Love, Joy and Peace in Southwestern Ethiopia’s Omotic Languages

Kimberly Burnham
4 min readNov 23, 2020

Imagine Peace, Love and Joy in a new way for two minutes a day.

Imagine how this woman in Ethiopia thinks about Peace, Love and Joy. What does it mean to her? How does it change what it means to you? by Matthew Spiteri on Unsplash

There are four Omotic groups of languages spoken in Southwestern Ethiopia. Some of the languages are written in Ge’ez script and some in Latin script or Roman letters. These languages are spoken by approximately 6.2 million speakers. Several years ago when I started on my quest to find the word for peace in thousands of languages, I began looking at Bible translations of Galatians 5:22–23 which includes the words love, joy and peace translated into different languages.

South Omotic or Aroid Languages

Payyamo Peace in Banna or Hamer-Banna

Banna (amf-001) called by many names
Hamer, Hamer-Banna, Hamar-Koke, Hammercoche,
Amarcocche, Cocche, Beshada, Amer, Amar, Ammar, Kara, Kerre
is a South Omotic language where “Payyamo” is peace
“Nashimmakko” is love and “Woza” is joy
in the semi-arid area south of Aari country
in the South Omo Region of Ethiopia

Aari Greeting with Peace

Aari (aiw) is also called Afa-n ari, Ara, Ari, Aro, Aarai, Ari, and Shankilla

Dialects include: Bako (Baco), Biyo (Bio), Gozza, Galila, Laydo, Seyki, Shangama, Shankilla, Shanqella, Sido, Wubahamer, Ubamer, Zeddo

Spoken in Ethiopia, (North central Omo Region, southwest spur of the highlands and adjacent lowlands of the South Omo Region of Ethiopia

Laqmi Peace and Wellbeing in Aari, a South Omotic Language

The Aari word for peace “Laqmi”
also means wellbeing, good and to be good
written “Laqaˈmi” means peace and to be good
or sometimes written “Lɣa-mi” is to be good
from the root “Laqam”
used in a greeting “Laqimiu?” is how are you?
with “Laqimi’” the reply of wellbeing
in the southwest spur of the highlands
and adjacent lowlands of South Omo
a region of Ethiopia

Joyful Lent in Dime spoken in Ethiopia

In the Ethiopian language of Dime
“Səro” or in Geez script ሰሮ is peace
with the ə or schwa
pronounced like the a in about
there is a joke among linguists
everyone wants to be like a schwa
because it is never stressed

“Lóxó” or “kóxu is love
“ʔahō-b” means peaceful good
while ʔayyán is luck

and lent brings joy
“lént’” means joy
“lént’ub” is joyful

Leave Taking in Omotic Languages

Taking leave
expressing a desire for peace
“Səro” in Dime spoken in Ethiopia

“Səro ʔaz”
peace spend day
or have a peaceful day

“Səro ʔozt”
peace spend night
have a peaceful night

In other Omotic language
such as Wolayta “sáro péʔ”
means good day or have a nice day
while “sáro ʔ ak’á” means good night
or have a nice evening

Another Meaning of Səro

But among the Yungur speaking people of Nigeria
“səro” means insult

Karo For Three Different Languages

Karo (kxh) Cherre, Kere, Kerre are the names
of a South Omotic language of Ethiopia
it is also a language name Karo (rwo) in Papua New Guinea
and Brazil Karo (arr) each differentiated with a three letter code

Imagine the feeling of peace, love and joy on this Ethiopian road by Clay Knight on Unsplash

Imagine Peace

Imagine the world we could live in if everyone spent five minutes a day thinking about how to reach peace with our family, friends, neighbors and strangers.

Mirror Neuron Research or How Can We Use a New Understanding of Peace to Create a Better World

A recent mouse study showed the neural mechanisms of intention understanding or how mice understand what other mice are trying to do. Researchers noted: “In this experiment, the mouse is first trained to acquire food by reaching with its forelimb. The mice that learnt this were placed in an experimental box wherein they can observe the reaching activity of another mouse. We found that trained mice tend to observe the reaching activity of other mice; mice that did not receive any prior training displayed a lower tendency towards observing another mouse’s reaching behavior.

The results showed that exploratory approach behaviors to trained mice lasted significantly longer than the exploratory approach behavior to the empty box and untrained individuals. These results suggest that the learning of individuals’ exploration of other reaching individuals may be motivated not only by interest in the presence of the feeding table and other individuals themselves, but also by an associated intentional movement. The tasks developed in our study could be used in the research of the mirror system in behavioral neuroscience to elucidate the mechanism underlying the ability of mice to understand the intent of other mice via motor learning.” Ukezono, M. and Y. Takano (2020). “An experimental task to examine the mirror neuron system in mice: Laboratory mice understand the movement intentions of other mice based on their own experience.” Behav Brain Res 398: 112970.

Peace Dictionary language and the Mind, a Daily Brain Health Program by Kimberly Burnham



Kimberly Burnham

Writer, Poet, Ekphrastic Writer-in-Residence, Nerve Whisperer, Brain Health Coach, Author of The Traveling Brain: Illuminating Peace Poetry in 5000 Languages.