family of western and southern Ethiopia
, taking its name from the Omo
River there. The Omotic languages are part of the larger Afro-Asiatic
family (sometimes called Afrasian
and formerly Hamito-Semitic
). They were traditionally classed with the neighbouring Cushitic
languages as a single branch, but more recent studies suggest there is a considerable difference between them, and Omotic might have been the first to branch off from the Afro-Asiatic stock.
None of the languages have familiar names (unless you count coincidences like Bench, Male, and Dime). There are also Basketo, Gamo-Gofa-Dawro, and Melo with significant populations. The main Omotic languages in terms of numbers are Wolayta (Welamo; many variant spellings of both) with two million, and Yemsa with half a million.
It is possible that they are actually two distinct branches of Afro-Asiatic wrongly lumped together. The North Omotic and South Omotic groups are quite different. Most of them are North Omotic; the South Omotic group contains only four languages, of which the largest is Aari with 100 000 speakers.