Oromo, also known as Afaan borana Oromoo, Oromiffa(a) (Ethiopic: ኦሮሚኛ), and sometimes in other languages by variant spellings of these names (Oromic, Afan Oromo, etc.), is an Afro-Asiatic language, and the most widely spoken of the Cushitic family. It is spoken as a first language by more than 35 million Oromo and neighboring peoples in Ethiopia and Kenya. After their subjugation by the Abyssinians (Habesha people), their language and people were referred to by Abyssinians as well as by misinformed Europeans as Galla, but this term is no longer recognized in a modern context.
At least 99 percent of Oromo speakers live in Ethiopia, mainly in Oromia Region. In Somalia there are also about 42,000 speakers of the language. Within Ethiopia, Oromo is the first most spoken (more than 40%). Within Africa, it is the language with the fourth most speakers, after Arabic (if one counts the mutually unintelligible spoken forms of Arabic as a single language and assuming the same for the varieties of Oromo), Swahili, Hausa.
Besides first language speakers, a number of members of other ethnicities who are in contact with the Oromos speak Oromo as a second language, for example, the Omotic-speaking Bambassi and the Nilo-Saharan-speaking Kwama in northwestern Oromia.
Before the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974, publishing or broadcasting in Oromo was prohibited, and the few works that had been published, most notably Onesimos Nesib's and Aster Ganno's translation of the Bible from the late nineteenth century, were written in the Ge'ez script. Following the 1974 Revolution, the government undertook a literacy campaign in several languages, including Oromo, and publishing and radio broadcasts began in the language. All Oromo materials printed in Ethiopia at that time, such as the newspaper Barissa, were written in the traditional script.
Plans to introduce Oromo instruction in the schools, however, were not realized until the government of Mengistu Haile Mariam was overthrown in 1991, except in regions controlled by the Oromo Liberation Front. With the creation of Oromia under the new system of ethnic regions, it has been possible to introduce Oromo as the medium of instruction in elementary schools throughout the region (including areas where other ethnic groups live speaking their languages) and as a language of administration within the region.
Oromo is most commonly written with a modified Latin alphabet called Qubee, which was formally adopted in 1991, and used by the Oromo Liberation Front rebels by the late 1970's. In recent years, it is said to have been limited by the Ethiopian government. With the adoption of Qubee, it is believed more texts were written in the Oromo language between 1991 and 1997 than in the previous 100 years.
The Saphalo script was an indigenous Oromo script invented by Sheikh Bakri Saphalo (also known by his birth name, Abubaker Usman Odaa) in the years following Italian invasion of Ethiopia, and used underground afterwards . The Arabic alphabet has also been used intermittently in areas with Muslim populations.
Within Kenya there has been radio broadcasting in Oromo (in the Borana dialect) on the Voice of Kenya since at least the 1980s. The Borana Bible in Kenya was printed using the Latin alphabet, but not using the same spelling rules as in Ethiopian Qubee.
Oromo has the typical Southern Cushitic set of five short and five long vowels, indicated in the orthography by doubling the five vowel letters. The difference in length is contrastive, for example, hara 'lake', haaraa 'new'. Gemination is also significant in Oromo. That is, consonant length can distinguish words from one another, for example, badaa 'bad', baddaa 'highland'.
In the Qunee alphabet, a single "letter" consists either of a single symbol or a digraph ("ch", "dh", "ny", "ph", "sh"). Gemination is not obligatorily marked for the digraphs, though some writers indicate it by doubling the first symbol: qopphaa'uu 'be prepared'. In the charts below, the International Phonetic Alphabet symbol for a phoneme is shown in brackets where it differs from the Oromo letter. The phonemes /p/, /v/ and /z/ appear in parentheses because they are only found in recent loan words. Note that there have been minor changes in the orthography since it was first adopted: "x" (IPA [t']) was originally represented as "th", and there has been some confusion among authors in the use of "c" and "ch" in representing the phonemes /ʧ'/ and /ʧ/, with some early works using "c" for /ʧ/ and "ch" for /ʧ'/ and even "c" for different phonemes depending on where it appears in a word. This article uses "c" consistently for /ʧ'/ and "ch" for /ʧ/.
|Voiceless||(p)||t||ch /ʧ/||k||' /ʔ/|
|Ejective||ph /pʼ/||x /tʼ/||c /ʧʼ/||q /kʼ/|
|High||i /ɪ/, ii /iː/||u /ʊ/, uu /uː/|
|Mid||e /ɛ/, ee /eː/||o /ɔ/, oo /oː/|
|Low||a /ʌ/||aa /ɑː/|
Except in some southern dialects, there is nothing in the form of most nouns that indicates their gender. A small number of nouns pairs for people, however, end in -eessa (m.) and -eettii (f.), as do adjectives when they are used as nouns: obboleessa 'brother', obboleettii 'sister', dureessa 'the rich one (m.)', hiyyeettii 'the poor one (f.)'. Grammatical gender normally agrees with biological gender for people and animals; thus nouns such as abbaa 'father', ilma 'son', and sangaa 'ox' are masculine, while nouns such as haadha 'mother' and intala 'girl, daughter' are feminine. However, most names for animals do not specify biological gender.
