Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Amharic Lesson

I promised I would include some information about the Amharic language. The picture to the right is of Genesis 26 written in Amharic. This information is from Wikipediapia. Ethiopia has eighty-four indigenous languages. Some of these are:
English is the most widely spoken foreign language and is taught in all secondary schools. Amharic was the language of primary school instruction, but has been replaced in many areas by local languages such as Oromifa and Tigrinya.

Amharic language
Not to be confused with the
Aramaic language.
Spoken in:
Total speakers:
27 million as a first language, between 7-15 million more as a second language
Language family:
Afro-Asiatic Semitic South Semitic Ethiopic South Ethiopic Amharic
Writing system:
Ge'ez alphabet
Official status
Official language of:
Ethiopia and the following specific regions: Addis Ababa City Council, Afar Region, Amhara Region, Benishangul-Gumaz Region, Dire Dawa Administrative council, Gambela Region, SNNPR
Amharic (አማርኛ āmariññā) is a Semitic language spoken in North Central Ethiopia by the Amhara. It is the second most spoken Semitic language in the world, after Arabic, and the "official working" language of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and thus has official status and use nationwide. Amharic is also the official or working language of several of the states within the federal system, including Amhara Region, the multi-ethnic Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region, and Afar Region, despite the latter's homogeneity. It has been the working language of government, the military, and of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church throughout modern times. Outside Ethiopia, Amharic is the language of some 2.7 million emigrants (notably in Egypt, Israel and Sweden), and is spoken in Eritrea by educated Eritreans of the preindependence generation and younger deportees from Ethiopia.
It is written, with some adaptations, with the
Ge'ez alphabet (used for the language of the same name) called fidel in Ethiopian Semitic languages (ፊደል fĭdel 'alphabet,' 'letter,' or 'character').

Note: The strange square boxes are the places where the Ge'ez characters should appear, but a special download was needed to translate them for this article.
Ge'ez (ግዕዝ Gəʿəz) is an abugida script which was originally developed to write Ge'ez, a Semitic language. In languages which use it, e.g. Amharic and Tigrinya, the script is called Fidäl (ፊደል), which means script or alphabet.
The Ge'ez script has been adapted to write other languages, usually Semitic ones. The most widespread use is for
Amharic in Ethiopia and Tigrinya in Eritrea and Ethiopia. It is also used for Sebatbeit, Me'en, and most other languages of Ethiopia. In Eritrea it is used for Tigre, and it is traditionally used for Blin, a Cushitic language. Some other languages in the Horn of Africa, such as Oromo, used to be written using Ge'ez but have migrated to Latin-based orthographies.The Ge'ez script is an abugida: each symbol represents a consonant+vowel combination, and the symbols are organized in groups of similar symbols on the basis of both the consonant and the vowel.
Ge'ez is written from left to right across the page.
In Ge'ez, each consonant can be combined with seven vowels:
ä, u, i, a, e, ə, o

You can listen to the sound of the language here. As for how much Amharic my husband and I speak...tinnish! I'll let you guess what that means.


Julie Cooper said...

Thanks for the lesson! Baye has been in the U.S. nearly 4 months. You would think that I would know some Amharic, but I only know three words: thank you, yes and no. I'm planning on making a jpg of a page from Baye's Amharic school work and posting on my blog one of these days. Frankly, it's all Greek to me. :)

Julie Cooper said...

Oh my! I just saw the ticker at the top of your page. Are they really going to be home in just 16 days? Wow!

Susy Q said...

My name is Susanna and I am fifteen years old. I noticed that you are adopting from are we! (My blog, if you're interested, is Good luck- I look forward to reading more!

patjrsmom said...

Julie, Yes they are home in just 15!!! (today) days! I have officially entered full-blown freak out mode! Although you may only know three Amharic words, they are three that I don't yet know. I'll be asking for that tutorial. (or I'll be calling Baye a lot!)
Susy, how exciting for your family. Your blog is very nice. My family is originally from CT. It's a good place to grow up!