First International Conference on Omotic Studies December 12-13, 2017

The first International Conference onOmotic Studies December 12-13, 2017

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, in collaboration with Omotic Center of the Wolaitta Sodo University, African Studies Centre Leiden University, the Academy of Ethiopian Languages and Cultures and the Department of Linguistics at Addis Ababa University, will organize the 1st international conference on Omotic Languages and Cultures on 20 and 21 of October 2017. The conference will be held at the Wolaitta Sodo University. Peer reviewed original research papers will be presented. All interested are invited to submit research papers on one of the following themes or on other topics relevant to the field:

Keynote address: - by Professor Richard Hayward J.

Theme 1. Papers on lexical items (or lexicography).

In this session 3-4 presentations can be included. These will discuss in detail lexical items, derivational processes and (where possible) coining of new terms on selected semantic fields or thematic topics. Papers on comparison of any of the topics below within a specific branch of Omotic would be interesting.

Relevance: Given the shared linguistic and social history of people in Omotic-speaking areas, the session would help us identify correspondences and contribute to refined discussions on classification.

The topics could include:

  1. Body part terms and their semantic connotations. E.g. ‘foot’ is often related to ‘down there’, ‘under (neath)’ whereas ‘head’ is often ‘up there’, ‘on top’ or ‘something on higher altitude’. Description of these based on natural, spontaneous text and wherever possible explanations of such conceptual relations.
  2. Names and variations of seasons. Naming of parts of a day and/or days of the week. Terminology on ecological or natural knowledge.
  3. Vocabulary on local technology and production processes: for example names and functions of farming and (house) construction equipment. Who are the people that make them and what is their social position? How and from what material do they make them?

Theme 2. Formulaic Speech

Papers for this session will discuss the form, contents and social meanings of expressions used when joining or parting from family, neighbors or relatives. There may be special social or personal circumstances that initiate specific greeting or leave-taking expressions. E.g. a sick person, a woman who gave birth.

Relevance: Often these are short, idiomatic expressions which might be similar across cultures. (Comparative) papers on these might reflect the social link and shared values of different speech communities.

Themes that can be included:

  1. Greetings and leave taking
  2. Blessing (on success, child birth, wedding, etc)
  3. Prayers
  4. Expressions of empathy (e.g. during mourning, accident, etc)

Theme 3. Social networks

  1. Cultural songs like geressa or geretsa, customs of group labour like dabo or idder, andceremonial establishment of lasting friendship known by different names in different area (e.g. beella, jaala ) are wide-spread in southern (and western) Ethiopia. However, little study is made about the content, form and performance of geretsa among speakers of Omotic languages and about the linguistic and cultural aspects of dabo/idder and beella/jaala customs.. Papers that deal with these aspects can be discussed in this session.

Relevance: Geressa and other forms of verbal art receive less and less chance of performance due to new social circumstances such as the spread of education and global-religion. However, as most researchers confirm these forms of verbal art still have social appeal. Their impact on social bonding and aesthetics is still appreciated and talked about with enthusiasm. Engaged academic discussion and perhaps staged performances during the conference would be interesting to both researchers and speech-communities.

Possible topics or themes for papers:

  1. Geretsa and praise songs in a single language or comparison across languages
  2. Dabo and idder
  3. Customs of beella, jaala and exchange of gifts


Theme 4. Social classification

The session can contain papers on the social division of a single speech community or comparison of two or more speech communities. Customs and terminology that are related to division of family members based on age and gender can be discussed here (e.g. in several Omotic languages different names are used to refer to siblings based on their age and there are family and social obligations related to this.) Papers dealing with grouping of relations into clan and especially comparison of such terms among various languages would be interesting as contributions that would help us understand how different groups are linked through cross-cultural marriage, exchange, inclusion and exclusion.

Relevance: This session will enable us to address the functions of respect and responsibility through the above-mentioned social relations and shades of (informal) stratification. It will also highlight problems of social equity, stemming from processes of differentiation, exclusion and inclusion. While a number of progressive changes have occurred over the past 40-50 years regarding clan and caste distinction, participants will be able to raise questions and offer analysis of how societies manage ongoing changes.

Possible themes for papers:

  1. Clan names and their correspondences across Ometo and OmoticCaste systems and recent developments due to government intervention, education and religion


Possible topics:

-Extracting guiding text from local stories

-Problems in dictionary making practices (methodology)

  • Abstract should not exceed 500 words and the organizing committee recommends you to send your abstract and final paper both in word and Pdf formats.
  • For local participants, honorarium, transportation costs and accommodation will be covered by the organizing institutions.
  • For few selected international presenters, the organizing institutions will give scholarship. With first comes first policy.

Submission Guidelines

The abstract should contain:

ü  Title of paper

ü  Author’s name, affiliation, Tel no.

ü  E-mail address


Abstract submission date: August 7, 2107

Draft Presentation Paper date September 20, 2017

Power Point submission date October 5, 2017

Abstract sending e-mail addresses: -,  

For further information call:                         0911049411, 0912181490


NB: The conference language is English


NB: the conference language is English

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