Zay language

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Native to Ethiopia
Region Lake Zway
Native speakers
4,900  (1994)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 zwa
Glottolog zayy1238[2]

Zay is an Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Ethiopia. One of the Gurage languages, it is spoken by around 4,880 members of the Zay people on the islands and shores of Lake Zway in the southern part of the country. The language is also known as Zway, or Lak'i/Laqi, in the neighboring Oromo language.


The word order of Zay is SOV (subject–object–verb). Attributive adjectives precede the nouns they modify. Possessives also precede nouns.[3]


  1. ^ Zay at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Zay". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Hayward, Richard J. (1990). Notes on the Zayse Language. Hayward, Richard J.(ed.). London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ambaw Demissie (1990), The phonology of Zay: A generative approach. M.A. thesis. Addis Ababa University.
  • Getu Shikur (1999), Morphology of Zay. M.A. thesis. Addis Ababa University.
  • Wolf Leslau (1999), Zway Ethiopic Documents. Aethiopische Forschungen, Band 51. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-04162-5.
  • Ronny Meyer (2005), Das Zay: Deskriptive Grammatik einer Ostguragesprache (Äthiosemitisch). Grammatical Analyses of African Languages, vol. 25. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe. ISBN 3-89645-541-9.