used for sermons. Tigrigna and Tigre are closely related to Ge'ez with at least four different configurations proposed. Some linguists do not believe that Ge'ez constitutes the common ancestor of modern Ethiopian languages, but that Ge'ez became a separate language early on from some hypothetical, completely unattested language, and can thus be seen as an extinct sister language of Tigre and Tigrinya. The foremost Ethiopian experts such as Amsalu Aklilu point to the vast proportion of inherited nouns that are unchanged, and even spelled identically in both Ge'ez and Amharic (and to a lesser degree, Tigrinya).

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