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Anbessa Teferra I Grover Hudson

Essentials of Amharic

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ISBN 97X-.i-X9645 -57 J--1

;n 21107 The Allthors

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Front cover: Page 31 H of lhc t;uuous Amharic now! Fiqr l.~f..l!

1\Jeqaher by Haddis Alemaychu

Production: DIP-Digital-Print, Witt~n I Gcnmmy

Printed on acid-free paper which falls within the guidelines

of the A~SI to ensure pennancnce and durability.

Preface 9

List of abbreviations 10


1. People and territory 11

1.2. Other Ethiopian languages 11
1.3. The linguistic classification of Amharic 14
1.3.1. Semitic 14
1.3.2. Afroasiatic 19
1.3.3. Ethiopian Semitic 19
1.4. Bilingualism in Ethiopia 22
1.5. Ethiopian national language policy 23
1.6. Amharic literature 24
1.7. Books for learning Amharic 25
1.8. References for 1 27


2. Amharic sounds 29
2.1. Consonants 29
2.1.1. Consonant variants 30
2.1.2. Labiovelar consonants 31
2.1.3. y and w insertion 31
2.1.4. y replacement 32
2.1.5. Long consonants 32
2.1.6. Palatalization 32
2.1.7. Labialization 33
2.2. Vowels 34
2.2.1. Vowel variants 34
2.2.2. Vowel elision 35
2.2.3. Vowel insertion 35
2.2.4. Vowel replacement 35
2.2.5. Voiceless vowel 35
2.3. Stress 35
2.4. Structure of words 36
2.5. Writing Amharic in European alphabets 37
3. Amharic words 39
3.1. Pronouns 39
3.1.1. Independent pronouns 39
3.1.2. Noun-possessive suffix pronouns 40
3.1.3. Verb-object suffix pronouns 41
3.1.4. Reflexive emphatic pronouns 42
3.1.5. Interrogative pronouns 42
3.2. Nouns 42
3.2.1. Masculine and feminine nouns 42
3.2.2. Definite nouns 43
3.2.3. Indefinite article 43
3.2.4. Noun plural suffix 43
3.2.5. Possessive 43
3.2.6. Definite object suffix 44
3.2.7. Contrast I topic suffix 44
3.2.8. Nouns derived from verbs 45 Verbal noun I infinitive 45 Place and instrument noun 45 Agent noun 46 Abstract noun 46 Nationality and language names 46
3.3. Prepositions 46
3.4. Adjectives 47
3.4.1. Derived adjectives 48
3.4.2. Comparative and superlative 48
3.5. Demonstratives 49
3.6. Numerals and time 50
3.7. Verbs 51
3.7.1. Roots, stems, and words 51 Twelve verb types 52 A-type and B-type verbs 53 C-type verbs 54 Verb roots with two consonants 54 Verb roots with initial a 54
3.7.2. Four basic verb conjugations 55 Past 55 Nonpast 56 Jussive and imperative 59 Converb 60
3.7.3. Infinitive 63
3.7.4. Verb of being 63
3.7.5. Verb of presence 64
3.7.6. Having I possession 65
3.7.7. Other tenses and moods 67 Past perfect 67 Obligation 67

6 Habitual past 67 Conditional perfect 67 Progressive aspect 67 To be about to do 68 To intend to do 68
3.7.8. Derived verbs 68 Causative 68 Passive I reflexive 70 Reciprocal ('each other') 71 Adjutative ('help to') 72 Repetitive 72 Verbs derived from nouns 73 Defective verbs 73
3.7.9. Derived verbs in Amharic dictionaries 73
3.7.10. 'Say' verbs 74
3.7.11. 'Do' verbs 75
3.7.12. Impersonal verbs 75

4. Amharic sentences 77
4.1. Sentence word order 77
4.1.1. Verb last 77
4.1.2. Subject and object order 77
4.1.3. Preverbal question words 78
4.1.4. Adverbs 78
4.1.5. The logic of word-order differences 78
4.2. Question particles 79
4.3. Noun-phrase word Order 79
4.4. Prepositions and postpositions 80
4.5. Coordination ('and') 81
4.6. Contrast ('but') 82
4.7. Adjective clauses 83
4.8. Noun clauses 84
4.9. Adverb clauses 85
4.10. Cleft sentences 87
4.11. Sentences in the appendices 88

5. Amharic writing 89
5.1. History of Amharic writing 89
5.1.1. Sumerian 89
5.1.2. Egyptian 89
5.1.3. Sinaitic 91
5.1.4. Greek 92
5.1.5. South Arabian 92
5.1.6. Ethiopic 93
5.1.7. Amharic 95
5.1.8. References for 5.1 95
5.2. Consonants and vowels in Amharic writing 96
5.3. Structure of the Amharic writing system 99
5.3.1. Patterns of vowel modification 99 Two-legged fidel 100 One-legged fidel 101 Three-legged fidel 101 Legless fidel 102
5.3.2. Homophonous fidel 102 Two ways to write ? 103 Four ways to write h 104 Two ways to write s 104 Two ways to write s' 105
5.3.3. Labiovelar and labialized consonants 105
5.3.4. Historically later fidel 106
5.3.5. Numbers 107
5.3.6. Long consonants not written 107
5.3.7. Alphabetical and dictionary order 108

Appendices to PART 2 (list of appendices) 111


Introduction 145
25 Exercises for learning to read Amharic 146
Answers to the exercises 174


Introduction to the wordlists 187

Amharic-English 189
English-Amharic 217
Index 251

This is a book for adult Ieamer~ of Amharic, for linguists, and for students of Ethio-
pian history and society who early in their study need a broad but thorough introduction
to the history, society, phonetics, grammar, vocabulary, and writing system of this major
language of Ethiopia. Nowadays Amharic is also being increasingly studied by the
second and third generation of emigrants from Ethiopia, who wish to preserve their
linguistic heritage in families where other languages may have. become the first language.
Travelers in Ethiopia will have an interest in Amharic, which is the.linguafranca, spoken
throughout the country. As a thorough introduction to the language, this bOok shc:mld be
of interest to all these groups.
Amharic is one of the fifty most important languages in the world, in terms of number
of speakers, and political, historical, and cultural importance. Its eighteen million or so
speakers live mainly in Ethiopia, but as the result of emigration since the 1970s, hundreds
of thousands in Amharic speakers now reside in Europe, the U.S., and Israel. Because of
its importance as a Semitic, African, and Ethiopian language, Amharic more than other
African languages has benefitted from the interest of linguists, who have written much on
the language, but tnost of this addressed to other specialists. In fact, the first European-
language grammar of Amharic was written in 1698, by Hiob Ludolf, in Latin.
There is an excellent and lengthy Amharic reference grammar by WolfLeslau (1995),
a two-volume Amharic-English dictionary by Thomas Kane (1990), good textbooks for
studying the language, and clever and imaginative books published in Addis Ababa and
directed eithet at learners or written tbr Amharic-speaking children. There are good
introductory grammars, and good short dictionaries of Amharic; see the list of books for
teaming Amharic, on pp. 25-27. But one can find both grammar and vocabulary only in
the textbooks, in which these are spread through the lessons. And the textbooks lack
discussion of Amharic history and the Ethiopian linguistic setting.
This book therefore satisfies the need for a thorough book-length introduction to
Amharic which includes an introduction to Amharic history and society (Part I}, a basic
survey of the grammar including the writing system (Part 2), and lengthy Amharic-
English and English-Amharic wordlists (Part 4). We satisfy two additional needs of such
a book: Amharic examples are fully presented in phonetic wtiting so knowledge of the
Amharic writing system is not required, while much of the grammar and vocabulary are
also presented. in Amharic writing for those who want and expect it. For those who want
to learn to read Amharic - absolutely necessary for those who expect ~o continue their
study of the language - a thorough .presentation of the Amharic writing system is
provided, and as Part 3 a set of graded lessons to learn it, as a way to write English.
We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Department of Linguistics and
Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Langtiages and the College of Arts and Letters of
Michigan State University, which made publication possible. The language map of
Ethiopia, Fig. 1.2, was drawn by Monika Feinen (Cologne). We owe thanks also to the
publisher, RUdiger Koppe, for important editorial assistance and advice.

Anbessa Teferra, Grover Hudson,

Hadera, Israel East Lansing, Michigan, USA

List of Abbreviations

1 first person (I, we)

2 second person (you)
3 third person (he I she I it I they)
A A-type verb
B B-typeverb
c consonant
Caus causative
Con contrast I topicalizing suffiX
DO definite object of verb
f feminine
gl glottalized
Imper imperative
impers impersonal
Inf infinitive
IPA International Phonetic Association
Juss jussive
m masculine
MV main verb suffix
n noun
Neg negative
PI plmal
prep preposition
pol polite
pron pronoun
Q question
Refl reflexive
Rei relative cJause
Sg singular
v vowel
vd voiced
vi intransitive verb
vl voiceless
vt transitive verb




Figure 1.1. Political map of Ethiopia with traditional provinces

From Harold Marcus, 1994, A History ofEthiopia
(University of California Press, p. 222)

Besides the eleven other Serhitic languages of Ethiopia. there are Cushitic, Omotic,
and Nilo-Saharan languages ilative to Ethiopia, some seventy-three living languages
listed in Table 1.1, 75 Ethiopian Languages, a list which also includes Semitic Ge'ez
and Gafat, no longer spoken but well documented. There are controversies concerning the
recognition of named speech varieties as either dialects or languages, but the number is
close to right; see Hudson 2004. Not included in Table 1.1 are Tigre, a Semitic language,
and Bilin, a Cushitic Agaw language, both of Eritrea.
There is considerable similarity among languages of Ethiopia, as in the following
features which tend to be found in Ethiopian Semitic, Cushitic, and Omotic languages
(Ferguson 1976, Tosco 2000):

1. contrast of plain and glottalized ejective consonants

2. verb idioms using the verb 'say'
3. word order with the verb last, and word formation largely by use of suffixes

This could be the result of bilingualism and mutual borrowing, resulting from long and
sustained contact between the languages, which the language map suggests. In fact, many
of these similarities may be attributed to the common heritage of the languages - their
common ancestry in the Mroasiatic language from which the Semitic, Cushitic, and
Omotic language groups are diverged, a language which was perhaps ftrst spoken and
diversified in Northeast Africa some eight to ten thousand years ago.
Table 1.2 presents the 1994 Ethiopian Census's numbers of Mother-tongue speakers
of Ethiopian languages and ethnic group members. According to the census, in 1994
Amharic was the most populous Ethiopian language with 17,372,913 mother-tongue
speakers, followed by Oromo with 16,777,975 (Oromo has perhaps another million
speakers in Somalia and Kenya). The 34,150,888 mother-tongue speakers of Amharic
and Oromo were 64% of the 1994 total population of Ethiopia, 53,130,779. (Further
linguistic analysis of the 1994 census is presented by Hudson 2003 and 2004. See the list
of references as 1.8.)

1.3. The linguistic classification of Amharic

1.3.1. Semitic. Amharic is a Semitic language, a descendant language of the original

Semitic (Proto-Semitic) language, spoken some 6,000 years ago. Despite its number of
speakers, Amharic has remained less known than other languages of the Semitic family,
which includes Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Akkadian, languages the critical
involvement of whose speakers in early Middle Eastern history and civilization has long
made them the focus of attention of European and Western scholarship. Despite the
importance of Ethiopia in the ancient Middle Eastern world as a juncture for trade
between Asia Minor, Egypt, India, and the rest of Africa, the Semitic languages of
Ethiopia have, relatively speaking, been little studied. In fact, the twelve Semitic
languages of Ethiopia represent linguistic diversity as great as anywhere else in the
Semitic family.
See as Figure 1.3 the Semitic famHy tree (after Faber 1997), which shows a typical
understanding of the relationship between Semitic languages of Ethiopia and Semitic
~guages of the Middle East.

~------------- ' ' ' ' . , . _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ---N-000-0-

Table 1.1. 75 Ethiopia~ languages --=-~--- ___,

=8!!1l&e_ and/or dialects of the language
1 Cilshitic; (191~guages)
1.1 Central (Agaw)
1.1.1 North East . - Xamtanl!tl. Xamir, f/(ayla West
Kemant, tQuara (Falasha) ___
1.1.2 South Awngi Ku'ltfal
1.2 East
1.2.1 Highland Bur}i
K.ambaala, Alaba, K'abeena, T'imbaaro
Hadiyya, Libido {Marak'o)
1.2.2 Lowland North (Saho-Afar} Saho {mainly in Eritrea), Afar South Oromo-Konso Oromo
) .2.i_f:.f;f_ _KQDSO
Oromo .. -- ............. ----- .. ...... .
group" . _
0 Konso
--- ----- fi;"M'Yia ro; 0iiJ- ................... ___. ____ -- 0. . -00.....-:--o
0 0

o ....

--------- --=----------- M,~siya (Bussq)___ 0 0 - - - . -------
~~.2.2 Omo-::r~a-------- 0 - ------- 0 --------o--0 . - - - - - - - - - - _ _ _ _ _ , ,_ _ 0 North Bwso
01.2.2.:i2.3-o....East Somali
West - .... _... -00- --- .. 'Aiiiore .... --0... . -- - -0
0 --- 0
r-:-:-o .. o..------- 0 .. o.... .. ...... --- 0- - - - ~-i>qg'i.~~qh (Gel~ :-::~~-------~===~=-- Dullay Harso-Dobase (Werize), Tsamaakko (Tsamay)
__________ ,, . ~lVW_f:14q_:9ollango__ _
--- ... 00
l. --o-o--J~IJ~~~ah~~ll.{~~ lan&!f!!:S.~~L. _.... __ ............ --ooo __,00 0- .... ...oo-
1-2::.:~1-----li-=B::..:e;:.;rt:=a...,--"_0---0---- Berta {Gamil~ Gebato, Un4_~!_Mayu, Fadashi). _ __,
2.3 Kunama
Ilit Kunama
-----+=:/l;.::it=:=.....-------- 0- ____0___.-ooooo---
2.4 -Koman. --o;;;"'(si,iiaJ --------o--------
---------------- ..... ......................

r--- Komo
ooooo-------------o ... - .... - .. _ _ _ _ ,,_ ... __________________,________

--- o------------0 ~am.E; . _---------' ---o-- --- .......... _0 _0_0_ -----

---0 ........... -~ ---------- __ 0_____ .......... . . _, __'/}'J_'!!!']!!J_{lftj_u.._k) oo-oo------- ----- "
L~ .o . ----- o~~J&nic_______ -.. yq~~E!... ..------- 0 ~--------------- ..... OoO .... o------- - 0-

-~~~.--!-~---~~-:-0: ___~:~~--~-=~=~-: ~~0 ... 01 ~r~=~~====:-~-0~~00-o:-~:~0-_
_____ - - - . ----------------------------------- jf!:}!;fn!':~rif:~Z;/urjl___ ....--- . . . . ___ _
----- ----------------- ---------------------------
------ ----.. _Me'en (Bodi, Tishena) ----o------------------ 0 ---::-----

~--0 -f-7:--o--..;.________ _ ... !.l!egu (Guagu); Muguji---- ________ _

2.6.2 Nera
!------------ ---------
.... ------- ----- ----0--
L~:.~:~. Nil~!ic ____ -____________, IAn)fl!a -------~-
1---------__ . . ___ -1
~%7FJ~~!f~ Sudan?) . __ _ .... -----------1
~gatom. (l'wkana)
2.1 Shabo -'---------t....::S.='ha=bc.;:...o f..Af.ikeyirl__ ____ ,_______ .,_...;.._;__ _.. _
3 ----Omotic (23 languages)
3.1 Mao Hozo, Sezo
Bambeshi, Diddesa
- - - - - - '---------~---1-'Ganz=::=:.:::.a..:::.(:::.:,on.:.,l~yin=S::::u:.::d:-ari?)_---------- - ......
1-3=:::.2___.---l~--'A.=ri~.;..:Di..:.;:'zt:;;;;.'___________-+---=-o-.~--- .. ., _______ ....___ .... _.___ .. ___
3.2.1 Ari group Ari (Bako)
l---~-+----------~!l' Banna, Kara
3.2.2 Dizi group Dizi (Maji)
------1-----------I-=M""'a;,:;,;;w;=.ii(N-=-=-,ao-...,..v - - - - ' - - - - - - ' - - -..- - - -
3.3 Ta/ne languaRes
3.3.1 Kefa (Gonga} group Kefa, Mocha (She/clra, She/caco)
Bworo (Shinasha)
Anfi/lo (Mao)
3.3.2 Yem . Yem(sa) (Ja,Yero)
3.3.3 Bene' group Bene', She, Mer
3.3.4 C'ara-Ometo -~-- _ .... . --- __ _C'ara (Qhara).__ .......- ........._ .... ___ : .............c:..~
.JJ.:1~. _. . ."North 9J!l~tQ. .... . . . .. .. . "tp'ela.Y..~{~...~~r {!S.f:Y.lpJ. ~on_l_!l)1 por~f!,. 99!11~ 9..9.[9 __
Malo (Melo), Zala
Maale -~~~~hQ~~tQ ___ ... - .. ---~!!!f..~r:~!'!l......... """. --..-- - ......... ----
Zayse, Zergulla
... Ganjule, Gatsame (Kachama), Gidicho (Harro)
I-4~---+-=E~th:-:i-op-=iian Semitic (of South Semitic} (121anguages)
_1:.!._ ___ .!'lorth.
. . _. ___ .......... ---..
.. ... _.....-_ ........ -t_<Je'ez
............ ___ ..... ____
4.2.1 South -----------t---- ...______ - - - - - -..- - - - - - - - - - -
... Southwest
.....;.;;;=-----t--='~;;.;..;.;..=..;;.._ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ --=-,--.... --------,-----------1
- 4.2.1....1____ . _ _Qafat_
---- tsl_a~"at . - Soddo_groiJQ_ s;djo riiiiine): DObbi rGOiot), Gaiiia --~~ . -- -- Mesg~~o~~..&~..
_4. --- Mesg!!!!___ ..
:: ~-~. M!.~@_jfr.~Ff~.~-=: :;~~---~~-~:~~--.~=- ----~~~:.. Gurage:.__... ------------------............. ---- Chaha~... .. __ _fhahs__!ofuher, Ezha, ~e!1 _Gura__,_ ..... - ____ _ Inor_gtyup_ !norl_Ennemor), Enner, Endegegn, Gyeto, fMesmes
4.2.2 _ -- .. Southeast ... _---- ______ Amharic:~fP!.. --- "A.;;hartc.. ---- . --- ----... -
1------+-------------- Harari-Silt'e-Zay__ --
__________ ----- -..----
-=-----=== Harari ... -- ___ -- Harari --------..---------. --- .. -- - -- - _ Silt'e-Zay ---- --=----- -------- ___ .. ________________,.__ _
_1:2.2.2~~.1 Silt'!_gro,!J_p Sil!'~~-C!f~preg, ~!J.~qf:?~-- Walane ___ ___ ___ . _ Zay . . ---~--- . --
s ---, Unclass~fiec!.iU~~: ...Qngot~iraleJ ______ ...... ____~

-------- ----- --------------------------
Table 1.2. Mother-tongue speakers and ethnic group members of
Ethiopian languages, ordered by nmnber of mother-tongue (MT) speakers 1
(C, N, 0, S =Cushitic, Nilosaharan, Omotic, and Semitic, respectively)

Ethno-linguistic MT speakers Ethnic group Ethno- MT speakers Ethnic group

group members linguistic group membeJ."S
Amara S 17,372,913 16,010,894 Dasenech C 32,064 32,014
Oromo C 16,777,975 17,088,136 Sheko 0 24 106 23,772
Tigraway S 3,224,875 3,284,443 Saho C 22,759 23,258
Somali c____ 3,187,053 ~~139,421 Harari s 21,283 22,884
Gurage S 1 881,574 2,290,332 Dizi 0 21,075 21,888
Sidaama C 1 876,329 1,842,444 Dorze 0 20 782 28,969
\Velayta 0 1 231,674 1,268,445 Mello 0 20,151 20,181
Afar C ------- 965,462 ... __ 97~,766__ --- Shinas~_.Q ---~9,7}_4 _ 32,669... -
HadiyyaC 923,957 927,747 Suri N ------..-- __ .. J.?.,!i~. ____ .),9,616 __
GamoO 690,069 719,862 OydaO 16,597 14,059
Gedeo C 637 082 _____639,879 Mesengo N 15,152 15,329
Kafa.Q.................. 569,626 599,146 .~Y.!~8f1l0~..~.......... J-4,!_77.. ... 1~,201_. --
Kambaata C 487,654___ -_- :_-_499~63"i. ..... Mao 0 ........ 13,657 ---- 16,226
Awngi c...... ........ 356,980__ _ }91}.491... ----~~.9... . ....... . J1J!~... q_1 _1~.4.
Kulo 0 313,228 3H!4 77 Argobba.~-- _... _______ .! O,~Q ...--t--...6.~.9_! ~ __
_GoffaO ! 233 340 241.~1~. -~yse 0 ....... __ , __10,17~.. .. .... 10,842 ......
Bench o .......... ~.n5_

!: -
173,586 , 173,149 ~~~~~!.N_ _ . ...7. 2~~ ..

~-~--~sg;:v~~t-- 5~: ~~=!


~rta ~-
F ......
.... :.!!~.98~f
...... 't1_8,67o
Dime 0
.. a~'C!Ll~.......
... __ ... ... (),189 . ____
4,570 _ . _____ 4,685... _ _
Koyra_Q ............. __!_!}3,!lJJ...... ..__ )07,586 _Arbore C _ 4,441 6,622 I
Timbaro C 82.803 86.499 Nao 0 .. 3.656 4 004 __
YemsaO 816!4 ___ 165,170 _ MursiN 3,278 _ 3,254
~uerN --- ___ 64,90~ ......... - 64,527. _ ... _!<a~,h!JEaO __.. __ 2,682 ___ 2,735 -
Basketo 0 57.805 51.089 Kunama N 1,883 2,003
Mocha 0 . 54 894 53 846 Kemant C
- - ------------.. --~--- ,, --=::...!.:.---- - - - - - - - - - ---- ---~
1 650 172 324
....... -~--- ...
Male_ 0 _ --- ..... - _--~77'!_ .. -------1~,1.~!. ...... _ _!(omaN. ...... .... . . ~,435 _ .._.. 12R _____
Me'enN ------~-~-!..<n?.. ... ____5~,~Q~. _Ganj~~~.Q ............1 .3.99..... _.1.!1~. __ _
.Gidole c...... -- _ .. _50,328.. . ---~4,339 __ . . .M~!.Q... __ .... ___ 989_ . . _ .....L!.??____ _
Konta 0 48 987 49,625 Shita N ___ 301 290
Anywak N.......... __1~_,646 .. __ --~~~~-- ,_.~!!..~-- ....... _, ______ 14_'!_ ___.. L ....... J.....~..........-

=~ :J~"*- ::.J~:-:~ ~}i =~--~;--r ~~~~=

=:__ ~~=---~-~-- !?~~-1-:Ji047"_:~;;~t?_
l. Office ofPopulation and Housing Census Commission, 1998, Tables 2.15 and 2.17.
2. Probably"" Kwegu ofNito-Saharan


South Centr

~ I
Ancientf Modern
S. Arabian S. Araf>ian
Arabic Canaanite

Amharic, Sabaln, HJ.'!-usi, Hebrew,
Tigrinya, Minean, Jibali, Phoeniciant,
Chaha, Qatabanian, Mehri,
Silt 'e, Hadramitic Soqotri

Figure 1.3. Semitic family tree

Afro asiatic


See above Kemant, Ari, Tuareg.
(25lgs.?) Afar, Bench, Shilh,
Oromo, Dizi, Tamazight, Dera,
Hadiyya, Hamer,
Sidaama, Kafa, (12lgs.?) (140 lgs.?)
Somali, Welaytta,

(25lgs.?) (23lgs.?)

