Ajami traditions in the Horn of Africa and the concept of isograph

Lecture by Professor Giorgio Banti (Università di Napoli “l’Orientale”).

Arabic-based writing, i.e., Ajami, systems have been used for several local languages by Muslim communities in the Horn of Africa. The best known of them are Harari, Amharic, Oromo, Selt’i, Somali, Afar and Saho. As frequently observed in Ajami traditions, different groups of people used competing Ajami systems or orthographies for writing the same language. Some of their features can be treated in terms of isographs, which provide interesting cues for their historical development and routes of transmission.