Sidaamu Afoo (Sidaama) Language-Learning Resources

Sidaamu Afoo is the language of the Sidama Region in southern Ethiopia. Spoken by almost nine million people, Sidaamu Afoo is a Cushitic language and is written with the Latin alphabet (like English).

That being said, resources for learning Sidaamu Afoo are harder to find than some other Ethiopian languages (such as Amharic, Tigrinya, or Afaan Oromo). So, I’ve decided to put together a list of resources which can help, should you be interested in learning Sidaamu Afoo.

However, many of these texts aren’t “language-learning” texts (sorry), and they are full of very technical/linguistic explanations of grammar. For a language learner, you’re going to have to do a lot of the work in organizing and identifying what information is important for you to actually learn. Writing down vocabulary words and easy phrases (with English translations) is a good way to start developing your own “textbook” in your notebook.

To be clear: I am not the creator of any of these resources — this is simply a compilation of links to Sidaamu Afoo resources from across the internet, to help anyone interested in learning the language!

Best Introductory Resource:

SIDAAAMU AFOO INTRODUCTORY COURSE (PDF): Sidama Language Level One: This is the resource most geared towards language-learners: if you’re going to start anywhere, start here! It’s got some great vocabulary lists, and a good basic phrasebook.


SIDAAMU AFOO DICTIONARY (ONLINE): Sidaama Dictionary: This is a searchable, online dictionary (run in a wiki-style creative commons format) with a bunch of Sidaamu Afoo vocabulary. If you’re looking for a mobile version, there are also several Sidaamu Afoo dictionaries available as phone applications, as well.

SIDAAMU AFOO DICTIONARY (PDFS): Sidaama-Amharic-English Dictionary: This blog post has links to a Sidaama-Amharic-English dictionary, created by the Sidama Information and Culture Department, scanned into PDFs. Dictionary is separated into different files, split alphabetically.


SIDAAMU AFOO INTRODUCTORY COURSE (VIDEO): Sidama Language Tutorial: Not the greatest quality of video (just in terms of pixellation), but can be a good starting point to hear what Sidaamu Afoo sounds like, and to go over some basic grammar and vocabulary.

Academic Articles

842 PAGES OF SIDAAMU AFOO GRAMMAR/VOCABULARY: A Grammar of Sidaama (Sidamo): This text is a beast — 842 pages, and it’s full of good stuff. For language learners, I think the best way to use this text is to focus on the vocabulary (of which there is plenty) and easy example sentences/phrases (translated into English). Don’t get lost in too much of the technical stuff.

FOR SOME VOCABULARY: The Syllable Structure of Sidaamu Afoo: While this text is really about syllables, it includes a BUNCH of great vocabulary, much of it quite basic (and all translated into English). I’d approach this text by simply jotting down useful words, and trying to organise them into categories as an vocabulary exercise.

FOR TECHNICAL GRAMMAR: Sketch of Sidaama Grammar: This links to a full academic journal issue. The text I’m referencing starts on page 88/163. Many of the tables/charts have useful information, such as a list of personal pronouns (you/she/we/they, etc… page 108/163 of the PDF) and demonstrative pronouns (this/that… page 110/163 of the PDF).

FOR INTERMEDIATE READING PRACTICE: School Grammars with Everyday Vocabulary: Suggestion for a Culture Specific Approach, with Sidaamu Afoo as an Example: I would skip to page 330 (as marked in the document, page 12/20 on the PDF) of this article, and look at the appendix. This appendix includes various examples of basic sentences, translated in both English and Sidaamu Afoo. These sort of sentence-by-sentence translations are great for intermediate reading practice.

Know of any other resources to learn Sidaamu Afoo? Please feel free to comment/message me with any additional resources you know of, and best of luck in your language-learning journey!