Figure 1.4. Mroasiatiefamily tree

1.3.2. Afroasiatic. The Semitic languages are one of six recognized subgroups of the
Afroasiatic language family (regarding which see Bender et al. 2003), a language family
of greater numbers and diversity than Indo-European, the language family which includes
English and most European languages. Afroasiatic is also known as Afrasian and, in the
past, Hamito-Semitic. The other five Afroasiatic subgroups are Cushitic (of Ethiopia and
East Africa), Omotic (of Ethiopia), Egyptian (of Egypt), Berber (from Libya to Morocco
in North Africa), and Chadic (from Chad to Nigeria in West Africa). The great linguistic
diversity of the Afroasiatic family suggests that the Afroasiatic proto-language (from
which the modern languages descend) was spoken some 8-10.000 years ago, before
proto-Indo-European. See Figure 1.4, the Afroasiatic family tree.
The presence in Northeast Africa and Ethiopia specifically, of the three Afroasiatic
subgroups Cushitic, Omotic, and Semitic, and the proximity to Northeast Africa of the
three others (Egypt, Berber, and Chadic), is good evidence that the homeland of the
Afroasiatic speakers was in or near this region (see McCall 1998).

1.3.3. Ethiopian Semitic. The Semitic languages of Ethiopia are JJSually but not with
certainty divided into North and South. See as Figure 1.5 the Ethiopian Semitic Family
Tree; adapted from that of Hetzron 1972 (somewhat different from tile classification of
Table 1.1). North Ethiopian Semitic is three languages: Ge'ez, or Ethiopic, long extinct
as a spoken language; Tigre, spoken in western Eritrea but only marginally in Ethiopia
(so upon Eritrean independence not an Ethiopian language); and Tigrinya, the national
language of Eritrea but also the language of over three million Ethiopians. especially in
and near the Tigray province and region.
Ge'ez was the language of the Ethiopian Kingdom of Aksum, from about 200 BC
until 800-900 AD (Fattovich 2000: 3). Extinct as a spoken language since perhaps the
13111 century. Oe'ez survives in early Aksumite stone inscriptions and in numerous
medieval manuscripts, and also today as the liturgical language of the Ethiopian
Orthodox Christian Church. Ge'ez continues to be learned for use in the Ethiopian
Orthodox liturgy and for use in the classical poetic form qene.
It has been sometimes thought that Ge'ez is the ancestor language of all the modem
Ethiopian Semitic languages. This cannot be so, however, because (as shown by Hetzron
1972) there are elements ofGe'ez seemingly without trace in the modem languages (such
as pronouns Jimmuntu I Jimmantu 'they' m/f), and elements of the modem languages
absent in Ge'ez but present in Semitic languages outside Ethiopia (for example a word
oos:Jr 'meat'. in many South Ethiopian Semitic languages and Hebrew). Probably there is
no modem descendant of Oe'ez, and all the modern Ethiopian Semitic languages are
descended from languages which were contemporary with Ge'ez but remained unwritten
and unrecorded.
South Ethiopian Semitic is some ten languages in two groups, Southeast and
Southwest. The Southeast languages are Amharic paired with Argobba plus another
subgroup consisting of Harari and the so-called 'Eastern Gurage' languages Silt'e-
Ulbareg-Enneqor-Welane and Zay. (Hyphens here and in the family tree connect varieties
of speech which are thought to be mutually intelligible: that is, dialects of one language.)
The Southwest Ethiopian Semitic languages are Northern Gurage consisting of Kestane-
Goggot, Gafat (extinct since about 1950) and perhaps Mesqan, and Western Gurage with

Ezha-Gomera-Gura, and Central Western Gurage consisting of Endagenya-Gyeta-Ennar-
The languages known as 'Gurage' are those Ethiopian Semitic varieties of speech
found southwest of Addis Ababa in an approximately 100 square-mile area centered
about the town of Woliso. A confident count of these languages remains problematic
because of the uncertain degree of mutual intelligibility between the different varieties.
The 'Western Gurage' peoples are, it appears, those traditionally known to themselves as
Sebat Bet Gurage 'Seven Houses of Gurage'.

Ethiopian Semitic


Nortzer curage
l rth South

Gqfa , K.istane- Western Gurage
Amh z ,
Argobba zrage

Gogot, Mesqan . ---~ -.,- Silte-E neqor-

/ ~ Welane, Zay
Central Penpheral


Figure 1.5. Ethiopian Semitic family tree

------------------- -- ~--------------------------- ---- . ---------~-

Table 1.3. Major second language of speakers of 35 Ethiopian languages

having at least 40,000mother-tongue speakers 1

~1other- 1st second language and . 2nd second language and 3rd second language and
!ongue (Mn number of speakers number of speakers number of speakers
All MTs Amharic 5,104,149 Oromo 1,535,434 'Gurage' 208,358
Afar Amharic 30,841 Tigrinya 16,824 Oromo 8,702
Alaba 'Gurage' 12,815 Amharic 7,061 Kambaata 4,490
Amharic Oromo 988,037 English 148,564 Tigrinya 103,763 2
Anl'wak Amharic 9,400 Nuer 958 Oromo 381
Ari ____A"!hasJ~ __ _ 17,258 Hamer ______ --~~~-~9_____ _Q~~!~--- ______ 2,189
f..wngi Amharic 97,115 _ Gumuz I,846 Tigrinya 1,276
Basketo I Amharic 5,043 I GotTa 4,299 Mello 1,384
Bench . Amharic I 13,446 Kafa 13,109 Sheko 3,199"
~e_!t_!__________ Oromo .. ___ .. ~J61}____ _ Amharic .... _, __ 3 113 Fadashi ___ I20
Garno Amharic 94 902 Wolayta ___ ... Zt~26 _ ~!g!-!1~-- ____ _1,489 __
Gedeo Oromo ----~24,162 Amharic- 71,446 Sidaama 2,083
Gidole Amharic 5,64 ~-- Oromo 3,409 Konso 556
Goff.a H _ _ _. Amharic 29,5 I 9 -- _Q~~.C?.~t>.. _ --~].!~.. ____ M_ello__ .. ____ ____ _],0 14 __
9_um~--- ....... __ grom_2.__ . _ ... _?.~.~_11_ ___ Amharic ----~,9~7 4 Jebalawi __ -------~t!_U ____
q~~~~- Amh~!s:- ........ 7_9.Q,.U9. 'G.!!r!ig~ . _.. . .... ~.?.'-~~z _... .. Oromo ...... __ . --~~.J!L-
Hadiyya -~-~h_ari~---- ____ !Jl ,404______ Ka!J1.~.!~!i 4-~,648 . Y!'~l_~yt13,_ J.~,_~_l_Q __
Hamer __ .:_A_!!_ ___ _],.77 __ Tsamay ____ .... 9I4 Amharic 666
Kafa Amharic 102,696 oromo ts,os(' aenci-i.. - - - -
.... 8, 73 1
_Kambaa~~ .ArrtJ!ari~.. _....... J..J..Q,330 __ Jiadi:n:!... 10;298 _ _A.la_bJ:l _ j,~JI ~. .
Kamir Amharic __ 5J.,.:Ji1..... _:!I!!!!!:!.. 9,615 Oromo 25
Konso Oromo 6,656 Amharic 5,472 Gidole 5995 .....
Konta --- t\~hl!ti..c_ -~~--:--. __-(63r_~-:. ~~!1l__ .........!~.~9_4_ ... --~~--- __ ..... __ )90 ___ _
Ko~ra_ Amharic 15,4QL Oromo 4,325 ~udi _ l ,095
Kulo Oromo I3,917 Amharic 4,592 Kafa 2,861
Male ____: ~5:iorra: .............. 3A7o Garno -- .....- ..2,6i'O---~---.. -- 1,233 7

Me'en Bench 2,095 Amharic 2,060 She 510

Mocha ___ .... .Amharic__ .. ... __1_3.1~~~---. _Oromo __ .. _________],~39 .. ___ Kafa _ .... J..I3-'!__
Nuer ___Amharic________ ___ 1,191 Anywak ___ J-____
1JQ_ _______English ________ 565 ---
Oromo Amharic 2,320,759 Somali 1 74,366 Sidaama 41,572
Sidaama ... _AII!.h~!'J~ 205,719.. _OromQ_,_ ... .!?,21~----- Wolayta _ . __3,45~-
Somali Oromo . __ . !_!J4,688__ ... ~J!Iharic ___ . _:__ ~1,65~----- Englis~--- ---~,796 __
Tl~Y.... --IA~h!ll-ic___ .. ----~13,580 ___ -~ngtis~_ .f. . ___ },3_?_2___ ... ---~~~- -- _... _ _]_,.28:t_ ____ _
Timbaro I Amharic I 3,977 Hadiyya ! 11,086 Wolayta 5,236

~0~~~1:_::-- -- r~:~ii'c~_:_: ~ :~1IJl4~.:--.-~ ~~~~~-:.:::_r . -i\1~r-~~--~~~~~~~-~:~. ~:.::-=~2~;9 =:. :
I. Office of Population and Housing Census Commission 1998, Vol. I, Table 2.19
2. 'Gurage' 102,522 5. Gewada 542
3. Me'en 3,089 6. Oromo 386
4. 'Gurages' may speak other 'Gurage' languages 7. Amharic 1,231

Tbe sel.f:.identification as 'Guiage' of speakers of the 'Northern Gurage' and 'Eastern
Gorage' languages is uncertain.
There are dialects (regional varieties) of Amharic, including those of Addis Ababa
and Shewa (Shoa), Gonder (or Begemder), Menz-Wello, and, a bit more divergent,
Gojjam. Some of the differences between these dialects are mentioned in the Amharic
grammar presented below (Anbessa 1999, Habte Mariam 1973, Bender et al. 1976, pp.
90-98); .
Addis Ababa has been the focus of Ethiopian economic and social life for almost a
hundred years, and the Amharic of the capital city Addis Ababa, in Shewa, is recognized
as the prestige dialect. (In Amharic crddis ababa is 'new flower'.)
An annotated bibliography of some of the most important publications for use in
learning Amharic is provided in 1.7, below.

1~4. Bilingualism in Ethiopia. There is much linguistic diversity in Ethiopia,

probably more, for example, than in Europe. But having different languages appears
never to have prevented Ethiopians - as other peoples - from interacting with one
another. Bilingualism and multilingualism solve the problem. Perhaps the majority of
Ethiopians speak two or more languages. Like other multilingual communities, Ethiopia
exemplifies the generalization that the smaller the number of speakers of a person's
native language, the more likely that person is to speak another language. Although the
1994 census reported only some five million second-language speakers of Amharic vs.
seventeen million first-language speakers, probably many millions more have good
functional command of the language. See Table 1.3, the 1994 census data on second-
language knowledge in Ethiopia.
Of 3,579 Ethiopian secondary school students surveyed by Meyer and Richter (2003:
53), 57% spoke Amharic as a first~language, and 23% spoke Amharic as an additional
language. Some 65% were at least bilingual (p. 80). Their student subjects reported the
'native language' of their parents, grandparents, and themselves, with the interesting
results of Table 1.4.

Table 1.4. Native language replacement over three generations

(Selected languages) (Meyer and Richter 2003: 71)

:-~~~~I?~:-~~ -;t~ I
__:9urag~~--.. - -- -----~---- '---- --~- __ - _... J.~JL... ..I
Hadiyya 1.7 2 1.5 j'
Kafa - ... __ . .. 5.5_ -- -- ~.L ____ --- . 4.4 - --.
Oromo ______ -r---_1?..6 __________33.7 . ----r-- __ 2I~---i
Somali 1 0.9 0.6 ,
I Ti~!! ....... -----~~----- ---4.5 _____ - . - ... 1:.&..-~
r-~olaY.!!!____ . . -- - ......... 1.... ----
, Other langu~ 6
......1....------ -- .. ~----
5.4 __g___ _ j

Although the students' knowledge of such facts may not be perfect, one trend is uniform
and evident in the percentages: only Amharic shows an increase, and a significant one,
across the three generations.
More evidence of how Ethiopian multilingual society functions is found in a study of
the language of marketplace transactions in Harer, an ancient city of eastern Ethiopia.
Amharic is undoubtedly the major language inside the city's walls, but the old language
of the city, still spoken by a minority, is the Semitic language Adare (or Harari), closely
related to 'Eastern Gurage' languages. The near countryside is Oromo (Cushitic)
speaking, and the vaster surrounding territory Somali (Cushitic) speaking. There are four
markets in different quarters of the city. As Table 1.5 shows, none of the four markets
appeared to be specialized for use of a particular language or languages.
In fact, language use appeared to be quite evenly distributed across the four markets.
Notice in the bottom row the sizable percentage of bilingual transactions, conducted in
two languages. That most transactions are, in fact, monolingual, is surely owed to the
important multilingual abilities of most sellers, even if their command of some of these
languages is limited to that necessary for market activities. The general trend of such
statistics is perhaps little changed since 1976. Meyer and Richter (2003: 57) found that it
is the market, particularly, where 'practically the whole range of languages are used, be it
the native, second, or third language of the student'.

~---:---Table 1.5. Languages used in four -markets in Harer as a ------,

percentage of tran~actions (Bender et al. 1976: 250)

1.5. Ethiopian national language policy. Article 5 of the 1994 Constitution of

Ethiopia says that 'all Ethiopian languages shall enjoy equal state recognition' and that
'Each member of the Federation shall determine its own working language', but makes
Amharic 'the working language ofthe Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia'. Article
39 defmes 'Nation, Nationality or People' as 'a group of people who have or share a
large measure of a common culture or similar customs, mutual inteJiigibility of language,
belief in a common or related identities, a common psychological I;Dake-up, and who
inhabit an identifiable, predominantly contiguous territory', and gives to 'every Nation,
Nationality and People in Ethiopia ... the right to speak, to write, and to develop its own
language', a decision which, given Ethiopia's multinationalism and bilingualism, has
naturally resulted in considerable stress in the practice of regional government,
particularly in education.

See Meyer and Richter (2003, chapter 2) for a review of national language policy,
~ly in language education, and Brenzinger (1997), Abbink (1998), and Cohen
(2(105) for discussion of some of the problems which have resulted from the policy of
"edmic federalism', when local majorities have asserted their constitutional rights over
local minorities, seeking education in their language against the preference of local
minorities for education in Amharic. For example, in a Kambaata-majority wereda,
minority Alaba speakers opposed the use of Kambaata in education, in favor of the use of
Amharic, and in Awasa town, of South Ethiopia, speakers of minority languages opposed
the use in education of the Sidaama language of the local majority.
The Ethiopian constitution of 1955 declared that 'the official language of the Empire
is Amharic', and subsequent law made Amharic (with English) the language of public
schooling, and even required that missionaries learn and teach in Amharic (Cooper 1976:
188-9). Near the end of the Haile Sellassie era, in 1972 a National Language Academy
was established, by an order noting that Amharic, 'while being faithful to its traditions
and preserving its purity, should become a vehicle for the expression of the knowledge,
learning, and thought engendered by modern civilization'; very soon, however, the 1974
revolution brought to power the Derg ('committee') goverrunent, with its liberalization of
official language policy, according to which 'the history, culture, language, and religion
of each nationality will have equal recognition in accordance with the spirit of Socialism'
(Academy 1986: 4). Still, the 1994 constitution, while giving all languages 'equal state
recognition,' makes Amharic the 'official language of the federal goverrunent'.
The early years of the Derg era in Ethiopia (1975-91) released considerable pent-up
creative energy, often expressed as political writings, from propaganda to poetry, but
especially Amharic fiction. Publishing in languages other than Amharic, but especially
Amharic, flourished. Since then, Addis Ababa bookstores include Amharic writings of all
sorts: poetry, translation, newspapers, literary and news magazines, drama, novels,
history, textbooks, etc. Amharic-language magazines are also published in the U.S. and
Europe to serve the growing expatriate populations there.

1.6. Amharic literature. The first manifestation of Amharic literature is songs of the
15th century court, such as in praise of Emperor Yishaq (1406-21 ?) (Praetorius 1878
[1970]: 499-502). Later are religious writings for and against Catholicism in the era of
Portuguese influence, circa 1540-60, followed by a few works including a commentary
on the Psalms during the reign of Iyasu (1730-55), but then nothing extant until the time
of Emperor Tewodros (reigned 1855-66), who began to promote the language, including
its use to write his chronicles (Kane 1975: 3-5).
The first publication of Amharic fiction is considered by Kane (6-7) to have been the
1908 Libb Wal/;;x/ Tarik 'Fictional History' of Afewerq Gebre lyesus, published in
Rome. A well respected novel of the Haile Sellassie era is Fiqir iska M:Jqabir (1965,
1958 Eth. calendar) by Haddis Alemayehu, a short selection from which is included here,
pp. 138-140.
The sudden impressive flourishing of Amharic writing after 1974 suggests that
political censorship - including self-censorship - had long repressed the literary
creativity of writers in Amharic. Unfortunately censorship soon returned, especially with
the disappearance in 1984 of the popular author Be'alu Girma, after publication of his
novel Oromai critical of policies ofthe Derg government (Taddesse 1995).

Important sl.D'Veys of Amharic literature are those of Kane 1975 and, including the
post-Haile Sellassie era, Molvaer 1997 (see references below).

1.7. Books for learning Amharic. Following is a selected and annotated list of some
of the most important publications in English and, in two cases, Amharic, for studying
and learning Amharic.

Appleyard, David. 1995. Colloquial Amharic. New York: Routledge. 374 pp. [A
beginner's coursebook in 14lessons, each with grammar notes and exercises, with an
Amharic-English glossary and two cassette tapes. Presumes command of the Amharic
writing system from lesson 6.]

Baye Yimam. 1993-4 [1986 Eth. calendar]. YoA.marinya Sgwasiw (Grammar of

Amharic) Addis Ababa: EMPDA. 341 pp. [The best modern grammar of Amharic in
Amharic, with superior coverage of syntax; for college students by a native speaker

Bender, M. L., J. D. Bowen, R. L. Cooper and C. H. Ferguson. 1976. Language in

Ethiopia. London: Oxford University Press. 572 pp. [A survey of languages and
language use in Ethiopia. Chapters on the major languages, including Amharic,
government language policy, language in education, the spread of Amharic, etc. The
research was done in the early seventies but much of it is still relevant.]

Bezza Tesfa Ayalew. 2005. Let's Speak Amharic: A Multidimensional Approach to the
Teaching and Learning of Amharic as a Foreign Language. Madison, WI: NALRC
Press. 264 pp. [One of the series of 'communicatively oriented' African language
textbooks of the National African Language Resource Center. Amharic writing is
briefly introduced, and lessons employ Amharic writing from chapter 1. Good use of
pictures and figures.]

Dawkins, C. H. 1969. The Fundamentals of Amharic. Addis Ababa: Sudan Interior

Mission. 140 pp, [A concise and clear descriptive grammar of Amharic, though
lacking a good index. Presumes command of the Amharic writing system.]

Eadie, J. I. 1924. An Amharic Reader. London: Cambridge at the University Press. 278
pp. [.Arnhaiic texts for advanced students: stories, essays, proclamations,
advertisements, poetry, recipes, and letters collected in Addis Ababa in 1914, all
translated. Some topics and language are now somewhat archaic.]

Getahun Amare. 1997 (1990 Eth. calendar). zgm:mawi YaA.marinya Sgwasiw B:Jqa!al
Aq<1rar~ (Grammar of Amharic in Simplified Form). Addis Ababa: Commercial
Printing Press. 219 pp. [Basic coverage of phonology, morphology (especially), and
syntax; by .a native speaker linguist, for Ethiopian secondary-school students.]

Getatchew Haile. 1996. 'Ethiopic writing' (ch. 51) in The World's Writing Systems,
edited by Peter T. Daniels and William Bright, pp. 569-576. New York: Oxford

University Press. [Compact authoritative discussion of the history and structure of the
Ethiopic writing system, including its use for Amharic.]

Kane; Thomas L. 1990. Amharic-English Dictionary. 2 volumes. Wiesbaden: Otto

Harrassowitz. Vol. I 1088 pp., Vol. II 2,351 pp. [The most complete Amharic-English
dictionary, with 80,000 entries, including, for most words, examples in sentences,
idioms, and -colloquial fonns. To look up Amharic words, one must know the
Amharic writing system and fidel order.]

Leslau, Wolf. 1967. Amharic Textbook. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. 675 pp. [A
beginning and intermediate course in 50 lessons. Presumes command of the Amharic
writing system from lesson 25. English-Amharic and Amharic-English glossaries, and
a thorough appendix of grammar tables.]

Leslau, Wolf. 1976. Concise Amharic Dictionary. Berkeley: University of California

Press. 535 pp. [A practical dictionary for students, with very adequate coverage of the
vocabulary. Both English-Amharic and Amharic-English sections. Phonetic tran-
scription of all words. To look up Amharic words, one must know the Amharic
writing system andjidel order.]

Leslau, Wolf. 1978. English-Amharic Context Dictionary. Wiesbaden: Otto Harras-

sowitz. 1503 pp. [The most complete English-Amharic dictionary, with about 25,000
entries and a thorough introduction. Presumes command of the Amharic writing

Leslau, Wolf. 1995. Reference Grammar of Amharic. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.

1044 pp. [The most thorough and complete grammar of Amharic: pronunciation,
word structure, and sentence structure, with grammar tables, a thorough index, and a
bibliography of works on the language. Examples are given both in Amharic writing
and phonetically.]

Leslau, Wolf. 2000. Introductory Grammar of Amharic. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.

232 pp. [A concise and simplified adaptation of Leslau's Reference Grammar of
Amharic. Examples are given both in Amharic writing and phonetically.]

Leslau, Wolf and Thomas L. Kane. 2001. Amharic Cultural Reader. Wiesbaden: Otto
Harrassowitz. 319 pp. [Short texts on topics such as marriage, faith, holidays,
landholding etc., with English translations, a glossary, and topic indexes in English
and Amharic.]

