Soddo language

region=Gurage Zone, Southern Region

Soddo (autonym "kəstane" "Christian"; formerly called Aymälläl in Western sources, after a particular dialect of it) is a Gurage language spoken by about 300,000 people in southeastern Ethiopia. It is a South Ethiopian Semitic language of the Northern Gurage subfamily.



As in most Ethiopian languages, noun qualifiers generally precede the noun.

The definite article is expressed by the suffix "-i", e.g.: "goš" "boy" > "goš-i" "the boy"; "ätit" "sister" > "ätiti" "the sister"; "bayyočč" "children" > "bayyočč-i". If the noun ends in "-a" or "-ä", it normally loses this vowel when "-i" is suffixed: "angačča" "cat" > "angačč-i" "the cat". A noun ending in "-i" usually stays the same: "abi" "(the) father, proprietor". A noun ending in "-e, -o, -u" adds a "y" before the suffix: "ge" "house" > "geʸi" "the house"; "wälläho" "neighbor" > "wällähoʸi" "the neighbor". If the noun has a qualifier, the article is used with the first element: "maläk' ge" "big house" > "maläk'-i ge" "the big house"; "yä-šum-i ge" "the house of the official" (lit. "of-official-the house"); "yä-mät't'-i məss" "the man who came" (lit. "who-came-the man".)

There is no real indefinite article, though indefiniteness can be expressed by preposing the word "attə" or "k'una", meaning "one".

Nouns have two genders, masculine and feminine, which affect verb concord.

Nouns which are definite objects (direct or indirect) are both marked with the prefix "yä-" or "nä-": e.g. "yä-geʸi ažžo" "he saw the house"; "yä-zämmihʷan abännət" "he gave it to his brother" (lit. "to-his-brother he-gave-him"). Direct objects may additionally be marked by adding the object suffix pronouns to the verb: e.g. "yabiddi täšakkunnət" "I asked my father" (lit. "my-father-obj. I-asked-him".)

A possessed noun is marked by the prefix "yä-", and the possessor precedes the possessed: "yä-šum-i ge" "the house of the official" (lit. "of-official-the house"). If the possessed noun has a preposition prefixed to it, this "yä-" is omitted: "babiddi färäz" rather than *"bä-yä-abiddi färäz" for "on my father's horse".


Personal pronoun

In the past and future, it is expressed just like the copula, with "näbbärä" and "honä". In subordinate clauses the present is expressed with "-allä" conjugated in the perfect (negative "-lellä"), eg: "bämeda yalləmi säbočč araš näm" "the people who are in the field are farmers".

The possessive verb "he has" etc. is expressed with the existential verb "yino" "it is" (agreeing with the object possessed) plus object suffix pronouns (ie "it is to him" etc.)


A Soddo verb may have anywhere from one to four consonants, or may be a compound with "balo" "say" (eg "bək'k' balo" "appear".) In the former case, they fall into three "conjugations" differing in their vowels and in gemination of the imperfect, illustrated for a three-consonant verb:
* "säbbäro", imperfect "yəsäbru" ("break")
* "tikkälo", imperfect "yətikkəlu"
* "č'affäro", imperfect "yəč'affəru"

Derived stems can be formed in several ways:
* reduplicative: eg "gäddälo" "kill" > "gədaddälo". This form has a wide variety of meanings, mostly intensifying the verb in some way.
* passive/reflexive/intransitive "tä-" prefix: eg "käffälo" "pay" > "tä-käffälo" "be paid". A reciprocal action can be expressed by this prefix attached to a transitive verb with the vowel "a" after the first radical, or a reduplicative form, eg "tä-gäddäl-mun" or "tä-gdaddäl-mun" "they killed each other".
* causative or transitive of intransitive verbs "a-": eg "säkkäro" "be drunk" > "a-säkkäro" "get someone drunk"; "näddädo" "burn (intr.)" > "a-näddädo" "burn (tr.)".
* causative of transitive or passive verbs "at-" (+ "-i-"): eg "käddäno" "cover" > "at-kiddäno" "cause to cover" or "cause to be covered". Added to the "-a-" form, it expresses reciprocity and adjutative (helping): "atgaddälo" "cause to kill one other" or help to kill".
* Some verbs are formed with initial "ən-" or "tän-"; the only derived stem from these is the "a-" stem, with "a-" replacing "ə-" or "tä-". Eg "ənkrättäto" "be bent" > "ankrättäto" "bend".

