Dehai News

On Tigre and Tigrigna Languages

Posted by: hbokure@aol.com

Date: Thursday, 19 April 2018

It may be quite puzzling to differentiate the Jew from Israelites, the original inhabitants of this sacred land. However, the Hebrews whose name associated with their ancestral land that is UR (ኡር) is located in Babylon, the modern Iraq. They were speaking Hebrew before exiling to Babylon in 586 B.C.E. However, when they returned one hundred years later, Aramaic was the vernacular language of Canaan from which biblical Hebrew evolved. Aramaic was widely spoken in ancient Near East and Mesopotamia as a language of commerce and diplomacy. This proves that Tigre is an off-shoot of Aramaic from the perspective of etymological studies that Ato Embaye Melekin ventured to describe by employing the relative cognates of both languages. Knowing this, Enno Littman, a philologist and folklorist from Princeton University conducted extensive studies on Tigre language and literature. No wonder, he discovered that Tigre people are the richest in oral literature as exemplified in his monumental collections covering four volumes in all. Not only that, according to Memhr Mussa Aron, Tigre possess the largest vocabularies than Tigrigna. It is also the only pure Semitic Language which has not been influenced extensively by corrupted alien tongues. By the same token, in the forties,  the Jewish scholars came  to Eritrea to study Tigre and Tigrigna languages in which the Aramaic elements were preserved for millennia. For after Jewish dispersal (Diaspora), Hebrew almost ceased to be a vernacular language, and as such a few sages could speak it. However, with the effort of Ben Yehuda, a Russian Jewish, the Modern Hebrew revived as a vernacular language. What strikes me most is the word እልል!እልል…. that only women are allowed to utter during festive days or religious ritual. According to the late Professor Edward Ullendorff, it means hale-lu-jah (ሃለሉያ) derived from the verbal name ኤሊሆይም or ኣላህ። Compare with another verbal ሃሌታ or ማህሌት። For all these,  Tigre and Tigrgina maybe a contributing factors in reviving the lost languages such as Hebrew. I hope Geez which is virtually left as a language of literature will be restored into its original form as a tongue of common folks.  
Haile
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