Saho language

The Saho language (saho: ) is an Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia. It belongs to the family's Cushitic branch.

Native toEritrea, Ethiopia
RegionSouth, Northern- and Southern Red Sea in Eritrea, Tigray in Ethiopia.
Native speakers
220,000 (2015)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3ssy


Saho is spoken natively by the Saho people. They traditionally inhabit territory in Eritrea bounded by the bay of Erafayle in the east, the Laasi Ghedé valleys in the south, and the Eritrean highlands to the west (the Shimejana district on the eastern flank of the South- or Debub region in what was formerly known as Akele Guzai province).

This speech area is bordered by other Afro-Asiatic-speaking communities, with Tigre speakers on the west and Afar speakers on the east. In Ethiopia, Saho or Assawort is primarily spoken in the Tigray Region. It has about 200,000 speakers in total and four main dialects: Asawurta, Toroa Minifero, Eda, Tabota Hazu Hasabat-ara and Irob.[3]

Saho is so closely related to the Cushitic Afar language, spoken as a mother tongue by the Afar people, that some linguists regard the two tongues as dialects of a single "Saho–Afar language". Regardless, it has been shown that at least in their basic lexicon the two can be cleanly separated.[4]

Writing systemEdit

Saho has three written versions: a version in the Latin alphabet, official in Eritrea; a version in the Ge'ez script, official in Ethiopia; and a version in the Ajami script with no official recognition.[4]


  1. ^ Saho at Ethnologue (13th ed., 1996).
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Saho". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Raymond G. Gordon Jr., ed. 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th edition. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics. The Saho also use the Arabic ( Special now Latin letters ) to document their history and render information. Also recently the language is being used on the cyberspace as a tool of communication. And there is on website completely designed with saho language. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-11-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b Banti, Giorgio; Vergari, Moreno (2017). "Aspects of Saho dialectology". Afroasiatica Romana. Proceedings of the 15th meeting of Afroasiatic linguistics. Sapienza Università de Roma. pp. 65–81.

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit

  • William E. Welmers. 1952. "Notes on the structure of Saaho," Word 8:145-162.