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Burji language

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ቡረጊ‎ (Burji)
Native toEthiopia, Kenya
RegionSouth of Lake Chamo
EthnicityBurji people
Native speakers
83,000 (2007 & 2019 censuses)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3bji

Burji language (alternate names: Bembala, Bambala, Daashi) is an Afro-Asiatic language spoken by the Burji people who reside in Ethiopia south of Lake Chamo. There are over 49,000 speakers in Ethiopia, and a further 36,900 speakers in Kenya. Burji belongs to the Highland East Cushitic group of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family.[1]

The language has the SOV (subject–object–verb) word order common to the Cushitic family. The verb morphology distinguishes passive and middle grammatical voice, as well as causative. Verbal suffixes mark the person, number, and gender of the subject.

The New Testament was published in the Burji language in 1993. A collection of Burji proverbs, translated into English, French, and Swahili, is available on the Web.[2]

Numerals 1-1000

  • 1. micha
  • 2. lama
  • 3. fadiya
  • 4. foola
  • 5. umutta
  • 6. liya
  • 7. lamala
  • 8. hiditta
  • 9. wonfa
  • 10. tanna
  • 11. Tannaya micha
  • 12. Tannaya lama
  • 13. Tannaya fadiya
  • 14. Tannaya foola
  • 15. Tannaya umutta
  • 16. Tannaya liya
  • 17. Tannaya lamala
  • 18. Tannaya hiditta
  • 19. Tannaya wonfa
  • 20. Lamattann
  • 30. Fadiitann
  • 40. Foolattan
  • 50. Umuttan
  • 60. Liittan
  • 70. Lamalattan
  • 80. Hidittan
  • 90. Wonfattan
  • 100. Ch'ibba.
  • 1,000. Kuma


Word order

Dhaashatee is a head-final language, which means that modifiers come before the main noun in the noun phrase. Dependent clauses come before independent clauses, while relative clauses come before the nouns they modify. The basic word order at the sentence-level is SOV, as in other HEC languages.[3]

Relative clauses

Relative clauses in Burji (Dhaashatee) are not formally marked but they can be recognized from main clauses by having more than one completely inflected verb in a non-final position. In contrast, in a “regular” main clause with multiple verbs, all but the last one takes a converb suffix. Other types of subordinate clauses are marked by complementizers or subordinate conjunctions.

An examples of a relative clause is given  below. Dhogoli functions as the subject of both the relative clause and the main clause.

Lama  lasa    eegadh-i    dhab-ann-oo     dhogol-i          aaree-shini

two      day          wait -CVB       loose-PST-CON     leopard-SNOM.M/ABS     anger-INS.F

gal-i=k'aa        akkarraga        isheek-koo              mar-ann-oo.

return-CVB=FOC        evening           POSS.3SG.F-ADE             go-PST-CON

Translation: ‘Having lost two days waiting, the leopard returned furiously, and in the evening, he went to her house.


  1. ^ a b Burji at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Angelique Chelo. 2016. A COLLECTION OF 100 BURJI PROVERBS AND WISE SAYINGS. Web Access Archived 2021-10-30 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Wedekind, Klaus. 1990. Generating Narratives – Interrelations of Knowledge, Text Variants, and Cushitic Focus Strategies. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.


This article includes a list of references, related reading, or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please help improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (February 2024) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
  • Amborn, Hermann, and Alexander Kellner. 1999. "Burji Vocabulary of Cultural Items. An Insight into Burji culture. Based on the field notes of Helmut Straube," Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere 58: 5-67.
  • Sasse, Hans-Jürgen. 1982. An Etymological Dictionary of Burji (Kuschitische Sprachstudien 1). Hamburg: Buske. ISBN 3871185612
  • Sasse, Hans-Jürgen and Helmut Straube. 1977. "Kultur und Sprache der Burji," Süd-Aethiopien: Ein Abriss, Zur Sprachgeschichte und Ethnohistorie in Afrika. Ed. Wilhelm J. G. Moehlig, Franz Rottland and Bernd Heine. Berlin. Pages 239–266.
  • Wedekind, Charlotte. 1985. "Burji verb morphology and morphophonemics," The verb morphophonemics of five highland east Cushitic languages, including Burji. Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere 2. Cologne: Institut für Afrikanistik. Pages 110–145.
  • Wedekind, Klaus. 1980. "Sidamo, Darasa (Gedeo), Burji: phonological differences and likenesses," Journal of Ethiopian Studies 14:131-176.

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Burji language
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