Names of astronomical bodies are feminine: aduu 'sun', urjii 'star'. The gender of other inanimate nouns varies somewhat among dialects.
When it is important to make the plurality of a referent clear, the plural form of a noun is used. Noun plurals are formed through the addition of suffixes. The most common plural suffix is -oota; a final vowel is dropped before the suffix, and in the western dialects, the suffix becomes -ota following a syllable with a long vowel: mana 'house', manoota 'houses', hiriyaa 'friend', hiriyoota 'friends', barsiisaa 'teacher', barsiiso(o)ta 'teachers'. Among the other common plural suffixes are -(w)wan, -een, and -(a)an; the latter two may cause a preceding consonant to be doubled: waggaa 'year', waggaawwan 'years', laga 'river', laggeen 'rivers', ilma 'son', ilmaan 'sons'.
A noun may also appear in one of six other grammatical cases, each indicated by a suffix or the lengthening of the noun's final vowel. The case endings follow plural or definite suffixes if these appear. For some of the cases, there is a range of forms possible, some covering more than one case, and the differences in meaning among these alternatives may be quite subtle. Nominative
In all of these areas of the grammar — independent pronouns, possessive adjectives, possessive pronouns, and subject-verb agreement — Oromo distinguishes seven combinations of person, number, and gender. For first and second persons, there is a two-way distinction between singular ('I', 'you sg.') and plural ('we', 'you pl.'), whereas for third person, there is a two-way distinction in the singular ('he', 'she') and a single form for the plural ('they'). Because Oromo has only two genders, there is no pronoun corresponding to English it; the masculine or feminine pronoun is used according to the gender of the noun referred to.
Oromo is a subject pro-drop language. That is, neutral sentences in which the subject is not emphasized do not require independent subject pronouns: kaleessa dhufne 'we came yesterday'. The Oromo word that translates 'we' does not appear in this sentence, though the person and number are marked on the verb dhufne ('we came') by the suffix -ne. When the subject in such sentences needs to be given prominence for some reason, an independent pronoun can be used: nuti kaleessa dhufne 'we came yesterday'.
The table below gives forms of the personal pronouns in the different cases, as well as the possessive adjectives. For the first person plural and third person singular feminine categories, there is considerable variation across dialects; only some of the possibilities are shown.
The possessive adjectives, treated as separate words here, are sometimes written as noun suffixes. In most dialects there is a distinction between masculine and feminine possessive adjectives for first and second person (the form agreeing with the gender of the modified noun). However, in the western dialects, the masculine forms (those beginning with k-) are used in all cases. Possessive adjectives may take the case endings for the nouns they modify: ganda kootti 'to my village' (-tti: locative case).
|I||ana, na||ani, an||naa, naaf, natti||naan||natti||narraa|| koo, kiyya|
[too, tiyya (f.)]
|you (sg.)||si||ati||sii, siif, sitti||siin||sitti||sirraa|| kee|
|he||isa||inni||isaa, isaa(tii)f, isatti||isaatiin||isatti||isarraa||(i)saa|
|she||isii, ishii, isee, ishee||isiin, etc.||ishii, ishiif, ishiitti, etc.||ishiin, etc.||ishiitti, etc.||ishiirraa, etc.||(i)sii, (i)shii|
|we||nu||nuti, nu'i, nuy, nu||nuu, nuuf, nutti||nuun||nutti||nurraa|| "keenna",keenya|
|you (pl.)||isin||isini||isinii, isiniif, isinitti||isiniin||isinitti||isinirraa|| keessan(i)|
|they||isaan||isaani||isaanii, isaaniif, isaanitti||isaaniitiin||isaanitti||isaanirraa||(i)saani|
As in languages such as French, Russian, and Turkish, the Oromo second person plural is also used as a polite singular form, for reference to people that the speaker wishes to show respect towards. This usage is an example of the so-called T-V distinction that is made in many languages. In addition, the third person plural may be used for polite reference to a single third person (either 'he' or 'she').
For possessive pronouns ('mine', 'yours', etc.), Oromo adds the possessive adjectives to kan 'of': kan koo 'mine', kan kee 'yours', etc.
The other possibility is to use the noun meaning 'head', mataa, with possessive suffixes: mataa koo 'myself', mataa kee 'yourself (s.)', etc.
Oromo has a reciprocal pronoun wal (English 'each other') that is used like of/if. That is, it is inflected for case but not person, number, or gender: wal jaalatu 'they like each other' (base form of wal), kennaa walii bidan 'they brought each other gifts' (dative of wal).
