The Info List - Amharic

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(/æmˈhærɪk/[5][6][7] or /ɑːmˈhɑːrɪk/;[8] Amharic: አማርኛ, Amarəñña, IPA: [amarɨɲːa] ( listen)) is an Afroasiatic language of the Semitic branch, a member of the Ethiosemitic group. It is spoken as a mother tongue by the Amhara, and as a lingua franca by other populations residing in major cities and towns of Ethiopia. The language serves as the official working language of Ethiopia, and is also the official or working language of several of the states within the federal system.[9] With 21,811,600 total speakers as of 2007, including around 4,000,000 L2 speakers, Amharic
is the second-most commonly spoken Semitic language in the world, after Arabic.[10] Amharic
is written left-to-right using a script that grew out of the Ge'ez abugida – called, in the Ethiopian Semitic
Ethiopian Semitic
languages, fidel (ፊደል, "writing system", "letter", or "character") and abugida (አቡጊዳ, from the first four Ethiopic
letters, which gave rise to the modern linguistic term abugida).[11] There is no agreed way of transliterating Amharic
into Roman characters. The Amharic
examples in the sections below use one system that is common, though not universal, among linguists specialising in Ethiopian Semitic
Ethiopian Semitic
languages.[12][citation needed]


1 Background 2 Phonology 3 Writing system

3.1 Alphasyllabary 3.2 Gemination 3.3 Punctuation

4 Grammar

4.1 Pronouns

4.1.1 Personal pronouns 4.1.2 Reflexive pronouns 4.1.3 Demonstrative pronouns

4.2 Nouns

4.2.1 Gender Specifiers

4.2.2 Plural Archaic forms

4.2.3 Definiteness 4.2.4 Accusative 4.2.5 Nominalisation

4.3 Verbs

4.3.1 Conjugation 4.3.2 Gerund Verbal use Adverbial use

4.4 Adjectives

4.4.1 Nominal patterns 4.4.2 Denominalizing suffixes 4.4.3 Prefix yǝ 4.4.4 Adjective noun complex

5 Dialects 6 Literature 7 Rastafari
movement 8 Software 9 See also 10 References

10.1 Grammar 10.2 Dictionaries

11 External links

Background[edit] It has been the working language of courts, language of trade and everyday communications, the military, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church since the late 12th century and remains the official language of Ethiopia
today.[13][14] As of the 2007 census, Amharic
is spoken by 21.6 million native speakers in Ethiopia[1] and 4 million secondary speakers in Ethiopia.[2] Additionally, 3 million emigrants outside of Ethiopia
speak the language.[citation needed] Most of the Ethiopian Jewish
Ethiopian Jewish
communities in Ethiopia
and Israel speak Amharic.[15][citation needed] In Washington DC, Amharic
became one of the six non-English languages in the Language Access Act of 2004, which allows government services and education in Amharic.[16] Furthermore, Amharic
is considered a holy language by the Rastafari religion and is widely used among its followers worldwide. It is the most widely spoken language in the Horn of Africa.[17] Phonology[edit]


Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal

Nasal m n ɲ

Plosive voiceless p t

k ʔ

voiced b d


ejective pʼ tʼ

Affricate voiceless





t͡sʼ t͡ʃʼ

Fricative voiceless ɸ s ʃ


voiced β* z ʒ


l j w



* – Only in loanwords

The Amharic
ejective consonants correspond to the Proto-Semitic "emphatic consonants", usually transcribed with a dot below the letter. The consonant and vowel tables give these symbols in parentheses where they differ from the standard IPA symbols.

The vowels of Amharic
on a vowel chart.[18]


Front Central Back

High i ɨ (ə) u

Mid e ə (ä) o



Writing system[edit]

The Ethiopic
(or Ge'ez) writing system is visible on the side of this Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines
Fokker 50: it reads "Ethiopia's": የኢትዮጵያ ye-ʾityop̣p̣ya.

See also: Ge'ez script
Ge'ez script
and Amharic
Braille The Amharic
script is an abugida, and the graphemes of the Amharic writing system are called fidel.[19] Each character represents a consonant+vowel sequence, but the basic shape of each character is determined by the consonant, which is modified for the vowel. Some consonant phonemes are written by more than one series of characters: /ʔ/, /s/, /sʼ/, and /h/ (the last one has four distinct letter forms). This is because these fidel originally represented distinct sounds, but phonological changes merged them.[19] The citation form for each series is the consonant+ä form, i.e. the first column of the fidel. The Amharic
script is included in Unicode, and glyphs are included in fonts available with major operating systems.

A modern usage of Amharic: the label of a Coca-Cola
bottle. The script reads ኮካ-ኮላ (koka-kola).


