Endangered Languages Archive

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Documentation of Ongota

Documentation of Ongota

Language: Ongota [bxe]

Depositor: Graziano Savà

Location: Ethiopia

Summary of deposit

Ongota (ISO-639: bxe) is spoken in an Ethiopian village in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), South Omo zone, west bank of Weyt’o river. It is reported to have fewer than 15 speakers, with many having abandoned the language for Tsamai (ISO-6369 tsb); it is thus severely endangered. Ongota is popularly seen as an Afro-Asiatic language, with Ts’amakko as the only possible contact language, but as yet it remains formally unclassified. It is likely a language isolate.

Investigating the origins of Ongota and its community will provide important insight into African linguistic diversity and history. The documentation of Ongota aims at the production, processing and archiving of video and audio recordings of the language. Part of the collection will be annotated. Grammar and vocabulary will also be left with the community.

Group represented

Ongota speakers of Ethiopia.

Language information

Ongota is the traditional language of a hunter-gatherer community in Ethiopia. It is being abandoned in favour of neighbouring Ts’amakko (Cushitic) and is only spoken by Ongota elders. The language defies classification and is considered an isolate.
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