Analysis of the Study from Hadiyyisa Speaker’s Angle
An entire 2016 volume1 of Oslo Studies in Language scholarly journal (available online) was dedicated to publishing a collection of studies conducted by team of researchers from Addis Ababa University, Hawassa University, University of Oslo and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology under a project named as Linguistic Capacity Building: Tools for the Inclusive Development of Ethiopia, the effort financed by:
…the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) under its NORHED program from 2014-2018. The main aim of the project is to increase the knowledge and capacity at Ethiopian universities to develop resources for disadvantaged spoken and signed languages, so that children and adult speakers of these languages will be able to use them in education and other democratic arenas. For this purpose, the project is involved in various activities, including linguistic research, preparation of short-term training for local language specialists, development of graduate programs in linguistics and communication, PhD training, corpus preparation for several languages and establishing networks between stakeholders.
In this volume, Dr. Zelealem Leyew’s paper titled What is in the name? Personal Names in Hadiyya (the subject of this review) found facts that are extremely interesting and unsettling at the same time. His research mainly attempts to “describe the system behind personal names in Hadiyya” and his paper “analyses the semantics of personal names” and how they show and “express social, economic and political circumstances accompanying the birth of a child”
Hadiyya (Hadiyyisa) Baby Names are Almost Extinct. Is the Language Next?
The descriptive research is well designed and the findings are fascinating, but what the researcher found as a side effect was most interesting to me and it is the focus of my analysis. This quote captures the main part about disappearing Hadiyyisa names:
One hundred randomly selected names from Hoommachcho, comprising forty-seven grade two students and fifty-three grade one students, indicate that five percent are Hadiyya names and 95 percent are Amharic names. The five percent with Hadiyya names are all males; consequently, all of the females had Amharic names. Data also show that among fathers of the current youngest generation, 26 percent have Hadiyya names, 63 percent have Amharic names, and 11 percent have Biblical names that follow the Amharic pattern. Among grandfathers, 19 percent have Amharic names and 81 percent have Hadiyya names. Hence, Hadiyya names have given way to Amharic and Biblical names increasingly over recent generations.
Should we give up on Hadiyyisa names?: The battle to preserver Hadiya names for Hadiya kids seems to be a lost one, but should we give up? As you can see above, it is very disconcerting to see that we regressed from 81% Hadiya names in grandfather generation (probably 40 or 50 years ago) to 5% for boys and 0% Hadiya names for girls now. If you think this can’t happen to Hadiyyisa itself, don’t be so sure. A few decades ago our parents and grandparents may have thought the same about Hadiya names disappearing, but the reality now is that it has happened. Almost. We have more in depth article State of Hadiyya (Hadiyyisa) Language of Ethiopia about how Hadiyyisa language is weakening and on its way to endangerment.
We should not lose these meaning-rich names: Other similarly situated ethnic groups share this challenge, but it seems that Hadiya’s problem in this regard exemplifies one of the deepest. It is difficult to explain why Hadiya parents are not giving their children the beautiful and always meaning-rich Hadiya names. The country is supposedly less prejudicial about non-Amharic names (I don’t think many people make fun of names these days) and there is no forced assimilation policy (although we can see the momentum that the legacy of such policies created is difficult to stop without educational, cultural revival, and other initiatives). One would think that Hadiya names and other non-Amharic names only add to the diversity of names in the country, the reflection of its multi-linguistic and multicultural ethnic groups.
Example Hadiyyisa names: To answer my own question, no, we should not give up on the battle to bring back Hadiya names for babies. It will be tragic to no longer have names such as Eerbeeto (wonderful/worthy son, Erlande for female ), Haabaame (miraculous girl/woman, Haabaamo for male), Fiito’o (bloom/flower for female), Waamisho (God’s blossom for male, Waamisha for female), Aashaamo (who brings abundance for male), Mixxoore (pronounced mit’-ooree girl who resolved my yearning/longing), Caakkeebo (pronounced t∫’aakk-eeb-o, one who brought light, glory – for male, female version very close to this), Haydaamo (one who brought honor – for male, female version is very close to this), Dileebe (one who ushered victory – for female but male version is Dileebo), et cetera.
If you are of Hadiya background, you may be able to add even more elegant names that showcase people’s enduring cultural values. I also understand I may have misspelled or made mistakes on the names above. I am using these examples to make a larger point.
I am not at all innocent of this offense. I am just now waking up to the fact and I have promised myself to change this habit when and if I get an opportunity to name a baby in my family.
What do you think about the findings in the study and what solutions do you have? Your comments below are welcome.
