Baskeet Neighbours

When I was scanning my field diaries the other day, a small piece of paper I had already forgotten about fell out of my notebooks.  On this paper I had scribbled some notes about how the Baskeet call their neighbours and how these neighbours call the Baskeet in return:

How the Baskeet call their neighbours and vice versa

How the Baskeet call their neighbours and vice versa

Here’s first some background information:

The Baskeet and their neighbours are known in the literature and in Amharic as: Basketo, Dime, Bodi (Me’en), and Galila (Aari). The Bodi are a sub-group of the Me’en people, the Galila a sub-group of the Aari people. The Dime live to the Northwest of the Baskeet, the Bodi to the West and the Galila to the South (other Aari groups live further South). Baskeet is a North Omotic language. The Dime and Aari languages are believed to belong to the South Omotic branch of languages. Me’en is a Surmic (Nilo-Saharan) language.

  • The first column above shows how the Baskeet people call their neighbours when they speak their own language: Gayl (= Galila), Dim (= Dime), Aari (= Aari) and B’ooda (= Bodi).
  • In the second column, the names the Dime people use for their neighbours are listed: Goobu (= Basketo),* Gayl (= Galila), Dime for themselves, Suuku (= Aari)** and Zugur (= Bodi).***
  • In the third column, we find the names the Bodi people use for their neighbours: Baskis (= Basketo), Galilaʔ (= Galila), Suc (= Dime), Aariʔ (= Aari) and Mɛʔɛnit for themselves.
  • In the fourth column, the names the Aari people use for their neighbours are given: Basketo, Gayl (= Galila), Aats’i (= Dime), Aari for themselves, B’oodi (= Bodi). The note at the bottom mentions that the Galila-subgroup of the Aari calls the Baskeet Bänna [Bɛnna (?)].

Apart from the Baskeet data, I cannot vouch for the correctness of the transcription! On the contrary, there must be errors, as I had no idea about the phoneme system of the Dime, Bodi and Aari languages when I scribbled the notes (Corrections are very welcome!).  However, the paper shows some interesting examples (underlined above) how exonyms and endonyms can differ; see, for instance, that the Dime call the Aari Suuku (or the like) and the Aari call the Dime Aats’i (or the like).

I collected the information one day in March 2009 when I walked to the Baskeet lowlands and when I was accompanied by a multilingual young Dime man (Bazzo Seyiki Fekadu) who spoke Dime, Aari, Baskeet, the Bodi-variety of Me’en and Amharic:

Multilingual young Dime man: Bazzo Seyiki Fekadu

Multilingual young Dime man: Bazzo Seyiki Fekadu

It would also be interesting to find out how the Melo (Malo) people, who live to the North of the Baskeet, and the Gofa people, who live to the East of the Baskeet, call their neighbours. I can hopefully provide this information after my next fieldtrip.


Fleming (1990: 511) mentions that the Dime call the Baskeet goobe. Mulugeta Seyoum (2008: 27, 226) gives the translation gɔbe / gɔbé.
**Mulugeta Seyoum (2008: 230) lists suku as the Dime name for the Aari.
*** Fleming (1990: 519) provides the name tsugur for the Bodi in one of his language examples, Mulugeta Seyoum (2008: 76) transcribes it as sugur.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Bazzo Seyiki Fekadu for sharing the above information with me. If I recall correctly, Bazzo had first grown up in an area where Dime and Baskeet were spoken, later he had been adopted by a Bodi-family. As the Bodi group he lived with was in close contact with Aari-speaking people he had also learned to speak Aari fluently.
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