“T’ej” in Other Ethiopian Languages

IN AMHARIC, THE STATE LANGUAGE OF ETHIOPIA, they call honey wine t’ej, and so do many of the other more than 90 languages of Ethiopia. But it’s called daad’ii in Afaan Oromo, the most widely spoken first language in the country, and it’s mes in Tigrinya, the language of the north and of Eritrea.

So I’ve assembled a list of what the many languages of Ethiopia call honey wine. On this page, you can see the basic name chart that lists each language, its word for honey wine, its word for honey, and the language’s family. I’ve also created a more detailed chart with additional information on the languages.

Note frequent similarities between the words in the various languages: Some are cognates, or words that evolved from a common ancestor, and some represent borrowing. More than one word may appear for a language because of the difficulty of transliterating the words into English, or because different linguists have recorded different words. Where linguists have identified a dialect with a different word, I’ve created a line for that data.

The presence of a word in a language doesn’t necessarily mean the culture drinks honey wine. Some cultures make honey beer or other fermented drinks, and Moslem cultures tend not to drink alcohol at all. I’ve noted those instances. The languages come from Ethnologue and the words from linguists.

Where you see no word for honey wine, this means that I haven’t yet found the word in that language. There are only two such gaps in this list of 93 language: Kachama-Ganjule and Nayi, both little-studied Omotic languages, so they may always remain a mystery.

[See and download the full chart, which includes alternative names for the languages and my sources for the words for honey wine.]

Language

Honey Wine

Honey

Family

Aari s’ajji ant’si Omotic
Afar malb, gohoyu (honey beer) malb Cushitic
Alaaba daat’a [Moslem culture,
alcohol forbidden]
malabu Cushitic
Amharic t’ej mar Semitic
Anfillo bita jeyshey Omotic
Anuak ogool, ocatha (honey beer) maar kic Nilotic
(Nilo-Saharan)
Arbore d’aadi ked’ette Cushitic
Argobba t’ej [Moslem culture, rarely consumed] dus Semitic
Awngi mishi nyargi, tseyari Cushitic
Baiso t’ejji malab, malabeel Cushitic
Bambassi bit’ jeyshey Omotic
Basketo t’ej ees Omotic
Bench es es Omotic
Berta baas’a gongso, wonshoo (Fadashi), mosho (Gobato) Nilo-Saharan
Bilin [in Eritrea] mes/miys, mid säxära Cushitic
Birale
(nearly extinct)
koronko sho’kaya Unclassified
Afro-Asiatic
Bodi gema, gemade boorini boor Surmic
(Nilo-Saharan)
Boro bito masa Omotic
Burji boka/booka diida Cushitic
Bussa t’ayye tanka Cushitic
Chaha dagye, dege weya Semitic
Chai gimay; t’acc ret’e Surmic
(Nilo-Saharan)
Chara eesa eesa Omotic
Daasanach thaaniti, t’ej (made by nearby Kara people) thaaniti Cushitic
Dime tajj, gabzi (local beer) khuru Omotic
Dirasha t’ajjet tanket tanket, tanga Cushitic
Dizi t’ej ìnsin Omotic
Dorze t’ej ‘ees Omotic

Language

Honey Wine

Honey

Family

Falashan miz saea Cushitic
Gafat (extinct) s’aj debs, debsa, mar Semitic
Galila s’ajji kuri Omotic
Gamo-Gofa-Dawro t’ej, ‘ees (Gamo) ‘ees, ‘eesa Omotic
Ganza seleya esh,
p’uk’i
(red honey)
Omotic
Gawwada t’ayye sakmo Cushitic
Gedeo boka/booka, t’ajje malebo Cushitic
Ge’ez s’ajj, mes/miys ma’ar Semitic
Gogot/Dobi dag’a, t’ej weya Semitic
Gumuz ke’e’-ka’tsha ka’tsha Nilo-Saharan
Gwama sun dham tam Nilo-Saharan
Hadiyya dik’aasa marabo Cushitic
Hamer-Banna zia (Hamer), ant’si (Banna) alla (honey beer) kurri Omotic
Harari t’ajji, gohoy (honey beer) mar Semitic
Hozo bit’ tam Omotic
Inor dag’a, t’ej weya Semitic
Kachama-Ganjule
[Seeking name] ‘shida (Kachama), ‘shir (Ganjule) Omotic
Kacipo-Balesi
(Baale)
gimay rete Surmic (Nilo-Saharan)
Kafa bito eeyo Omotic
Kambaata daat’a malabu Cushitic
Karo ala, sia kurro Omotic
Kistane/Soddo t’ej ginz Semitic
Komo shwii dam dàam Nilo-Saharan
Komso taadita, tajjeeta takma Cushitic
Koorete t’eje, shida dana; sh’ádzhe; caje shida Omotic
Kunfal mishi nargi Cushitic
Kwegu ítire jíá Surmic (Nilo-Saharan)

Language

Honey Wine

Honey

Family

Libido dik’aasa (Moslem culture, non-alcoholic] marabo Cushitic
Majang ogool eted’ Surmic (Nilo-Saharan)
Maale dago ‘essi Omotic
Me’en gima, boké bor Surmic (Nilo-Saharan)
Melo ‘ess, ‘eesa ‘eess Omotic
Mesqan dag’a, t’ej weya Semitic
Muher dagye, dege weya Semitic
Murle gimoč letec, retshe Surmic
(Nilo-Saharan)
Mursi gimma rete, retshe Surmic
(Nilo-Saharan)
Nayi [Seeking name] ‘eesa Omotic
Nuer koang twaar twaar Nilotic (Nilo-Saharan)
Nyangatom a-tede akimyet a awo Nilotic (Nilo-Saharan)
Opuuo (T’apo) sitam tam Nilo-Saharan
Oromo daad’ii damma
Cushitic
Oyda t’ej, dana (local beer) shid’a Omotic
Qabena tajjita malabu Cushitic
Qimant miz sayeya Cushitic

Language

Honey Wine

Honey

Family

Saho mees, bathce malab (honey beer) baska Cushitic
Sebat Bet Gurage
(“Seven Houses of
Gurage”)
t’ej weya Semitic
Seze bit’ ‘ishi Omotic
Shabo ‘oo, [tajan (beer)] soi Nilo-Saharan
Shekkacho bito eeyo Omotic
Sheko taka ‘eesa Omotic
Sidama malawo/malabo, t’ajje malawo, malabo Cushitic
Silt’e tajji tegay Semitic
Somali khamri malabeed (“honey
wine”) [Moslem culture, not consumed]
malab Cushitic
Tigré mes/miys ma’ar Semitic
Tigrinya mes/miys ma’ar Semitic
Tirma gimáy; t’acc ret’e Surmic (Nilo-Saharan)
Tsamai xoronko zamu Cushitic
Turkana epurot a aowu/aoo aowu/aoo Nilotic
(Nilo-Saharan)
Uduk su dham ayin Nilo-Saharan
Wolane t’ajay tegay Semitic
Wolayta ‘essa ‘essa Omotic
Xamtanga miz sara Cushitic
Yemsa éésa éésa, dèèmà Omotic
Zergulla c’ajj ‘shida Omotic
Zway sexar, t’eje tage Semitic

Language

Honey Wine

Honey

Family