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). Population total all countries: 219,000. 88,200 monolinguals. L2 users: 4,380 in Ethiopia.


Binshangul Gumuz, Amara, and Oromiya states, 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).

Language Status

5 (Developing).


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

Limited comprehension of Eastern Oromo [hae].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: Below 1%. Literacy rate in L2: 6%. NT: 2003.

Ethiopic script [Ethi], no longer in use. Latin script [Latn], used since 2007, official usage.

Other Comments

Connections between villages for intermarriage and trade. Traditional religion.

Also spoken in:

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