Oromo is a Cushitic language spoken by about 30 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Egypt, and it is the third largest language in Africa. The Oromo people are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and account for more than 40% of the population. They can be found all over Ethiopia, and particularly in Wollega, Shoa, Illubabour, Jimma, Arsi, Bale, Hararghe, Wollo, Borana and the southwestern part of Gojjam.
Until the 1970s Oromo was written with either the Ge'ez script or the Latin alphabet. Then during the early 1970s the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) chose the Latin alphabet as the official alphabet to write Oromo. Between 1974 and 1991 under the Mengistu regime the writing of Oromo in any script was forbidden, though limited usage of the Ge'ez script was allowed. In areas with Oromo-speaking Muslim populations the Arabic script is sometimes used.
On 3rd November 1991 the OLF convened a meeting of over 1,000 Oromo intellectuals to decide which alphabet to use to write Oromo. After many hours of debate, they decided unanimously to adopt the Latin alphabet.
Corrections and improvements provided by Michael Peter Füstumum and Wolfram Siegel
Hear how to pronounce the Afaan Oromo alphabet
ነሞ́ቲ ሁንዲኑ́ ቢርመዱ́ ተአኒ́ ሚርጋ ፊ ኡልፊናኒስ ወል-ቂጥጤ́ ተአኒ́ ፀለተን። ሰምሙ́ ፊ ቀልቢ́ ኢትቲ́ን ያደን ዋን ኡ́መማን ኬንነሜ́ፍ፣ ሀፉ́ረ ኦብቦሉምማቲ́ን ወሊ́-ወጅጂን ጂራቹ́ ቀቡ፨
نَمٛوتِ هُندِنُو بِرمَدُو تَانِي مِرغَا فِ ُلفِنَانِس وَل-قِطّٚي تَانِي ضَلَتَن. سَمُّو فِ قَلبِي ِتِّين يَادَن وَان ُومَمَان كٚنَّمٚيف, هَفُورَ ٛببٛلُمَّاتِين وَلِي-وَججِن جِرَاڛُو قَبُ.
Namooti hundinuu birmaduu ta'anii mirgaa fi ulfinaanis wal-qixxee ta'anii dhalatan. Sammuu fi qalbii ittiin yaadan waan uumamaan kennameef, hafuura obbolummaatiin walii-wajjin jiraachuu qabu.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about the Afaan Oromo language and alphabet
Parlons oromo (Oromo course in French)
Online Oromo radio
Page last modified: 03.07.21
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