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Frequently Asked Questions (faq)

| General | Eritrea | Website/Technical | Tips | Downloads |

If you have a question feel free to browse this section in search of an answer.

    General Questions

    1. What is Tigrigna?
      Tigrigna belongs to the Semitic family of languages, along with: Amharic, Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, Maltese, Syriac, and Tigre; however it is most closely related to Tigre, and then Amharic. It has an estimated number of ~ 6 million native speakers.

    2. Where is Tigrigna spoken?
      Used by 50% of Eritreans, Tigrigna is one of nine languages spoken in the country; however the majority of speakers live in northern Ethiopia. Eritrea and northern Ethiopia (Tigray region) have ~2 million and ~4 million Tigrigna speakers respectively.

    3. How do you pronounce it?

    4. Are their any dialects?
      Their are many dialects in both Eritrea and Ethiopia, but the two recognized key dialects are labeled Tigray and Asmara.

    5. Why study Tigrigna?
      This is ultimately a personal question since Tigrigna is not like Spanish, French, Arabic, or even Swahili; due to its limited range of use, Tigrigna is destined to be -at most- a regional language. For those who do not live in the region the question comes down to a personal interest. The personal interest might stem from a general curiosity in Semitic languages, or it might come from a general interest in the people and culture. Students of Tigrigna descent often try to learn it to better understand their heritage, and gain familiarity with the language of a parent or grandparent.

      In short, there are a variety of reasons why someone might choose to study Tigrigna; so this website is designed for everyone, no matter your reason for study.

    6. Why create a website dedicated to learning Tigrigna?
      Tigrigna, being a relatively small east-African language, does not have the freely available resources of other Languages; and because of this the learning aids that are available on the web can cost you a bit of money. For instance, if you wanted some Tigrigna learning software, you could end up spending $25 to $100, for something that is similar to what is offered on this site for free; or you could spend around $99 for such things as Ge'ez fonts or a Ge'ez word processor, both of which can be found on the internet (and on the bottom of this page) for free.

      So this website serves many functions.
      a. It provides a starting point for those who want to learn the language.
      b. It increases the presence of Tigrigna on the internet.
      c. It gives people an introduction to Eritrea and Eritrean (Tigrigna) culture.

    7. Is this website grammatically correct?
      Well that is a good question, although there is no regulatory body for this language there are a lot of commonly held rules that need to be adhered to. Due to this (and other things) I can't be sure everything on this site will be 100% accurate, but there is an editing process that everything goes through. Also, there is the fact that I am human (a highly flawed human at that), so don't put to much faith in my English grammar let alone my Tigrigna.

    8. I like what you are doing. Is there anything I can do to help?
      The biggest help you can give is if you report any errors that appear on this site, this helps in editing. So, please report any grammar, spelling, and technical problems you encounter.

    Eritrea Questions

    1. What is Eritrea?
      Eritrea is located in the horn of Africa. It is a small country north of Ethiopia, east of Sudan, west of Djibouti, and along the south west coast of the Red Sea.

    2. Do you have a map of it?
      Why yes, I do; however you will need to learn the Ge'ez fidel to read it. :)

    Website/Technical Questions

    1. I can't read the Tigrigna words on my computer.
      You need to download and run the "GF Zemen Unicode" font installer, to be able to read the Ge'ez alphabet on this website. Weblink:

    2. I have installed the font and I still can't read the Tigrigna words.
      If you are using the 'Internet Explorer 7' web browser you will need to do a few extra steps:

      Step 1: Click on tools then Internet options.
      Step 2: Under the tab that says General, you should click on the button that says fonts at the bottom.
      Step 3: Change the text next to the area that is labeled Language script to "Ethiopic"
      Step 4: Change the text next to the area that is labeled Webpage Font to "GF Zemen Unicode".
      Step 5: Click "OK"; then you are done.

    3. I can't install the font, I am at a public computer which locks all installations.
      With some luck you can still read the script.

      Step 1: Download and save this font file on your desktop, gfzemenu.ttf. Weblink:
      Step 2: Go to your "C:\WINDOWS\Fonts" folder.
      Step 3: At the top menu bar, click on File then Install New Font.
      Step 4: A menu option will now come up; at the bottom make sure the box that says: "Copy fonts to Font folder" is UNCHECKED.
      Step 5: While using this menu, go to the location where you have downloaded the "gfzemenu.ttf" file (remember it is on your desktop).
      Step 6: When your menu is at your desktop, select the file named "GF Zemen Unicode (TrueType)" and then press "OK".
      Your computer should be able to read this: "ሰላም"

    4. I am a Mac user; what should I do?
      No problem, but I highly suggest that you use the firefox web browser for this method; thus far, it is the only program that has worked for me.

      Step 1: Download and save this font file on your desktop, gfzemenu.ttf. Weblink:
      Step 2: Open and install the font using Font Book.
      You're done. Your computer should be able to read this: "ሰላም"

    5. I am an Android phone user; what should I do?
      If you have a "rooted" Android phone here are some steps you can take.

