A language of Ethiopia

Alternate Names
Barta, Bela-Shangul, Bela-Shanguru, Bertha, Burta, Funj, Jebelawi, Rotana, Wetawit

213,500 in Ethiopia, all users. L1 users: 197,000 in Ethiopia (2007 census), increasing. L2 users: 16,500. 99,700 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 199,000 (2007 census). Total users in all countries: 393,500 (as L1: 377,000; as L2: 16,500).


Benishangul-Gumuz region: Blue Nile river and Sudan border corner north of Asosa; Dalati, Sirba Abay area east of Dabus river; Matahara east.

Language Status

4 (Educational).


Shuru, Bake, Undu, Mayu, Fadashi (Fedashe), Dabuso. May be more than one language with Dabuso as the more distant dialect (2017 S. Neudorf).


SVO, but flexible to be OVS, depending on discourse; prepositions.noun head initial; tonal (lexical and grammatical); marked-nominative system; case-marking for dative and genitive (plus tone change for genitive), tone change for nominative; verbs marked for tense/aspect; passive, causative; reciprocal, directional.

Language Use

All domains, except for religion (which is in Arabic [arb]). Used by all. Positive attitudes. Also use Amharic [amh], Oromo [orm]. Used as L2 by Gwama [kmq], Komo [xom], Màwés Aasʼè [myf].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: 10%. Taught in primary schools in grades 1–4 as the medium of instruction. Taught in secondary schools in grades 5–9 as subject. Grade 10 mother tongue subject curriculum being developed in 2018. Literature. Dictionary.


Latin script [Latn].

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