- Binyam Sisay Mendisu & Janne Bondi Johannessen (eds.) Multilingual Ethiopia: Linguistic Challenges and Capacity Building Effort, Oslo Studies in Language 8(1) 2016. 8. (ISSN 1890-963)
14 thoughts on “What is in the Name? Personal Names in Hadiyya – A Review”
I am from Hadiya (Sorro) worked Bible translator for 14 years, . . . Radio program producer and presenter at present.
I appreciate and thank you for the great attempt you made, . . . I am very pasionated and eager to conribute in this regard.
Dear Molla Gojam Ajero Hadiya, your comment and expressed desire to contribute is commendable. I also replied to the email you sent me via Contact Us page of this website (much appreciated!). My observation is that Bible translators use the most original Hadiyyisa – at a time invading Amharic words and phrases have adulterated and weakened the language. Please answer the question I sent you in reply to your email. That way we can explore what we can do together.
Please can you give me for hope,faith and love in hadiyegna just I give name in hadiyegna for my babies.
Dear Temesgen, Hope = Neeyato, faith = ama’nato, love = iitto. I hope by now you are all set with your babies’ names as it has been a while. Sorry for the delayed answer.
I am so happy to see this……..great job!!
Misha, This sort of encouragement is what will keep us going. Obviously your parent understood why we should not lose Hadiyyisa names and gave you one. What a beautiful name! Unfortunately we need many more parents to do so to turn the tide and reclaim Hadiyyisa names, part of our identity, that are almost extinct.
I’m from LIBIDO/MAREKO/ HADIYA thank you so much for your effort and sharing such alert study findings on disappearing of Hadiyyisa kids name. Please provide your recommendations to return our beatiful Hadiyyisa Kids name, contribute for the reunion of ancient great Hadiya communities. Religion, & Influence of Amaharic names are barriers to give beatiful Hadiyyisa to the kids.
Thank you much Abayich Shemsedin Bamboro for your feedback. This is Abayich Girma Waaxumo. I created this website a few years ago because I noticed the insidious weakening of Hadiya language, culture, traditions, and even personal names – I am sure this is true about our Libidoo Hadiya community as well. Unfortunately the deterioration is very hard for the non-initiated and for those unaware of the way in which cultures are lost. I decided to do my part to fight it by spreading knowledge on Hadiya history, culture, and language.
I also wanted to alert the Hadiya community that unless huge projects are undertaken, it will lose its cultural, linguistic, and traditional assets very soon at the current trajectory.
To me the loss of Hadiya baby names is the predecessor of the loss of the language itself thereby the loss of culture and identity. The are caused by the same problem: Loss of ethnic self-esteem. Loss of ethnic self-esteem comes from the ignorance of the people’s proud history, and culture. This ignorance has been pumped into the society from more than a century of assimilation and deliberate debasement of non-dominant languages including Hadiyyisa.
The way things are, it is very difficult to reverse this (even stop further decay), without the affirmative/compensatory government policies and programs implementing serious projects in education, government institutions, research, media, literature, etc… That is why the question of Hadiya statehood can be seen as step zero, the foundations.
Coming back to your question, the key is to fight the low ethnic self-esteem. Bringing back the ethnic self-respect will result in Hadiya naming its children in its own heritage language, Hadiyyisa/Libidoo. As I mentioned above for that to happen Hadiya needs to know its past and its place in the country, and that if nothing is done its identity will disappear. On a personal level we can all teach others about the issue. In our families, we can influence naming of children without creating squabbles.
About the reunion of the children of the ancient Hadiya Kingdom: I feel as if we are already reunited in spirit. We are being held back by governing and political forces. It will be a reality soon. For now, we will do what we can to alleviate the plight of the people of Libidoo, Qabeen and others who originated from the ancient kingdom of Hadiya.
I am very happy to see such interested and important starting about Hadiya People of Ethiopia. keeping it up with such narrated and well organized information of great Hadiya People.
I like looking through an article that can make men and women think.
Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!
awesome findings brothers right now i decided to name my son KaLuda ,and my daughter Erhaffa.
It makes me happy to know that this material contributed in some small way in your naming of your kids. You have chosen thoughtful names. Now I know KaLuda is your firstborn (Wona.) Erhaffa is amazing name as it says has several meaning, all great, good shelter, good cover, good shade, good protection, etc..
i am very happy about what you are trying to do. i had named my daughter Ittala, i meant to call her beloved…is that accurate? i ask because i named her that against the hesitation and reluctance of my father who told me the name but he has been so far removed from the culture and language of Hadiya, i doubt his knowledge.
Dear Eden, I appreciate so much the fact that you are trying to connect your heritage. I feel sad about your dad moving in the opposite direction. I am so impressed that you found a beautiful name for your daughter. Yes, Ittala is an accurate spelling allghought you can go overboard and correct it as Iittaalla. It is not necessary to do so in the interest of simplicity. Feel free to use the dictionary we have posted on this website.