Native toEthiopia
RegionSouth Omo Region
Native speakers
1,500 (2007 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3kxh
ELPKaro (Ethiopia)
A Karo village
A young Karo woman

Karo[2] (also Cherre, Kere, Kerre, Kara) is a South Omotic[3] language spoken in the Debub (South) Omo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region in Ethiopia. Karo is described as being closely related to its neighbor, Hamer-Banna, with a lexical similarity of 81%,[1] and is considered a dialect of Hamer by Blench (2006),[4] but as a separate language belonging to the Hamer-Karo subfamily in Glottolog. The Karo people, who live close to the lower Omo River, use colorful bodywork, complex headdresses and body scars to express beauty and importance within the community. 2,400 speakers[citation needed] are using the Karo language.

Basic vocabulary

In percentages of basic vocabulary scored by 14 Omotic languages against 13 others, Karo scored 12 in Male, 9 in Chara, 12 in Basketo, 12 in Wolaytta, 14 in Kullo, 10 in Dace, 14 in Dorze, 14 in Oyda, 5 in Kacama, 10 in Koyra, 10 in Gidicho, 14 in Zayse, 14 in Zergulla.[5] Unlike the strongest contributors to pairs of languages sharing unitary forms language-wise such as Inyangatom, Central Koma and Langa, Disoha, and Ingassana, Karo contributed none.[6]


  1. ^ a b Karo at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Karo Swadesh List". search.language-archives.org.
  3. ^ "Early morning for Karo tribe on Omo river - Ethiopia".
  4. ^ Blench, 2006. The Afro-Asiatic Languages: Classification and Reference List
  5. ^ Bender, M. (1971). The Languages of Ethiopia: A New Lexicostatistic Classification and Some Problems of Diffusion. Anthropological Linguistics, 13(5), 165-288.
  6. ^ Bender, M. L. (1971). "The Languages of Ethiopia: A New Lexicostatistic Classification and Some Problems of Diffusion". Anthropological Linguistics. 13 (5): 165–288. ISSN 0003-5483. JSTOR 30029540.