Mulugeta Kebede and John D. Murphy. 1984. Amharic Newspaper Reader. Kensington,
MD: Dunwoody Press. 372 pp. [Fifty 1-3paragraph selections from the Addis Ababa
Amharic newspaper Addis Zemen for 1980, each with an English translation and a
glossary. The Amharic is typewritten, so less readable than print.]

Ullendorff, Edward. 1965. An Amharic Chrestomathy. London: Oxford University Press.
141 pp. [Amharic texts for advanced students, including from chronicles of Ethiopian
kings, newspaper articles from the 1930s to the 1950s, selections from fiction, letters,
and a crossword puzzle. Only one item is translated. Includes a 14-page introduction,
grammatical tables, and a short Amharic-English glossary.]

Walker, C. H. 1924. The Abyssinian at Home. Cambridge: Cambridge Uiriversity Press.

278 pp. [Descriptions of traditional life in the Amhara highlands of Ethiopia,
translated from oral accounts collected after about 1900. Entertaining cultural
background for the Amharic languag~.]

1.8. References for 1

Abbink, Jon. 1998. New configurations of Ethiopian ethnicity: The challenge of the
South. Northeast African Studies 5. 59-81.
Academy of Ethiopian Languages. 1986. The Academy of Ethiopian Languages: Facts
and Figures. Addis Ababa: Ministry of Culture.
Anbessa Teferra. 1999. Differences between the Amharic dialects of GondAr and Addis
AbAba, The Beta Israel in Ethiopia and Israel: Studies on the Ethiopian Jews, Tudor
Parfitt and Emanuela Trevisan Semi, eds., 257-263. London: Curzon Press.
Bender, M. L., J. D. Bowen, R. L. Cooper and C. H. Ferguson, eds. 1976. Language in
Ethiopia. London: Oxford University Pre8s.
Bender, M. Lionel, Gabor Takacs, and David L. Appleyard, eds. 2003. Selected
Comparative-Historical Afrasian Linguistic Studies (Lincom Studies in Afroasiatic
Linguistics 14). Munich: Lincom Europa.
Brenzinger, Matthias. 1997. An evaluative account of Ethiopia's new language policy.
Language Choices: Conditions, Constraints, and Consequences, Martin PUtz, ed.,
207-221. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Cohen, Gideon P. E. 2005. Language and ethnic boundaries: perceptions of identity
expressed through attitudes towards the use of language education in southern
Ethiopia. Northeast African Studies 7(3). 189-206.
Cooper, Robert L. 1976. Government language policy, Language in Ethiopia, M. L.
Bender et al., eds., 187-190. London: Oxford University Press.
Faber, Alice. 1997. Genetic subgrouping of the Semitic languages. The Semitic
Languages,Robert Hetzron, ed., 3-15. London: Routledge.
Fattovich, Rodolfo. 2000. Aksum and the Habashat: state and ethnicity in ancient
northern Ethiopia and Eritrea Working Papers in African Studies no. 228. Boston:
Boston University African Studies Center.
Ferguson, Charles. 1976. The Ethiopian language area, Language in Ethiopia, M. L.
Bender, et al., eels., 63-76. London: Oxford University Press.
Gutt, Ernst-August. 1980. Intelligibility and interlingual comprehension among selected
Gurage speech varieties. Journal ofEthiopian Studies 14. 57-85.
Habte Mariam Marqos. 1973. Regional variations in Amharic. Journal of Ethiopian
Studies 11(2). 113-129.
Hetzron, Robert. 1972. Ethiopian Semitic: Studies in Classification (Journal of Semitic
Studies Monograph 2). Manchester: University ofManchester Press.

Hudson, Grover. 2003. Liltguistic analysis of the 1994 Ethiopian census. Northeast
African Studies 6(3). 89-107.
Hudson, Grover. 2004. Languages of Ethiopia and languages of the 1994 census.
Aethiopica 7. 160-172.
Kane, Thomas L. 1975. Ethiopian Literature in Amharic. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
Kane, Thomas L. 1990. Amharic-English Dictionary. 2 volumes. Wiesbaden: Otto
Marcus, Harold. 1994. A Hzstory ofEthiopia, Berkeley: University of California Press.
McCall, Daniel F. 1998. The Afroasiatic language phylum: African in origin, or Asian?
Current Anthropology 39. 139-144. .
Meyer, Ronny and Renate Richter. 2003. Language Use in Ethiopia from a Network
Perspective (Schriften zur Afrikanistic Band 7). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
Molvaer, Reidulf; 1997. Black Lions: The Creative Lives of Modern Ethiopia's Literary
Giants and Pioneers. Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press.
Office of Population and Housing Census Commission. 1998. 1994 Population and
Housing Census of Ethiopia, Results at Country Level, Volume I, Statistical Report.
Addis Ababa: Central Statistical Office.
Praetorius, Franz. 1978. Die Amharische Sprache. Halle: Verlag der Buchhandlung des
Waisenhauses (reprinted 1970. New York: Georg Olms).
Taddesse Adera. 1995. From apologist to critic: the dilemma of Bealu Girma, Silence is
not Golden, a Critical Anthology of Ethiopian Literature, Taddesse Adera and Ali
Jimale Ahmed, eds., 155-165. Lawrenceville, New Jersey: Red Sea Press.
Tosco, Mauro. 2000. Is there an 'Ethiopian language area'? Anthropological linguistics
42(3). 329-365.


2. Amharic Sounds

2.1. Consonants. Amharic has the 32 distinctive consonant sounds, or consonant

PHONEMES, of Table 2.1.

Table 2.1. The 32 Amharic consonant phonemes

.---- ---~ Labial Alveo- Alve<>-~ Velar Labio- Gloiiiil

~. . vi ... p---1~ --~al!tal k v~~ ?
~-- -- :-r--- ---1-1---l---...,...--1-----
1_________ yd ______ b d ---- - _J___ _g___ . _l:____ --
. -. ---------------
----- ---,---
c .
-- - --- .........

.... - ....

--------- .. ----- 1 i
--------~-- ......
1 c'
t ----- 5 .... h"
........... ---- ...
z i
...n if_ ..... .!.'
- ............. ...................... ---........... .
1 ... ,, __ ......., .. _.~

1.~~!.;~ -. -~}.,c . --~:~ . -.~. ~~~- ~- .:i. ~-1~-~--=-~~-:,._:w~~_: __-= -:.=:.~

vi =voiceless, vd =voiced, gl = glottalized ejective
1. w, of other languages as well as Amharic, is usually thought of as labial, but
is labiovelar, articulated with the tongue-body rising toward the velum, as
well as with the lips.

The 32 consonants have the values generally suggested by their phonetic symbols, but
ihe following require special mention:

a. C. the sound typically written ch or tch in English as in chain and match.

b.], the sound spelled j, dg and gin English as in judge and gym.
c. S. the sound typically written sh in English as in ship and fish.


d. z.the sound usually spelledj in French (as in Jean), and heard in English words
including measure [mebr] and rouge [n1Z].
e. if, the sound spelled Pi in Spanish as in aFio 'year', and in English ny or ni as in
canyon and onion.
f. ?, a glottal stop, as heard at the beginning and middle of 'uh-oh' in English. In
Amharic] is heard between vowels as in sa?at 'time, hour' and ba?al 'holiday,
festival day'. Even in these words the glottal stop may be absent in casual speech;
thus also heard instead of the above are saat and baal.
g. The labialized velar consonants k", g", q", and h", which may be pronounced as if
they were kw, gw, qw, and hw.
h. The four consonants written with apostrophes, p ', t', s', c', and q (= k'), which are
'glottalized ejectives', as described below.
i. p and v occur in o~y a small number of evident loanwords: p for example in polis
'police', posta 'mail', and pasta 'pasta', and v in vila 'villa', viza 'visa', and
vitamin 'vitamin'. Ejective p' also occurs only in a small number of loanwords, but
these are anciently established in the language, from Greek, including t'm-app 'eza
'table', and p'agume(n}, name of the 13111 month of the Ethiopian calendar, and
even ityopp ya 'Ethiopia'. Some speakers, in Gonder and in rural areas, substitute
b for these: bolis 'police', bosta 'mail', t'obbiya 'Ethiopia', etc.
j. Finally, the rhotic r is a retroflex 'tap' approximately as heard in Spanish pero
'but' or Italian cara 'dear, beloved'.

For the Amharic consonant phonemes as written in Amharic, see 5.2, Table 5.1.

Glottalized ejectivc consonants. In the production of these the oral closure is made
and the glottis is closed and slightly raised; this compresses air between the oral closure
and the raised glottis, so that upon release of ~e oral closure air rushes out in a charac-
teristic audible burst.
Adults learning to produce the glottalized ejective consonants (as suggested by
Ladefoged 2001, p. 115) might practice these by pronouncing the equivalent non-ejective
consonant followed by ?, the glottal stop, plus a - for example pa-ah [pa?a]; then
progressively shorten the vowel after the consonant to nothing, so that the ? tends
immediately to follow it. Some have found that this tends to produce the necessary rise of
the glottis resulting in compression of air, so that p? becomes p '.

2.1.1. Consonant variants. Some of the consonants have different pronunciations j.n
different dialects and differ~t positions in words:

a. In rural areas, s' may be replaced by 1 ',so instead of s'aja 'he wrote' one may hear
t 'af:J. This is regular in the Wello dialect.
b. Often] and z are interchangeable, so instead ofj:;nnmgr:J 'he began' one may.also
hear fanm;JI'a. The dialect ofMenz prefers t.
c. Word-fmal stops and fricatives are ordinarily released (as if followed by a very
short high central vowel); thus hid 'Go!' and bet n:JW 'It is a house' are
pronounced hii and bel n:JW. These consonants are unreieased and lack the offset 1

when they precede another stop or fricative, for example the t' of wat'k 'you
(sg.m) swallowed' and the b of d:}bf:}r 'notebook'.
d. When they are not long (regarding long consonants see below) and are between
vowels, band g are pronounced weakly, as respectively the fricatives [p] and [y],
for example in leba 'thief [le~a] and waga 'price' [waya]. These are consonant
sounds not ordinarily heard in English, but in Spanish, for example in haba [a(XI]
'bean' and lago [layo] 'lake'.
e. The glides w and y are weakly articulated and almost inaudible between vowels,
for example in ~wa [~wa] 'Shewa (Province)' an.d haya [haYa] 'twenty'.
f. The labial and velar stops and fricatives are often rounded before the rounded
vowels o and u, as in bota [b"'ota] 'place' and qum [qwurn]'stand!' In the northern
(non-Shoan) dialects, the round vowel tends to be centralized with these
labializations, so one hears [bata] and [qim].
g. In the northern dialects except of Gondar, there is weak palatalization of con-
sonants before the front vowels e and i, in which case these may be centralized as e
and i, respectively: for example bet (bYet] 'house' and hid (hYid] 'Go (Sg.2m)l'
h. In the dialect of Menz, when they precede i and e the velar stops k and q are
replaced by ~and ~. respectively: thus cis 'pocket' (standard Amharic kis) and
cbs 'priest' (qes).
i. It was noted above that b may substitute for p, p ', and v.

2.1.2. Labiovelar consonants. Amharic has labialized consonants such as [bw], [kw],
[1], in which lip-rounding anticipates the release of the consonant. These usually occur
with the vowel a, and may be considered sequences of a consonant and w: bw, kw, tw,
The four k'", g'", q"' and h'" are, however, usefully considered labialized one-unit
consonants, as shown in Table 2.1: ( 1) they appear in roots and are treated as single
sounds in word-formation rules; (2) they are relatively common compared to other
labialized consonants; (3) they occur word-initially where sequences of consonants are
usually absent, and within words in consonant sequences where three-consonant
sequences are generally absent; and (4) they are written with special characters in the
...\mharic writing system: h-, .,.., .,._, ..,_,respectively. These four are termed 'labiovelar'
because their articulation historically includes both labial and velar aspects. Labialized
glottal fricative h is part of the set being the product of historical 'weakening' of velar x
ro glottal h, so xbeeome h".

2.1.3. y and w insertion. When vowels meet, one of the glides y or w may be
inserted. Typically w is inserted if the first vowel is o or u, and y is inserted if the first
\owel is i ore; for example biro-a~c;JW 'their office'> birowa~C:M. gize-accin 'our time'
> gizc?aCCin. If i or e precede o of the noun plural suffix -oce y
(3.2.4), either w or may
be pronounced: g:}b:}l'e(J)o~ or ggb:}re(- w)oc~ 'farmers', but only w is written. As
mentioned above, the w andy are weakly articulated.

2.1.4. y replacement. The'Sg.3m. and Pl.3 verb-subject prefix is basically y, but this
y is replaced by i when it occurs after another consonantal prefix, for example after s-
'when' in s-y-hed > sihed 'when he goes' and after ind- 'that'_ in ind-y-hed > indihed 'that
he goes'.

2.1.5. Long consonants. All the consonants except 2 and h may be long, sustained
single- articulations with the approximate duration of a two-consonant sequence. Thus the
word all:J 'he is present' is different from al:J 'he said', and wanna 'principal' different
from wana 'swimming'. In this book the long consonants are usually written by doubling
the consonant. Sometimes (for reasons to be explained below) the long consonants will
be written with the phonetic symbol [:]: al:a = alla 'he is present', and wan:a = wanna
Amharic long r as in b:Jrra 'shined, was alight', is a trilled r, as heard in Spanish
perro 'dog' and Italian carro 'cart'. (Short r is approximately as in Spanish pero 'but' or
Italian cara 'dear, beloved.)
Long consonants occur in English, too, but only when like consonants come together
in adjacent stressed syllables of different words, for example in bookcase [buk:es] and
penknife [pen:oyfJ. In Amharic the long consonants occur within simple words. (English
spellings with doubled consonants as in penny and ladder do not represent phonetically
long consonants.) Amharic long consonants are never word-initial, but occur often
between vowels as in the examples above, and also word-finally as in d~gg 'kind' and
libb 'heart'. The long ejective consonants are written here with only one apostrophe: for
example U'and not tt'in m~ttu 'he came'.

2.1.6. Palatalization. When a CORONAL consonant (articulated with the tongue-tip)

other than r is followed by a suffix beginning with -i or -e except for noun-possessive
Sg.t suffix -e 'my' (these are the Sg.2f. suffix -i, the agent-noun suffix -i, the instrument-
noun suffix -iya, and the Sg.l converb suffix -e), the coronal consonant which otherwise
is ALVEOLAR (articulated on the alvcoltun, just back of the teeth) is ALVBOPALATAL
(articulated with the tongue blade raised at the junction of the alveolum and palate).
There are eight cases (of which s' ~ ~is rare, and unexemplified in Table 2.2, below):

s'- c' l~ y
z~ z n ~if

These alternations are the result of historical PALATALIZATION, in which the tongue
was raised in anticipation of a following raised vowel. Perhaps i and e were pronounced
withy onsets, as still in northern Amharic dialects, as Yi and Ye. With palatalization of the
preceding consonant, the y becomes imperceptible (notice how English hit you may
become hitchu). The suffix -i but not -e may be omitted with these palatalizations, as
shown by the parentheses in Table 2.2. In Table 2.2 the second column shows verb-forms
in which the stem-final coronal consonant is not palatalized, and the third column shows
verb-forms with the palatalizing suffix and palatalization.

__ ___ ,.. ------~- --~------------------;

Table l.l. Examples of ~onsonant palatalizations

Imperative verbs
--- --- vciU. csg:m)___F_ 'You (Sg.f) -- 1
t- c kifat kif~(i) 'open' (vt)
d- j wisad wisa](i) ----t--:-,tU--==--e-=-'~~
t-t-,-_-=-c-,-+-m-,-=-lm-i'-------+--riHT:JC'(i) 'choose'
s- I libas lib:Js(i) 'put on'
z- L yaz --- yaL(i) - 'takeJboic:r-
1_n___if~--=-Zf.---:cifa.=-n ----------- iffiJF{i) ____ _
1- y
kifal kifa:Y{i) 'pay'
verbs in 'when' clause
. ..
. .. . .. Nonpast
.. .. - . .... ..... ....
'when you
. . - ----------------
'when you

----- .... _____..@s~ll!)_~ ............. {~g!t>.-~- ------,----,--

1- c sitkaft sit/cQfc(i) '>.E.~E:' (vt)
d- 1 -sli'W;sa "sit~J(iJ 'take'
t'- C' sitriiiiii'______ siiinare'(i) .... - 'choose--------
s- I sitlabs -=-~- sitlab!(i) __ --- 'put on'
.z- i -""sliyiz ---- i sityii(i) ----- --takeiiioid'"
n- if sitzafin ! sitzafif(i) .'S~_!!~~.
r~-'-. ~o;~~~n.~ .. . .
1 sit~~!1f!X...
Minor clause converb
..'pay' .....
------ ------- 'he- -in.rl--- 'I -ing;r -
1 ..... c kafto -
kafiCce - 'open' (vt)"-
d -1. w9Siio------------- w:JSJJJe ------ .. ----retake; --
t'- C' mgrtb mark'iif'b'' ''choose'".- .
--s-:-1 labso ........ labilie"" ..... put on'" -
---~-:.. z yizo - -y;iie 'take/hold'
n-;:_-iY- Ziiliia- -------- --_:-~--z9iiiiife ______ :-- --.s~g --=-~
.L":' Y..... _-~af!~ _...... __ . ......!~~!.~---- ______ ~E_ax:____ . ____ _
I. The consonant preceding the converb Sg.l suffix -e is long.

These replacements occur only before the above-mentioned cases of suffixes with
initial i or e but not within simple words, so not before the i in l'im 'beard' and not before
thee in set 'woman'; and, as mentioned, not when the suffix e is the Sg.l possessive as in
bet-e 'my house' or Ieis-e 'my pocket'.

2.1.7. Labialization. Consonant + u may be replaced by a labialized consonant, for

example hua > hwa~ kua > kwa. Such replacement typically ~ccurs when the vowel -u of
ihe Sg.l and Pl.2/3 verb is followed by a suffix with initial a, for example, ayyahu-at 'I

saw her' > ayy:1h'-at. Alteniatively, the u may become w (2.2.4); in writing, labial-
ization is preferred, so I(Pa is written rather than kwa.

2.2. Vowels. Amharic has the seven vowels shown in Table 2.3. The vowels are
written here with phonetic symbols of the International Phonetic Association (IPA)
appopriate for their qualities. The table shows the articulation of the vowels as tongue
position in terms. of three degrees of height and three of frontness.

.- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ,
Table 2.3. The seven Amharic

r--::--- --- ---.
High 1
; - . . . ..Back
I Central
--u- -
~--~~:;.:0~~~---~-.-__-_~-~----L _;__ ---~--
Six of the seven Amharic vowels have reasonable approximations in English:

Amharic Approximately as in American English

i beat, seen, keep, eat
e bait, sane, cape, eight
a pot, sod, cop, odd
o boat, sown, cope, oat
u boot, soon, coop, oops
:1 but, sun, cup, up

Notice that Amharic bet 'house' approximately rhymes with English bait and not with
English bet. The vowel g, with the tongue in a mid-central and more-or-less 'at rest'
position', is the most frequent vowel of Amharic (and of English). It has many spellings
in English in addition to u as in but, for example o in son, a as the first vowel of agree,
and ou as the second vowel offamous.
The seventh vowel, high central i, has no good English equivalent, but closest might
be, in casual speech, the vowel of the second syllable of matches or churches. This is the
vowel of English bit and sit but with the body of the tongue somewhat retracted, so that if
the tongue is raised to make contact at the top of the mouth approximately g is
For the seven. Amharic vowel phonemes in Amharic writing, and their Amharic
names, see 5.2, Table 5.2.

2.2.1. Vowel variants. After h as in hedg 'he went', Amharic e is slightly lowered
and centralized as mid-front [e], the vowel of English head and bet.

After one of the alveopalatal consonants C. i, J, c', if, sandy, ~ may be somewhat
fronted as mid-front [e:], of English bet and set.

2.2.2. Vowel elision. When Amharic words are constructed from their parts with the
result that i or ~are adjacent to another vowel, i and ~ are typically 'elided', or omitted;
for example i-awq > awq 'I know', l~anCi> lanci 'for you' (Sg.2f). When i and~ meet, i
is elided, for example b~iwn:X > bfJWn:R 'in truth I truthfully'. Final a of verb stems is
omitted when the plural suffix u follows, as in b;ila-u > b;ilu 'they ate'.
A sequence of like vowels is reduced to one: asra-and > asrand 'eleven', yib;ia-all >
yib~all 'he eats'. In a case like asra-and > asrand 'eleven' ('ten-one'), where the
adjacent like vowels are in separate words, in careful speech instead of elision a glottal
stop may intervene: as.m[1]and.

2.2.3. Vowel insertion. When Amharic words are assembled from their parts, the
high central vowel i often appears to separate resulting consonant sequences which are
disallowed by the requirements of Amharic word structure (2.4). The vowel is termed
EPENTHETIC, and typically appears when prefixes and suffixes combine with stems, for
example to separate y-n and gr of Y..n~gr > yin~gir 'he tells'. If vowels precede and
follow the sequence of consonants, the EPENTHETIC VOWEL is unneeded and absent, as in
a-y-n~gr-u-mm > ayn::Jgrumm 'they don't tell'. Probably most occurrences of Amharic i
may be considered epenthetic.

2.2.4. Vowel replacement. The high vowels i and u may be replaced by the glides y
md w, respectively, when they precede a: tin::Jgri-a/l~s> tin::Jgryall~s 'you (Sg.2f) tell',
.>J~:'-u-at > n~gmwat 'they told her'. These replacements are typically heard with the
Sg.2f. suffix -i and the P1.3 suffix -u of verbs, respectively (but are not always seen in
_-\mharic writing, where i-a and u-a may be written). Alternatively, preceding consonants
:nay be palatalized by i (obligatory as mentioned in 2.1.6) or labialized by u (2.1.7). In
.\Titing,y may be inserted between i and a and w inserted between u and a (2.1.3).

2.2.5. Voiceless vowel. The word-final vowel of the Sg.l 'I' suffix of past tense verbs
:S voiceless- pronounced approximately as if whispered: s;;Wb~-k[y] 'I broke', m:Xt'a-
~y] 'I came'. However, if a suffix follows, as in soob~-ku-l 'I broke it', or m:Nt'a-hu-11-
..:! 'I came for her', the vowel is voiced, like other vowels. The mark of voicelessness [.]
.;:.f [I}] is not shown in examples below.

2.3. Stress. Amharic main stress of a word occurs, generally, on the next to last vowel
~:[a word, not counting suffixes, except for (at least) the plural suffix, the vowel of which
:S usually stressed. Thus, for example, the proper male name koob:xl~ has stress on the
:rext to last syllable (k.,bbad~). but the otherwise identical past-tense verb k~bb;xi~ 'he
:ecante heavy' has stress on the first syllable (k:ibb:;xi.,); this is consistent with the rule if
e consider the last vowel to be the Sg.3m. 'he/it' suffix. Also, vowels before long and
.i."'Uble consonants have more stress than those before short or single consonants, as in

t~b.Xla (t:}b;S/la) 'was eaten", libbe (Jibbe) 'my heart'. Stress differences, however, are
usually not as prominent as in English, and stress is not marked in examples below.

