The Info List - Omotic

--- Advertisement ---

Gimojan languages:   Yemsa   Bench (Gimira)   Chara   Ometo

Neighboring languages



The Omotic languages
Omotic languages
are group of languages spoken in southwestern Ethiopia. The Ge'ez script
Ge'ez script
is used to write some Omotic languages, the Latin alphabet some others. They are fairly agglutinative and have complex tonal systems (see Bench language, for example). The languages have around 6.2 million speakers. The group is often classified as belonging to the Afroasiatic language family but this is disputed by some.


1 Languages 2 Classification 3 See also 4 Notes 5 Sources cited 6 General Omotic bibliography 7 External links

Languages[edit] The North and South Omotic branches ("Nomotic" and "Somotic") are universally recognized. The primary debate is over the placement of the Mao languages. Bender (2000) classifies Omotic languages
Omotic languages
as follows:

South Omotic / Aroid (Hamer-Banna, Aari, Dime, Karo) North Omotic / Non-Aroid


Bambassi West Mao (Hozo, Seze, Ganza)

Dizoid (Dizi, Sheko, Nayi) Gonga–Gimojan

Gonga/Kefoid (Boro, Anfillo, Kafa, Shekkacho) Gimojan

Yemsa Ometo–Gimira

Bench Chara Ometo languages

Apart from terminology, this differs from Fleming (1976) in including the Mao languages, whose affiliation had originally been controversial, and in abolishing the "Gimojan" group.[clarification needed] There are also differences in the subclassification of Ometo, which is not covered here. Hayward (2003) separates out the Mao languages as a third branch of Omotic, and breaks up Ometo–Gimira:

South Omotic Mao North Omotic

Dizoid Ta–Ne languages

Gonga Gimojan

Yemsa Bench Ometo–Chara

Blench (2006) gives a more agnostic classification:[1]

South Omotic North Omotic

Mao Dizoid Gonga (Kefoid) Yem Gimira Ometo (?Chara)

Bosha† is unclassified; Ethnologue lists it as a dialect of Kafa, but notes it may be a distinct language. Classification[edit] Omotic is generally considered the most divergent branch of the Afroasiatic languages. Greenberg (1963) had classified it as the Western branch of Cushitic. Fleming (1969) argued that it should instead be classified as an independent branch of Afroasiatic, a view which Bender (1971) established to most linguists' satisfaction,[2] though a few linguists maintain the West Cushitic position,[3] or that only South Omotic forms a separate branch, with North Omotic remaining part of Cushitic. Blench (2006) notes that Omotic shares honey-related vocabulary with the rest of Afroasiatic, but not cattle-related vocabulary, suggesting that the split occurred before the advent of pastoralism. A few scholars have raised doubts that the Omotic languages are part of the Afroasiatic language family at all,[4][5] and Theil (2006) proposes that Omotic be treated as an independent family.[6] However, the general consensus, based primarily on morphological evidence, is that membership in Afroasiatic is well established.[7] See also[edit]

Languages of Ethiopia


^ Blench, 2006. The Afro-Asiatic Languages: Classification and Reference List ^ Hayward (2000:85) ^ Lamberti (1991), Zaborksi (1986) ^ I. M. Diakonoff (1998) Journal of Semitic Studies 43:209: "It is quite evident that cultural ties between Proto-Semitic and the African branches of the Afrasian macrofamily must have been severed at a very early date indeed. However, the grammatical structure of [Common Semitic] (especially in the verb) is obviously close to that of Common Berbero-Libyan (CBL), as well as to Bedauye. (Bedauye might, quite possibly, be classified as a family distinct from the rest of Kushitic.) The same grammatical isoglosses are somewhat more feebly felt between Semitic and (the other?) Kushitic languages. They practically disappear between the Semitic and the Omotic languages, which were formerly termed Western Kushitic, but which actually may not be Afrasian at all, like their neighbours the Nubian languages and Meroitic." ^ Newman (1980) ^ Rolf Theil (2006) Is Omotic Afro-Asiatic? pp 1–2: "I claim to show that no convincing arguments have been presented [for the inclusion of Omotic (OM) in Afro-Asiatic (AA)], and that OM should be regarded as an independent language family. No closer genetic relations have been demonstrated between OM and AA than between OM and any other language family." ^ Gerrit Dimmendaal (2008) "Language Ecology and Linguistic Diversity on the African Continent", in Language and Linguistics Compass 2/5:841: "Although its Afroasiatic affiliation has been disputed, the allocation of Omotic within this family is now well-established, based on the attestation of morphological properties that this family shares with other Afroasiatic branches."

Sources cited[edit]

Bender, M. Lionel. 2000. Comparative Morphology of the Omotic Languages. Munich: LINCOM. Fleming, Harold. 1976. Omotic overview. In The Non-Semitic Languages of Ethiopia, ed. by M. Lionel Bender, pp. 299–323. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University. Newman, Paul. 1980. The classification of Chadic within Afroasiatic. Universitaire Pers Leiden.

General Omotic bibliography[edit]

Bender, M. L. 1975. Omotic: a new Afroasiatic language family. (University Museum Series, 3.) Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University. Blench, Roger. 2006. Archaeology, Language, and the African Past. AltaMira Press Hayward, Richard J., ed. 1990. Omotic Language Studies. London: School of Oriental and African Studies. Hayward, Richard J. 2003. Omotic: the "empty quarter" of Afroasiatic linguistics. In Research in Afroasiatic Grammar II: selected papers from the fifth conference on Afroasiatic languages, Paris 2000, ed. by Jacqueline Lecarme, pp. 241–261. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Lamberti, Marcello. 1991. Cushitic and its classification.'Anthropos 86(4/6):552-561. Zaborski, Andrzej. 1986. Can Omotic be reclassified as West Cushitic? In Gideon Goldenberg, ed., Ethiopian Studies: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference pp. 525–530. Rotterdam: Balkema.

External links[edit]

Is Omotic Afro-Asiatic? by Rolf Theil

v t e

Omotic languages

South Omotic

Aari Dime Hamer-Banna Karo


Bambassi Ganza Hozo Seze


Dizi Nayi Sheko


Anfillo Boro Kafa Shekkacho

Ometo languages


Dorze Gamo-Gofa-Dawro Melo Oyda Wolaytta


Kachama-Ganjule Koorete Zayse-Zergulla


Basketo Maale


Bench Chara Yemsa

Italics indicate extinct languages

v t e

Major Afroasiatic languages


Kabyle Riffian Shawiya Shilha Tuareg




Afar Beja Oromo Somali


Ancient Egyptian Coptic




Akkadian Amharic Arabic
(Varieties of Arabic) Aramaic (Assyrian Neo-Aramaic) Ge'ez Hebrew Phoenician Tigrinya

Italics indicate extinct languages

Authority control

GND: 4224018-