“Language is the dress of thought.”
Some of us who were raised in towns do not speak a fluent Afaan Oromoo. What is even shocking is to come across people who call themselves writers, reporters, journalists and doctors speak a deformed or mutilated Afaan Oromoo on televisions, conferences, and meetings. This, in turn, affects our people in a negative way to communicate with each other. The audience considers their speech-patters as flawless and right. Most of the words and phrases come out of our brothers and sisters’ mouths, however, do not have the tastes and flavors of Afaan Oromoo at all. Sometimes, it is even difficult to call it Afaan Oromoo, or Amharic language.
We expect these people to have a good command of Afaan Oromoo so that others can learn from them. I, think, this in part attributed to the fact that Amharic language is the medium of instruction in schools and has more air time on televisions. As this continues, it keeps on making impacts on the way we speak Afaan Oromoo. Our though patterns, too, have been continued being riddled and disfigured. Amharic, still, is a dominant language in the Ethiopian Empire and poses a serious threat to Afaan Oromoo. That is why the influence is so immense and well alive. There still, however, a room to improve it if we look to our grand fathers, grand mothers, fathers and mothers to help us out. They are more fluent than us. We should preserve the linguistic charm of Afaan Oromoo. We should learn from them. Our classical Afaan Oromoo is well alive in rural areas.
Let’s look some of the incorrect words and phrases frequently used below among our people.
1. Oromiffaa Afaan Oromoo
2. Takkaffaa, lammaffaa, sadaffaa Takkeessaa, lammeessaa, sadeessaa
yokiin takkeessoo, lemmeessoo, sadeessoo
3. Akkuma beekkamu Dhuguma
4. Haala qabatamaa Haala jiru
5. Mata duree Angafoota oduu
6. Jedhi Nagayatti; nagayatti ooli; naghatti ooli nagayatti buli; nagahatti buli
7. Walfaana bareenna Waliin bareenna
8. Boqoolloo Bordogee (Walloo Oromoo)
9. Ciree dhehna (dheena); afaan bule baate?
10. Isaan ( jaarsa tokkoon) Isa
11. Kanaan walqabatee Kana wajjin; kana waliin
The above words or phrases under ‘incorrect’ column are foreign to Afaan Oromoo. They are directly translated from the Amharic language. The word Oromiffaa is directly translated from the word Orominya. The same are true of the rest of the words and phrases. The Oromo people in the east, west, north and south never speak in such a way. They, instead, say takkeessaa, lammeessaa, sadeessaa, or takkeessoo, lammeessoo, and sadeessoo. Both of them are correct. If you want proof this, go to any part of Oromia, and you will find many people carrying the name Lammeessaa. As Oromo people, we never say akkuma beekkamu. We begin speech with the word dhuguma. Afaan Oromoo and Amharic are two very distinct languages. The other unheard or unsaid in Afaan Oromoo is the usage of respect marker in the same way as in Amharic language. Some people, for instance, say isaan to address an old man or old woman. And this is totally wrong. If he/she has a son, we call him/her abbaa or haadha and add their son’s name after abbaa or haadha. If their son’s name is Boruu, we say abbaa Boruu or haadha Boruu as a sign of respect. It is, still, fine to address him/her as isa/ishii (ishee, isii). It is neither a taboo nor a disrespectful in our culture.
Since isa/ishii is a singular noun, it is uncommon in our culture to address a person with isaan no matter how old or religious he/she is – dhufe, dhufte, dhuufe, dhuufte, deeme, deemte, taa’ee, teesse, nyaate, nyaatte, etc. Our culture is not as conservative as that of the Amharas. The relationships between the retired and those in active life or those still in inactive life have no hierarchy except role differences. The channel of communication is free, and there is no barrier or wall between the old and the young. As long as you wash your hands, you can eat with Abbaa Gadaa. You can talk to him, too, without any mediation between you and him. Wether it is Waqayyoo, Abbaa Gadaa, Sheikh, or prophet, we address him as isa. We never say isaan for a single person. If you want proof of this, visit any village in Oromia and put a question to a son or a daughter of someone where his/her father is. The response will be: bobba’eera, rafeera, imaltuu deemeera… etc. He/she never says bobba’aniiran or rafaniiran, imaltuu deemaniiran since he is a singular noun. No matter how old or respectful he is in the community. The Amharas say isachew, but we never say isaan in our language for a single person. Isaan is a plural marker and indicates more than one persons.
We are denying Afaan Oromoo its legs, arms, flesh and blood. As a result, our communication skills lack beauty, sense, and effectiveness to put across our ideas. It is just like chewing meat from the back of the neck of an old ox for the audience. In general, let’s learn Afaan Oromoo from our elders so as to keep its linguistic charm and express our way of life beautifully. Oliver Wendell Homes once said “language is the blood of soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.” We need to take care of Afaan Oromoo since physical, cultural, political, economic and spiritual existences are impossible without it. Afaan Oromoo mogoluu hadhiifnu.