Chart of Amharic

  ä/e [ə] u i a ē ə [ɨ], ∅ o ʷä/ue [ʷə] ʷi/ui ʷa/ua ʷē/uē ʷə [ʷɨ/ū]

ɦ ሀ ሁ ሂ ሃ ሄ ህ ሆ  

l ለ ሉ ሊ ላ ሌ ል ሎ   ሏ  

ħ ሐ ሑ ሒ ሓ ሔ ሕ ሖ   ሗ  

m መ ሙ ሚ ማ ሜ ም ሞ   ሟ  

ɬ ሠ ሡ ሢ ሣ ሤ ሥ ሦ   ሧ  

r ረ ሩ ሪ ራ ሬ ር ሮ   ሯ  

s ሰ ሱ ሲ ሳ ሴ ስ ሶ   ሷ  

ʃ ሸ ሹ ሺ ሻ ሼ ሽ ሾ   ሿ  

qʼ ቀ ቁ ቂ ቃ ቄ ቅ ቆ ቈ ቊ ቋ ቌ ቍ

b በ ቡ ቢ ባ ቤ ብ ቦ   ቧ  

β ቨ ቩ ቪ ቫ ቬ ቭ ቮ   ቯ  

t ተ ቱ ቲ ታ ቴ ት ቶ   ቷ  

ʧ ቸ ቹ ቺ ቻ ቼ ች ቾ   ቿ  

χ ኀ ኁ ኂ ኃ ኄ ኅ ኆ ኈ ኊ ኋ ኌ ኍ

n ነ ኑ ኒ ና ኔ ን ኖ   ኗ  

ɲ ኘ ኙ ኚ ኛ ኜ ኝ ኞ   ኟ  

ʔ አ ኡ ኢ ኣ ኤ እ ኦ   ኧ  

k ከ ኩ ኪ ካ ኬ ክ ኮ ኰ ኲ ኳ ኴ ኵ

x ኸ ኹ ኺ ኻ ኼ ኽ ኾ ዀ ዂ ዃ ዄ ዅ

w ወ ዉ ዊ ዋ ዌ ው ዎ  

ʢ ዐ ዑ ዒ ዓ ዔ ዕ ዖ  

z ዘ ዙ ዚ ዛ ዜ ዝ ዞ   ዟ  

ʒ ዠ ዡ ዢ ዣ ዤ ዥ ዦ   ዧ  

j የ ዩ ዪ ያ ዬ ይ ዮ  

d ደ ዱ ዲ ዳ ዴ ድ ዶ   ዷ  

ʤ ጀ ጁ ጂ ጃ ጄ ጅ ጆ   ጇ  

g ገ ጉ ጊ ጋ ጌ ግ ጎ ጐ ጒ ጓ ጔ ጕ

tʼ ጠ ጡ ጢ ጣ ጤ ጥ ጦ   ጧ  

ʧʼ ጨ ጩ ጪ ጫ ጬ ጭ ጮ   ጯ  

pʼ ጰ ጱ ጲ ጳ ጴ ጵ ጶ   ጷ  

ʦʼ ጸ ጹ ጺ ጻ ጼ ጽ ጾ   ጿ  

ƛʼ ፀ ፁ ፂ ፃ ፄ ፅ ፆ  

ɸ ፈ ፉ ፊ ፋ ፌ ፍ ፎ   ፏ  

p ፐ ፑ ፒ ፓ ፔ ፕ ፖ   ፗ  

  ä/e [ə] u i a ē ə [ɨ], ∅ o ʷ/ue [ʷə/ū] ʷi/ui ʷa/ua ʷē/uē ʷə [ʷɨ/ū]

Gemination[edit] As in most other Ethiopian Semitic
Ethiopian Semitic
languages, gemination is contrastive in Amharic. That is, consonant length can distinguish words from one another; for example, alä 'he said', allä 'there is'; yǝmätall 'he hits', yǝmmättall 'he is hit'. Gemination is not indicated in Amharic
orthography, but Amharic
readers typically do not find this to be a problem. This property of the writing system is analogous to the vowels of Arabic
and Hebrew or the tones of many Bantu languages, which are not normally indicated in writing. Ethiopian novelist Haddis Alemayehu, who was an advocate of Amharic orthography reform, indicated gemination in his novel Fǝqǝr Ǝskä Mäqabǝr by placing a dot above the characters whose consonants were geminated, but this practice is rare. Punctuation[edit] Punctuation includes the following:

section mark
word separator
full stop (period)
preface colon (introduces speech from a descriptive prefix)
question mark
paragraph separator


Simple Amharic

One may construct simple Amharic
sentences by using a subject and a predicate. Here are a few simple sentences:[22]

ኢትዮጵያ ʾItyop̣p̣ya Ethiopia

አፍሪቃ ʾAfrika Africa

ውስጥ wǝsṭ inside

ናት nat is

ኢትዮጵያ አፍሪቃ ውስጥ ናት ʾItyop̣p̣ya ʾAfrika wǝsṭ nat Ethiopia
Africa inside is ' Ethiopia
is in Africa.'

ልጁ Lǝǧ-u the boy

ተኝቷል täññǝtʷall. asleep is

ልጁ ተኝቷል Lǝǧ-u täññǝtʷall. the boy asleep is 'The boy is asleep.' (-u is a definite article. Lǝǧ is 'boy'. Lǝǧu is 'the boy')

አየሩ Ayyäru the weather

ደስ däss pleasant

ይላል yǝlall. is

አየሩ ደስ ይላል Ayyäru däss yǝlall. the weather pleasant is 'The weather is pleasant.'

እሱ Ǝssu he

ወደ wädä to

ከተማ kätäma city

መጣ mäṭṭa came

እሱ ወደ ከተማ መጣ Ǝssu wädä kätäma mäṭṭa he to city came 'He came to the city.'

