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Yem language

Native toEthiopia
RegionOromia Region & SNNPR
Native speakers
92,000 (2007 census)[1]
  • Fuga
Ethiopic, Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3jnj

Yemsa is the language of the Yem people of the former Kingdom of Yamma, known as the Kingdom of Janjero traditionally. It is a member of the Omotic group of languages, most closely related to Kafa. It is distinctive in having different systems of vocabulary depending on social status, rather like Japanese and Javanese. The estimated number of speakers varies wildly from about 1000 (Bender, 1976) to half a million (Aklilu, 1993).

Yemsa is the main language spoken in Yem special woreda, SNNPR.

The Fuga dialect is distinct enough to perhaps be a different language.

Sample verb forms

  • zagín - I do
  • zaginí - we do
  • zagít - you (singular) do
  • zagí - he does
  • zagì - she does



  1. ^ Ethiopia 2007 Census
  2. ^ African Languages: An Introduction, edited by Bernd Heine & Derek Nurse, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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Yem language
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