A language of Ethiopia

Alternate Names
Bega, Bega-Tse, Debatsa, Debuga, Dehenda, Gombo, Gumis, Gumuzinya, Mendeya, “Shankilligna” (pej.), “Shankillinya” (pej.), “Shanqilla” (pej.), Sigumza

179,000 in Ethiopia (2007 census). 88,200 monolinguals. Population total all countries: 219,000.


Metemma area on Sudan border south through Gondar and Gojjam; along Blue Nile and south into Wellaga and Didessa valley up to Leqemt-Gimbi road; southwest of Addis Ababa, Welqite area villages (possibly 1,000). Also in Sudan.

Language Status

4 (Educational).


Agalo, Dibate, Guba, Mandura, Metemma, Sirba, Wenbera, Yaso. Noticeable dialect differences, and not all dialects are inherently intelligible. Mandura, Dibate, and Metemma form a distinct dialect subgroup.


SVO; verb affixes show person, number of subject, first plural inclusive and exclusive; tonal, 3 tones

Language Use

4,379 L2 speakers. Limited comprehension of Eastern Oromo [hae].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: Below 1%. Literacy rate in L2: 6%. NT: 2003.
Ethiopic script, no longer in use. Latin script, used since 2007, official usage.
Other Comments

Connections between villages for intermarriage and trade. Traditional religion, Muslim, Christian.

Also spoken in:

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