Pronouns[edit] Personal pronouns[edit] In most languages, there is a small number of basic distinctions of person, number, and often gender that play a role within the grammar of the language. The distinctions within the basic set of independent personal pronouns can be seen in English I, Amharic
እኔ ǝne; English she, Amharic
እሷ ǝsswa. In Amharic, as in other Semitic languages, the same distinctions appear in three other places in their grammar.

Subject–verb agreement

All Amharic
verbs agree with their subjects; that is, the person, number, and (in the second- and third-person singular) gender of the subject of the verb are marked by suffixes or prefixes on the verb. Because the affixes that signal subject agreement vary greatly with the particular verb tense/aspect/mood, they are normally not considered to be pronouns and are discussed elsewhere in this article under verb conjugation.

Object pronoun suffixes

verbs often have additional morphology that indicates the person, number, and (second- and third-person singular) gender of the object of the verb.

አልማዝን almazǝn Almaz-ACC

አየኋት ayyähʷ-at I saw her

አልማዝን አየኋት almazǝn ayyähʷ-at Almaz-ACC I saw her 'I saw Almaz.'

While morphemes such as -at in this example are sometimes described as signaling object agreement, analogous to subject agreement, they are more often thought of as object pronoun suffixes because, unlike the markers of subject agreement, they do not vary significantly with the tense/aspect/mood of the verb. For arguments of the verb other than the subject or the object, there are two separate sets of related suffixes, one with a benefactive meaning (to, for), the other with an adversative or locative meaning (against, to the detriment of, on, at).

ለአልማዝ läʾalmaz for-Almaz

በሩን bärrun door-DEF-ACC

ከፈትኩላት käffätku-llat I opened for her

ለአልማዝ በሩን ከፈትኩላት läʾalmaz bärrun käffätku-llat for-Almaz door-DEF-ACC I opened for her 'I opened the door for Almaz.'

በአልማዝ bäʾalmaz on-Almaz

በሩን bärrun door-DEF-ACC

ዘጋሁባት zäggahu-bbat I closed on her

በአልማዝ በሩን ዘጋሁባት bäʾalmaz bärrun zäggahu-bbat on-Almaz door-DEF-ACC I closed on her 'I closed the door on Almaz (to her detriment).'

Morphemes such as -llat and -bbat in these examples will be referred to in this article as prepositional object pronoun suffixes because they correspond to prepositional phrases such as for her and on her, to distinguish them from the direct object pronoun suffixes such as -at 'her'.

Possessive suffixes

has a further set of morphemes that are suffixed to nouns, signalling possession: ቤት bet 'house', ቤቴ bete, my house, ቤቷ; betwa, her house. In each of these four aspects of the grammar, independent pronouns, subject–verb agreement, object pronoun suffixes, and possessive suffixes, Amharic
distinguishes eight combinations of person, number, and gender. For first person, there is a two-way distinction between singular (I) and plural (we), whereas for second and third persons, there is a distinction between singular and plural and within the singular a further distinction between masculine and feminine (you m. sg., you f. sg., you pl., he, she, they). Amharic
is a pro-drop language: neutral sentences in which no element is emphasized normally omit independent pronouns: ኢትዮጵያዊ ነው ʾityop̣p̣yawi näw 'he's Ethiopian', ጋበዝኳት gabbäzkwat 'I invited her'. The Amharic
words that translate he, I, and her do not appear in these sentences as independent words. However, in such cases, the person, number, and (second- or third-person singular) gender of the subject and object are marked on the verb. When the subject or object in such sentences is emphasized, an independent pronoun is used: እሱ ኢትዮጵያዊ ነው ǝssu ʾityop̣p̣yawi näw 'he's Ethiopian', እኔ ጋበዝኳት ǝne gabbäzkwat 'I invited her', እሷን ጋበዝኳት ǝsswan gabbäzkwat 'I invited her'. The table below shows alternatives for many of the forms. The choice depends on what precedes the form in question, usually whether this is a vowel or a consonant, for example, for the 1st person singular possessive suffix, አገሬ agär-e 'my country', ገላዬ gäla-ye 'my body'.

