Oromo, West Central


A language of Ethiopia

Alternate Names
Afan Oromo, Oromiffa, Oromoo, “Galla” (pej.)
Afaan Oromoo

8,920,000 (1994 census). 24,900,000 all Oromo speakers in Ethiopia (2007 census). Ethnic population: 30,000,000.



Language Status

2 (Provincial). Statutory provincial working language in Oromia Region (1994, Constitution, Article 47(3)). West Central Oromo [gaz] is lingua franca of the area.


Western Oromo, Central Oromo. Subdialects are Mecha (Maccha, Wellaga, Wallaga, Wollega), Raya, Wello (Wollo), and Tulema (Tulama, Shoa, Shewa). Harar and Borana are most divergent. A member of macrolanguage Oromo [orm].


SOV; postpositions; gender (masculine/feminine); case-marking (7 cases); verb affixes mark person, number, gender of subject; passives (active, middle, passive); tense and aspect; 25 consonant and 10 vowel phonemes; pitch accent.

Language Use

Also use Amharic [amh]. Used as L2 by Gwama [kmq], Hozo [hoz], Komo [xom], Màwés Aasʼè [myf], Seze [sze].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: 22%. Also taught as a major at the university level. Taught in primary schools as medium of instruction in grades 1–10. Literature. Newspapers. Radio. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1899–1998.


Ethiopic script [Ethi], used until 1990s. Latin script [Latn], used since 1990s.

Other Comments

In Ethiopia, Oromo is viewed as one people who speak one language. Traditional religion, Christian, Muslim.

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