Zay

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A language of Ethiopia

Alternate Names
Gelilla, Lak’i, Laqi, Zway
Population

4,880 (1994 SIL), decreasing. Ethnic population: 4,880.

Location

Oromiya Region, Lake Zway shores and east islands.

Language Status

6b (Threatened).

Dialects

Lexical similarity: 61% with Harari [har], 70% with Silt’e [stv] (M. L. Bender 1971).

Language Use

Use of Zay is decreasing due to migration from the islands (the traditional homeland) to the lakeshore, where they become Oromo [orm] speakers. Oromo is also taught in island schools. Speaker number decrease also attributed to dominant role of Amharic [amh] (Dimmendaal and Voeltz 2007). Island children learn Zay; lakeshore children learn Oromo [orm]. Also use Amharic [amh].

Language Development
Grammar.
Writing
Unwritten.
Other Comments

Zway refers to the lake and town. Ethnic autonym: Zay; Lak’i (Laqi) is the Oromo name for the people.