Personal Pronouns

English Independent Object pronoun suffixes Possessive suffixes

Direct Prepositional

Benefactive Locative/Adversative

I እኔ ǝne -(ä/ǝ)ñ -(ǝ)llǝñ -(ǝ)bbǝñ -(y)e

you (m. sg.) አንተ antä -(ǝ)h -(ǝ)llǝh -(ǝ)bbǝh -(ǝ)h

you (f. sg.) አንቺ anči -(ǝ)š -(ǝ)llǝš -(ǝ)bbǝš -(ǝ)š

you (polite) እርስዎ ərswo -(ǝ)wo(t) -(ǝ)llǝwo(t) -(ǝ)bbǝwo(t) -wo

he እሱ ǝssu -(ä)w, -t -(ǝ)llät -(ǝ)bbät -(w)u

she እሷ ǝsswa -at -(ǝ)llat -(ǝ)bbat -wa

s/he (polite) እሳቸው ǝssaččäw -aččäw -(ǝ)llaččäw -(ǝ)bbaččäw -aččäw

we እኛ ǝñña -(ä/ǝ)n -(ǝ)llǝn -(ǝ)bbǝn -aččǝn

you (pl.) እናንተ ǝnnantä -aččǝhu -(ǝ)llaččǝhu -(ǝ)bbaččǝhu -aččǝhu

they እነሱ ǝnnässu -aččäw -(ǝ)llaččäw -(ǝ)bbaččäw -aččäw

Within second- and third-person singular, there are two additional polite independent pronouns, for reference to people to whom the speaker wishes to show respect. This usage is an example of the so-called T–V distinction
T–V distinction
that is made in many languages. The polite pronouns in Amharic
are እርስዎ ǝrswo 'you (sg. polite)'. and እሳቸው ǝssaččäw 's/he (polite)'. Although these forms are singular semantically—they refer to one person—they correspond to third-person plural elsewhere in the grammar, as is common in other T–V systems. For the possessive pronouns, however, the polite 2nd person has the special suffix -wo 'your sg. pol.' For possessive pronouns (mine, yours, etc.), Amharic
adds the independent pronouns to the preposition yä- 'of': የኔ yäne 'mine', ያንተ yantä 'yours m. sg.', ያንቺ yanči 'yours f. sg.', የሷ yässwa 'hers', etc. Reflexive pronouns[edit] For reflexive pronouns ('myself', 'yourself', etc.), Amharic
adds the possessive suffixes to the noun ራስ ras 'head': ራሴ rase 'myself', ራሷ raswa 'herself', etc. Demonstrative pronouns[edit] Like English, Amharic
makes a two-way distinction between near ('this, these') and far ('that, those') demonstrative expressions (pronouns, adjectives, adverbs). Besides number, as in English, Amharic
also distinguishes masculine and feminine gender in the singular.

demonstrative pronouns

Number, Gender Near Far

Singular Masculine ይህ yǝh(ǝ) ያ ya

Feminine ይቺ yǝčči, ይህች yǝhǝčč ያቺ yačči

Plural እነዚህ ǝnnäzzih እነዚያ ǝnnäzziya

There are also separate demonstratives for formal reference, comparable to the formal personal pronouns: እኚህ ǝññih 'this, these (formal)' and እኒያ ǝnniya 'that, those (formal)'. The singular pronouns have combining forms beginning with zz instead of y when they follow a preposition: ስለዚህ sǝläzzih 'because of this; therefore', እንደዚያ ǝndäzziya 'like that'. Note that the plural demonstratives, like the second and third person plural personal pronouns, are formed by adding the plural prefix እነ ǝnnä- to the singular masculine forms. Nouns[edit] Amharic
nouns can be primary or derived. A noun like ǝgǝr 'foot, leg' is primary, and a noun like ǝgr-äñña 'pedestrian' is a derived noun. Gender[edit] Amharic
nouns can have a masculine or feminine gender. There are several ways to express gender. An example is the old suffix -t for femininity. This suffix is no longer productive and is limited to certain patterns and some isolated nouns. Nouns and adjectives ending in -awi usually take the suffix -t to form the feminine form, e.g. ityop̣p̣ya-(a)wi 'Ethiopian (m.)' vs. ityop̣p̣ya-wi-t 'Ethiopian (f.)'; sämay-awi 'heavenly (m.)' vs. sämay-awi-t 'heavenly (f.)'. This suffix also occurs in nouns and adjective based on the pattern qǝt(t)ul, e.g. nǝgus 'king' vs. nǝgǝs-t 'queen' and qǝddus 'holy (m.)' vs. qǝddǝs-t 'holy (f.)'. Some nouns and adjectives take a feminine marker -it: lǝǧ 'child, boy' vs. lǝǧ-it 'girl'; bäg 'sheep, ram' vs. bäg-it 'ewe'; šǝmagǝlle 'senior, elder (m.)' vs. šǝmagǝll-it 'old woman'; t'ot'a 'monkey' vs. t'ot'-it 'monkey (f.)'. Some nouns have this feminine marker without having a masculine opposite, e.g. šärär-it 'spider', azur-it 'whirlpool, eddy'. There are, however, also nouns having this -it suffix that are treated as masculine: säraw-it 'army', nägar-it 'big drum'. The feminine gender is not only used to indicate biological gender, but may also be used to express smallness, e.g. bet-it-u 'the little house' (lit. house-FEM-DEF). The feminine marker can also serve to express tenderness or sympathy. Specifiers[edit] Amharic
has special words that can be used to indicate the gender of people and animals. For people, wänd is used for masculinity and set for femininity, e.g. wänd lǝǧ 'boy', set lǝǧ 'girl'; wänd hakim 'physician, doctor (m.)', set hakim 'physician, doctor (f.)'. For animals, the words täbat, awra, or wänd (less usual) can be used to indicate masculine gender, and anəst or set to indicate feminine gender. Examples: täbat t'ǝǧa 'calf (m.)'; awra doro 'cock (rooster)'; set doro 'hen'. Plural[edit] The plural suffix -očč is used to express plurality of nouns. Some morphophonological alternations occur depending on the final consonant or vowel. For nouns ending in a consonant, plain -očč is used: bet 'house' becomes bet-očč 'houses'. For nouns ending in a back vowel (-a, -o, -u), the suffix takes the form -ʷočč, e.g. wǝšša 'dog', wǝšša-ʷočč 'dogs'; käbäro 'drum', käbäro-ʷočč 'drums'. Nouns that end in a front vowel pluralize using -ʷočč or -yočč, e.g. ṣähafi 'scholar', ṣähafi-ʷočč or ṣähafi-yočč 'scholars'. Another possibility for nouns ending in a vowel is to delete the vowel and use plain očč, as in wǝšš-očč 'dogs'. Besides using the normal external plural (-očč), nouns and adjectives can be pluralized by way of reduplicating one of the radicals. For example, wäyzäro 'lady' can take the normal plural, yielding wäyzär-očč, but wäyzazər 'ladies' is also found (Leslau 1995:173). Some kinship-terms have two plural forms with a slightly different meaning. For example, wändǝmm 'brother' can be pluralized as wändǝmm-očč 'brothers' but also as wändǝmmam-ač 'brothers of each other'. Likewise, ǝhǝt 'sister' can be pluralized as ǝhǝt-očč ('sisters'), but also as ǝtǝmm-am-ač 'sisters of each other'. In compound words, the plural marker is suffixed to the second noun: betä krǝstiyan 'church' (lit. house of Christian) becomes betä krǝstiyan-očč 'churches'. Archaic forms[edit] Amsalu Aklilu has pointed out that Amharic
has inherited a large number of old plural forms directly from Classical Ethiopic
(Ge'ez) (Leslau 1995:172). There are basically two archaic pluralising strategies, called external and internal plural. The external plural consists of adding the suffix -an (usually masculine) or -at (usually feminine) to the singular form. The internal plural employs vowel quality or apophony to pluralize words, similar to English man vs. men and goose vs. geese. Sometimes combinations of the two systems are found. The archaic plural forms are sometimes used to form new plurals, but this is only considered grammatical in more established cases.

