Argobba language

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Native to Ethiopia
Native speakers
44,000 (2007 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 agj
Glottolog argo1244[2]

Argobba is an Ethiopian Semitic language spoken in an area north-east of Addis Ababa by the Argobba people. It belongs to the South Ethiopian Semitic subgroup together with Amharic and the Gurage languages. Writing in the mid-1960s, Edward Ullendorff noted that it "is disappearing rapidly in favour of Amharic, and only a few hundred elderly people are still able to speak it."[3] Today, many Argobba in the Harari region are shifting to the Oromo language.[4]

The language is spoken in a number of pockets and has at least four regional variations (dialects) in Harar (extinct), Aliyu Amba, Shewa Robit and Shonke.


  1. 2007 Census
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Argobba". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Ullendorff, Edward, (1965) The Ethiopians: An Introduction to Country and People, second edition (London: Oxford University Press), pp. 131f. ISBN 0-19-285061-X.
  4. Kifleyesus, Abbebe. 2006. The Argobba of Ethiopia are not the Language They Speak. Aethiopica: International Journal of Ethiopian Studies 9:7-22.


  • Cohen, Marcel (1931) Études d'éthiopien méridional (Collection d'ouvrages orientaux). Paris: Geuthner.
  • Cohen, Marcel (1939) Nouvelles Études d'éthiopien méridional. Paris: Ancienne Honoré Champion.
  • Leslau, Wolf (1997) Ethiopic Documents: Argobba. Grammar and dictionary. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-03955-8.
  • Zelealem Leyew and Ralph Siebert (1994) Argobba. S.L.L.E. Linguistic Reports no. 22. Addis Ababa: SIL/Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University.
  • Zelealem Leyew, Ralph Siebert (2002), Sociolinguistic Survey Report of the Argobba Language of Ethiopia SIL Electronic Survey Reports, SILESR 2002-026 (PDF)