      Step 1: Go to google "Play" (the app market) and download and install the app "font changer".
      Step 2: Download the "gfzemenu.ttf" font file.
      Step 3: Place the font in your "/sdcard/.fontchanger/" folder.
      Step 4: Lastly, start the app and enable the font.
      You're done. Your computer should be able to read this: "ሰላም"

    6. I did what you said and I still can't read the letters.
      I have ran out of ideas.

    7. How can I write in Tigrigna?
      Anyone can write in Tigrigna, all you need to do is choose any of the following options.
      • Option 1: Go to here.
      • Option 2: follow these simple steps.
        Step 1: Download this zip file, UniGeez 2.001. Weblink:
        Step 2: Extract the contents of the file.
        Step 3: Run the program named: "UserInterface.exe".
        Step 4: Click the button that says: "Ge'ez on".
        Step 5: You now will be typing in the Ge'ez alphabet. Using this program, you can write Tigrigna in "Microsoft Word", the internet, or wherever else you like.
        Side note: You must first download and run the "GF Zemen Unicode" font installer, for this program to work.
      • Option 3: Go to Google transliteration - Tigrigna.

    8. I am now writing in Tigrigna, but I don't know which letters on my keyboard corresponds to which Ge'ez fidel?
      Here is a table showing what key brings up what fidel. Also, it might be good to note that when using this program only the left-sided "shift" key works.

    9. The Tigrigna sound files won't play on my computer.
      If the sound files won't play, download and run the "XP Codec Pack - 2.0.8 ", this program should allow your computer to play any audio or video file on the internet.

    Learning Tips
    This section is to give people ideas that might help them in their studies. Teaching yourself Tigrigna can be frustrating, but always remember, it is best to keep at it. Try not to tackle too much at once, however nothing in life comes easy and without hard work, this is no different. Learning a new language is not simple, but it is an impressive skill you will have for the rest of your life.

    1. First of all, become very comfortable using the Ge'ez script; this is where all beginners should focus their effort. Without a solid foundation and knowledge of this script, you will be unable to progress.

    2. Do not rely on cognate association; you will quickly find that you cannot depend on a Tigrigna word sounding similar to an equivalent English word. English is an Indo-European language which is completely different to Afro-Asian ones like Tigrigna.

    3. Listen to the pronunciation of new words and repeat them. While you listen, try to visualize how each word is written in Ge'ez script, remember what it means, and mimic the pronunciation of the speaker.

    4. Create some flash cards (a small card with Tigrigna written on the front and English on the back) to aid you in remembering vocabulary.

    5. Memorize new vocabulary words “in context;” that is, memorize (or create your own) model sentences containing the word. If the vocabulary comes from a text, then try to remember how it was used in that text.

    6. Use Mnemonic devices to remember words; a "mnemonic device" is when you associate a new piece of information with an old one. For example: "እግሪ (e-gri) is green" brings to mind... a green foot! The more silly the association (or "mnemonic device") the easier it is to remember.

    7. Practice makes prefect, the only way to get good at something is to have constant practice.

    8. Find someone who is willing to talk to you in Tigrigna, or help you with your pronunciation.

    9. There are four main aspects to language: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. Try to keep all of these on the same level, if you are weak in one area focus on it more.

    10. Try to learn a list of 5-10 words a day. If this is done, then in just one week your vocabulary will have increased by at least 35 words, in a month 150 words, and in only three months you could recite 500 words or more in Tigrigna.

    11. Use your Tigrigna vocabulary every day. For example, every time you pass by a dog think ከልቢ, and every time you see a potato say ድንሽ.

    12. Always remember that no one has ever learned an entire language through a web site. So it is silly to think that one can just sit down at a computer once a week and become fluent, even in ten years! Most of your learning takes place well after you leave the Internet, it takes place in the real world. Tigrigna is not about remembering vocabulary or verbs, it is about the usage of such things in real life situations. This requires integrating the language into your everyday life; little by little. It is up to you to apply what you have learned; the better and more often you do this will dictate how well you progress.

    13. Set yourself realistic goals; first for the day, then month, 3 months, 6 months, and then year.

    14. Never give up, but take many breaks; this is to ease frustration, and help you digest what you have recently learned.

    15. If you have the chance, travel to Eritrea or Ethiopia. Nothing is better for learning a language then being completely immersed in it.

    16. Do not be afraid of mistakes. Good language learners are unafraid to make mistakes. They are willing to try, and should appreciate correction from others.

    17. Learn from your mistakes. Good language learners listen to others and focus on how to avoid repeating previous mistakes.

    18. Be comfortable with ambiguity. Good language learners are comfortable even when they do not understand everything they hear or read for the first time. Focus on the overall meaning and avoid getting “hung-up” on one word.

    Other Downloads

    1. Mozilla firefox web browser
      Mozilla's firefox - Not a required download but I recommend using it. It has less pop-ups, it's more secure, and it integrates the use of Ge'ez and other non-Latin scripts much easier then 'Internet Explorer'.

    2. Audio codec
      XP Codec Pack - 2.0.8 - XP Codec Pack is one of the most complete codec pack which helps you to play all major audio and video formats. Weblink:

If you want you can also shoot me an .