2.4. Structure of words. Amharic words may begin with any of the consonants and
vowels, although word-initial n is rare, and word-initial ~ seems to occm only in the
single interjecti~n .word :Jr:J 'Really!'. Word-initial glottal stops are generally nondis-
tinctive; that is, words like iwn:H 'true' may be thought of as ?iwn:}t or iwn:}t.
Following in Table 2.4 are representative simple (single meaning) one and two-
syllable Amharic words exemplifying the different possibilities of consonant-vowel or
'CV' structure. Perhaps only iy 'See! (Sg2.m) has the structure VC.

r-------- ------------- --------..-- ..................... -........ -------- ..--------------,

Table 2.4. Structure of one and two-syllable words and examples

cv --
na 'come!' (Sg.m) ma 'who?'
a 'he wanted'
-------~------- -=-~----- --:---1
VCV 4000
eli 'turtle'
ida 'debt'
- -- ---- ....
ona 'ruin of house'
................ ------ - -----

VCVC ahun 'now' ihit 'sister' awon 'yes'

cw---- wa '_I~~{side);- .. ---- fre 'fruit, seed'_,____. ___ 1 -b-=-w-a---:"""'cam-e-=1:-so-_un-_-d~'=-t

_g_vc mot 'death' ~~4.. 'G~!' (Sg.m) qg~ ... ~-~~P-~ ....
.cvcYi wMa 'dog' bana 'blanket' g.Xa 'body'
.ccvc- -Wiim''8mazing~--. -- bien 'pup_~!_~!.~~~---- ..-- t'wat'morning' 1--=-_ . _.
VCCV antg 'you' (Sg.m) amba 'motmtain top plateau' irsu 'he'
vee- . . '""jj](i' ,-Crazy; . amd
. .. . -'column, pillai-' ill 'innumerable'
cvcc _m;.s~.. ~~!fe' - ~:Jrq 'cloth _____________........{j;;;(Th.orn,.......-
cvcvc bir:X 'metal' j:Jr:JS 'horse' janos 'lam~
' d-;Ji'Q- ___'liappiness . 'biriU ..'8iron8;
, ______ ......, --f----:----- .... _, ___, _______,,, ...
fiska 'whistle'
-~_y_c~yc m:JSkot 'window' mahb:}r 'association' gu/b:}t ~~~!...P~~~!~ . .

1. Also f' 'at, with labialized t'.

Word-initial consonant sequences are generally limited to labial or velar+ r or/, and
consonant + w. Crll may be thought of as Cir, Cil, but the vowel is often inaudible.
Word-initial Cw may be understood as cw, a single labialized consonant, as typically in
Amharic writing (see 5.3.3): bwa=b"~~a, t'wat=t'wat.
Words may end with any of the consonants except the glottal stop l and the labio-
velar consonants 1?', gw, qw and hw (2.1.2).
There are word-final and word-medial (between vowel) sequences of at most two
consonants, as in word-final hilt' 'clever', qulf 'lock', and qurs 'breakfast'; and word-
medial W:}ndu 'the male', baldi 'bucket', and birtu 'strong'. Sequences of more than two
consonants that arise in word formation are broken up by insertion of i (epenthesis,
2.2.3). The long consonants (2.1.5), understood and written as two consonants, occur

consistent the restriction on consonant sequences: never word-initial but word-medial and
word-final, as in m::m'a 'he came', qolla 'lowland', libb 'heart', and b~ 'door'.
Although written as two consonants, the long consonants are never separated by i-
epenthesis, so while the three consonants of f:Jndt-o 'it bursting' are separated by
epenthesis as f:Jndito, in n:Jgr:-e (=n:Jgrre) 'I, telling' epenthesis precedes rr: il:Jgirre.

2.5. Writing Aliiharie in European alphabets. The Amharic writing system is intro-
duced in 5, below, and is employed for examples in the Appendices to Part 2, which
include grammar-tables, useful sentences, and three translated Amharic texts.
For readers who don't know Amharic writing, Amharic sounds, words, and sentences
are written here in phonetic writing. Amharic cannot be written consistent with the
practice of any European alphabet, because Amharic has sounds that either don't occur or
are not written consistently in major European languages: for example, the glottalized
ejeetive consonants of Amharic absent in European languages, and the Amharic vowel :J
which is not written consistently in the writing systems of European languages which
have the vowel, such as English.
Various European-alphabet-based phonetic writing systems have been used to write
Amharic, of which perhaps the most important are (1) that employed by Wolf Leslau in
his many books, including his Concise Amharic Dictionary (1976); (2) that employed in
ihe Encyclopaedia Aethiopica (Uhlig 2003, EnAe in the table); and (3) the 'Wright
system' (Wright 1964) long favored in publications of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies
including the Journal of Ethiopian Studies. In Table 2.5 are compared these three writing
systems for Amharic consonants with that used in this book, along with the International
Phonetic Alphabet (IPA 1999). Eighteen consonants are written identically in the five
systems: p, t, k, /(', b, d, g, gw, f, s, z, h, hw, m, n, l, r, w; so the table compares only the
thirteen consonants for which there are differences.

----. _____ .[

3 i
J1 ri
j_ )'

This book follows IPA practice in writing the Amharic consonants, with three well-
motivated exceptions consistent with established practice: (1) use of q and qw for IPA k'
and JeV '; (2) the alveopalatal consonants C, c!~ J, S, Z. and if, all written with " to represent
their shared place of articulation; and (3) y for IPAj. For an Amharic text written entirely
according to IPApractice, see Hayward and Hayward 1999.
Table 2.6 compares the five ways of writing the seven Amharic vowels, all five of
which agree on the writing of the four vowels u, i, a, and o. This book follows IPA
practice for writing the Amharic vowels, without exception.

r - - - ...- -----~---------------------------

I Table 2.6. Five ways to write the Amharic
vowels phonetically

r-- IPA I This book I Leslau r EnAe I Wright

1----Q_______ l_____ li -------- - -
---------------- a
~-- -------r~: ---r-------- ---a-~---~--- -~G-~~~
I 0
L------ ------------- .. ------ -- -- --

References for Section 2.5

Hayward, Katrina, and Richard Hayward. 1999. Amharic, Handbook ofthe International
Phonetic Association, 41-49. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
International Phonetic Association. 1999. Handbook of the International Phonetic
Association: a Guide to the Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Ladefoged, Peter. 2001. A Course in Phonetics. Fort Worth; Harcourt.
Leslau, Wolf. 1976. Concise Amharic Dictionary. Berkeley: University of California
Uhlig, Siegbert, ed. 2003. Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, 5 volumes (vol. 1, 2003). Wies-
baden: Otto Harrassowitz.
Wright, Stephen. 1964. The transliteration of Amharic, Journal ofEthiopian Studies 2(1 ).

3. Amharic Words

3.1. Pronouns. Amharic has three pronoun sets: (1) independent pronouns, (2) noun-
possessive pronoun. suffixes, and (3) verb-object pronoun suffixes; see these in Table 3-; 1.-

Table 3.1. Three pronoun sets

Independent pronouns Noun-possessive Verb-object

suffixed pronouns suffixed pronouns
-~!!gulm: liie r --- ------ liet-e. 'my house- n-;;g-gilr-~ifn--he.toi<f nie __
m antg bet-ih nggggrg.h
2 T ana bet-if ----- nggg:;rg./--...- ... -
pol iss-woi irs-wo' I antu" bet-wo nggggrg.wo(t)
m iss-u I irs-u 1 -l--:-be-t--u------+-n-g""gg=-:;r-g....,...,w-,-r-:-J-------1
3 y iss-,,a / irs-"Ql'---+..,,..-a-----~-n-gg::::;;g=-01-r--a-t----.,..-
pol ..--------------
. Phil-aT iss-al~w I irs-a~C:Jw nggggr-acC:Iw . ---
_________,_....__-='------ .. _. ____
r ___;_r--riifiz ..--bo-e-1--a~_,..~..,.in-- ---....-_n_g_g;_g_gr_g._n______ _
2 inn-antg bet-allihu nggg:;r-al~ihu
3 I' bet-a~~:JW nggg01r-al~gw
------.. -------..------ -------- ----- .... --- ...... _____
1. iss< irs
2. antu in the dialects of Wello and Gojjain
3. After o or u the object pronoun is -l not -w, as in nggg91'u-t 'they told him'.

For the three pronoun sets in Amharic writing, see Appendix 1.

The pronouns distinguish singular and plmal; 1st (the speaker, English 'I, we'), 2nd
(person spoken-to, English 'you'), and 3rd (other, English 'he, she, it, they') person; and,
in the singular, masculine (m), feminine (f), and polite (pol). The neuter category of
English 'it' is treated as masculine; 'it' ='he'.. The polite pronouns are typically used for
older persons and others, such as priests, to whom respect should be shown, and also for
adults whom one does not know. Feminine forms may be used by boys and young men as
affectionate reference to close friends. Somewhat oppositely, Sg.f. forms may also be
used insultingly.
The Pl.2 noun-possessive and verb-object suffix pronoun -ae6hu is heard as [o~uh].

3.1.1. Independent pronouns. See the independent pronouns in Table 3.1. A number
of these have alternative forms. Singular 2nd polite antu is uncommon in standard Addis
Ababa Amharic but is heard in the dialects ofWello and Gondar.

Five of the indepentlent pronouns have alternative forms with irs- or iss-. This
probably reflects the origin of these pronouns as noun possessives based on the nouns
either *kirs 'belly' (Ge'ez kgrs, Gafat frsg) or *ri?is 'head' (modem Amharic ras,
Tigrinya ri?ist). If, for example, we assume origin from kirs, irs-u 'he' comes from kirs-u
'his belly', an emphatic pronoun comparable to colloquial English 'hisself', by loss of the
k, and iss-u comes from irs-u by assimilation of r to followings.
The plural independent pronouns have as initial element a plural morp~eme inng, also
seen in phrases like inng-t~faye 'those associated with Tesfaye'. This is prefixed to
singular independent pronouns to make the plurals: inng+antg > innantg 'you' (Pl.2),
inng+issu > inngssu 'they', inng+ya > irii!a 'we'. Sg.l ya of the latter is absent in
modem Amharic but known in Ge'ez and other Ethiopian Semitic languages. (The prefix
inng also appears in the Pl.l nonpast andjussive verbs.)
In irs-accgw I iss-accgw, the independent Sg.3 polite pronoun, the -ace- is probably a
historical plural marker related to the regular noun plural suffix-occ (3.2.4).
The Amharic independent pronouns occur infrequently as subjects of verbs, when
they are emphatic or contrastive, in English as in 'HE (not she) told me.' Because
sentence subjects are necessarily expressed in Amharic as a prefix and/or suffix on the
verb, an independent pronoun subject is redundant unless it provides additional meaning
such as contrast or focus in the utterance, for example, in ine ngi'fi'f 'It's ME' = 'It's me,
indeed' I 'It's me (and no one else)'.
As direct object rather than subject of a verb, the independent pronouns are suffixed
by the definite-object suffix -n (3.2.6); so ine is 'I' and ine-n is 'me'; isswa is 'she' and
iss"'a-n. 'her', etc. But the independent pronouns also occur infrequently as verb o~jects,
as when they are emphatic or contrastive. Pronoun verb objects may be expressed in
Amharic as verb suffixes, of the last column in Table 3.1 so the independent pronoun
object is redundant unless it provides meaning additional to the object-suffix pronoun, as

l~Hswa nggggr-ku(-at)
to-she told~ I(-her)
'I told HER.'

The independent pronouns may be made possessive pronouns by prefixing yg-, for
example yg-sswa bet 'her house', ya-ne sim 'my name' (3.2.5). More commonly, pro-
noun possession is expressed by the noun-possessive suffix pronouns (3.1.2): bet-wa
'her house', sim-e 'my name.

3.1.2. Noun-possessive suffu: pronouns. The noun-possessive suffix pronouns are

suffixed to the possessed noun. See these in Table 3.1 for the possessed noun bet 'house'.
If the noun ends in o, the Sg.3m. suffix is -w rather than -u, for example b:Jqlo-w 'his
mule'. Sg.3m. -u 'his' and Sg.3f. -"a 'her' are identical to the masculine and feminine
defmitizing suffixes (3.2.2).
The paradigm of noun-possessive suffix pronouns differs slightly from that of the
independent pronouns. In the suffixes, the Sg.3pol. and Pl.3 forms are the same: bet-
accgw 'her/his (pol) house', 'their house'. But Sg.3pol and PL3 are different in the
independent pronouns: irsacc~ I issac(!gw 'she/he (pol)' vs. inngssu I inngrsu 'they'.-

As mentioned above, -ace'- of the. plural noun-possessive suffixes is probably in
origin a plural suffix similar to the noun plural suffix -oa! (3.2.4).

3.1.3. Verb-object suffix pronouns. See the verb-object suffix pronouns in Table
3.1. The paradigm of verb-object suffix pronouns differs slightly from that of the
independent pronouns. In the suffixes, both Sg.3pol. and Pl.3 forms.are identical: n~gg:"
a~ 'he told her/him (pol)', 'he told them'. But Sg.3pol and Pl.3 are different in the
independent pronouns: irsaCc.~ I issacC:Jw 'he/she (polite)' vs. inn:1ssu I inn~rsu 'they'.
In the dialect of Debre Tabor, the Sg.l object suffix is not -M but -y (as in some of
the other Ethiopian Semitic languages). Again -ace- of PI.2 -acci-hu and Pl.3 -acc-gw
probably reflects an old plural suffix related to the noun plural suffix -occ (3.2.4).
Nonpast main verbs have an AUXILIARY verb suffix (, shown as 'MV' in the
following examples. In this case the object pronouns, -at- 'her' and -n- 'us' of the
examples, is suffixed to the verb stem and precedes the suffixed auxiliary verb:

1-take.:.her-MV 'I (will) take her.'

they.see-us-MV 'they (will) see us.'

When they follow verb-final non-alveopalatal consonants, the Sg.l, Sg.3m., and Pl. I
suffixes have initial :1 as -:Jifif, -:JW, and -an, respectively, for example:

n:Jggor-k-~M 'You (Sg.2m) told me.'

wis:xi-:JW '(You-Sg.2m) Take him!'
kif~l-~n '(You-Sg.2m) Pay us!'

When the verb-final consonant is an alveopalatal (listed in 2.1.6), the suffixes lack the~
and require the epenthetic vowel i:

n~gm--1-iriif 'You (Sg.f) told me.'

wis:Jj-iw '(You-Sg.f) Take him!'_
k:Jjf:il-in 'You (Sg.2f) paid us.'

After verb-final o or u, the Sg.3m. suffix is -t not -w, for example:

n~gg~r-u-t 'they told him'

n:Jgr-o-t 'he, telling him'

The two Amharic prepositions b:J- 'on, with, against' and l:J- 'for, to, in the interest
of may be suffixed to verbs, in which case they take the forms -:bb- and -11-, respectively
md are followed by the verb-object suffix pronouns (also see 3.3), for example:

d:n:xJ~bb-ii1i1 it dried up on me' ('unfortunately for me')

f:n:xi:J-ll-acC:Jw 'he judged for them (in their favor)'

In this context the Sg.3m. 'him' pronoun has the form -:X instead of -w:

yif:Jrd-ill-:X 'he judges for him (in his favor)'

yifard-iblr~ 'he judges against him'

In the Gonder dialect, -ll- 'for' may be absent; thus bfJI'Ufl k(fJt-:JJ'Ii1 for b~n kf~-ill-iifil
'open the door for me'.
When they are not suffixed to verbs, these and other prepositions take the
independent pronouns as objects, as in:

b:J-ne (< b:>ine) 'by me'

1-anCi 'for you' (Sg.f)
k:rsswa (< k:>iss"a) 'from her'

3.1.4. Reflexive-emphatic pronouns. The reflexive and emphatic pronouns are

expressed as possessives of the noun ras 'head', for example ras-e 'myself', ras-accin
'ourselves', as in

abbat-e ras-u-n gw:x:ida

father-my self-his-DO hurt.he
'My father hurt himself.'

ine ras-e mmt 'a-hu

I self-my came-l
'I myself came.'

3.1.5. Interrogative pronouns. The interrogative or question pronouns include ma(n)

'who' (man I mann-in 'whom'), min 'what', m:JC(e) 'when', y:Jt 'where', y:iififaw
'which', sint 'how much', l:Jmin 'why' (lit. l:rmin 'for what'}, ind:Jmin 'how' (< ind:>
min 'like-what'), and intlet 'how'(< ind:>y:Jt 'like where').
The first four ofthese take the suffix -mm (-imm with i-epenthesis) to provide indefi-
nite pronouns usually with negative verbs, as in:

mann-imm almatt 'amm 'Nobody came.'

y:-imm alhedimm 'I won't go anywhere.'


3.2.1. Masculine and feminine nouns. The gender of a noun, masculine or feminine,
is evident in its agreement with its verb, its pronoun replacement, and/or its definiteness
suffix or other determiner. For 'brother'_ and 'sister', for example:

Noun Verb agreement Pronoun Defmiteness suffix

w:mdimm 'brother' m:nt'a 'he came' issu 'he' w:mdimm-u 'the brother'
ihit 'sister' m:Ht'a-~ 'she came' isswa 'she' ihit-itu 'the sister'

Nouns are usually grammatically masculine unless they refer to biological feminines,
but inanimate nouns such as ag:Jr 'country' (if one's own) and m:ikina 'car' may be
affectionately made grammatically feminine, as in m:cina-ye f:}S~b:':!J~~ 'my car (f)
broke down.' in which the verb has Sg.3f. subject suffix -:JCC. Small things vs. large may
be preferred as feminines, for example buccilla-wa 'the puppy' vs. wi.fa-w 'the dog'.
Many human feminine nouns end in t, for example irmat 'mother', ihit 'sister', akist
aunt', and nigist 'queen' (exception: ayat 'grandfather' and 'grandmother'); and a
smaller number of feminine nouns end in -it, for example arogil 'old woman' (aroge
"old'), mogzit 'nurse (of infants)', and andit 'one (f)' (and 'one (m)').

3.2.2. Definite nouns. For masculine nouns the definite determiner 'the' is the suffix
-u after consonants and -w after vowels. For feminine nouns this is -wa after vowels and
consonants or -itu after consonants. For example: f:;Jr::JS-u 'the horse (m)', wiS'Sa-w 'the
dog (m)', wisa-wa 'the dog (f)', and dimm:!Jt-itu 'the cat (f)'. In Gojjam, -itu is more
\\idely used. The suffixes -u and -wa are respectively identical to the Sg.3m. and Sg.3f.
possessives (3.1.2).
Because these suffixes other than -itu are equivalent to the Sg.3 noun-possessive
suffixes, so wisa-w is ambiguously 'the dog (m)' or 'his dog', and wisa-wa is ambi-
guously 'the dog (f)' or 'her dog'.
The nouns s:!JW 'man' and set 'woman' have special forms S:!JW-~e-w 'the man', set-
~yo-wa 'the woman', in which the suffix -zyye I -iyyo indicates a specific but not definite
ooun: saw-.{yye 'a certain man, set-iyyo 'a certain woman'.

3.2.3. Indefinite article. The numeral and 'one' functions as an indefinite-specific

lrticle, as in and s:!JW matt 'a 'a certain (individual) man came'. Compare S:!JW m:Jtt 'a 'a
iD3Il came', with no indefinite article. Repetition of and expresses plural indefinite but
ED:specific 'some': andand sm.-v matt'a 'a few people came', 'some people came'.

3.2.4. Noun plural suffix. The regular plural suffix of nouns is -o~l; bet-occ
ibouses', z:m~9d-occ 'relatives'. A,rw may appear after vowels, especially round vowels:
r-fJ;;re-wo~c 'farmers', b:!Jqlo-wo~c 'mules' (2.1.3). Alternatively, the vowel of the
~suffix may elide a preceding vowel, especially if this is a: ma1cina-o~~> malcinocc
-C!I'S' (or m:J!dna-woCC), baqlo-occ> b~locc'mules'.
There are some plurals with not -occ but -at or -an, for example qal-at 'words' and
~-an 'saints', and a few irregular or 'broken' plurals probably from Ge'ez, including
~?ikt 'angels' (singular m:iak or m:i?ak) and danagil'virgins' (singular dingil).
When plural quantifiers are present, the plural suffix is not required: bizu saw 'many
pEL-,le', hui:Xt li] 'two children'. Adjectives of plural nouns may also be pluralized

3.2.5. Possessive. The possessive, or genitive, of nouns, which expresses various

:J:!&ions of association in addition to possession, is expressed by the prefix y:!J-: ya-hanna
.imm Hanna's mother', y:!J-kenya ambasad:!Jr 'the Kenyan ambassador', ya-silk qut'ir
"b;:phone number'. The same prefixya- marks the verb of an adjective c1ause (4.7).

The prefix y:r is absent if'another preposition precedes, as in b:rne bet 'in my house'
(not b:ry:rne bet) and !~hanna innat 'for Hanna's mother' (not l:ry:rhanna innat).

3.2.6. Definite object suffix. A 'deflnite' noun phrase, one known to the addressee
and often marked in English by the definite article the, is suffixed by n in Amharic.
Proper nouns (names) are typically definite.

betun w:1dti:x/:} 'He liked the house.

Tesfayen r:xldu 'They helped Tesfaye.'
yihin iw:Jsdal/:}hu 'I will take this (one).'

This aspect of Amharic grammar logically and usefully interacts with word order. In
Amharic sentences a subject ordinarily precedes the object - and both precede the verb,
which is last in the sentence. (4.1.1). However, if the object is definite, it may and
typically does precede the subject. Thus 'a dog bit a man' is ordered in Amharic 'a dog a
man bit'. But if 'man' is definite, wordorder is likely to be 'the man a dog bit'. In this
case -n suffixed to the definite object helpfully makes clear that even though ftrst in the
sentence it is the man who gets bitten and not the dog. (See also 4.1.2.)
A definite noun object ('DO') which is the TOPIC of a sentence (what the discourse
and discourse and sentence are 'about'), may be expressed in the sentence as a
RESUMPTIVE object-suffix pronoun, suffixed to the verb, for example:

bet-u-n w:xld:xl-:rw
house-the.DO liked-he-it
'He liked the house.' (-w repeats reference to betu)

abat-e-n r:xlda-hu-t
fathermy-00 helped-I-him
'I helped my father.' (-t repeats reference to abate)

Topics in English are not marked by grammar, but often by a phrase such as 'as for',
'concerning' ('As for the house, he liked it'), or by special wordoo()rder, stress and
intonation ('Novels, I never read anymore').