Examples of the external plural: mämhǝr 'teacher', mämhǝr-an; t'äbib 'wise person', t'äbib-an; kahǝn 'priest', kahǝn-at; qal 'word', qal-at. Examples of the internal plural: dǝngǝl 'virgin', dänagǝl; hagär 'land', ahǝgur. Examples of combined systems: nǝgus 'king', nägäs-t; kokäb 'star', käwakǝb-t; mäs'ǝhaf 'book', mäs'ahǝf-t.

Definiteness[edit] If a noun is definite or specified, this is expressed by a suffix, the article, which is -u or -w for masculine singular nouns and -wa, -itwa or -ätwa for feminine singular nouns. For example:

masculine sg masculine sg definite feminine sg feminine sg definite

bet bet-u gäräd gärad-wa

house the house maid the maid

In singular forms, this article distinguishes between the male and female gender; in plural forms this distinction is absent, and all definites are marked with -u, e.g. bet-očč-u 'houses', gäräd-očč-u 'maids'. As in the plural, morphophonological alternations occur depending on the final consonant or vowel. Accusative[edit] Amharic
has an accusative marker, -(ə)n. Its use is related to the definiteness of the object, thus Amharic
shows differential object marking. In general, if the object is definite, possessed, or a proper noun, the accusative must be used (Leslau 1995: pp. 181 ff.).

lǝǧ-u child-DEF

wǝšša-w-ǝn dog-DEF-ACC

abbarär-ä. drove.away-3MS.SUBJ

lǝǧ-u wǝšša-w-ǝn abbarär-ä. child-DEF dog-DEF-ACC drove.away-3MS.SUBJ 'The child drove the dog away.'

*lǝǧ-u child-DEF

wǝšša-w dog-DEF

abbarär-ä. drove.away

*lǝǧ-u wǝšša-w abbarär-ä. child-DEF dog-DEF drove.away 'The child drove the dog away.'

The accusative suffix is usually placed after the first word of the noun phrase:

Yǝh-ǝn this-ACC

sä’at watch

gäzz-ä. buy-3MS.SUBJ

Yǝh-ǝn sä’at gäzz-ä. this-ACC watch buy-3MS.SUBJ 'He bought this watch.'

Nominalisation[edit] Amharic
has various ways to derive nouns from other words or other nouns. One way of nominalising consists of a form of vowel agreement (similar vowels on similar places) inside the three-radical structures typical of Semitic languages. For example:

CəCäC: – ṭǝbäb 'wisdom'; hǝmäm 'sickness' CəCCaC-e: – wǝffar-e 'obesity'; č'ǝkkan-e 'cruelty' CəC-ät: – rǝṭb-ät 'moistness'; 'ǝwq-ät 'knowledge'; wəfr-ät 'fatness'.

There are also several nominalising suffixes.

-ǝnna: – 'relation'; krǝst-ənna 'Christianity'; sənf-ənna 'laziness'; qes-ǝnna 'priesthood'. -e, suffixed to place name X, yields 'a person from X': goǧǧam-e 'someone from Gojjam'. -äñña and -täñña serve to express profession, or some relationship with the base noun: ǝgr-äñña 'pedestrian' (from ǝgǝr 'foot'); bärr-äñña 'gate-keeper' (from bärr 'gate'). -ǝnnät and -nnät – '-ness'; ityop̣p̣yawi-nnät 'Ethiopianness'; qǝrb-ənnät 'nearness' (from qǝrb 'near').

