Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 132

Full Length Research Paper

Homonymy as a barrier to mutual intelligibility among speakers of various dialects of Afan Oromo

Amanuel Raga1* and Samuel Adola2
  1College of Social Sciences and Law, Jimma University, P. O. Box 5219, Jimma, Ethiopia. 2Institute of Language Studies, Addis Ababa University, P. O. Box 1176, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 10 January 2012
  •  Published: 27 February 2012



This study intended to scrutinize how homonymous lexical items in Afan Oromo result in misunderstandings and confusions among speakers from differing dialect areas. The data for this study were collected from two groups of informants. The first category of informants consisted of twenty high school Afan Oromo teachers who have acquaintance with the media and people speaking different varieties of Afan Oromo. The second category comprised of ten native speakers of Afan Oromo who have spent their entire lives in one geographical area, and thus have barely heard of varieties of Afan Oromo other than theirs. The primary means of data collection for this study was elicitation. As the study established, homonymy which results from lexical variations among the dialects of Afan Oromo causes misunderstandings between speakers from the various dialect areas. Furthermore, the phonological and morphophonemic differences among the dialects of the language and the convention in the writing system of the language which allows speakers to write expressions as they pronounce also contribute to the communication problems by creating ambiguous homonymy-like lexical items.


Key words: Afan Oromo, dialect, mutual intelligibility, homonymy, communication barriers.