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Lowland East Cushitic
Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya
Linguistic classification:Negro-Egyptian

Lowland East Cushitic[1] comprises two dozen diverse languages of the Cushitic family within Negro-Egyptian. They are spoken mainly in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia, and by Cushitic groups in northern Kenya.

Lowland East Cushitic is often grouped with Highland East Cushitic (the Sidamic languages), Dullay, and Yaaku as East Cushitic, but that group is not well defined and considered dubious.

The most prominent Lowland East Cushitic language is Oromo, with about 21 million speakers. Other prominent languages include Somali (spoken by ethnic Somalis in Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Djibouti, and Kenya) with about 15 million speakers, and Afar (in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti) with about 1.5 million.

Robert Hetzron has suggested that the Rift languages (South Cushitic) are a part of Lowland East Cushitic,[2] and Kießling & Mous (2003) have suggested more specifically that they be linked to a Southern Lowland branch, together with Oromo, Somali, and Yaaku–Dullay.

The vocabulary of the mixed register of Mbugu (Ma'a) may also be East Cushitic (Tosco 2002), though the grammatical basis and the other register are Bantu.

Unclassified within the Lowland languages are Konsoid, Girirra, and perhaps the endangered Boon.

See also


  • Roland Kießling & Maarten Mous. 2003. The Lexical Reconstruction of West-Rift Southern Cushitic. Cushitic Language Studies Volume 21
  • Tosco, Mauro. 2000. 'Cushitic Overview.' Journal of Ethiopian Studies 33(2):87-121.
  • Savà, Graziano and Mauro Tosco. 2003. "The classification of Ongota". In Bender et al. eds, Selected comparative-historical Afrasian linguistic studies. LINCOM Europa.

External links


  1. Richard Hayward, "Afroasiatic", in Heine & Nurse, 2000, African Languages
  2. Robert Hetzron, "The Limits of Cushitic", Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika 2. 1980, 7–126.