3.2.7. Contrast I topic suffo:. A suffix -mm (-imm with epenthetic vowel) marks
nouns, and other words, as contrastive, a usage often termed 'topicalization'. Consider
the following sentence:

zare t .wat yohannis-imm d:}WW:J/-~Il-illri

today morning YohannesCon oalled-heto-me
'This morning Yohannes (indeed) called me.' I 'As for Yohannes, he called me this

Here Yohannes is continued as a topic for discussion or in contrast with others.

Frequently, the suffix -mm can be translated as 'too/also'.

yohannis-imm yi-m~'-all
Yohannes--Con he-come-MV (MV is for 'main verb'; see
'Yohannes will come too.'

In questions. an equivalent morpheme is -ss:

you (Sg.m)-Q
' And as for you?' I 'What about you (Sg.2m)?'

3.2.8. Nouns derived from verbs Verbal noun I infinitive. The infinitive verb or verbal noun, usually
expressed in English as a verb with to (to go, to stay) or -ing (going. staying), is discussed
in 3.7.3. Pla~e and instrument noun. A noun expressing the place or instrument of a
~is constructed as the prefix m:~- on the infinitive stem of the verb (3.7.3) plus the
suffix -tya. For the verb nor~ 'lived, resided', for example, the place nolm is m:~-nor-iya
""residence', and for t':;,rr~g~ 'he swept' the instrument noun is m~-tr~-iya 'broom'. See
more examples in Table 3.2.

Table 3.2. Pla~e and instrument nouns: ma + noun stem + iya
Verb in past Pla~e noun
aqom~--- 'stop, stand' (vt) m-aqom-iya 'stopping place'
t~-C'aww:ll~ 'played' m~-ll'ri~-- -- 'playground' --
arr:Jj:J --- 'rested' awroplan m-amf-iya 'airport'
add:Ji:J -+-;,-di~str:-:i;:-b-ut:-ed-:-,!.;--m--a---:dd:-:P-~--a.....:r---1--:-,g. . as~sta~ti-on-:':-----l
hed:J -- 'went' -- m:JheiiYri----- - 'destination'_____ ........ -
d:Jr:Kid:Jr~ 'arranged' m:J-d:mi:Jr-iya 'shelf'
'began' (vi) m:J1Pmm:JT-iya 'beginning, start'
........------ --
'finished' {vi)
........ - ---r--- -t-:--
- Y~rb iii~!( -----~~. .- Inst!'uli!~!!~ ~-~-ii~ :~ . -_-_:~=~=-~=
s:Jrra ____ .... . . 'w~!~~-~~.. _I!1:J-sr-iJI!l._.. 'm~ of :work'
'conclusion, end'


att'arra .... _'_fil~ered:_ ________ .1!1-att'gr._-iyg. _ _ -. . _:filter' - ---

af:illa 'boiled' {vt) bunna m-af-iya 'coffee maker'
-~ ---opeiie(f(Vif" ..... ---m;~ki:J""8~.---- -- 'opener>------
--- ----........... --r - ----- ----- --
arr:1S:J -- ...... 'plowed' --------.
m-am-a .r .. --- .. -------
. ---- ...........
k:xld:Jn:J 'covered' mP-kd:Jifii-a 'lid, cover'
~a----- 'welitour---- ma.::Wc~d- 'exit' ___...... __ _
n --

as~:Jdda: ~ _'e~lained~- __- ... ~-!!~~i.iff}::Q1 - .:~.~ - :~~~d~~~e, _pj~~!::~ __ _

I. Stem-final alveolars except r are palatalized (2.1.6).

Ibe suffix -iya palatalizes verb-stem final coronal cortsonants as discussed in 2.1.6,
usually ~ith loss of -iy-, as in m~-ccaw~c!-a 'playground' (< m~-ccaw~t-iya), m-a1-:1s-a
~ (<m-aros-iya), and other examples ofTable 3.2.
The vowel ~ of the prefix m:; is elided by a of the following verb stem (2.2.2), as in
11HIIJOlll-iya 'stopping place' and other examples of the table. Agent noun. The noun agent ('doer') of a verb is expressed by the suffix -i
011 a special stem of the verb which has the vowel a before the last consonant: n~ari
'"tdlcF' (n~gg~~ 'told'), f:ilagi 'seeker' (f:il~g~ 'wanted'), t~g"am-i 'translator'
(t;r.,ggv:nn~ 'translated'). Verbs of the hed~ type have ya: hiyaj'goer' (hed~ 'went'; the
agent noun has palatalization of d from hiyad-l). Verbs of the qom~ type have wa:
q:Mam-i 'permanent one, stander' (qom~ 'stood'), and verbs of the s:nnma type lack the
a:. s:xn-i 'hearer' (s<Nnma 'heard'). (The different verb types are discussed in
"Carpenter', anal 'i, without palatalization, is exceptional. 'Trader', n~gade, is also
Some agents are formed on nouns by suffixing -~ilifa: q:id-~ilifa 'joker' (q:id 'joke'),
f:~r:JS-:Jnlfa 'horseman' (j':Jr:JS 'horse'), z:Jb-:Ji1r'la 'guard' (z:Jb 'guarding').
The latter suffix also forms ordinal from cardinal numerals: and-~nlfa 'first' (and
'one'), hul:Jt-:Jiiifa 'second' (hul:Jt 'two'); for the numerals see 3.6. Abstract noun. An abstract noun is expressed with the suffix -nn:Jt added to
a noun or adjective, as in set-innat 'womanhood' (set 'woman'), qon]o-nn:X 'beauty'
(qon]o 'beautiful, pretty'), t'or-inn~l 'war' (l'or 'spear, war').
There are number of other, less common, ways of deriving nouns from verbal roots,
as inftJ'nat 'speed' if:Xt'9n:J 'hurried') andfit'r:X 'creation' (fatt':Jr:J 'created'), sikar
'drunkenness' (s:Jkk:Jr:J 'was drunk'), and zillay 'jumping' (z:il:i~ 'jumped'). Nationality and language names. Attached to the name of a country or

nation, the sufftx -awi(l}, with t for feminine, expresses nationality, as in inglizawi
'Englishman' (m) (ingliz 'England, English') and ityopp'yawi 'Ethiopian' (m) (ityopp'ya
'Ethiopia'), ityopp 'yawit 'Ethiopian' (f), inglizawit 'Englishwoman' (f).
Language names consist of the name of the country or people, less a word-final
vowel, plus the suffix -intla, as in inglizinr'la (ingliz 'England, English'}, japaninr'la
(Japan), and Ethiopian language names oromiiflfa (oromo), and somalinr'la (somali).

3.3. Prepositions. There are ten prepositions, as follows with examples; only their
typical uses are exemplified. The one-syllable prepositions are prefixes, written as part of
the following word; the two-syllable prepositions are commonly written as separate
words. Recall that ~ of a prefix is absent before a following vowel other than i, as in /-
ant~ 'for you', below (2.2.2).

b:; 'on, at, by' b:;ru~b 'by running' b:;t'alyaniififa 'in Italian'
i- 'at, on' i-bet 'at home' i-gat'fll' 'in the countryside'
/:; 'for, to' /-ant~ 'for you I to you' (Sg.m) /:;m:Jhlat 'for eating'

k:;,- I t:J-* 'from, ... ' k-ahun 'from now' k:J-sswa 'with her'
wad:;, 'to' w;xi:;, k:;,t:;,ma 'to town' wad" biro 'to the office'
ind:;, 'like' ind:;, inn~u 'like them' ind" Jib 'like a hyena'
isk:;, 'until' isk" missfJt 'until evening' isk" qidame 'till Saturday'
sila 'about' sil" pol:Hika 'about politics' sila timhiit 'about education'
yal:;, 'without' yala g"nz~ 'without money' yal:;, m"bt 'without right'
basta 'toward, from' basta gra 'to the left' bast" hwala 'from behind'

*'with, at, on'; t:J- rather than k:J- in the dialects of Gonder, Menz, and Wello

The prepositions b:J- and /:1- may be suffixed to verbs taking the forms -bb- and -11- in
the meanings 'against, unfortunately for' and 'for, fortunately for', respectively, and
followed by the verb-object suffix pronouns, as in darr:;,q:J-bb-ilfif 'it dried up on me'
('unfortunate\)' fot me'), d~rr;q<)-11-iiiii'\t dtied up fot\unate\y for me' (see also 3.\.3).
The preposition /:;,.. 'for, to' expresses the INDIRECT OBJECT or 'recipient' in
sentences such 8$ the following.

m:;,s'ihaf-u-n la-yohannis s~t-~c-iw

book-the-DO to-Yohannes gave-she-him
'She gave the book to Yohannes.'

In the Gojjam dialect, ya- replaces /a- in this function.

There are also postpositions, which follow the noun, and express positional and
related meanings, for which see 4.4.

3.4. Adjectives. There are words which typically function as adjectives, modifiers of
nouns, such as tt1liq 'big', tinnis 'small', and qonfo 'pretty', and color words such as
n:;,cc', 1'iqur 'black'. But these may also function as nouns, for example taking the
definite article and plural suffixes: tilliq-u 'the big one (m)', tinni..occ 'small ones',
t'iqur-wa 'the black one (f)', t'iqur-ot.Y-u 'the black ones'.
Adjective precede their nouns, and if the noun is definite the suffix of definiteness -u
(m) I -wa (f) follows the adjective and not the noun: tilliq-u bet 'the big house (m)',
qon]owa liJ'the pretty child (f)'. Likewise the definite object suffix -n is attached to the

aroge-w-n m:Jkina s:Jt '"

old-the(m}-DO car sold.he
'He sold the old car.'

A noun-possessive suffix, by contrast, is on the noun and not the adjective: tilliq bet-u
"his big house', aroge makina-wa 'her old car'. Thus tilliq bet-u is 'his big house' but
dliq-u bet is 'the big house (m)'.
Plurality may be marked on the adjective modifier of a noun, adding a sense of
variability in the qua1ity of the adjective: tilliq-occ naceaw 'they are (various) big ones'
(ri//iq 'big'), tilliq-occ lif-occ'big children (of varying big sizes)'.

In contrast with the usual case for adjectives and quantifiers, hullu 'all' may follow its
noun: saw hu/lu, or.hullu s~ 'all the people'.

3.4.1. Derived adjectives. Some adjectives form a plural with the additional meaning
of 'various,' by duplicating the middle consonant: till11iq lij-occ 'big children' (tilliq
'big'), r:}jaJ]im wattadd~-occ 'tall soldiers' (rgjjim 'tall'). Like other adjectives these
may function like nouns and take the noun-plural suffix: tililliq-occ 'various big ones'.
An adjective of quality is derived by the suffix -awi as in samay-awi 'blue' (sgmay
'sky') and am:H-awi 'yearly, annual' (am{}( 'year'). This suffix also derives nouns of
nationality (
The suffix -am derives from a noun an adjective meaning 'having particularly a
quality associated with the noun': hod-am 'greedy, gluttonous' (hod 'stomach'), m:}/k-am
'attractive, nice' (m:ik 'appearance').
The suffix -amma derives an adjective of similar, perhaps somewhat intensified,
meaning:fire-yamma 'fruitful' (fire 'fruit'; withy-insertion; 2.1.3), l'en-amma 'healthy'
(t 'ena 'health').
The suffix -tgrJifa (cf. -gififa of agent nouns, forms adjectives on the base of
'say' verbs (3.7.10). Thus fbr q~s a/g 'he was slow' there is q~s-it:;rJifa 'slow, sloth-
ful', and for zimm a/:; 'he was quiet', zimm-itailifa 'quiet, silent'.

3.4.2. Comparative and superlative. The comparative is expressed by a preposi-

tional phrase with krr 'from', and the superlative is expressed as the comparison to hullu
'all'. The attribute of comparison is an adjective or verb as in the following somewhat
synonymous examples, the first with the adjective acc'ir 'short' and the second with the
Sg.3m. nonpast of the verb att ~:;'was short'.

kgbb:Jde krryonas acc'ir n:;-w

Kebbede from-Yonas short is-he
'Kebbede is shorter than Yonas.'

k:JbbfJde krryonas yat 'raJ

Kebbede from-Yonas is. short
Kebbede is shorter than Yonas.'

The comparative may be intensified by yiliq or yib:Jlt~ Sg.3m. nonpast forms of the verbs
laqa 'excelled, exceeded' and b:il~t'g 'exceeded, was bigger I more'.

rah:;l krrmarta yiliq (or yibglt ') habtam n:J-cc

Rabel from-Marta more rich is-she
'Rabel is (even) richer than Marta.'

With negative comparisons, yooas:J (basa 'was worse') is used.

flZiks k~kemistri yooasg koobad n:J-w

physics from-chemistry more hard is-it
'Physics is (even) harder than chemistry.'

The superlative is a comparison to hullu 'all' or to a plural noun+ hullu.

k~b~:J k:1-hullu habtam n~w

Kebbede from-all rich is-he
'Kebbede is (the) richest.'

kdJb~:J k:J-w:mdimm-occ-u hullu habtam

Kebbede from-brother-PI-his all rich is-he
'Kebbede is the richest of (all) his brothers.' (' ... is richer than all his brothers.')

The superlative may also-be expressed as a definite adjective.

yohannis tilliq-u n~-w

Yohannes big-the is-he
'Yohannes is the biggest.' I 'Yohannes is the big one.'

3.5. Demonstratives. The demonstratives, or demonstrative pronouns, which express

'this', 'that', 'these', and 'those', are shown in Table 3.3. The Amharic demonstratives
distinguish singular and plural, near (proximal) and far (distal), and gender in the

Table 3.3. Demonstratives- ~

Singular __
m yih
near 'this'
f yi(hi) ~~(i)
m _y_a
r- yacc(i)
near inn:JZzih ---r these
far inn:JZziya 'those'
-- v ~--~~----

The plural demonstratives consist of the plural prefix inn:J- seen in the plural
independent pronouns (including inn:J-ssu 'they'; 3.1.1) plus the locatives izzih 'here'
and izziya 'there'. The demonstratives function as pronouns as in ya n::V 'that's it', as
well as modifiers as inyih bet 'this house'.
The locatives izzih 'here' and izziya 'there' are also used as demonstratives as in izzih
bet 'this house', but especially after prepositions as in b:J-zzih bet 'in this house'. The 3rd
person independent pronouns may function similarly, as in issu lij 'that boy'.
As pronouns or modifiers of definite nouns the demonstratives are suffixed by the
definite object suffix, as inyih-in iw~dall:Jhu 'I like this one', yih-in sim als:nnmahum 'I
didn't hear (haven't heard) this name'.

A fact of Amharic NON-VERBAL LANGUAGE which should be noted, in relation to the
demonstrative function of pointing, is that instead of finger pointing, as by English
speakers, speakers of Amharic typically point by gesturing with the protruded lips.

3.6. Numerals and time. The basic cardinal numerals (number-words) and some of
the higher cardinals are listed in Table 3.4. Notice that assir 'ten' has a different fonn
asra when formiri.g the teens, such as asra-arat (or asrarat) 'fourteen'.
For the cardinal numerals and the numbers in Amharic writing, see 5.3.5 and
Years are expressed for example as:

Si z~'ann m:Ho silsa sost

thousand nine hundred sixty three

hulatt si (zero) sabat

two thousand (zero) seven
'two thousand (and) seven'

---------------. - - - - - -..-------
Table 3.4. Cardinal numerals

_l .I._Cif!d ... . ._20 ...... .h.tJ)!_a . ...... _. --..~==--==~--

2 hu/att 21 haya-and
"'"3 -so_s_t- - - - - - 30 _____ salasa ------------
1--r fii(jj""----.. 40 --- a;:r;a-----
5 ammisl 50 hamsa
6 siddist
----... 60 silsa
----" . . ____ --- -------1-~------------
7 sabat 10 saba
8 -siiTiiiini SO s:nnanya - - - - - - - - - - - 1

i~;~-- -~~=~t;!~~~--j
I_ ~.~ I~~=~:~~~-.-- ~t. . J...~~~?~ti_~:~l!..!t~~a__amm~. . . . . ..
Ordinal numerals are formed on cardinals by suffixing -~ifr'fa. thus:

and-:Jilifa 'first',
assir-~iliia 'tenth'
m:Jto asr-and-aifi!a 'hundred and eleventh'

Ordinal 'ninth', zgt 'an-:Jilifa, is slightly irregular in having the basis zat ':Jn 'ninety' not
z~l 'ann 'nine'.
(The suffix -ailifa also fonns noun agents:

'First' and 'second' are also expressed, respectively, by -awi suffixed to fonns ofthe
verbs q{1(}dama 'preceded' and d~ama 'repeated': q:xiam-awi, dagm-awi. These are the
ordinals required in royal titles such as qgc/amawi hay/a sillase 'Haile Sellassie I' and
dagmawi minilik 'Menelik II'.

Times of the day. In Ethiopia the twelve hours ofthe day are counted from sunrise to
sunset and the twelve-hour sequence is repeated to sunrise, so asra hulatt s~?at, literally
"twelve o'clock', is equivalent to 'six o'clock' (a.m. or p.m.) in English; and sa?at (lit.
"one o'clock') is equivalent to 'seven o'clock' (morning or evening); and siddist sa?at is
equivalent to 'twelve o'clock' (midday or midnight).
For more on time and telling time, see Appendix 4.

3.7. Verbs

3.7.1. Roots, stems, and words. A characteristic of Semitic languages including

Amharic is that the minimal fonn of many verbal meanings is only consonants, usually
three, often two, sometimes four, and rarely five. Amharic examples are ngr 'tell' (3
consonants), qr 'remain' (2 consonants), and mskr 'testify' (4 consonants). These are
termed ROOTS. For many verbs, vowels are also part of the root, for example alf'pass',
sma 'hear', hed 'go', and sam 'kiss'. The root is the minimal form from which one can
predict regularly derivable words including verbs in the various tenses and aspects.
To build a word from a root, vowels and in some cases the consonant 1 are inserted,
and root consonants and vowels may be modified. The result is a STEM. Prefixes and
suffixes are usually added to complete the stem as a verb. Table 3.5 exemplifies five
roots, a stem of each root in one of the verb tenses, and a word formed on the given stem
by addition of a verb-subject affix. The hyphens show that an affix is needed at the place
of the hyphen- a prefix before and a suffix after, to complete the stem as a word.

Table 3.5. Root, stem, and word

Root Meanin
qr 'remain' jus~ve . -- yi-qir 'let it remain'
olf 'pass' (vi) imperative ilaf-i --- ~f~ (~~- _
I sam~-:.~~-~:~--~=~----- s!r!!: ....:.:~-~~-. C~!!Y.~z:_~:-.-.-. ---~~::~. --.--:. ~J:te, kis~~~--
1. The imperative stem without affixes is also a word: the singular masculine
imperative verb, for example i/af'(You, Sg.2m) Pass!'

The consonants of roots are tenned 'radicals' (Latin radix 'root'). Roots of two
mosonants are 'biradical'; roots of three consonants 'triradical', etc.
The formation of stems by associating a vowel or sequence of vowels with root
mosonants is known as'ROOTAND-PATTERN MORPHOLOGY, and is the special character-

istic of Semitic languages, including Amharic, Arabic, and Hebrew. Typical Semitic
roots are triradical, as in Amharic, but in Ethiopian Semitic languages including Amharic
there also are many biconsonantal roots and many roots with a vowel. Twelve verb types. Roots have different forms according to (1) their mnnber
of consonants (two to four or, rarely, five), (2) whether one of these consonants is long or
not, (3) presence or not of a vowel as part of the root, and (4) the quality of the vowel if
there is one. The first column of Table 3.6 shows the abstract form of the root of twelve
common verb types as consonants (C) and in some cases a vowel (V), an example root of
each type, and for each root the Sg.3m. (subject 'he/it') verb in the four basic
conjugations past, nonpast, jussive, and converb, and the infinitive.

- ~------~--- .... ---- ------. -- -------- ----- ------ - -----------.-

Table 3.6. Verbs of twelve types

.. --------- - --- -------- ---- - --
Root I.
type Example Past Nonpast Jussive Converb Infinitive
ngr(A) yi-n~gr yi-ngsr
CCC 'tell'
n~g:~r-~ n~gr-o m:rng~r

fl:g(B} ftJl ::Jg-:J yi-f:J!:ig f:Jl:ig-o

CC:C 'want' m:rf:Jl: :Jg

qar:a yi-qar I
yi-qir qar-t-o m:rqr:rt
ly: (B) l:Jy:a yi-l:Jy: l:Jy:-il-0 m:rlgy:-t
CC: 'separate'
-------- -
sma(A) sam:a yi-s:Jma yi-sima sam-t-o m:rsma-1
CCa 'hear' - ---...-- ----- - ----h------ -
lk:a (B)
____ , ___ .,.
, _______ ____l:Jk:a
--- . - .. - -- .. - .... _, ______ . ~------~- ........ - --
lak:-it-o m:rl :J!c:
----- ----
qom qorn-:J yi-qom yi-qum qum-o m:rqom
hed bed-~ yi-hed yi-hid hid-o m:rhed
CeC 'go'
sam sam-:J , yt-stm yi-sam sim-o m:J-sam
---- 'kiss' --- --------- -- ------- -

....... .. --. --- ------ -----

bark bar::Jk-:J yi-bar:ik yi-bark bark-o m:rbar:J!c

CaCC _______ ------------ r------- ---------
'bless' ,_
- - -
= ~ . .-.. . . ., yi-m:>skir ma<kir-<J m:>-mos/ca-

c<Th~ _i::-~ni~---~~ -;;_;;,;;!:_-.,- ---;;;;,;;- ~~t-o= m.,_..,.;,_,

Fo:r verbs of the twelve types in Amharic writing and lists of example verbs of the
twelve types, see Appendices 5 and 6.

