Documentation of house construction and terrace farming in Zargulla, an endangered Omotic language

Documentation of house construction and terrace farming in Zargulla, an endangered Omotic language

Language: Zargulla (ISO639-3:zay)
Depositor: Azeb Amha
Location: Ethiopia
Deposit Id: 0447
Grant id: MDP0359
Funding body: ELDP
Level: Deposit

Summary of deposit
Zargulla (zay) is an endangered Omotic language spoken by c.a. 8000 speakers in south-west Ethiopia (62.60N 37.19E). Some Zargulla villages are characterized by terrace-farming and clusters of houses commemorating the dead in the higher parts of valleys, and residential areas in foothills and plateaus. The project will produce a linguistic and ethnographic documentation of this parallel and interactive spatial complex of farming and dwelling, which is endangered by socio-cultural changes. Its primary goal is to produce a multi-media digital corpus and a thematic dictionary on house-construction and terrace-farming, and, using these outputs, to study the grammar of space in Zargulla.

Zargulla belongs to the East Ometo branch of the Omotoc language family together with Zayse, Haro, Koorete and Kachama. Zargulla and Zayse are are the closest and they are regarded as dialects of the same language.

Zargulla is spoken in the Bonke District of the Gamo-Gofa Zone, in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State of Ethiopia. Zargulla is the name by which the language is known in linguistic research and in some official documents in Ethiopia, e.g. in the 1994 national census report. The speakers identify themselves as Gamo and their language as Gamotso. They use 'Zargulla' to refer to the area where they live.

Group represented
The material in the deposit are contributions from a number of Zargulla speakers from six villages: Zaaga, Koiramukkula, Koshalle, ɗimalle, Fuuddale and Kettele.

Special characteristics
The collection has three parts:
  1. It contains children’s stories, jokes and personal histories of some individuals. These texts are collected by the principal investigator during 2004-2007 as part of an NWO funded project.
  2. It contains video and audio material on house construction and terrace-farming resulting from the ELDP-supported project Placing the dead and nurturing the living: documentation of house construction and terrace farming in Zargulla, an endangered Omotic language.
  3. The deposit also includes photos and annotated ELAN files of audio and video recordings.

Deposit history
The data was collected by Azeb Amha, linguist and principal investigator and community members.

The collection deposited include annotated audio and video documentation of activities, conversations and narratives on house construction and terrace farming. It includes annotated text in ELAN, lexical data-base and photos.

The picture at the top of this deposit page shows a hill in Fuudale kebele-adminsitration area with commemorative houses and farm-fields.

The deposit contains data that are collected in three field work visits during 2004-2007 as part of a project supported by the Netherlands Science Foundation (NWO).

In the ELDP-prject multimedia material are collected in January, February and March 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Other information

Acknowledgement and citation
Users of any part of the collection should acknowledge Azeb Amha as the principal investigator and the names of community members who helped in the collection and analysis of data. Users should also acknowledge the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme as the funder of the project. For data collected during 2004 and 2007, users should acknowledge the Netherlands Science Foundation (NWO). Individual speakers whose words and/or images are used should be acknowledged by name. Any other contributor who has collected, transcribed or translated the data or was involved in any other way should be acknowledged by name. All information on contributors is available in the metadata. Please make sure to include the following when using data from this deposit:

Azeb Amha. [year]. Placing the dead and nurturing the living: documentation of house-construction and terrace farming in Zargulla, an endangered Omotic language. London: SOAS, Endangered Languages Archive. URL: [insert link here]. Accessed on [insert date here].


Collection online
Resources online and curated


Azeb Amha
Affiliation: African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL), Leiden University

Deposit Statistics

Data from 2019 January 16 to 2019 January 16
Deposit hits:7
Downloaded files
Without statistics

Showing 1 - 10 of 104 Items

Mrs Asalafech answers questions from Asmelash Michael about her garden and how she keeps it. She shows 7uuts (Ensete ventricosum) and shenkora (sugar cane) plants in the garde.

Recorded on: 2018-07-15

Asmelash (behind the camera) interviews Abraam about the work he was doing during the filming in Gortso area in ɗimalle fuuse k’ebele administration: doing kiile, i.e. first round of ploughing land using oxen to prepare the land for sowing seeds. Abraam intends to sow badala (maize) of the gabba season (July-October). Asmelah asks Abraam about the pair of oxen at work and the land (whether or not these are his own, borrowed or rented).

Recorded on: 2018-05-30

Asmelash is preparing land to saw bangá (barley). Passersby remark about the recording. Other than such distantly made utterances and initial description by Asmelash about what they are going to do, Asmelash and his cousin helping him are not engaged in much conversation. Further, greetings to and from passersby from distance and the calls/commands Asmelash and his cousin make to the oxen that carry the plough are interesting linguistic material.

Recorded on: 2018-08-27

Continuation of work on Asmelash’s farm. In this clip Asmelash is seen sawing barley seeds and distributing daáppe (fertilizer) on the field.

Recorded on: 2018-08-27

Petros tells about the preferred soil type for the production of barche (millet). He talks about when its sown and the climate the crop prefers. It is typically sown immediately after t'eff is harvested and that this plant is easy to keep as it does not need much weeding and related work. He also talks about how it is used to prepare food.

Recorded on: 2017-09-06

Petros tells about how and when a will is made in Zargulla to transfer property. It can be done by the owner him/her-self or it can be initiated by village elders if the person is very ill so that there will not be problems among family after his/her death.

Recorded on: 2017-09-06

Tomas tells about a species of boyé (yam) that is called gáde boyé. He shows the part that is planted and how it grows as a creeping plant. In general, gáde boyé does well when it leans on a small tree that is called gáyle. If other trees are used as support for gáde boyé, the plant does not give good yield. He also talks about other plants like k’orkahé that can be planted near gáde boyé so that the plants support each other in resisting plant disease and yield better products.

Recorded on: 2018-08-27

Tomas tells how he grows young bunná (coffee) seedling from coffee beans. While the government run agricultural consultancy office distributes young plants, Tomas prefers to grow his own coffee plants which he thinks are better quality. With research assistant Mr Asmelash Michael, Tomas talks about the best place to plant the young offshoots, they kind of care the plants need when coffee can be harvested. Tomas tells how important coffee is for farmers like him in generating income and what he has heard about coffee export for the international market.

Recorded on: 2018-08-27

This is the fourth part of a series of conversatons with Mr Bunkula Gaido. During a conversation about terrace construction, participants noted a boy Climbing a guava tree and direct him on what to do. The audio recording was made by research assitant Asmelash. Azeb made a corresponding vidoe recording. Initial transcription of the session was made on a booklet by Abboye Alade and Asmelash Michael using the Gamo script.

Recorded on: 2017-03-17

This is the fifth part of a series of conversatons with Mr Bunkula Gaido. It is a continuation of part 4 where fruit-picking of a boy was the subject of discussion. The boy's father is upset that he risks falling and orders him to get down and never to repeat such action (however, metadata on this participant has not been recorded as he joined in unexpectedly). The audio recording was made by research assitant Asmelash. Azeb made a corresponding vidoe recording. Initial transcription of the session was made on a booklet by Abboye Alada using the Gamo script.

Recorded on: 2017-03-17