Native toEthiopia
RegionDebub (South) Omo Zone
Native speakers
11,000 (2007 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3dim

Dime or Dima is an Afro-Asiatic language spoken in the northern part of the Selamago district in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNP) of Ethiopia, around Mount Smith.[1] Dime divides into at least two dialects, which include Us'a and Gerfa. It has six case suffixes in addition to an unmarked nominative. It is overwhelmingly suffixing, but uses prefixes for demonstratives and has reduplication. Phonologically, it is noteworthy among the Omotic languages for having phonemic velar and uvular fricatives.[2] The basic word order is subject–object–verb (SOV), as in other Omotic languages, and indeed in all members of the core of the Ethiopian Language Area.

The language, as well as the Dime people themselves, reportedly decreased in number over the 20th century due to predations from their neighbors the Bodi, and both are in danger of extinction.[3] According to official Ethiopian figures, the 1994 census reported 6293 speakers of the Dime language in the SNNP region alone;[4] in the 2007 census, only 574 speakers were reported for all of Ethiopia.[5] Further, because the Dime language still lacks a writing system and there are no local schools to promote the use of the language, it is even more threatened.[2]Below is a table of Dime Pronouns



Plosive Voiceless p t k
Voiced b d g
Ejective/Implosive P’ t’ k’ ʔ
Fricative Voiceless f s š x χ h
Voiced z ž ɣ ʁ
Ejective S’
Affricate Voiceless ts č
Voiced ʤ
Ejective č’
Nasal Voiced m n
Liquids l
Glides w y


Front Central Back
Close i ɨ U
Half-close e O
Half-Open ɛ ə ɔ
Open a

Free variation

Dime undergoes phonological processes when speaking and one of them is free variation. Free variation is a phenomenon of two or more sounds or forms appearing in the same environment without a change in meaning and without being considered as wrong by a native speaker of Dime.

h and ʔ are free variation word initially in some lexemes.

ʔˈalfe and halfe Knife

ʔˈaʁe and haʁe wood, knife

ʔààke and hààke to pick up

ʔaay and haay grass

yízí and hízí to run

yín or ʔín you (obj.)


Dime has a lot of consonant gemination, which mostly occurs in the middle and final position of words, which distinguishes the meaning of lexemes.

túmú (deep) - túmmú (stomach)

ʔoloχ (quick) - ʔolloχ (slowly)

ʔane (hand) - ʔanne (wild life)

Syllable structure

Dime has both closed and open syllables as well as super-heavy syllables. Most consonants can occur in the middle and at the end of the word.


ná she

nú he


káf wait

lág friend


čúú  bottom

loo.mú lemon


neey hunger

zuúb red


gušš nails

físt mucu

gɘrž cat




Dime also has consonant clusters, which are mostly made up of only two members.

At the end of the word:

gušš nails

físt sneeze

tálk borrow

sáánk floor

túss pillar

In the middle of the word:

dámpe tobacco

básumb fearful

gázde boundry

bedze out

Morphology And Syntax


A definite noun is one which refers to a specific entity. Morphologically, Dime distinguishes definite from indefinite nouns. Definiteness is marked by the suffix -is.

ʔ́ehé a house - ʔ́éh-is the house

nîts a child - nîts-is the child

ʔiyýi a person - ʔiyýs-is the person

ʔámzi gúdúm-ind-is the tall woman

woman tall -F-DEF

gúdúm-ub gǒst-is the tall man

tall            man DEF

In the last example, there is a modifier in the noun phrase; the definite marker is suffixed to the modifier.

The definite marker -is may optionally be changed to -iz when followed by a voiced consonant.

ʔéh-is the house

gášš-is the road

ʔámz-iz the woman

zúùb-iz the red one


Nouns and noun phrases make a distinction between singular and plural. Singular is morphologically unmarked, whereas plural is marked by the suffix -af. That a head noun is plural can be inferred from the morpheme -id, which is suffixed to a modifier.

ʔéh-áf-is   the houses


dər-áf-is    the goats


guur-af-is   the crocodiles

crocodile - PL-DEF


Below is a table of Dime Pronouns

Subject Object
1S ʔaté I ʔis-im me
2S Yaay/yáye you yin-im you








1PL wótú we won-im us
2PL yesé you all/you guys yen-im you all/you guys
3PL kété they ken-im them


  1. ^ a b Dime at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Seyoum, Mulugeta (2008). A grammar of Dime (Ph.D. thesis). Leiden University. hdl:1887/12833.
  3. ^ Fleming, Harold (1990). Richard Hayward (ed.). Omotic Language Studies. London: SOAS. p. 495. ISBN 9780728601666.
  4. ^ 1994 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia: Results for Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region, Vol. 1, part 1, Table 2.14
  5. ^ Central Statistical Agency. "Ethiopia - Population and Housing Census 2007 Report, National". International Household Survey Network.