52 A-type and B-type verbs. Some roots have a long consonant (2.1.5) and
some don't. In Table 3.6, roots of the first three pairs systematically differ from each
other by presence of a long consonant, written with ':' in the second root of each pair;
that is, ngr vs.fl:g, qr vs. ly:, and sma vs. lk:a. Of such pairs, roots with a long consonant
are termed 'B-type' and those without 'A-type'. Amharic A-type roots are perhaps 1.5
times as numerous as B-types.
Notice in Table 3.6 that roots of the twelve root types form stems in different
patterns. The stems of both A and B-type roots have the same structure in the past: the
second consonant of both ngr and fl:g is long in past-tense verbs (the third column of
Table 3.6). But in nonpasts (fourth column), for example, the second consonant is short in
A-type yin~gr but still long in B-type yif~l:ig. The stems of B-type roots are the same in
the jussive and nonpast conjugations.
B-type roots in Table 3.6 are written with':' rather than a doubling of the consonant,
to make clear that the long consonant is not a pair of adjacent identical consonants. Roots
may, indeed, repeat a consonant, for example wdd 'like, love'. The root wdd is like ngr,
not likely: 'separate'; that is, the root is not wd:. This is is evident in words formed on
the root, for example )JiwdfXI 'let him like', in which the two d's are separated by a
vowel. The long consonant of a B-type root like ly: never appears as like consonants
separated by a vowel. Verbs with a repeated consonant like wdd are termed 'doubled
verbs'. Other examples are.fss 'leak', zll'jump', and brr 'fly'.
The CITATION FORM of a verb is that which appears first in entries of a dictionary. In
an English dictionary this is the 'infinitive' form, for example eat as in to eat and drink as
in to drink- not ate, or drank. The citation form of an Amharic verb is the Sg.3m. past,
for example n~gg~r~ 'he told' ,f~ll~g~ 'he wanted'. However, the Sg.3m. past form does
not distinguish the types, because in this form A-typ~ as well as B has the B-type long-
consonant characteristic. So Amharic dictionaries have to indicate this otherwise, usually
and as in the word-lists of Part 4 of this book, by a note, 'B-type'. A verb is A-type
otherwise, or of a type which does not distinguish A and B.
In Semitic languages beyond Ethiopia, such as Arabic, verbs may often differ only by
whether the second consonant of one of the verbs is long. But in Arabic most such verb
pairs have related meanings, for example:

Arabic kasara 'he broke' vs. kassara 'he smashed'

zakara 'he remembered' vs. zakkara 'he reminded'

In Arabic to some extent (but far from perfect) one can expect (if not predict) such
relationships of form and meaning. Thus given Arabic qatala 'he killed' one can expect
qattala 'he massacred', and given qaruba 'come near, approach' one can expect qarraba
bring near'.
In Amharic, by contrast, long-consonant B-types are in no regular meaning relation to
short-consonant A-types. There is, however, a tendency for B-types to be TRANSITIVE
VERBS. (Transitive verbs are those which may have a direct object, for example take and
find: someone takes and finds something. INTRANSITIVE VERBS, such as go and fall, don't
have objects.) Other tendencies are that Amharic verbs whose first consonant is an
alveopalatal c,. c: J, s, or z, or those whose second consonant is w or y, are B-types. The
following, for example, are B-type verbs: J~mm~r:J 'began', c':;}ll~m~ 'was dark', s:Jff~n~
covered', d~w:Jl:J 'rang', and t'~aJ~ 'asked'.

53 C-type verbs. Roots like bark 'bless' in the tenth row of Table 3.6, with three
consonants and a after the first consonant, are termed 'C-type'. Other C-type roots are
galh 'ride (a horse)', t'aft' 'be sweet', and mark 'capture, attract'. For a list of C-type
verbs, see Appendix 6. Verb roots with two eonsonants. Many Amharic roots have only two
consonants, many. of which had originally three-consonants, one of which was lost often
leaving its trace as a vowel characteristic. Often this is apparent in the comparison of
Amharic and Ge'ez roots. For example, Amharic lak 'send' is Ge'ez l?k; Amharic bla
'eat' is Ge'ez blf; and Amharic. Ira 'fear' is Ge'ez frh. (Such facts do not show that
Ge'ez is the ancestor language of Amharic, but only that Ge'ez writing is known from an
earlier time; see 1.3.3.) In most cases, the lost consonant was a laryngeal or pharyngeal
consonant (h, f. h, .?), which left the vowel a as its trace. Examples in Table 3.6 are sma,
lka, and sam. For more examples, see Appendix 6.
In some cases the lost consonant was a w or y, which left a round and front vowel,
respectively, as its trace. Examples in Table 3.6 are qom and hed. For more examples, see
Roots which lost their final consonant form their converb and infinitive stems by
addition-oft in place of the lost consonant. For example, the converb stems of qr and sma
are q~r-t and s~m-t and the infinitives are m~-qm-t and m;rsma-t (see Table 3.6). For
more examples, see Appendix 6. Verb roots with initial.a. Roots with initial a are in many cases known to
have lost their initial consonant. Thus the Amharic root alfappears in Ge'ez as xlf'pass'
and the Amharic root awq in Ge'ez is fwq 'know'. The lost consonants were those which
left their trace as the vowel a. Table 3. 7 compares the verbs of a-initial roots
corresponding to the first, second, third and eleventh types of Table 3.6. The past,
nonpast, and converb examples of the table have Sg.3m. subject affixes -~. y-, and -o,
respectively, and the imperative is a Sg.2m. form .

Table 3.7. Verb roots with initial a

- R<?pj=~E~ .. _frui_f.=~--~ :]fonp~... J~~rat!y~ ~ c-G~-~verb Iiifiiiitivl?~ _:M:~~!!!i .

alf(AL__ al:~~-~ ___ .. ..!.-al[ __ .../!.~!_____ ...... ~If:~----- m-al~!_ _______'~!_ __ _

~~:>11:~:~---t---~~--~-- :;i ~g;~:-

Stem-initial a of a verb may be mistaken for a- of the causative prefix (
Compare past-tense a bOO/~ 'he lied', of the root ahl, with aOO!la 'he made eat', the
causative of the root bla 'eat'. The long b of ablxJI~ and short b and long II of aballa
make clear that word-initial a of the former is part of the root and word-initial a of the
latter is the causative prefix. In the phonetic writing of this book, presence of the
causative prefix is sometimes shown by a hyphen: a-b:i/la.

3.7.2. Four ba.sie verb conjugations. There are four basic verb conjugations in
Amharic (roughly, 'tenses'): past, nonpast, jussive I imperative, and converb. These differ
in meaning, in form according to their pattern of formation of stems, and they differ in
the subject prefixes and suffixes they select in the formation of words. (The infinitive,
also seen in Tables 3.6 and 3.7, is a noun, but may take the noun~possessive suffixes as
its subject; see 3.7.3.) Past. The past consists of a special stem plus subject suffixes. Table 3.8
exemplifies past forms of the roots ngr 'tell' and bla 'eat'.

------- . . _-1
Table 3.8. Past

Sin tilar
I 1 _..Ia! 'I told' r~/o:bo 'I ate.::-
2 f
.m In;,g~r~!'._ .. _
-- 1-------... - - - - - - - 1
pol 1 n:Jgg:Jr~u 1/l~u
. 3 -~--- i-l}:Jgg:Jr-:J
----. -----------
--.. -. .l ...~:'!f.!!__ ____ _

~or l;;~:fi---=~~L~~~~~~-=-- _

~ .:=J~E~-~~-r~~
1. Polite fonns =Pl.3 form.
2. Pl.l suffix of Gojjam and Gonder dialects is -n:J.

For the past-tense fonn of the twelve root types in Amharic writing see Appendix 7.
The past conjugation isoften termed 'perfect', because it expresses a 'perfected'
event, action, or .state, with the result that meaning of the past conjugation differs in
ACTIVE and STATIVE verbs. Active verbs are such as 'take' and 'fall', and stative verbs
are such as 'be(come) sick' or 'tire, be(come) tired'. Stative verbs in English are often
expressed, as in these examples, as be(come) + adjective or past participle. (Tired in
become tired is a past participle, like known, eaten, etc.) A perfected action is past, but a
perfected state may be past and/or (still) present.
The two examples of Table 3.8 are active verbs, so Sg.3m. n:Jgg~:J is 'he told' and
Sg.3m. b:Jlla 'he ate'. The past form of a stative verb like rzm 'be tall', T:Jzz:Jm:J, may,
however, mean either 'he was tall' or 'he is tall'. Stative verbs may also be understood to
express 'becoming,' or INCHOATIVE meaning, so T:JZZ:Jm:J means 'it became tall' (which
is past tense), which implies both 'he was tall' and 'he (still) is tall'.

The vowel u of the Sg.l 'I' subject suffix (-ku and -hu of Table 3.8) is voiceless when
no suffix follows it in the word (2.2.5), so that -ku I -hu is sometimes written -lt" I -h".
The Pl.2 suffix -accihu sounds like -a~uh. .
The Sg.l and Sg.2m. suffixes are either k or h. The former is used if the verb stem
ends in a consonant, as does nggggr-, with Sg.l suffix -ku and Sg.2m. -k. If the verb stem
ends in a vowel, as does 00/la-, these suffiXes are -hu and -h. In the dialect of Menz only
the latter is regularly heard, even when the stem ends in a consonant. In Amharic writing
h may be written when k is pronounced, but not k when h is pronounced.
Past stems of verbs of the types of qr and ly: (Table 3.6) end in :l, which is apparent
in their Pl.l fonn, which have the suffix -n, for example qgrr:m 'we .remained'. The g
before n contrasts with the i (epenthetic i; 2.2.3) of verbs which end in a consonant, as in
m~gggrin 'we told', with the consonant-fmal stem nggg:ll'. Thus also the Sg.l past of
q:Jrr::J is q::Jrr::J-hu 'I remained', in which -hu is necessitated by the stem-final vowel;
compare -leu which follows a stem-final consonant of n:Jgg:Jr in nggggr-ku 'I told'.
By regular vowel elisions (2.2.2), stem-final a or ::J is absent when -u of a suffix
follows, so 001/a-u > b:J/1-u 'they ate' and q:Jrr::J-u > qarr-u 'they remained'. Similarly a-
a > a and ::J-a > a, so b::Jlla-accihu > ir.Jlla~~ihu 'you (pl.) ate' and q:Jrr::J-ac~ihu > qgrr-

Negative past. The negative verb in the past is formed by prefixing al- and, in main
verbs, suffixing -mm. See Table 3.9, which shows negative verbs for the nonpast and
jussive I imperative as well as the past. Length in the suffix -mm of negative verbs is not
prominent, especially when, as often the case, the negative verb is final in an utterance.
For the negative verbs of the past, nonpast, and jussive in Amharic writing, see
Appendix 8.
If there is an object suffix pronoun, this follows the subject suffix and precedes the
negative suffix -mm, for example:

Neg-told-he-you (Sg.m)-Neg
'he didn't tell you (Sg.m)'

al-ngggar-u-at-mm (>alnggggr"atimm I aln:>gg:JrWatimm)

'they didn't tell her' Nonpast. The nonpast is often termed 'imperfect', because it expresses an

'imperfected' or unfmished event, action, or state, the meaning of which may be future as
well as present. See examples in Table 3.10, where again the verbs are ngr 'tell' and bla
'eat'. As seen in the two parts ofTable 3.10, nonpast fonns.ofmain clauses have suffixes
absent in nonpasts of minor (subordinate) clauses.
For the root of the active verb ngr 'tell,' the Sg.3m. nonpast verb of minor clauses is
yi-nggir 'he tells' or 'he will tell', and for the root of stative rzm 'be tall' the Sg.3m.
nonpast of minor clauses is yi-re~Zim 'he will be tall' or, understood inchoatively, 'he
becomes tall' or 'he will become tall'.

,--- -.

Table 3~9. Negative past, nonpast, and jussive I imperative

~-r--- Past Nonpast Jussive/
1 al-n~ar-ku(-mm) 1 I a-1-n:i~gr(-imml-- a-li-ng:ll' - -
'm al-nagg~-k(-imm) a-t(ti)-nagr(-imm) a-tti-ngar
2 f al-nagg~-1(-imm) a-t(ti)-nagr-i(-mm) a-tti-ngar-i
j)o(_ al-naggar-u(-mm) -- a-y-n:Jgr-u(-mm) a-y-ngar-u
m al-n:Jggar-a(-mm) a-y-n:Jgr(-imm) a-yi-ng:n

r -~ol t:{:~::~:~~~!~~2---
3 a-t(ti}-n:;1gr{-imm) a-tti-ngar
a-y-nagr-u(-mm) a-y-ngar-u
al-nogg:r-n(-imm) a-n(ni)-nagr(-imm) a-nni-ng:Jr
2_ --- al-n~ar-a~~ihu(-mm) a-t(ti)-nagr-u(-mm) a-tti-ngar-u I
3 al-n~ar-u(-mm) a-y-nagr-u(-mm) a-y-ngar-u
.. - --- ---
1. Second-person forms are imperative in meaning; see
2. Suffix -mm is absent in negative verbs of minor clauses.

For the nonpast in Amharic writing, see Appendix 9AIB.

The nonpast Sg.2f. suffix -i is one of those which causes palatalizations (2.1.6):
when this i follows stem-final alveolar consonants except r these are replaced by their
alveopalatal equivalents (including I by y), in which case the suffix vowel i may be
absent. Thus from root lift 'open' there is ti-kaf~-i) 'you (Sg.2f) o~n < ti-kaft-i.

Main verb non past. In main verbs (those of main clauses) the nonpast is suffixed by
an AUXILIARY verb which is nonpast forins of the verb of presence (3.7.5). See
examples in Table 3.10.
The suffixed auxiliary verb begins with a so the usual vowel elisions apply (2.2.2).
The Sg.pol. and Pl.2/3 suffix -u is absent on the stem when the auxiliary verbs -allaccihu
and -allu (which also end in u) are suffixed. Long I of the Sg.3m. ('he, it') auxiliary
suffix -all is.not prominent, especiaJiy when, as often the case, it is sentence-final.
Object-suffix pronouns (Table 3.1) follow the stem and precede the suffixed auxi-
liary. In this case, the u suffix of a Sg.pol. or P1.3 subject is present on the stem and not
the auxiliary, as in the 5th example below. The u suffix of a Pl.2 subject is present on
both the stem and the auxiliary verb, as in the 6th example below:

yi-nagr-a~C:M-al/ 'he tells them' or 'he tells her/him (pol)'

y:i-nagir-wot-all 'he tells you (Sg.pol)'
t:i-nagr-at-alla~~ 'she tells her'
i-n:ilgr-ih-:-all:Jhu 'I tell you (Sg.m)'
yi-nagr-u-n-all 'they/you (pol)/shelhe (pol) tell(s) us'
t:i-n:;1gr-u-t-allaCCihu 'you (PI) tell him'

Negative nonpast. See forms of the negative nonpast in Table 3.9, above; Negative
nonpast verbs are prefixed by a- and in main verbs suffixed by -mm, for example b-a-y-
nagir 'if he doesn't tell', main verb a-y-nagr-imm 'he won't tell'. The Sg.l 'I' prefix of
nonpast affirmative verbs is i- but in nonpast negative verbs this is /-: a-l-00/a-mm 'I
won,t eat'; compare i-00/a 'I eat'. The Sg/Pl.2and Sg.3f subject prefix t-is often length-
ened after negative a-: thus a-tli-nagir-immyou (Sg.m) don't tell' I 'she doesn't tell', or

,------- Table 3.10. Nonpast

-- ....... Verb of minor clause

---- -- .. . ----.
1 i-nagir 'I (will) teil' i-bala 'I (will) eat'
-,r----1--.-....:::....-:---. --------------- ----------------
m ti-nagir ti-OOla
2 y ti-nagr-i ti-ooy(-i)
pol yi-nagr-u yi-bal-u - - - - - - 1
- -=---- ---------------+='-~~--- - - - - - - - 1
m yi-nagir yi-ba/a
3 y- d-iiagir------- ti-bala --------
--:--- ---- ------- ..-------
pol yi-nagr-u yi-li:i -u
Plural --- -------- --

i _-r~~=:~ Verb of main clause

-1 i-nag-allahu ____
'I (will),.... tell' i-001-allahu' 'I (will) eat'
m ti-nagr-allah ti-001-all9h
---- --------2'" --- ..... --- -------------
2 f ti-nagr-i-alla ti-bay(-i)-allal
pol yi-nagr-allu yi-lxi-allu'
- - - .... ------------------.. ----~~--
m yi-nagr-a/1 yi-001-a/1
3 f-- ti-nagr-alla&-- .... t}:.OOI-all:Xi 1 .. .... ________ .. _
---- --------- ...... -------~--

pol yi-nagr-allu yi-001-allu

Plui-ai -.. .... - --- ..
I:-- -~~ in(lii5-niii_~!!~~--~- .. .
}_ :~- ';;-=~=- - - i~:c= ---
I. a-a> a.
____ --~.(Ijif..~-_iiJl~~ . ....... _...
2. > ti-nagri-y-allal

58 Jussive and imperative. The jussive expresses requests and wishes, and the
imperative expresses co~ands, for example:

Jussives Imperatives
li-hid 'Let me go.' hid '(You, Sg.2m) Go!'
li-hid? 'Shall I go?' hid-u '(You, Pl.2) Go!'
yi-kfal 'Let him pay.' kf:Jl '(You, Sg.2m) Pay!'
ti-kf:i 'Let her pay.' kif:JY-i '(You, Sg.2t) Pay!'

See the forms in Table 3.1 I.

Table 3.11. Jussive and lmpcrati~~----- .. .. . -~
!'-- i
L- Ju~ive I Im~ve L lussive I !~live I
I ~J~gul~r~. li-ng:Jr
... . ' ..
1 li-bla
L- __ 'le!_~~J.~ll' J
.:__________ 'let me eat'_ :_ ____

; m , yt-ng:Jr . -- yt-bla --

1 1 ~fiij
12 __ !_:-
=t--------- -~-~
-- .. __innj-bla __
1 ni~r-u ---- .::...._ ______ bil-u
--- ______ .... I
l~=-J. .:Y!!p:Jr-u .J.~- -- yi-bl-u _ _ ::____ . __
1. Sg.2pol. imperative = Pl.3 jussive I Sg.3pol. jussive

For the jussive I imperative stems of verbs of the 12 types see Table 3.6, and for the
jussive and imperative in Amharic writing, see Appendix 10.
The imperatives are jussives without the second-person subject prefix t-. The preferred
Sg.2 polite imperative is the Pl.3 jussive; less polite is the Pl.2 imperative, sometimes
heard. Lacking a subject prefix, the imperative of a three-consonant root such as ngr 'tell'
requires epenthetic i (2.2.3) to separate the word-initial consonants; compare jussive yi-
ngar'Let him tell' with Sg.2m. imperative nig:Jr'Telll'
The subject prefixes y-, t-, and inn- of the jussive are also those of the nonpast. The
jussive Sg.l prefix, however, is 1- vs. nonpast i-; 1- is also the Sg.l prefix of the negative
nonpast ( The Sg.2f. suffix -i of the imperative causes the usual palatalizations
(2.1.6), as in biy(-i)'Eat!' (Sg2.t) of Table 3.11. Other examples are wis:Jj(-i) 'Take!'
(Sg.2f) (root wsd) and mallis(-1) 'Answer I Return!' (vt) (Sg.2f) (B-type root ml:s).

An interesting characteristic of Amharic and some other Afroasiatic languages is a
completely irregular (suppletive) imperative of the verb 'come'. The root for 'come' is
mt'a (as in m-;Xt'a 'he came', yi-m:Jt'-a 'he comes'), but the affnmative imperatives are
na 'Come!' (Sg.2m), n:1y (Sg.2f), and nu (Pl.2). The negative imperatives, however, are
regular forms of the root atti-mt'a 'Don't come!' (Sg.2m), atti-mt'u 'Don't come!'

Negative jussive and imperative. The negative jussive and negative imperative have
the negative prefix a- of the. negative nonpast (Table 3.9), as seen in Table 3.12. After
negative a-, subject prefixes t- and n- are long in A-type verbs (-tt- and -nn- as shown in
Table 3.12), but may be short in B-type verbs, which have a long consonant in the st~m,
as in at(ti)-j:Jmmir 'Don't start!' (Sg.2m) and an(ni)-]~mmir 'Let's not start'.

Table 3.12. Negative Jussive and Imperative

_---=-r-::_ ~~~~ive Imperative J Jussive Imperative

Sin_gular ------.---
a-li-ng~r a-li-bla
1 'Let rile not 'Let me not
tell' 1 ... . .. . .. . ......... .... eat' 1
a-tti-n~r a-tti-bla
'Don't tell!' 'Don't eat!'
2 -r . . ------t--a--t-=ti-~n-'8-gr--J-;-. -t--
..... a-tti-biy(-i)
.Pc>t -- .a:y~~i9r=il-- .--~-Y::!!.!::!:_ ____ _
l- m -a~y-ngQr -a..y-bla
3 f"""a:"iii-ng~i"' a~tti-bla"'"'" ------
pol a- y-n~r-u a~y-bl-u
Plural ...... - --- .__........ - ..........

1. As questions, 'Shall I not tell?' and 'Shall I no~ eat?'
2. Sg.Zpol. imperative = Pl.3 jussive I Sg.3pol. jussive

F~r the negative jussive and imperative in Amharic writing see Appendix 8. Converb. The Amharic converb, sometimes termed 'gerund' or 'gerundive',

consists of a special stem plus subject suffixes. Like the nonpast, the converb has a
simple form in minor clause usage, but is followed by an auxiliary-verb suffix when used
as a main verb. For the minor-verb and main-verb forms of the converb, see Table 3.13,
again illustrated with forms of ngr 'tell' and bla 'eat'. In the converb stem of rQots with

final a such as bla 'eat' (see others Table 3.6), I replaces final a (which, like other stem-
final coronal consonants, is palatalized and long in the Sg.1 form, CC).

Table 3.13. Converb

--- ..
Minor verb ----
SiJ!~~ -- --- ........... .. ...
1 n:Jgirr-e 'I telling' bmilc-e 'I eating'
m D:JgT-:Jh bmt-:1h
2 f D:JgT-:JS bmt-:JS
pol n:Jgr:JV.:.. ----- - bmt-:Jw ..
- ----
m n:Jgr-o b:Jlt-o
3 f tJ:Jgr-a bmt-a
pol tJ:J_Q.~-~~---- bmt-:Jw
1 nagr-:Jn balt-:Jn-
-2 nagr-accihu
3 __ nagr_:a~ bmt-aw
Main verb
........................ ------------- -
_Singular __
1 nagirr-e-all:Jhu1 b:Jlicc-e-aJJghur ,
'I have told' 'I have eaten' 1

2 T-- ~ --~:::zf- I
pol nagr-:Jw-all bmt-:Jw-all
m nagr-o-all.~. bmt-o-aJJ.~.
3 -r-- ------- n:Jgr-all~
-- -

pol D:JG_~~'!__!__~!.J___, -- __ .. bmt -:Jw-all

---- .... -----------
-- b:Jlt-:Jn-all_____
1 n:Jgr-an-all
iiiiir-:Qccihw :an-- bmt:accihw-all .....

------- _!!_9~~#~~!!..~. ~~ ~-~-~. -------- --------- ..

3 . b"alt~:iw-all

1. Also withy-insertion: n:Jgirreyall:Jhu, b:iliceeyall:Jhu

2. Also with consonant labialization: n:Jgr1' all, b:Jltvall;
or with w-insertion: n:Jgrowall, b:iltowall

For the converb in Amharic writing, see Appendix II A/B.

The minor-verb converb is used to express all but the last of a sequence of verbal
events, of which the last, main verb, may be a past, nonpast, or jussive/imperative. The
converb gets its tense interpretation from the main verb, and is often translated in English
as a verb with the CONJUNCfiON and (hence 'CONverb'), or by the verb in its ing-form,

for example loos-:;,w 'they putting on' (or 'they having put on') and kgfl-oo 'we, paying'
(or 'we having paid') in the following sentences.

