Bayso and Haro, two Afroasiatic languages belonging to the Cushitic and Omotic group, respectively, are spoken in and around the area of the Abbaya Lake along the Southern Ethiopian Rift Valley. Members of both communities share the only inhabited island of the lake, called Gidiccho, and a village on the west coast of the lake, called Alge. Some Bayso and Haro people are also found in other villages along the same coast. Bayso speakers number about 3500, while Haro speakers are about 200. Of the two language Haro is the only one object of an extensive grammatical study (Hirut Wolde-Mariam 2015), while Bayso’s description is much more incomplete (the best reference is Hayward 1978 and 1979).
The Bayso play the dominant role face to the Haro. This is reflected on the fact that the Haro normally speak Bayso, while only few Bayso speak Haro and they only recently started to do so. Even though Haro’s situation is more precarious, both languages are endangered by the gradual shift to more important and diffused languages such as local Gamo, Oromo and Wolayta and the Ethiopian inter-ethnic language Amharic. This is mainly the result of the search for new occupational opportunities in an economic context that is in galloping development.
Bayos and Haro elders watching video recordings
Men attending a wedding ceremony
Bayso and Haro elders at a wedding ceremony