As in many other Afro-Asiatic languages, Oromo makes a basic two-way distinction in its verb system between the two tensed forms, past (or "perfect") and present (or "imperfect" or "non-past"). Each of these has its own set of tense/agreement suffixes. There is a third conjugation based on the present which has three functions: it is used in place of the present in subordinate clauses, for the jussive ('let me/us/him, etc. V', together with the particle haa), and for the negative of the present (together with the particle hin). For example, deemne 'we went', deemna 'we go', akka deemnu 'that we go', haa deemnu 'let's go', hin deemnu 'we don't go'. There is also a separate imperative form: deemi 'go (sg.)!'.
|Main clause||Subordinate clause|
|I||-n beeke||hin beekne||-n beeka||hin beeku||-n beeku||hin beekne||haa beeku||hin beekin|
|you (sg.)||beekte||beekta||hin beektu||beektu||beeki||hin beek(i)in|
|he||beeke||beeka||hin beeku||beeku||haa beeku||hin beekin|
|she||beekte||beekti||hin beektu||beektu||haa beektu|
|we||beekne||beekna||hin beeknu||beeknu||haa beeknu|
|you (pl.)||beektani||beektu, beektan(i)||hin beektan||beektani||beekaa||hin beek(i)inaa|
|they||beekani||beeku, beekan(i)||hin beekan||beekani||haa beekanu||hin beekin|
For verbs with stems ending in certain consonants and suffixes beginning with consonants (that is, t or n), there are predictable changes to one or the other of the consonants. The dialects vary a lot in the details, but the following changes are common.
|b- + -t → bd||qabda 'you (sg.) have'|
|g- + -t → gd||dhugda 'you (sg.) drink'|
|r- + -n → rr||barra 'we learn'|
|l- + -n → ll||galla 'we enter'|
|q- + -t → qx||dhaqxa 'you (sg.) go'|
|s- + -t → ft||baas- 'take out', baafta 'you (sg.) take out'|
|s- + -n → fn||baas- 'take out', baafna 'we take out'|
|t-/d-/dh-/x- + -n → nn||bitti 'buy', binna 'we buy'; nyaadhaa 'eat', nyaanna 'we eat'|
|d- + -t → dd||fid- 'bring', fidda 'you (sg.) bring'|
|dh- + -t → tt||taphadh- 'play', taphatta 'you (sg.) play'|
|x- + -t → xx||fix- 'finish', fixxa 'you (sg.) finish'|
Verbs whose stems end in the consonant ' (which may appear as h, w, or y in some words, depending on the dialect) belong to three different conjugation classes; the class is not predictable from the verb stem. It is the forms that precede suffixes beginning with consonants (t and n) that differ from the usual pattern. The third person masculine singular, second person singular, and first person plural present forms are shown for an example verb in each class.
The common verbs fedh- 'want' and godh- 'do' deviate from the basic conjugation pattern in that long vowels replace the geminated consonants that would result when suffixes beginning with t or n are added: fedha 'he wants', feeta 'you (sg.) want', feena 'we want', feetu 'you (pl.) want', hin feene 'didn't want', etc.
The verb dhuf- 'come' has the irregular imperatives koottu, koottaa. The verb deem- 'go' has, alongside regular imperative forms, the irregular imperatives beenu, beenaa.
The voice suffixes can be combined in various ways. Two causative suffixes are possible: ka'- 'go up', kaas- 'pick up', kaasis- 'cause to pick up'. The causative may be followed by the passive or the autobenefactive; in this case the s of the causative is replaced by f: deebi'- 'return (intransitive)', deebis- 'return (transitive), answer', deebifam- 'be returned, be answered', deebifadh- 'get back for oneself'.
Another derived verbal aspect is the frequentative or "intensive," formed by copying the first consonant and vowel of the verb root and geminating the second occurrence of the initial consonant. The resulting stem indicates the repetition or intensive performance of the action of the verb. Examples: bul- 'spend the night', bubbul- 'spend several nights', cab- 'break', caccab- 'break to pieces, break completely'; dhiib- 'push, apply pressure', dhiddhiib- 'massage'.
The infinitive is formed from a verb stem with the addition of the suffix -uu. Verbs whose stems end in -dh (in particular all autobenefactive verbs) change this to ch before the suffix. Examples: dhug- 'drink', dhuguu 'to drink'; ga'- 'reach', ga'uu 'to reach'; jedh- 'say', jechu 'to say'. The verb fedh- is exceptional; its infinitive is fedhuu rather than the expected fechuu. The infinitive behaves like a noun; that is, it can take any of the case suffixes. Examples: ga'uu 'to reach', ga'uuf 'in order to reach' (dative case); dhug- 'drink', dhugam- 'be drunk', dhugamuu to be drunk', dhugamuudhaan 'by being drunk' (instrumental case).
The Mining Association of Canada MAC contributes once again to the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation NAAF.
Dec 08, 2011; During its annual Mining Day on the Hill event, the Mining Association of Canada made a $2500 contribution to the National...