The Cursive Syllabary of Emperor Menelik

From: Daniel Yacob (
Date: Tue Dec 15 1998 - 03:10:09 EST

Greetings All,

  I will forgo the lecture on the greatness of Emperor Menelik II and for
brevity's sake note only that he was a turn of the century ruler over Ethiopia
under who's reign modern technologies were embraced and adapted to Ethiopia
as well as created within his kingdom. One of the lesser known inventions
credited to Emperor Menelik was a reinvention of the Ethiopian Syllabary that
was to be:

  1) easier to learn (phonemically minimalistic)
  2) easier to write (the lack of a cursive form is an often noted deficiency)
  3) easier to mechanize (the Ethiopian typewriter was yet another invention
     that would come from Menelik)

Evidence shows that Menelik did not try to deploy the script, it seems to have
been something only experimental. Abraham Demoz may have indeed shared his
wisdom when he would note 80 years later that "Attempts to modify the Ethiopian
syllabary that would abbreviated it have always ended in failure. Only those
reform efforts that have added written symbols to the syllabary have since

I will try and scan a larger image later. Until then a sample is under:



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