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.


Benishangul-Gumuz, Amhara, Oromia regions: Metemma area on Sudan border south through Gonder and Metekel zones; along Blue Nile south into Wellaga and Didessa valley up to Neqemt-Gimbi road; southwest of Addis Ababa, Welqite area villages (possibly 1,000).

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

Limited comprehension of Eastern Oromo [hae].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: 6%. Taught in primary schools in grades 1–4 as the medium of instruction, in grades 5–6 as a subject. NT: 2003.

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

Other Comments

Traditional religion.

Also spoken in:

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