Yem language

Native to Ethiopia
Region Oromia Region & SNNPR
Native speakers
92,000 (2007 census)[1]
  • Fuga
Ethiopic, Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jnj
Glottolog yems1235[2]

Yemsa is the language of the Yem people of the former Kingdom of Yamma, known as Kingdom of Janjero to the Amhara. It is a member of the Omotic group of languages, most closely related to Kafa. It is distinctive in having different systems of vocabulary depending on social status, rather like Japanese and Javanese. The estimated number of speakers varies wildly from about 1000 (Bender,1976) to half a million (Aklilu, 1993).

The Fuga dialect is distinct enough to perhaps be a different language.

Sample Verb Forms



  1. Ethiopia 2007 Census
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Yemsa". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. African Languages: An Introduction, edited by Bernd Heine & Derek Nurse, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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