Verbs[edit] Conjugation[edit] As in other Semitic languages, Amharic
verbs use a combination of prefixes and suffixes to indicate the subject, distinguishing 3 persons, two numbers, and (in all persons except first-person and "honorific" pronouns) two genders. Gerund[edit] Along with the infinitive and the present participle, the gerund is one of three non-finite verb forms. The infinitive is a nominalized verb, the present participle expresses incomplete action, and the gerund expresses completed action, e.g. ali məsa bälto wädä gäbäya hedä 'Ali, having eaten lunch, went to the market'. There are several usages of the gerund depending on its morpho-syntactic features. Verbal use[edit] The gerund functions as the head of a subordinate clause (see the example above). There may be more than one gerund in one sentence. The gerund is used to form the following tense forms:

present perfect nägro -all/näbbär 'He has said'. past perfect nägro näbbär 'He had said'. possible perfect nägro yǝhonall 'He (probably) has said'.

Adverbial use[edit] The gerund can be used as an adverb: alfo alfo yǝsǝqall 'Sometimes he laughs'. (From ማለፍ 'to pass'; lit. "passing passing") ǝne dägmo mämṭat ǝfällǝgallähu 'I also want to come'. (From መድገም 'to repeat'; lit. "I, repeating, want to come") Adjectives[edit] Adjectives are words or constructions used to qualify nouns. Adjectives in Amharic
can be formed in several ways: they can be based on nominal patterns, or derived from nouns, verbs and other parts of speech. Adjectives can be nominalized by way of suffixing the nominal article (see Nouns above). Amharic
has few primary adjectives. Some examples are dägg 'kind, generous', dǝda 'mute, dumb, silent', bi č̣a 'yellow'. Nominal patterns[edit]

CäCCaC – käbbad 'heavy'; läggas 'generous' CäC(C)iC – räqiq 'fine, subtle'; addis 'new' CäC(C)aCa – säbara 'broken'; ṭämama 'bent, wrinkled' CəC(C)əC – bǝlǝh 'intelligent, smart'; dǝbbǝq' 'hidden' CəC(C)uC – kǝbur 'worthy, dignified'; t'ǝqur 'black'; qəddus 'holy'

Denominalizing suffixes[edit]

-äñña – hayl-äñña 'powerful' (from hayl 'power'); ǝwnät-äñña 'true' (from ǝwnät 'truth') -täñña – aläm-täñña 'secular' (from aläm 'world') -awi – lǝbb-awi 'intelligent' (from lǝbb 'heart'); mǝdr-awi 'earthly' (from mǝdr 'earth'); haymanot-awi 'religious' (from haymanot 'religion')

Prefix yǝ[edit]

yǝ-kätäma 'urban' (lit. 'from the city'); yǝ-krästänna 'Christian' (lit. 'of Christianity'); yǝ-wǝšhet 'wrong' (lit. 'of falsehood').

Adjective noun complex[edit] The adjective and the noun together are called the 'adjective noun complex'. In Amharic, the adjective precedes the noun, with the verb last; e.g. kǝfu geta 'a bad master'; təlləq bet särra (lit. big house he-built) 'he built a big house'. If the adjective noun complex is definite, the definite article is suffixed to the adjective and not to the noun, e.g. tǝllǝq-u bet (lit. big-def house) 'the big house'. In a possessive construction, the adjective takes the definite article, and the noun takes the pronominal possessive suffix, e.g. tǝllǝq-u bet-e (lit. big-def house-my) "my big house". When enumerating adjectives using -nna 'and', both adjectives take the definite article: qonǧo-wa-nna astäway-wa lǝǧ mäṭṭačč (lit. pretty-def-and intelligent-def girl came) "the pretty and intelligent girl came". In the case of an indefinite plural adjective noun complex, the noun is plural and the adjective may be used in singular or in plural form. Thus, 'diligent students' can be rendered tǝgu tämariʷočč (lit. diligent student-PLUR) or təguʷočč tämariʷočč (lit. diligent-PLUR student-PLUR). Dialects[edit] Not much has been published about Amharic
dialect differences. All dialects are mutually intelligible, but certain minor variations are noted.[23][24] Mittwoch described a form of Amharic
spoken by the descendants of Weyto language speakers,[25] but it was likely not a dialect of Amharic
so much as the result of incomplete language learning as the community shifted languages from Weyto to Amharic. Literature[edit]

The Ethiopian anthem (since 1992) in Amharic, done on manual typewriter.

