Abyssinia —The Galla Language -- By: Morgan J. Smeads

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 006:24 (Nov 1849)
Article: Abyssinia —The Galla Language
Author: Morgan J. Smeads


Abyssinia —The Galla Language

Professor Morgan J. Smeads

1. Wörterbuch der Galla Sprache. ler Tkeil. Galla-English Deutsch (Dictionary of the Galla Language. Part I. Galla-English German), By Charles Tutschek; edited by Lawrence Tutschek, M. D. Munich, 1844.

2. Dictionary of the Galla Language. Part II. English-Galla, By Charles Tutschek; edited by Lawrence Tutschek, M. D, Munich, 1845.

3. Grammar of the Galla Language. By Charles Tutschek; edited by Lawrence Tutschek, M. D. Munich, 1845.

Much interest has been manifested during the last twelve years, by the benevolent in Europe, in behalf of the eastern nations of Africa. Particular attention was directed to them by the writings of Mr. Krapf, a missionary sent out, if we mistake not, by a society in England, formed for the purpose of promoting civilization in Africa, of which Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, Bart., is president. Later, this interest was greatly increased by the publication of the works upon the language of the Gallas, which we have placed at the head of this Article. Before proceeding specially to treat of these, it will be proper to communicate to our readers some information concerning the nation itself.

Under the general name of Galla is comprised a numerous people, divided into many distinct tribes, which inhabit the southern part of Abyssinia, and a large extent of country on the east, south, and west of it. Mr. Krapf, in his “Imperfect Outlines of the Galla Language,”

gives the names of about sixty tribes. The Tigré chain of mountains, about 13 deg. N. Lat., forms (according to the observations of the English traveller Salt) the boundary which separates them, on the north-east, from the dominions of the Ras or governor of Tigré. How far they extend towards Central Africa, has not yet been discovered; the barbarity of the people and their extreme jealousy of strangers having hitherto prevented travellers from penetrating the country to any considerable distance.

The name Galla, according to Bruce, signifies shepherds; but Mr. Tutschek derives it from the verb gala, in their language, which signifies to go home, or to seek a home; and supposes it must have an intimate connection with “the historical fact that the Gallas, driven from their homes, by some cause or other, in the year 1785, rushed in torrents towards Abyssinia, and made that country their home.”1 This emigration commenced, however, in the early part of the sixteenth century; and the people bore the name of Gallas considerably prior to the time of the invasion assigne...

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