For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Agaw languages.

Agaw languages

Central Cushitic
Ethiopia and central Eritrea
Linguistic classificationAfro-Asiatic

The Agaw or Central Cushitic languages are Afro-Asiatic languages spoken by several groups in Ethiopia and, in one case, Eritrea. They form the main substratum influence on Amharic and other Ethiopian Semitic languages.[1]


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

  • Awngi (South Agaw) spoken southwest of Lake Tana, much the largest, with over 350,000 speakers
(Kunfal, spoken west of Lake Tana, is poorly recorded but most likely a dialect of Awngi)[2]
  • Northern Agaw:
  • Bilen–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 literature in Agaw but it is widely dispersed: from medieval texts containing passages in the Qimant language, now mostly in Israeli museums, to the modern Bilen language with its own newspaper, based in Keren, Eritrea. Historical material is also available in the Xamtanga language, and there is a deep tradition of folklore in the Awngi language.


Central Cushitic languages are characterised by the presence of /ŋ/, /ɣ/, /z/, and central vowels, while they lack ejectives, implosives, pharyngeals, consonant gemination, vowel length, and the consonant /ɲ/.[3]

See also


  • Appleyard, David L. (2006) A Comparative Dictionary of the Agaw Languages (Kuschitische Sprachstudien – Cushitic Language Studies Band 24). Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
  • Hetzron, Robert (1976) The Agaw Languages. Afroasiatic Linguistics 3,3. p. 31–37
  • Joswig, Andreas and Hussein Mohammed (2011). A Sociolinguistic Survey Report; Revisiting the Southern Agaw Language areas of Ethiopia. SIL International. SIL Electronic Survey Reports 2011-047.


  1. ^ Hetzron (1976, p. 5)
  2. ^ Joswig/Mohammed (2011)
  3. ^ Zelealem, [Mollaligne] Leyew. 2020. Central Cushitic. In: Rainer Vossen and Gerrit J. Dimmendaal (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of African Languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Agaw languages
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?