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Ge'ez language
The Ge'ez language (or Gi'iz language) is an ancient language that developed in the Ethiopian Highlands of the Horn of Africa as the language of the peasantry. It later became the language of the Ethiopian imperial court; it is currently the language of use in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Church.
Today Ge'ez remains the main language used in the worship services of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches, though Amharic (the main lingua franca of modern Ethiopia) may be used for sermons. The Ge'ez writing system, (or 'Fidel' as it is known in Ethiopia), forms the basis for most scripts used for writing the various languages of Ethiopia.

Ge'ez is also still in use by the Beta Israel Jewish community of Ethiopia for their scriptures and liturgy.

The language has been assigned the ISO 639 code gez and the SIL code GEE.
 

History
The origins of the Ge'ez alphabet and the language are still controversial; as Scott Munro-hays notes, "the arguments advanced for the origins of the Ge'ez script would fill a small book." The earliest known inscriptions in Ge'ez are dated to the 3rd century AD in South Arabian script which lacked vowels. About the time of king Ezana (4th century AD), the South Arabian script was modified to include vowels, and some writers credit him with this change. However, Roger Schneider has pointed to anomalies in the known inscriptions which suggest that this vocalization occurred at an earlier time, and that Ezana was consciously employing an archaic style during his reign.

Likewise, the origins for the method of vocalizing the Ge'ez script is unclear. Some writers assume that the Greek alphabet served as the model. Yuri Kobishchanov has embraced the theories of W. Jones and Karl Richard Lepsius, who believed that the vocalization was patterned after Indian models. Kobishchanov cites a 1915 paper by A. Grohmann, which emphasized the similarities between Ge'ez and the ancient Indian Brahmi and Kharoshti alphabets.

The Ge'ez language is generally considered a South Semitic language. It has replaced the Sabaean language and alphabet (although that was still used up to around 8th century AD). Ge'ez was in turn replaced around 13th century AD by the Amharic language in the south and the Tigrigna language in the north. The Tigre language also uses the Ge'ez alphabet and is more closely related to Ge'ez than either Amharic or Tigrigna.

Ge'ez writing system

Genesis 29.1116 in Ge'ezThe word Ge'ez is also applied to the abugida which is used to write the language. The Amharic in Ethiopia and Tigrigna in Eritrea and Ethiopia use modified forms of the Ge'ez abugida. Other languages in the Horn of Africa were also historically written using Ge'ez, such as Oromo language and Somali, but these have generally migrated to Latin-based orthographies.

Ge'ez (or "Ethiopic") has been assigned Unicode 3.0 codepoints U+1200 U+137F (decimal 46084991), and given the "Supplemnt" range U+1380 - U+ 139F (decimal 4992-5023 ) and "Extended" range U+2D80 - U+2DDF (decimal 11648-11743) in Unicode

 

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