Wolaytta is a North Omotic language of the Ometo group spoken in the Wolayita Zone and some other parts of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region of Ethiopia. The number of speakers of this language is estimated at 2,000,000 (1991 UBS); it is the native language of the Welayta people. The estimates of the population vary greatly because it is not agreed where the boundaries of the language are.
There are conflicting claims about how widely Wolaytta is spoken. The Ethnologue identifies one smaller dialect region: Zala. Some hold that Wolaytta has existed in written form since the 1940s, when the Sudan Interior Mission first devised a system for writing it. The writing system was later revised by a team led by Dr. Bruce Adams. They finished the New Testament in 1981 and the entire Bible in 2002. It was one of the first languages the Derg selected for their literacy campaign (1979–1991), before any other southern languages. Welaytta pride in their written language led to a fiercely hostile response in 1998 when the Ethiopian government distributed textbooks written in Wegagoda – an artificial language based on amalgamating Wolaytta with several closely related languages. As a result the textbooks in Wegagoda were withdrawn and teachers returned to ones in Wolaytta.
In speaking their language, the Wolaytta people use many proverbs. A large collection of them, in Ethiopian script, was published in 1987 (Ethiopian calendar) by the Academy of Ethiopian Languages.