Jibs /;Jbs-~w hed-u

clothing putting.on-they went-they
'They dressed and left.' /'Having dressed, they left.'

hisab k~fl-~n t~m~JJ~s-in

bill paying-we returned-we
'We paid the bill and returned.' I 'Having paid the bill, we returned.'

In the Sg.l converb, with suffix -e, there is lengthening of the stem-final. consonant
(preceded by epenthetic t): thus n~girr-e 'I, telling' and baliCO-e 'I, eating' in Table 3.13.
Converb Sg.t suffix -e is one of those which palatalizes stem-fmal alveolars other than r
(2.1.6), as in b:JiiM--e, and w:JSijJ-e 'I, taking', with JJ from palatalization+ lengthening
of d of the root wsd. The converb stem is the same as the nonpast stem in roots of the ngr
andjl:gtypes, but these differ in other types (see Table 3.6).
The minor-verb converb followed by the auxiliary verb noob~ expresses the 'past
perfect' tense, for which see
In the. dialect of Gojjam, the minor-verb converb functions as a main verb and an
approximate equivalent of the past.

Negative eonverb. There is no negative form of the converb in standard Amharic. If a

negative verb is needed, past or nonpast verbs are used.
In the dialect of Gojjam, however, which uses the simple converb as a main verb, this
is negated with the same prefix a/- of the negative past.

Main verb converb. Like the nonpast, the converb as a main verb combines with an
auxiliary-verb suffix based on the verb of presence (3.7.5). The resulting main-verb
converb expresses approximately a 'present perfect', a past event with still-present
effects. See forms ofthe main-verb converb in Table 3.13.
As in the main-verb nonpast, an object suffix of the main-verb converb appears
between the subject suffix and the auxiliary verb (MV), as in the following examples.

'I have opened them.'

'She has taken it/him.'

'I understand.'

The verb of the preceding sentence exemplifies the Amharic idiom for 'understand',
employing the verb gba 'enter'. (As with English understand(= 'stand under'), speakers
rarely analyze idioms into their historical meanings.)

3.7.3. Infinitive. The infinitive is a verbal noun. The Amharic infinitive consists of a
special stem prefixed by m:r, for example m:rngm- 'to tell', m;J-zf~ 'to sing', and m;J-
hed 'to go'. Three example sentences are:

ma-ngar gidd n~ 'To tell is a necessity.'

m;J-zf~ iw;;xJdall:iJhu 'I like to sing.'
/;J-infrhed yif:iligall 'He wants to go.'

Where the infinitive expresses a purpose or intent, as in the third example sentence
above, it may be prefixed by l:r 'for': /;J-m;J-hed '(for) to go', /;J-m;J{:il:Jg '(for) to
seek'. The infinitive may be suffixed by a possessive pronoun as subject of its verb: m;J-
ngar-wa 'her telling', m:rhed-ac."Cin 'our going'. See other examples of the infinitive in
Table 3.6.
Before stem-initial a, ;J of the infinitive prefix m:r is absent by regular vowel elision
(2.2.2): m-ad;;,r 'to spend the night', m-ay;;,t 'to see'.
A negative infinitive is prefixed by a/;J-: al:rm;;,-ng;;,r 'not to tell', m;J-nor w;;,ym a[;J-
ma-nor 'to be or not to be'.

3.7.4. Verb of being. A special present-tense verb of 'being' or 'existence', or

COPULA, is a special conjugation consisting of n:r plus, with one exception, the object
suffixes; see Table 3.14. Sg.3f. n-at has the Sg.3f. object suffix -at (nat< with
elision of;;, by a), but alternative n;;,-~c follows the pattern of past-tense verbs, having the
Sg.3f. past suffix -xc, as in n~ar-aec'she told'; naMis more common.

Table 3.14. Verb of being
---- - --r--Pi-ese.rt____ -r---"PaSt-----r--------- -F'uiUie__ _
~$~~~=~~=-~-~~--- ~:=--
1 na-iiii 'I am'
. ------ -i-hon-all;;,hu
n;;,bb;;,r-ku 'I was'
'I will be'
---- 01 -naT----- nabbgr:r~---- ti-hon-aJI:1h --..- . -.
2 -r- -li:}-i_____ -n-;b6;r-:- -i:i~iioii-i-aJJ;;,
-- - ----------- ...... ------- ' ... - ---r-:--------- .

3 f
~1~~ ~~:-~0~-=~--=- ::::~~~:~=~~-:-~:
n;;,-CC, n-at . n;;,blx>r-xc
_ . :~~Ziin-:!jt~:-
- - - - ------1.. i
pol n-ac~w nabbar-u y~hon-allu ;

}:~ ~u f ::::Mba -~~u:::::~l -~

3 ! n-aceaw n:ibbar-u y~hon-allu

For the affirmative verb of being in Amharic writing, see Appendix 12.
Because it is constructed with object suffixes, which (unlike the subject suffixes of the
past) differ in Sg.2pol. and Sg.3pol./Pl.3, in the present-tense verb of being these forms
are different: n;;,-wot 'you (Sg.pol) are' and n-acc;;,w 'she/he (pol) is' I 'they are'.
The present-tense verb of being occurs only as a main verb.
In the past, the verb of being is a regular formation ofthe root nbr, as in n;;,bb~r-ku 'I
was (present)' (Table 3.14). In the future, the verb of being is expressed with root hon
'be, become', as inyi-hon-all 'he will be' (Table 3.14).
For 'being present' or 'being in a place', there is a different 'verb of presence' (3. 7 .5)
in the present and future tenses.

Negative verb of being. The negative present of the verb of being has the negative
prefix ay- on the special stem d~ll:r (doll:r in the Gojjam dialect) with subject suffixes
of the past (, plus the usual negative suffix -mm, for example ay-d~llf>-hu-mm 'I
am not'. See forms of the negative present-tense verb of being in Table 3.17.
The negative past and negative future of the verb of being are regular negatives of the
roots nbr and hon, respectively, for example al-n~bb~r-ku-mm 'l was not (present)', and
a-1-hon-imm 'I will not be'. For the negative verb of being in Amharic writing see
Appendix lSA/B.

3.7.5. Verb of presence. There is a special present-tense 'verb of presence' to express

presence in a place, in sentences which in Englisq often have there ~s or there are.
Although present tense, this verb has regular forms of the past ( The stem is
allf>- (of the type of q:()rr~ of Table 3.6), with subject suffixes of the past. See this in
Table 3.15.

Table 3.15. Verb of presence

---=~~~_] __~esen!____ j ___._.___ . .fast-~~--=-~~C-... ....FutUre..

. singular_________
1 all~-hu 1 n;;,bb~r-ku i-nor-a]]:}hu
. "-,----.. _-~!_~present' j 'l.~.!~~senf_._ 1 _J will be presenf.__
- .. all~-h I. n;;,bb:}r-k . ti-nor-all:Jh - ...... ..
I. ___ - ................ -- - .......... -- --~----------
2 f all~-s n;;,bb;;,r-s 1 ti-nor-y-aJJ;;,.~
[___ ... -------- . . . --------- ..----- . -------- .. -- -
: pol all-u . nabb;;,r-u ! yi-nor-allu
.. rrii-- -all~ ...... - 1[:nabiY.~r~iJ- - --~ yj.nor~azz
31-T.. .ciii;~~l......... .. iiabbar:;,~~- .... -- 1-ii-nor-all:;Jct.......... _..
__t"P~T_ !!11-u=~-=-~- : .ifiJb~~J:~u~~-- ._....1 yJ.:no~:{j]~~~--- __ -~~
-i--- an~------Tn-;iJz;;r_n- --- ---~ inili~nor-iiii;n - -- -
all-accihu ---ln;;,bbgr-a~cillll .. r ti-nor-afi.accihii--- --
2 ---- --_- ------
--- - ----------- --- -------- ---------
----~ -- - - --~-----
--- ...
3 al/-u l n~bbgr-u j yi-nor-allu J

For the affirmative verb of presence in Amharic writing, see Appendix 13.
In the past, the verb of presence is a regular formation of the root nbr 'be' as in
nabb::x-ku 'I was (present)'. Thus the verb of being and the verb of presence are the same
in the past. (The root nbr has no nonpast forms because in nonpast contexts it evolved
into a different root, nor < nabr.) For the verb of presence in the past, see Table 3.1 S.
In the future,. the verb of presence is expressed with the verb nor 'be (present}, live,
reside', as inyf..nor-all'he/it will be (present)' (Table 3.15). (The verb ofbeing employs
a different stem, hon 'be, become', as in yi-hon-all 'he will be'. For the verb of presence
in the future, see Table 3.15.
When a sentence has locative words and phrases, presence may be expressed by either
the verb of presence or verb of being, as in izzih nDlW I izzih all;1 'he/it is here', izziya
yihonal I izziya yi-nor-all'helit will be there'.
The verb t;rg;Jifif;J 'he was present, he/it was found' may also be used to express being
present, as in izzya t;J-g;Jni[;J 'he/it was (present) there', izzih yigg;J.ififai 'he/it will be
here'. {For verbs with the prefix t;r see 3. 7.8.2.)

Negative verb of presence. The negative present-tense verb of presence has the
special stem y;Jl/;r with subject suffixes of the past, plus the usual negative suffix -mm,
for exampley;J/l;rmm 'he is not present'. See fonns ofthe negative present-tense verb of
presence in Table 3.17.
The negative past and negative future of the verb of presence are regular negatives of
the roots nbr and nor, respectively, for example al-noob;Jr-ku-mm 'I was not (present)',
and a-1-nor-imm 'I will not be present'. 'For the negative verb of presence in Amharic
writing see Appendix 15A/B.

3.7.6. Having I possession. In the usual expression of possession in Amharic, the

thing {or things) possessed is the subject of the verb of presence and the possessor is
expressed as an object suffix. Thus possession in Amharic may be thought of as saying
'something is present to somebody'. See Table 3.16. The subj~ct of the verb, the thing
possessed, may be singular-masculine, singular-feminine, or plural, as shown in the three
columns ofTable 3.16.
Possession in the past is expressed with the root nbr 'was, was present', and
possession in the future with the root nor 'be (present), live, reside', for example:

b:Jqi g;Jnz:Jb n;JbbaJ"-at 'She had enough money.'

t 'iru iddil yi-nor-ih-all 'You (Sg.m) will have good luck.'

For the affirmative verb of having in Amharic writing, see Appendix 14A/B.

Negative of having. The negative of having is expressed by the negative verb of

presence, for example, with a Sg.3m. thing possessed and a Sg.l possessor in the present,
past, and future: p/l;J-ifif-imm 'I don't have', al-noobar.J-ifif-imm 'I didn't have', and ay-
nom-M-imm 'I won't have'. For the negative present-tense verb of having, see Table

-- - --- --

Table 3.16. Having I possession

Sg.m. thing Sg.f. thing Plural things

possessed possessed possessed
Sin2Ular ----- ----------
1 all~-tiif allu-ifii
m all~-h aiJ~cc-ih allu-h
2 f all~- all~cc-i allu-
pol al1~-wo(t) aiJ~cc-wo(t) allu-wo(t)
m all~-w all~cc-iw a/Ju-t
- -- all~cc-at . -- ---- aJJw:at2- -- ___ _,

3 ~. I all-at ----------- 'r-a1r -ace~;;--

pol all-acc~w all~cc-acc~w

1 al1~-n 1 all~cc-in a/Iu-n
2 all-accihu all~cc-accihu air-accihrf
3 aJl-aCC;JW all~cc-acc~w -air-acc~v;--- .
------- ---
1. In Gojjam and Gonder dialects the Pl.l suffix is -na.
2. air-a < allu-a (2.2.4)

Table 3.17. Negative present-tense verbs of being, presence,

and having

1 ..!!.l:~~!!~hu-mm y~Il~-hu-mm y~/l~-i1if-imm

m ay-d~ll~-h-imm y:!Jll:!J-h-imm
2 f ---- yiiik="i~llnm- ---- -- y~ll~-s-imm
p~L_ __ay-d~JJ-u-mm y~JJ-u-mm -- y~I1~-wot-imm
m ay-d:Jll:J-mm --- - y"iifJg=min- .. ------ y'iJJJ;J:w~mlii'" .....
3 f ay-d:Jll:J-cc-imm "j:i}~:c'F-imm
... . :t~!!-E..t:Jlii!!_ ~--- -
-poi" ~ai:~~!Eij::mm-=~-~- !_~n-~~=~----- y:JJJ~~?...'!:l!!..'!!__ . _
r:-~:_g~~~~~::mm~_ ~~t.::J
3 __ l_~f-d:Jll-~-mm__ Y:J_ll-u-mm y:Jll-acc:Jw-mm j
1. Examples concern possession of a singular masculine thing.

For the negative verbs of being, presence, and having in Amharic writing, see
Appendix 1SA/B.
The negative verb of having has a special stem in the adjective clause (4. 7), lel:J, for
example y:!J-lel:J-M g:mz~ 'money which I don't have'.

3.7.7. Other tenses and moods. Progressive and other moods and aspects of verbs are
expressed with various of the above simple conjugations past, nonpast, converb, and
infinitive, combined with auxiliary verbs. Seven of these are past perfect, obligation,
habitual past, conditional perfect, progressive, imminence, and intention. Past perfect. The minor-verb converb followed by the auxiliary verb n:!Jbb;}f'
expresses a 'past perfect' tense, an event in the past prior to another at which latter time
the significance of the prior event was still relevant or significant, for example:

ine s-i-m:Jt 'a hed-o n:!Jbb:Jr

I when-1-come going-he it.was
'When I came, he had gone.'

eating-we it.was
'We had eaten (when something happened).'

3.7. 7.2. Obligation ('must, have to'). Obligation or necessity is expressed by the verb
of presence aii:J (past nbr, future nor) with the suffix preposition -bb- 'on, upon', plus an
object pronoun suffix expressing the one obligated, as in 'he has to', a/
'you (Sg.m) have to', nQ/Jbgr:J-bb-:Jiln 'I had to'. The Sg.3m. 'him' object suffix,
ordinarily -w, is -gt with the suffixed prepositions -bb- and -J/- (see 3.3). Ordinarily the
particular obligation is the subject of the sentence expressed as an infinitive, for example
mghed 'to go' in the first example below. Three sentences expressing obligation are:

Marta tolo hospital mghed 'Marta has to go to the hospital quickly.'
m:Jblat y;J/ 'You (Sg.f) don't have to eat.'
m:Rnokgr 'You (Pl.2) had to try.' llabitualpast is expressed by the minor-verb nonpast plus m:Wb;}f': yi-nggir

n~b;}f' 'He was (in the habit of) telling I He used to tell'; qgn q:Jn biro i-hed noob;}f' 'I
used to go to the office every day' (with repetition of q;;m 'day' as 'every day'). Conditional perfect is expressed by the same formation of simple nonpast

with ngbbgr: yi-n~ir noobgr 'he would have told'' g:Jnzgb binor-gifif (noro), i-hed
noob;}f' 'ifl had had money, I would have gone'. Progressive aspeet is expressed by the past prefixed by zyy:r. plus the verb of
being no;~-w in the nonpast and noob;}f' in the past: iyy:r.f:Jll:Jg:;J-w n:JW 'he is looking for

it'. The be verb may be constant 'Sg.3m. as n:1W I n;}/}b:-~, or may agree with the subject:
izziya iyy~sfJ17'a-~~ n~b:Jr 'she was working there' or izziya iyy~st~rra-~~ nabb:Jr-~ To be about to do. To have just started or be about to do something is

expressed by the infinitive with possessive suffixes as subject and the auxiliary verb nmv
in the present and n~bb~r in the past: m~hed-e ngw 'I'm about to go', m~-blat-a~~gw
ngw 'they are Gust starting or) about to eat'. To intend to do. Intention to do something is expressed by the simple nonpast

prefixed by/- plus ngw in the present and n~bb~r in the past: 1-i-hedu (< l-y-hedu) ngw
'they intend to go', li-n(ni)-t'gyyiq n;}/)b:Jr 'we intended to ask'.

3.7.8. Derived verbs. Amharic derives verbs with causative, passive, reflexive and
other meanings by addition of prefixes to basic verbs. Causative. The causative of a verb is derived by prefixing a- or as- to the verb
stem, for example, from m~ttb 'he came', a-m~ttb 'he brought (caused to come, made
come)', and fTom ay,.JO 'he saw', as-ayy~ 'he showed (made see)'. In most cases a-
combines with intransitive verbs such as 'come' and as- combines with transitives such
as 'see'. For examples of a- and as-causative verbs of the twelve types, see Table 3.18.
There are, however, a number of exceptions to the association of intransitive with a-.
and transitive with as-. One of these concerns verbs with initial a, which always have
causatives in as-. From arr~f~ 'he rested' (vi), for example, the causative is as-arr~~ 'he
made to rest', and from addag~ 'he grew (up)' (vi), as-add:Jg~ 'he raised, brought up'.
In English, a verb may often be both transitive and intransitive; for example boil: the
water boiled I someone boiled the water; and break: the chair broke I someone broke the
chair. However, Amharic f:}[la 'boiled' is intransitive, and transitive 'boil' is the
causative a-f:}//a 'he boiled (something)'. Amharic sabb:Jr~ 'broke' is transitive, with the
causative as-~bt~r~ 'he made someone break (something)'.
Exceptions to the generalization that intransitive verbs have causatives in a- concern
verbs like cbjf~ro 'he danced', and saq:} 'he laughed', which are transitive only in the
sense of having, potentially, a so-called 'cognate object': 'dance a dance', 'laugh a
laugh'. These have causatives in as-: as-~':J.ff~ro 'he made dance' and as-saqa 'he made
laugh'. Other examples are asfokk~ro 'he made boast' and as-q~ll~da 'he made (tell a)
Exceptions to the generalization that transitive verbs have causatives in as- concern
verbs which may be said generally to involve benefit to the self, for example b:}[la 'he
ate' and t':Jttb 'he drank', which are transitive but have causatives in a-: a-b:}[la 'he fed';
a-t':Jttu 'he caused to drink'. Other examples of this type are a-w:-ras~ 'he bequeathed
(caused to inherit)' and a-q:mz,m:}sa 'he made taste'.
Some verbs have both a- and as- causatives, in which case the as-causative has two
objects, one ofwhich is the causee. An example is matt'a 'he came', with causatives a-
m:t'a 'he brought' (literally 'caused something to come', therefore 'brought') and as-
m:Jtt'a 'he caused someone to bring something'. Either or both objects of such a
causative verb (for as"-m~tt 'a the causee-bringer and the thing brought) may be definite
and have the definite object suffix -n (3.2.6), thus:

Table 3.18. A- and as-~ausatives of verbs of 12 types (Sg.3m. forms)
. ____,____________ --'-:=--'".;,__-:-:-----,---------------1
Past Non...P!_st Jussive Converb Infmitive Causative of
a-d:ildc~m-:!l y-a-cf.Jkm y-a-dkim a-dkim-o m-a-dk~m 'be tired'

a-m~li~ y-a-m~l y-a-mil a-ml-it-o m-a-miat 'be evening'

'be okay'
a-~bba y-a-gaba y-a-gba a-~b-t-o m-a-gbat 'enter'
a-t'gttb y-a-t'gttb a-t'gtt'-it-o m-a-t'gttbt 'drink'

as-mas1dr-o m-as-m:Jskar 'testify'

as-kan:Jdda as-k:Jnda 'measure's
--~---~--- -- ------------ .. --L----... --~-- -----------.&....----- ---- -

l. as-causative ~f'want' means

be necessary to (someone)'.
2. S of the prefix assimilates to sof the verb stem.
3. Or y-al-som; as-1om~
4. Or y-as-get: as-get'-o
5. 'Measure by lengths of the forearm' (kind 'foreann')

ganzab-u-n yohannis-in as-matt'a-hu
money-the-DO Yohannes-00 Caus-came-1
~I had Yohannes bring the money.'

The as-causative may involve additional meaning of force or persuasion, as in:

his'an-u-n w:Hgt a-t'~t'a-~~-iw

baby-the-DO milk Caus-drank-she-him
'She got the baby to drink milk.'

his'an-u-n madhanit as-t'att'a-~-iw

baby-the-DO medicine Caus-drank-she-him
'She made the baby drink medicine.'

As in some examples of Table 3.18, causative verbs may take on meanings which
diverge from that of their source verb, for example a-gabba 'he married' (gabba 'he
entered'), and as-fallaga 'it was/is necessary' (f~Jlaga 'he wanted').
The stem of a causative verb is in most cases like that of the source verb, as seen in the
comparison of stems in Tables 3.6 and 3.18, but there are exceptions. In one exception,
the as-causative of A-type verbs are B-types, having the B-type characteristic of a long
consonant in all stems ( Thus for yi-sabr 'he breaks' (A-type root sbr), the
causative isy-as-sQ/)bir 'he causes to break', with long b.
The as-causatives of verbs of the type of sama 'he kissed' have a special imperative-
jussive stem. Thus for root lka 'send' the imperative is lak 'Send!' (Sg.2m), but the
imperative ofthe as-causative is as-lik 'Make (someone) send!' Passive I reflexive. Prefixing t(a)- to a verb derives its passive or sometimes
reflexive. See Table 3.19 for the past, nonpast, imperative, converb, and infinitive forms
of passive I reflexive verbs ofthe twelve types of Table 3.6. Passive I reflexive verbs may
also express a habitual and impersonal meaning, expressed in English as 'one does'.
After subject prefixes of the nonpast and after infinitive prefix ma-, the passive I
reflexive prefix is 1- not ta-, and this fully assimilates to the first consonant of the verb
stem, which thus appears as a long consonant: yi-t-naggar > yinngggar 'he will be told'
and ma-t-kafal > m:ckafal 'to be paid'.
If the verb stem begins with a, th~ passive/reflexive prefix t- is lengthened in the
nonpast, jussive, and infinitive: y-t-amman > yittamman 'it is believed', ma-t-alaf >
matta/af'to be passed'. This lengthening oft bas the result that initial-a verbs follow the
pattern of verbs with initial consonants, in which also the consonant after the subject
prefix is lengthened, by assimilation of the prefix t-.
Some intransitive verbs appear to have passives, for example ta-fgl/a 'it was boiled'
(f~lla 'it boiled' (vi)), and ta-kabbara 'he was praised, honored' (kabbgra 'he was
honored' (vi)), but these may be thought of as passives of the causative of the basic
verbs: a-falla 'he boiled' (vt) and a-kabbara 'he honored' (vt). Intransitives may also
take ta- to express the habitual impersonal meaning, for example ta-matt'a 'one

(regularly) comes' (m:Ht'a 'he came'), t:J-taififa 'one (regularly) sleeps (in some place I
time I manner)'.

