Description and Documentation of the Nayi Language

Author: Yohannes Adigeh Gelaw (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia)
Speaker: Yohannes Adigeh Gelaw
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


The main purpose of this project is to describe and document one of the least known and highly endangered languages of Ethiopia, Nayi language. The Nayi (Nao’) language belongs to the Majoid (Dizoid) subgroup of the Omotic language family. Most of the speakers of this language live in the villages Goba, Gushi, Angela-Menesh, and Udadish of the Decha Wereda (district) under the Kafa administrative zone. The capital of the zone and currently the Southwest Ethiopia region is Bonga.

Among others the reasons of the endangerment of Nayi are the negative attitude of the speakers towards their own language and the super positive attitude towards Kafa language called Kafi Noonoo. The inter-marriage practice between Nayi and Kafa is more common and the Nayi speaker swiftly switches his/her language into the Kafa mate. Due to this fact, there is a clear lack of transferability of the language into the new generations of the linguistic group. The current language policy of the region and the zone, which promotes the dominant language Kafa, aggravates the risk to extinction to Nayi. Hence, in this project using an emersion of fieldwork, words, phrases, clauses and sentences were elicited and described. Various genres of stories were collected and analyzed as a text. This task results in a simple pedagogical grammar where new insights and unknown language features are identified.

Keywords: Nayi language, endangered language, Ethiopia, Kafi Noonoo.