There are two tenses, perfect (past) and imperfect (non-past); each has distinct forms for main versus subordinate clauses, and positive versus negative. There are also distinct jussive, imperative, and impersonal forms.



Examples: "ahoññ yəmät'a timäsəl" "it does not seem that he will come today"; "ädahʷan t-aykäfəl alläfo" "he left without paying his debt".

Jussive and Imperative

These are negated by the prefix "ay-": "ayəsfär", "ayšäkkət", "aygalb". The 2nd person forms then change to conform to the others: "attəsfär", "attəsfer", "attəsfärəm", "attəsfärma".

Eg: "yä-wäzälawan-hom yewsəd" "let him take according to his work"; "yäsäb waga attəlgäd" "don't touch someone's property"; "ärəf-əm tona" "rest and sit down" (sit down quietly).


* Gustavo Bianchi, "Alla terra dei Galla". Milano ¹1884, ²1886, ³1896.
* Cohen, Marcel, "Etudes d'éthiopien méridional". Paris: Geuthner 1931.
* E. Haberland, "Bemerkungen zur Kultur und Sprache der «Galila» im Wonč'i-See (Mittel-Äthiopien)", in: "Rassegna di studi etiopici" 16 (1960), pp. 5-22.
* Gideon Goldenberg, "Kəstanəñña: Studies in a Northern Gurage Language of Christians", in: "Orientalia Suecana" 17 (1968), 61-102 [=Gideon Goldenberg, "Studies in Semitic Linguistics", The Magnes Press: Jerusalem 1998 ISBN 965-223-992-5] .
* Gideon Goldenberg, "L'étude du gouragué et la comparaison chamito-sémitique", in: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Roma - "Problemi attuali di Scienza e di Cultura", Quad. N. 191 II (1974), pp. 235-249 [="Studies in Semitic Linguistics", pp. 463-477] .
* Gideon Goldenberg, [ "The Semitic Languages of Ethiopia and Their Classification"] , in: "Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies" 40 (1977), pp. 461-507. [="Studies in Semitic Linguistics", pp. 286-332] .
* Gideon Goldenberg, "Linguistic Interest in Gurage and the Gurage Etymological Dictionary" [Review article of Wolf Leslau (1979)] , in: "Annali, Istituto Universitario Orientale di Napoli" 47 (1987), pp. 75-98. [="Studies in Semitic Linguistics", pp. 439-462] .
* Gideon Goldenberg, "Two points of Kəstane grammar", in: Grover Hudson (ed.), "Essays on Gurage language and culture : dedicated to Wolf Leslau on the occasion of his 90th birthday, November 14th, 1996", Harrassowitz: Wiesbaden 1996 (ISBN 3-447-03830-6), pp. 93-99.
* Wolf Leslau, "Ethiopians speak : Studies in cultural background, III. Soddo". Near Eastern Studies, 11. Berkeley: University of California Press 1968.
* Wolf Leslau, "Etymological Dictionary of Gurage (Ethiopic)". 3 vols. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 1979. ISBN 3-447-02041-5.
* Wolf Leslau, "Gurage Studies: Collected Articles", Otto Harrasowitz: Wiesbaden 1992. ISBN 3-447-03189-1
* Johannes Mayer, "Kurze Wörtersammlung in Englisch, Deutsch, Amharisch, Gallansich, Guraguesch", herausgegeben von Dr. L. Krapf. Basel: Pilgermissions-Buchdruckerei St. Grischona 1878.
* Franz Praetorius, "Ueber den Dialekt von Gurāguē", in: "Die amharische Sprache", Halle 1879, pp. 507-523 (second appendix).
* Robert Hetzron, [ "Main Verb-Markers in Northern Gurage"] , in: "Africa" XXXVIII (1968), pp. 156-172.
* "yä-Kəstane Gurage əmmät (həzb) tarik". Addis Ababa 1986 (Ethiopian calendar).

External links

* [ Christian recordings in Soddo] in [ Global Recordings] website.

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