Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ethiopian Word of the Week

Our Ethiopian daughter, H, was extremely fluent in her native Amharic when she arrived home a year ago. While we made valiant attempts to pick up words and phrases in her language, the need for her to learn English overshadowed our efforts.

As time went on, she spent less time listening to her Amharic music cds, reading her books in Amharic, playing the Amharic learning cd on the computer, or speaking with friends and family in her native tongue. Actually, when she spoke to people back in Ethiopia or adopted friends her in America, she readily began to slip into English during her conversations. When we met with two other adoptive families this summer, two of the teenage boys had arrived in the US less than a week prior and spoke mostly Amharic to one another. I watched as H listened to them and I asked her if she knew what they were saying. "I know what they are saying," she replied, "but I don't know how to answer them." Sigh.

So, we've made a recent addition to the weekly activities on the Ark. H selects a word from a small Ethiopian Amharic phrasebook we have and writes the English word, its Amharic equivalent and the phonetic spelling of it in English. Then, we try to use that word throughout the week. She has a compelling reason to practice her Amharic writing (which rarely happens). She tests many words by paging through the book and "trying out" words on the rest of us before selecting one. And we are beginning to prepare our vocabulary for a return trip to Ethiopia and (possibly) for conversation with a new family member who only speaks Amharic!

***I'm going to add the Ethiopian Word of the Week to my sidebar (granted I don't have the ge'ez characters at my disposal, but I'll post the English word and its phonetic Amharic counterpart.***

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