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

The sociolinguistics and pragmatics of greetings in Sidama

Fekede Menuta Gewta
  • Fekede Menuta Gewta
  • School of Language and Communication Studies, Hawassa University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 26 October 2015
  •  Accepted: 05 January 2016
  •  Published: 31 March 2016


The main objective of this study was to provide a descriptive account of the greeting system in Sidama, an Ethiopian Highland East Cushitic (HEC) language speaking people culture. Cross sectional and descriptive none interventional research design were followed. The research methodology used was qualitative. Sociolinguistic data were collected from six purposefully selected key informants who are native speakers of Sidama language who know the culture. Semi-structured interview guide was used to collect the sociolinguistic and cultural data. The finding showed that greeting in the Sidama culture is a tool to begin and end a conversation in a casual or planned meeting. The word keero 'peace' is at the core of the Sidama greeting. However, there are a number of greeting expressions, most of which are used metaphorically and pragmatically. A few of these include: daaÊ”e buʃʃu, suk’k’u daaÊ”e, sururu daaÊ”e and suk’k’u sururu daaÊ”e, all of which are referring to 'welcome' with different degrees of endearment. The greeting expressions differed based on gender of the interlocutors. However, a few of the greeting phrases were commonly used by women and men. Much of the greeting expressions were accompanied by non-verbal body languages, such as kissing and bowing. Kissing on cheek, lips, and knees were used to greet people of different ages, powers, social relationships, and sexes. There are restrictions on who may or may not kiss who. It was found that a son-in-law never kisses or hugs his mother-in-law. Father-in-laws can kiss his son-in laws and vice versa. A father-in law cannot kiss his daughter-in-law. Similarly, a daughter-in-law never greets by kissing her father-in-law, but she can do so to greet her mother-in-law. It was suggested that the greeting culture has to be well documented, and taught to the children of Sidama, who are already studying Sidama language from grade one to the higher education, and to others who may be using the language instrumentally.


Key words: Culture, greeting, pragmatics, Sidama, sociolinguistics.