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Hadiyya language

Native toEthiopia
RegionHadiya Zone of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region
Native speakers
1,300,000 (2007 census)[1]
  • Hadiyya
  • Soro
  • Leemo
Latin, Ge’ez
Language codes
ISO 639-3hdy
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Hadiyya (speakers call it Hadiyyisa, others sometimes call it Hadiyigna, Adiya, Adea, Adiye, Hadia, Hadiya, Hadya) is the language of the Hadiya people of Ethiopia. It is a Highland East Cushitic language of the Afroasiatic family. Most speakers live in the Hadiya Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR).[2]

The closely related Libido language, located just to the north in the Mareko district of Gurage Zone, is very similar lexically, but has significant morphological differences. Hadiyya has a set of complex consonant phonemes consisting of a glottal stop and a sonorant: /ʔr/, /ʔj/, /ʔw/, /ʔl/.

In their book (English version 1999), Braukämper and Mishago compiled a reasonably sized collection of the presently vanishing art of traditional songs of Hadiyya. The lyrics adhere to the strict rule of Hadiyya traditional poetry where rhythmical rhyming occurs at the beginning of the verse.[3]

The New Testament of the Christian Bible has been translated into Hadiyya, published by the Bible Society of Ethiopia in 1993. It was originally produced using the traditional Ethiopic syllabary. A later printing used the Latin alphabet.[citation needed]



Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar Glottal
voiceless t k ʔ
voiced b d g
ejective tʃʼ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced z
Nasal voiced m n
preglottal ʔm ʔn
Rhotic r
Approximant voiced w l j
preglottal ʔl
  • /r/ can be heard as either a flap [ɾ] or a trill [r].
  • Gemination can occur in most consonants word-medially, except for /r, z, h, ʔ/.[4]


Front Central Back
Close i iː u uː
Mid e eː o oː
Open a aː


The Hadiyya (Hadiyyisa) language alphabet [5]
Letter Name
A a [a] mato (one), Waa’aa (God)
B b [ba] baxo (work), lobakata (much, many)
C c [tʃ’a] maceesee (hear me), cawoomoo (I’ll be silent)
CH ch [tʃa] manchoo (man), heechaa (life)
D d [da] daddaraanchoo (merchant), danaamoo (good, beautiful)
E e [e] neesee (us), eranee (well, good)
F f [fa] hoffanee (small), fatakimaa or fatahimaa (to release)
G g [ga] gatisima (to save, to secure), gaga (self)
H h [ha] hasee (find it), halichoo (donkey)
I i [i] iihanee (mine), hinkid (how)
J j [dʒa] joraa (bad), jagara (small residence usually next to a bigger one)
K k [ka] ka (‘you’ for male), kuk (this)
L l [la] lelee (play), laroo (cows)
M m [ma] ma’ccee (ear), maree (go)
N n [na] nafaraa (meadow in front area), neesee (us)
NY ny [ɲa] adapted for loan words such as "sanyo" (monday) of Amharic
O o [o] meenticcoo (woman or the woman), woroon (below)
P p [pa] adapted for loan words such as "politics" from English, and "police" from Amharic/English. However, monolingual Hadiya actually change the sound to [ba] in their speech
PH ph [p’a] aphisee (hit it), ccoophaaroo’o (food – minsed meat/greens in butter & spices)
Q q [k’a] qoxaraa (strong), ha’qaa (wood)
R r [ra] hurbaata (food), woro’nee (in)
S s [sa] lasagee (later), so’oo (barley)
SH sh [ʃa] shokkiissoohanee (hot, burning), bashillaa (far)
T t [ta] diinatee (money or cattle), matayanoo (being busy)
TS ts [s’a] adapted for loan words such as ‘tsom’ (fasting) of Amharic
U u [u] Uulla (earth or one’s plot/plat), hundam (all of it)
V v [va] adapted for loan words such as ‘university’ of English
W w [wa] weeraa (cedar tree), wo’oo (water)
X x [t’a] wiximaa (seeding), iix (he)
Y y [ya] iiyyimaa (carrying), malayyee (strength, force)
Z z [za] zara (race or ethnic group)
ZH zh [ʒa] adapted for loan words such as ‘gezhii’ (governor) of Amharic
‘ (no allograph) [ʔa] ki’aakka’a (rising), liira’imito’oo (they rejoiced)


  1. ^ Ethiopia 2007 Census
  2. ^ Simons, Gary F. and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2018. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-first edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version:
  3. ^ Braukämper, Ulrich and Tilahun Mishago. 1999. Praise and Teasing: Narrative Songs of the Hadiyya in Southern Ethiopia. Frankfurt: Frobenius Institute. Page 116 has a good map of Hadiyya dialects and locations.
  4. ^ Garkebo, Tadesse Sibamo (2014). Documentation and Description of Hadiyya (A Highland East Cushitic Language of Ethiopia). Addis Ababa University.
  5. ^ Binyam Sisay Mendisu & Janne Bondi Johannessen (eds.) Multilingual Ethiopia: Linguistic Challenges and Capacity Building Efforts, Oslo Studies in Language 8(1), 2016. 201–218. (ISSN 1890-9639)
  6. ^ Hadiyya (Hadiyyisa) Language Orthography – Alphabet and Writing. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from


  • Korhonen, Elsa, Mirja Saksa, and Ronald J. Sim. 1986. "A dialect study of Kambaata-Hadiyya (Ethiopia) [part 1]." Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere 5: 5-41.
  • Korhonen, Elsa, Mirja Saksa, and Ronald J. Sim. 1986. "A dialect study of Kambaata-Hadiyya (Ethiopia), part 2: Appendices." Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere 6: 71-121.
  • Leslau, Wolf. 1985. The liquid l in Hadiyya and West Gurage. Mélanges linguistiques offerts à Maxime Rodinson (Comptes rendus du groupe linguistique d’études chamito-sémitiques supplément 12), 231-238. Paris: Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner.
  • Perrett, Denise Lesley. 1993. The switch-reference phenomena in Hadiyya: A labelled deductive system perspective, M.A. thesis, Univ. of London.
  • Perrett, Denise Lesley. 2000. The dynamics of tense construal in Hadiyya, Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. of London.
  • Plazikowsky-Brauner, Herma. 1960. Die Hadiya-Sprache. Rassegna di Studi Etiopici 16.38-76.
  • Plazikowsky-Brauner, Herma. 1961. Texte der Hadiya-Sprache. Rassegna di Studi Etiopici 17.83-115.
  • Plazikowsky-Brauner, Herma. 1964. Wörterbuch der Hadiya-Sprache. Rassegna di Studi Etiopici 20.133-182.
  • Sim, Ronald J. 1985. "The morphological structure of some main verb forms in Hadiyya." In The verb morphophonemics of five highland east Cushitic languages, including Burji, 10-43. Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere, 2. Cologne: Institut für Afrikanistik.
  • Sim, Ronald J. 1988. "Violations of the two-consonant constraint in Hadiyya." African Languages and Cultures 1: 77-90.
  • Sim, Ronald J. 1989. Predicate conjoining in Hadiyya: a head-driven PS grammar. Ph.D. thesis. University of Edinburgh.
  • Stinson, D. Lloyd. 1976. Hadiyya. In Language in Ethiopia, M. L. Bender et al., eds., 148-154. London: Oxford University Press.
  • Tadese Sibamo Garkebo. 2015. Documentation and Description of Hadiyya. Addis Ababa University doctoral dissertation. Web access
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Hadiyya language
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