There is a growing body of literature in Amharic
in many genres. This literature includes government proclamations and records, educational books, religious material, novels, poetry, proverb collections, dictionaries (monolingual and bilingual), technical manuals, medical topics, etc. The Holy Bible was first translated into Amharic
by Abu Rumi in the early 19th century, but other translations of the Bible into Amharic
have been done since. The most famous Amharic
novel is Fiqir Iske Meqabir (transliterated various ways) by Haddis Alemayehu (1909–2003), translated into English by Sisay Ayenew with the title Love unto Crypt, published in 2005 (ISBN 978-1-4184-9182-6). Rastafari
movement[edit] The word Rastafari
comes from Ras Täfäri, the pre-regnal title of Haile Selassie I, composed of the Amharic
words Ras (literally "Head", an Ethiopian title equivalent to duke) and Haile Selassie's pre-regnal name, Tafari.[26] Many Rastafarians learn Amharic
as a second language, as they consider it to be sacred. After Haile Selassie's 1966 visit to Jamaica, study circles in Amharic
were organized in Jamaica as part of the ongoing exploration of Pan-African identity and culture.[27] Various reggae artists in the 1970s, including Ras Michael, Lincoln Thompson and Misty-in-Roots, have sung in Amharic, thus bringing the language to a wider audience. The Abyssinians, a reggae group, have also used Amharic, most notably in the song "Satta Massagana". The title was believed to mean "give thanks"; however, this phrase means "he thanked" or "he praised", as säţţä means "he gave", and amässägänä "thanks" or "praise". The correct way to say "give thanks" in Amharic
is one word, misgana. The word "satta" has become a common expression in Rastafari
vocabulary meaning "to sit down and partake".[28] Software[edit]

This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (July 2014)

is supported on most major Linux
distributions, including Fedora and Ubuntu. The Amharic
script is included in Unicode, Nyala font is included on Windows 7 (see YouTube
video)[29] and Vista ( Amharic
Language Interface Pack)[30] to display and edit using the Amharic
Script. In February 2010, Microsoft released its Windows Vista
Windows Vista
operating system in Amharic, enabling Amharic
speakers to use its operating system in their language. Google
has added Amharic
to its Language Tools[31] which allows typing Amharic
Script online without an Amharic
Keyboard. Since 2004 has Amharic
language Wiki that uses Ethiopic. In 2015 an Ethiopic
rendering method for computers using a keystroke for the default and a maximum of two keystrokes for the rest of the glyphs was granted a patent by the U.S. government.[32] In 2017 an Ethiopic rendering method for smartphones and iPad using a keystroke for the default and a maximum of two keystrokes for the rest of the glyphs was granted a patent by the U.S. government.[33] See also[edit]



^ a b Central Statistical Agency. 2010. "Population and Housing Census 2007 Report, National". Accessed 13 December 2016]. ^ a b Lewis, Lewis M.; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D., eds. (2015). Amharic. Ethnologue: Languages of the World (Eighteenth ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Retrieved 3 June 2017.  ^ Morgan, Mike (9 April 2010). "Complexities of Ethiopian Sign Language Contact Phenomena & Implications for AAU". l'Alliance française et le Centre Français des Etudes Ethiopiennes. Retrieved 3 June 2017.  ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Amharic". Glottolog
3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.  ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh; Collins English Dictionary (2003), Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary (2010) ^ "Amharic". Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
(3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) ^ "Amharic". Merriam-Webster
Dictionary.  ^ "Amharic". dictionary.com. Retrieved 10 August 2013.  ^ Gebremichael, M. (2011). Federalism and conflict management in Ethiopia: case study of Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State (PhD). United Kingdom: University of Bradford. hdl:10454/5388.  ^ "Amharic". Ethnologue. Retrieved 8 December 2017.  ^ " Amharic
alphabet, pronunciation and language". www.omniglot.com. Retrieved 26 July 2017.  ^ " Amharic
translation services Professional Amharic
interpreter". bostico.uk. Retrieved 26 July 2017.  ^ Meyer, Ronny (2006). " Amharic
as lingua franca in Ethiopia". Lissan: Journal of African Languages and Linguistics. 20 (1/2): 117–131 – via Academia.edu.  ^ Teferra, Anbessa (2013). "Amharic: Political and social effects on English loan words". In Rosenhouse, Judith; Kowner, Rotem. Globally Speaking: Motives for Adopting English Vocabulary in Other Languages. Multilingual Matters. p. 165.  ^ "Israel's Ethiopian Jews keep ancient language alive in prayer". Al-Monitor. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2017.  ^ "Language Access Act Fact Sheet" (PDF). 5 October 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2016.  ^ http://catalog.ihsn.org/index.php/catalog/3583/download/50086 ^ a b c Hayward, Katrina; Hayward, Richard J. (1999). "Amharic". Handbook of the IPA. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 44–50.  ^ a b Hudson, Grover. "Amharic". The World's Major Languages. 2009. Print. Ed. Comrie, Bernard. Oxon and New York: Routledge. pp. 594–617. ISBN 0-203-30152-8. ^ Daniels, Peter T.; Bright, William, eds. (1996). " Ethiopic
Writing". The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press, Inc. p. 573. ISBN 978-0-19-507993-7.  ^ "Principles and Specification for Mnemonic Ethiopic
Keyboards" (PDF). Retrieved 6 February 2012.  ^ habesha (28 September 2010). "Simple Amharic
Sentences". Bigaddis. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 18 May 2013.  ^ Anbessa Tefera (1999). "Differences Between the Amharic
Dialects of Gondär and Addis Abäba" in T. Parfitt and E. Trevisan Semi (eds.) The Beta Israel in Ethiopia
and Israel, Studies on the Ethiopian Jews, pp. 257–263, London: Curzon Press. ^ Amsalu Aklilu and Habte Mariam Marcos (1973). "The dialect of Wällo". Journal of Ethiopian Studies 2, 124–29. ^ Mittwoch, Eugen. 1907. "Proben aus dem amharischen Volksmund", Mittheilungen des Seminars für Orientalische Sprachen zu Berlin 10(2), pp. 185–241. ^ Kevin O'Brien Chang; Wayne Chen (1998). Reggae Routes: The Story of Jamaican Music. Temple University Press. pp. 242–. ISBN 978-1-56639-629-5. Retrieved 2 May 2013.  ^ Bernard Collins (The Abyssinians) Interview Archived 1 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine.. Published 4 November 2011 by Jah Rebel. Retrieved 4 May 2013. ^ "SNWMF 2005 – Performers". Snwmf.com. Retrieved 4 March 2012.  ^ " Amharic
Keyboard for Windows Vista". YouTube. 1 February 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2013.  ^ "የዳውንሎድ ዝርዝር፡- Windows Vista
Windows Vista
LIP". Microsoft.com. 29 January 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2013.  ^ "Google". Google. Retrieved 4 March 2012.  ^ US patent 9000957B2, Aberra Molla, " Ethiopic
character entry", published 2015-04-07, issued 2015-04-07  ^ US patent 9733724B2, Aberra Molla, "Phonetic keyboards", published 2017-08-15, issued 2017-08-15 


