The Tigrinya language belongs to the Ethiopic branch of Semitic languages. Tigrinya has a lot of speakers. To be exact, there are about 6 million speakers just in the Tigre region of Ethiopia. Furthermore, the language is also widely used in such countries as Sudan, Saudi Arabia, the USA, Germany, Italy the UK, Canada, Sweden and some more. Nevertheless, three main countries with the greatest number of Tigrinya speakers are Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Israel.
When it comes to Ethiopia, the number of Tigrinya speaker is close to 4.5 million people. It is worth to mention that the biggest part of Tigrinya speakers in this country (about 2,8 million people) are monolingual. It makes the Tigrinya language the third most popular language in the country. It is interesting to know that in Ethiopia, Tigrinya is used as a lingua franca among the different ethnic groups. It means that the Tigrinya language is widely used in the mass media, education sector, in government, as well as many non-governmental agencies.
When it comes to the position of the Tigrinya language in such country as Eriteria, we can say that it is nearly the same to its position in the above mentioned Ethiopia. The country has about 2.5 million Tigrinya speakers and the language is widely used in mass media, education, and government. This makes Tigrinya the most spoken language in Eritrea. To be exact, the Tigrinya language here is considered to be de facto national language.
The population of the Tigrinya speakers in Israel is not as notable as it is in Ethiopia or Eritrea. It counts about 10 thousands of speakers.
Although the Tigrinya language has no significant dialectal variations, generally it can be divided into Asmara dialect spoken in Eritrea and Tigray dialect spoken in Ethiopia. The written language uses a version of Ge’ez or Ethiopic script. The first written Tigriniya appeared in the 13th century. Religious texts produced by missioners are considered to be one of the first written records of the language. Today, written Tigrinya is not rare. There is a number of printed materials such as textbooks and literature.