Ongota (also known as Birale [ISO 639-3], Birayle) is a moribund language of southwest Ethiopia. In 2012, UNESCO reported that only 12 elderly native speakers, the rest of their small village on the west bank of the Weito River having adopted the Tsamai language instead. The grammar follows a Subject Object Verb word order. It is probably Afroasiatic, but has not been definitively classified. As of 2004, it is being studied by Aklilu Yilma of Addis Ababa University.
Ongota has features of both Afroasiatic and Nilo-Saharan languages that confuse its classification. Fleming (2006) considers it to be an independent branch of Afroasiatic. Savà and Tosco (2003) believe it to be an East Cushitic language with a Nilo-Saharan substratum—that is, that Ongota speakers shifted to East Cushitic from an earlier Nilo-Saharan language, traces of which still remain.
- Fleming, Harold, 2002. "Ongota Lexicon: English-Ongota". Mother Tongue, VII, pp. 39–65.
- Fleming, Harold, 2006. Ongota: A Decisive Language in African Prehistory. - Wiesbaden : Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-05124-8
- Mikesh, P. and Seelig, J.M. 1992. "Ongota or Birale: a moribund language of Gemu-Gofa (Ethiopia)". Journal of Afroasiatic Languages, 3,3:181-225.
- Savà, Graziano and Mauro Tosco 2000. A sketch of Ongota, a dying language of southwest Ethiopia. Studies in African Linguistics 29.2.59-136.
- Savà, Graziano and Mauro Tosco 2003. "The classification of Ongota". In Bender et al. eds, Selected comparative-historical Afrasian linguistic studies. LINCOM Europa.
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