Ludolf, Hiob (1698). Grammatica Linguæ Amharicæ. Frankfort.

Abraham, Roy Clive (1968). The Principles of Amharic. Occasional Publication / Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.  [rewritten version of 'A modern grammar of spoken Amharic', 1941] Afevork, Ghevre Jesus (1905). Grammatica della lingua amarica: metodo pratico per l'insegnamento. R. Accademia dei Lincei. Retrieved 25 August 2012.  Afevork Ghevre Jesus
Afevork Ghevre Jesus
(1911). Il verbo amarico. Roma. Amsalu Aklilu & Demissie Manahlot (1990). T'iru ye'Amarinnya Dirset 'Indet Yale New! (An Amharic
grammar, in Amharic) Anbessa Teferra and Grover Hudson (2007). Essentials of Amharic. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag. Appleyard, David (1994). Colloquial Amharic. Routledge ISBN 0-415-10003-8 Carl Hubert, Armbruster (1908). Initia amharica: an Introduction to Spoken Amharic. The University Press. Retrieved 25 August 2012.  Baye Yimam (2007). Amharic
Grammar. Second Edition. Addis Ababa University. Ethiopia. Bender, M. Lionel. (1974) " Phoneme
frequencies in Amharic". Journal of Ethiopian Studies 12.1:19–24 Bender, M. Lionel and Hailu Fulass (1978). Amharic
verb morphology. (Committee on Ethiopian Studies, monograph 7.) East Lansing: African Studies Center, Michigan State University. Bennet, M. E. (1978). Stratificational Approaches to Amharic Phonology. PhD thesis, Ann Arbor: Michigan State University. Cohen, Marcel (1936). Traité de langue amharique. Paris: Institut d'Ethnographie. Cohen, Marcel (1939). Nouvelles études d'éthiopien merdional. Paris: Champion. Dawkins, C. H. (¹1960, ²1969). The Fundamentals of Amharic. Addis Ababa. Kapeliuk, Olga (1988). Nominalization in Amharic. Stuttgart: F. Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden. ISBN 3-515-04512-0 Kapeliuk, Olga (1994). Syntax of the noun in Amharic. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-03406-8. Łykowska, Laura (1998). Gramatyka jezyka amharskiego Wydawnictwo Akademickie Dialog. ISBN 83-86483-60-1 Leslau, Wolf (1995). Reference Grammar of Amharic. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden. ISBN 3-447-03372-X Praetorius, Franz (1879). Die amharische Sprache. Halle: Verlag der Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses.


Abbadie, Antoine d' (1881). Dictionnaire de la langue amariñña. Actes de la Société philologique, t. 10. Paris. Amsalu Aklilu (1973). English- Amharic
dictionary. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-572264-7 Baeteman, J.-É. (1929). Dictionnaire amarigna-français. Diré-Daoua Gankin, É. B. (1969). Amxarsko-russkij slovar'. Pod redaktsiej Kassa Gäbrä Heywät. Moskva: Izdatel'stvo `Sovetskaja Éntsiklopedija'. Guidi, I. (1901). Vocabolario amarico-italiano. Roma. Isenberg, Karl Wilhelm (1841). Dictionary of the Amharic
language: Amharic
and English: Englisch and Amharic. Retrieved 25 August 2012.  Guidi, I. (1940). Supplemento al Vocabolario amarico-italiano. (compilato con il concorso di Francesco Gallina ed Enrico Cerulli) Roma. Kane, Thomas L. (1990). Amharic–English Dictionary. (2 vols.) Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-02871-8 Leslau, Wolf (1976). Concise Amharic
Dictionary. (Reissue edition: 1996) Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-20501-4 Täsämma Habtä Mikael Gəṣṣəw (1953 Ethiopian calendar). Käsate Bərhan Täsämma. Yä-Amarəñña mäzgäbä qalat. Addis Ababa: Artistic.

External links[edit]

language edition of, the free encyclopedia

Wikivoyage has travel information for Amharic

For a list of words relating to Amharic, see the Amharic
category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Amharic

Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Amharic

Selected Annotated Bibliography on Amharic
by Grover Hudson at the Michigan State University website. US State Dept. FSI Amharic

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