Table 3.19. Passive I reflexive of verbs of 12 types (Sg.3m. forms)

Past Nonpast 1 Jussive 1 Converb Passive 1

Infinitive 1
ta-k:Jjfata ryi-kkaffat yi-kk:fat ta-kafl-o ma-kk:fat 'open' (vt)
1 ta-f:ilaga yi-ffiJllag yi-Jf:iag - ta-fallig-o -1-m_a--=-ffi"'-:i_,ag,.___--+-'.,....wan..,......-t_'____ _
u~~~t'_~ yi-ss:Jtt' --- yi-ss:Jt' --~~sat'-t-0 ma-ss:Jt':J-1 'gi~~-----::----l
! ta-l~a yi-ll~ yi-llay ta-lgyy-it-o ma-llaya-t , 'separate'
! t~G;na yi-bballa yi-bbala ta-b:J!-t-o ma-bbala-t 'eat'
! ~~lakka ! yi-ll:Jkka - yi-ll:Jka .(-;.["iJ~- m:i-ll:Jka-t ...... "'send'

: ta-sam:J .l.l~ssam --- y~ssam I ta-sm-o ma-ssam 'kiss'

. ta-qom:J 1 yt-qqom yt-qqom -- _!~qom-o" m:J_:_qqom 'stand' (vi)
-~~get':J I yi-gget' --- yi-gget' ta-get'-oJ ma-gget' ,-decorate'
- - - - - - --+ ------ --
ta-barraka ! yi-bbarrak yi-bbarak ta-bark-o ma-bbarak 'bless'
ta-m:;,sa/ckar:J yi-mmasakkar yi-mmaskar ta-maskir-o ma-mmask:H- 'testify'
- i~zin~ii0---- f")il-~~;,agiti-~ yi-zzanga t:J:iimi~It:o ma-zzanga-t -- "'forget'--
1. In the nonpast,jussive, and infinitive, t- and the stem-initial consonant merge as a
long stem-initial consonant.
2. Or ta-qum-o
3. Or ta-git '-o

Some verbs with Ia- have reflexive meanings in addition to or instead of passive
meaning. These are verbs the meanings of which lend themselves to such interpretation,
such as 'wash' and 'shave': t-att':1 'he washed (himself)' and ta-lac':1 'he shaved
(himself)'. A verb like ta-mQllrua 'he returned' (vi) may be understood as intransitive
and reflexive 'he returned (himself)' (vi) or passive 'he I it was returned' depending on
its context of use.
The stems of passive I reflexive verbs are diff~rent from those of their basic, source
verbs. There are three generalizations: (1) passive I reflexive nonpast stems of A-type
verbs (the fll'St, third, and fifth rows of Table 3.19) have consonant lengthening and are
thus like B-types; (2) the passive I reflexive stems of jussive I imperatives and infinitives
ofB-type verbs (the second, fourth and sixth rows of Table 3.19) lose B-type consonant
lengthening and are like A-types; and (3) passive I reflexive nonpast stems have a
between the last two of three consonants in contrast with basic stems, which have either
no vowel here or epenthetic i. Reciprocal A 'reciprocal' verb, with the idea of 'to one another', is derived
by prefixing t(a)- and providing the stem vowel a after the first root consonant, for
example ta-nagg:"U 'they spoke tO one another, conversed' (basic"nagg~a 'he told'), ta-

mattu 'they hit each other' ('m:Jtta 'he hit'), and t;J-makk:Jru 'they consulted (advised one
another)' (m:ic/cfJT;J 'he advised'). The subject of a reciprocal verb is necessarily plural.
Some reciprocal verbs are formed with a after a root-internal consonant plus repetition
of the following consonant, for example /;J-n~ggfJTU 'the conversed, spoke to one
another' (ngr 'tell), and ta-m:Jkakkaru 'they consulted, advised one another' (mkr 'ad-
vise'). There is also reciprocal ta-malck3u 'they consulted'; the Pl.3 verb t:J-naggaru,
however, is not reciprocal, but 'they spoke', not necessarily with one another; cf. ta-
nag~r.Jm 'he spoke'.
The causative of a reciprocal verb is formed with~- (not as-), and t- of the reciprocal
(=passive I reflexive) prefix is fully assimilated to a stem-initial consonant, for example
annagg:Jra 'he caused to converse' < a-1-nagg:Jr;J, and amma/ckgra 'he caused to consult
< a-1-ma/ck:;va.

3. 7.8.4. Adjutative ('help to'). The causative of a reciprocal also expresses the idea
of 'help to do', termed 'adjutative', for example affallaga 'he helped to seek' (basic
f:il:~ga 'he sought, wanted'), and awwall~acc 'she acted as midwife, helped to give
birth' (w:ihxia~c 'she gave birth'). The subject of adjutative verbs may be singular
versus the necessarily plural subject of a reciprocal verb. Repetitive. A derived verb expressing repetition or frequency of action is

formed by copying a root consonant plus the vowel a between the consonant and its copy,
for example nakakka 'he repeatedly touched' (basic nakka 'he touched'), l~aqqama 'he
picked repeatedly I picked here and there' (laqqama 'he picked'), and falallaga 'he
se8rched repeatedly I searched here and there' (f:ilaga 'he searched I wanted'). The
copied consonant is often but not always the next to last (it is the historical next to last).
See examples of repetitive verbs of eight conunon root-types in Table 3.20. In repetitive
verbs, A and B-types are merged, with both having the long consonant characteristic of
B-types in the past and nonpast, and neither having this otherwise.

The repetitive infinitives ofthe verbs of Table 3.20 are respectively m:rk:;)fafol, m:r
[:;)/alog, m:rr:JC'a(!g..t, m:rloyay:rt, m:rbalala-t, mo-l:Jkaka-t, m:rsasam, and mo-
Many repetitive verbs have taken on intensive, distributed, and/or attenuated or
prolonged meanings, including intensive s:Jbabboro 'he smashed I shattered' (basic
sobboro 'he broke'), distributed b:Jtatt:Jn:;) 'he scattered here and there' (b:Jtt:Jn:J 'he
scattered'), and attenuated dararr~'U 'they arrived persistently I gradually' (darr:JS:J 'he
arrived'). Verbs derived from nouns. Verbs are sometimes derived from nouns by
taking just the consonants of the noun and treating these as a root Verbs from such a root
are termed 'denominal'. Denominal history is rarely certain, but probable examples
include morrgz:J 'he poisoned' from marz 'poison' (n), t:Jrr:JI:J 'he told a story' from
tor:X 'story', and w;xld:JS:J 'he praised' from widdase 'praise, glorification'. Denominal
verbs are typically B-types, like the three just-listed examples. (Nouns derived from verbs
- deverbal nouns (3.2.8)- include the infinitive, instrument, and agent.) Defective verbs. Some verbs exist only in derived-verb form, and are termed
'defective' in the sense that there exists no basic verb from which they derive. For
example, there is a-dorrogo 'he did' and t:rdarrog:J 'it was done' but there is no basic
verb dorrogo; and there is as-qommot'o 'he put, placed' and to-qommot'o 'he was seated,
seated himself' but there is no qgmm:Jt'o. See examples in Table 3.21, in which asterisks
mark the hypothetical citation forms of defective verbs.
An archaic prefix -n-, always preceded by a- or t- appears in some defective verbs,
especially those with four root consonants and those with repeated consonants. Some
examples are t:rn-barg/c/coko 'he knelt', a-n-s':Jbarrgqo 'it glittered', t:rn-t':i:Xt':Jlg 'it
hung, was suspended', and t:rn-t 'obatt 'obo 'it dripped'.

3.7.9. Derived verbs in Amharic dictionaries. Because the derivation of causative,

passive I reflexive, reciprocal and repetitive verbs is, typically, a quite regular and
productive process, the nwnber of such verbs is practically innumerable. Therefore unless
these have irregularities of form or meaning, the dictionaries do not often provide derived
verbs as separate or even sub~entries. Fortunately, many have irregularities of meaning
and may be found in dictionaries.
When looking up in a dictionary a word which may be analyzed as having a prefix a-,
as-, t- (and remember that sand t of the latter may be fully assimilated to a following
stem-initial consonant), or having repetition of a root consonant, one must ordinarily seek
these in the entries of the basic, underived, form, without the prefix or repeated
consonant. For example, adarrogo 'he did' may be found w1der *darrogo (the asterisk
shows that this is a defective verb (}, and mann:Jgagar 'to converse' under
ngggor:J 'tell'. The word m:Jnnak:Js 'to bite one another' (< m:rt-nak:JS) is the infinitive
of the reciprocal of basic nokk:JS:J 'he bit', and the verb arr:JSassa 'he made forget
somewhat' (< a-t-r:JSassa) is the a-causative of the attenuated-repetitive of the passive of
r:JSsa 'he forgot'.
In Amharic writing the problem of recognizing derivatives is greater, because Am-
haric writing does not distinguish long and short consonants (5.3.6).

Table 3.21. Ten defective verbs

Derived verb Derived verb

*lab:J a-lab:J 'sweated' *b:Jlas:J t:J-b:Jlas:J 'spoiled' (vi)
*n:JSsa a-n:JSsa 'picked up' *get':J as-gel':J 'decorated'
*ramm:xi:J t:J-ramm:xi:J 'walked' *na/f:Jt':J ':J 'blew nose'
*s:Jll:f:J t:J-s:Jll:Jf:J 'lined up' *k:Jball:Jl:J t:J-n-k:Jball:Jl:J'rolled' (vi)
*q :nm:Jt ':J as-q~m:Jt':J , 'put away' *was:J I:J-was:J 'borrowed'

3.7.10. 'Say' verbs. An unusual feature of languages of Ethiopia is two-word

intransitive verb idioms which employ the verb 'say' (al;:r 'he said'). See ten examples in
Table 3.22. The words which precede al:J in these idioms may have no apparent source in
the Amharic lexicon, and as in the examples of Table 3.22 they typically have a long final

...,., ..... ----------------

Table 3.22. Ten 'say' verbs

-zimm.._al-:J 'he-was quiet' qucc' al:J 'he sat down' - - -

-q~s-aii' --,ile was sTow - '1"iKiiii ai:J 'lie got.l1p suddel1l:Y;
biqq al:J 'he appeared'-- ..t!.~~~~l!.l.~... 'it was straight'
..kgjJOz"iJ' 6be rose, got Up; . . -- S:Jit' al:J ..'he/it was calmf .. '.!~:i?~~~~~~-.~~-~~ -- r':Jbb-aT~ - _i~..~~~P.e.e<F'~~-.:~. ~ . .

Verbs expressing sounds are often of this type: for example bwa ai:J 'it crackled' (of
fire), qwa qwa al:J 'there was a knock', and me al:J 'it (a goat) bleated'.
Some derived verbs expressing attenuated meaning are formed as 'say' verbs, with the
stem of the basis having the vowel :J, a short second consonant, and a long third, for

k:Jj:Jtt al:J 'it opened gradually', based on k:J.ff:Jt:J 'he opened'

s:Jb:Jrr al:J 'it was slightly broken', based on s:Jbb:Jr:J 'he broke'
s:Jk:Jrr al:J 'he was slightly dnmk, based on s:Jkk:Jr:J 'got drunk'

'Say' verbs expressing intensity or completeness are derived from other verbs as in the
following examples. The stem has the vowel i and both the second and third consonants
are long:

kiffitt al:J 'it opened suddenly/with force'

sibbirr al~ 'it was completely broken'
sikkirr al:J 'he was very drunk'

The verb 'say' is irregular in form, not following the pattern of any other verb. See
Table 3.23. In Ge'ez the root is bhl, but in Amharic the h was completely lost, leaving its
trace as the vowel a, and the b is preserved only in the jussive I imperative (bal) and
converb stems (biT). The infinitive is malfJt, with the t that ordinarily appears for a lost
root-final consonant (

Table 3.23. Forms of the verb 'say'

Past Nonpast Jussive Imperative Converb

1 ==ra-~~~~----h~-~~--.--.l~u~~~~~-.~----------T.7b~7,-~--~
Im al-k ti-l -- hal bila-h
2 If al-l ti-y(-i) -- b-;y(-i)___ 7jjG:j' ---
: pol al-u
. -- ...... - ... .
-- . . .
.. . . .....
~~-- alg______ _!i-l_ ........ '-~-~
- ... ______
..- -
. , bila-w.,_ .. -

bil-o __
3 if al:r~~ ti-l ti-b~ -- hil-a
- - ..... ---
1 pol al-u yi-1-u yi-bfJI-u -- bilg-w
----"------ ...

~1~1 t~~~~;;;~j~~ ~
1. The Sg.2pol. imperative= Pl.3 jussive I Sg.3pol. jussive

For forms of the verb 'say' in Amharic writing, see Appendix 16.

3.7.11. 'Do' verbs. While the 'say' verbs are intransitives, a similar idiom for
transitives employs the root a-drg 'do', as in:

libb ad:Tagg 'he paid attention' (often in the imperative libb adirg 'Pay attention!')
dil adgrrggg 'he won, defeated' (cf. dil hong 'he lost, was defeated')

Causatives of intransitive 'say' verbs are of this type, replacing a/g with ad:Jrrag::J, for
example biqq adf11Tgg::J 'he caused to appear' (biqq al::J 'he appeared'), quct' adgrrggg
"he seated, caused to sit', kgfgtt ad:Jrrggg 'he opened (something) gradually', and sg/cgrr
ad:"r::Jgg 'it made somewhat drunk'.

3.7.12. Impersonal verbs. A number of common verbs are termed 'impersonal',

because their form is that of a verb with an 'impersonal' cause as Sg.3m. subject, plus an
object suffix expressing one who from the point of view of English grammar would be
the subject. See Table 3.24 for forms of the impersonal verb 'be hungry'.

Table 3.24. Past, nonpast, and converb of impersonal
verb 'be hungry'

Past --
Non,East I Converb
1 rab~ifrP yi-rib-~iin-a/1" ribo-iJJI-all "'
m rab~h yi-rib-ih-a/1 ribo-h-a/1
2 f rab~i yi-rib-ii-all ribo-!-all
pol rab~-woltJ yi-rib-~ot-all ribo-wot-all
m rab~w yi-rib-~-al1 ribo-t-all
3 f rab-at yi-rib-at-all ribo-at-all"
Jpol rab-a~c~w
yi-rib.;.acc:1w-all ribo-a~c.~ w-::azrs--
Pftiral .. -------,----;---. . ... -~"-
1 rab~n yi-rib-gn-al/ ribo-n-all
2 rab-aihu yi-rih-accihu-all " ribo-accihu-all "
3 rab-acC:1w yi-rib-acc~w-all ribo-acc:1w-all "
'---- ----
1. 'I am hungry.'
2. 'I will be I am habitually hungry.'
3. 'I am hungry, I have become hungry.'
4. The Sg.3m object suffix pronoun is -t after o and u (3.1).
5. bo-a may yield bwa, and hu-a hwa (2.1. 7).

For the impersonal verb 'be hungry' and a list of ten impersonal verbs in Amharic
writing, see Appendix 17.
Impersonal verbs often concern an internal state, and a personal object affected by an
impersonal subject, for example 'I am hungry' = 'something makes me hungry'. The
impersonal subject may be expressed in some cases, for example 'water' in wiha I ':mrma-
w 'he is thirsty for water'. There may be a 'cognate subject' as in rab rab-~ifif, lit
'hunger hungers me', and sometimes an nonpersonal object as in hod-e-n amm:nnfl-ilil 'it
sickens my stomach, I am sick at my stomach'. Other impersonal verbs are 'be cold' as in
b9rr~:1-ifif, 'I'm cold', and 'be tired' as in d:ick:mr-at 'she got tired, was tired'. The
latter also exists as a 'personal' verb: dflkk~m-gcC. The impersonal form may mean 'feel
tired vs. personal form 'be I get tired .
Impersonal verbs are stative in meaning, so the verb in past form may express the
present, and the nonpast tends to express habitual and future. However, the typical
expression of the present of an impersonal verb employs the main-verb converb
(; thus 'I am hungry' and 'I am thirsty' are, respectively, rib-o-ifri-all and t'-clmt-

4. Amharic Sentences

4.1. Sentence word order. In an Amharic sentence typically the subject is first and
the verb is last, as in the following:

wi&il-w at'int q:}boom

dog-the bone buried.he
'The dog buried a bone.'

4.1J. Verb last. A verb is last in its clause (with rare exceptions, as in 4.10), and the
verb of the main clause (the main verb) is last in th~ sentence, as in the following:

Subject Object Verb

t:}mari-w t'iyyaqe t':Jyyaq:J
student-the question asked.he
'The student asked a question.'

Subject Object Adverbial Verb

set-0~~ wiha k:J-W:JnZ-u am :Jtt '-u
women-PI water from-river-the brought-they
'Women brought water from the river.'

4.1.2. Subject and object order. Typically, the subject precedes a direct object, as in
the examples above: dog before bone, students before question, and women before water.
However, when the referent of the direct object is persistent in the discourse, thus old,
backgrounded, or topicalized information, or if the subject is new, foregrounded, or
focussed information, the direct object may precede the subject, and a RESUMPTIVE
PRONOUN, which repeats reference to the direct object, is suffixed to the verb, as in:

yih-in wmnb:11" yohannis s:n-ra-w

this-DO chair Yohannes made.he-it
'Yohannes made this chair.'

wi!sa-wocc-u-n a/maz

dog-PI-the-DO Almaz chased-she-them
'Almaz chased the dogs.'

Resumptive pronouns in the above sentences are the verb suffixes -w 'it' (='this chair')
and -accaw 'them' (= 'the dogs'). A topicalized or ba.ckgrounded direct object is
typically definite and known to ~e hearer, and thus is suffixed by the Amharic definite
object suffix -n, as in the examples above.

4~1.3. Preverbal question words. Question words like Amharic man 'who?', m:Xe
'when?', y:JI 'where?', and indet 'how?' are typically new or foregrounded information,
so are ordered just before the verb, preceded by other words of the sentence, as in the
following questions:

smt~-.fyy~ min f~l:Jg:J

man-the what wanted.he
'What did the man want?'

s:JW-oi!C!-u y:Jt hed-u

person-PI-the where went-they
'Where did the people go?'

waga-w sint nQ-w

price-the how.much is-it
'What is the price?' (lit. 'How much is the price?')

4.1.4. Adverbs. Adverbs are typically new information and follow the subject, or are
after the direct object and before the verb.

marta nQgg tihed-all:J-C!i!

Marta tomorrow will.go-MV-she
'Marta will leave tomorrow.'

yohannis tmantinna maria-n t 'QY.Y~g

Yohannes yesterday Marta-DO visited.he
'Yohannes visited Marta yesterday.'

ihit-e t'ef k:JgQb:J)Ia g:JZza-C!C!

sister-my t'ef from-market bought-she
My sister bought t 'efat the market.'

4.1.5. The logic of word-order differences. As in English and other languages,

Amharic word order, except for the verb-last requirement, is largely governed by the
preference to have old and backgrounded information early in the sentence and new or
foregrounded information late in the sentence.
In Amharic, a defmite direct object typically (not necessarily) precedes a non-definite
subject, because something definite tends to be old or backgrounded information while
something non-definite tends to be new or foregrounded information. In Amharic as in
other languages if an adverb such as nggg 'tomorrow' is first in the sentence, this
suggests that the speaker regards this as old or backgrounded information. If n:Jgg comes
later in the sentence, this is because the speaker regards this as new or foregrounded
information. Amharic more than English has freedom to differently order the subject and
object. But when a definite object precedes a subject in an Amharic sentence, being
definite it is suffixed by -n (3.2.6) and therefore recognizable as the object even when it
could as well be subject as object of the verb. In English, subject and object are ordinarily

well distinguished by word order: preceding and following the verb respectively. Thus a
simple sentence like 'The man chased the dog' can be ordered two ways in Amharic but
only one way in English.

w.if.i1-w-~ S;;JW-~aw aba1mm-w

dog-the-DO man-the chased.he-it
'The man chased the dog.'

saw-fv.y~ wHSi:z-w-n aba1mm

man-the dog-the-DO chased.he
'The man chased the dog.'

However, a definite noun- marked in Amharic by the suffix -n - is topicalized or

backgrounded information, and even as object ofthe verb will often precede the subject,
as in the fust example above. In such case, as in this example, the topicalized object is
also expressed as a resumptive object pronoun suffixed to the verb.

4.2. Question particles. YES/No QUESTIONS, answerable by just yes or no, are to be
distinguished from INFORMATION QUESTIONS, which ask for information like what,
when, how, etc. In Amharic, yes/no questions may be marked (i) by rising intonation, as
in English: the pitch of the voice rises at the end of the sentence; (ii) by the sentence-final
question words w~ or inde; or (iii), in rather literary style, by the suffix -ni on the verb.
In the two latter cases, there may or may not be rising intonation also.

aster tihed-a/l~~C? 'Will Aster go?'

aster lihed-all~~w:JY? 'Will Aster go?'
aster tihed-all::J~~ inde? 'Will Aster go?'
aster tihed-ali::Jcc-ini? 'Will Aster go?'

Use of inde instead of way suggests surprise or doubt: tihedallacc inde? 'Will she really
go?' But yes/no questions are typically marked just by intonation.
A one-word 'reprise' question may be marked by a suffix -ss:

tihedallih (w:JY)? 'Will you (Sg.2m) go?'

-awon. anCi-ss? '-Yes. And (what about) you (Sg.2f)?'

4.3. Noun-phrase word order. As a verb is final in its sentence, so a noun is fmal in
its phrase:

t'iru mals
good answer
'a good answer'

y:rpet 'ros addis mg/dna

of-Petros new car
'Petros's new car'

k:rammist Si am;,t b~t y:rn:Jbb:1f'U y:rdingay mgsariya- wocc
from-five thousand years before which-were of-stone tools-PI
'stone tools from before five thousand years ago'

That is, noun modifiers precede their noun, with rare exception; hullu 'all' for example
may follow: hullu smv I Sc;JW hullu 'everybody'. (See 3.4 for the attachment of the plural,
defmitizing, and accusative suffixes to an adjective modifier.)
In a few noun phrases borrowed from Ge'ez or modelled on Ge'ez, this order is
reversed: bet-:J mgsah!ft 'library' (lit. 'house-of books'), s~-:J abiyot 'counter-revolu-
tionary' (lit. 'enemy-of revolution').

4.4. Prepositions and postpositions. Ten common prepositions were exemplified in

3.3. The prepositions precede their noun (thus are tenned 'PREpositions'). If the noun is
preceded by a modifying adjective or possessor, the preposition is prefixed to this

b:rtaksi 'by taxi'

k:rne w:Jndim 'from my ~rother'
ind:rs:Jn:(t:mzari 'like a lazy student'

As in the second example above, the possessive prefix y:r is absent when preceded by
another prefix: k:rne 'from my' (not; see 3.2.5).
However, if the modifier is an adjective clause (see 4.7) and the modified noun is
object of a preposition, the preposition is prefixed to the verb of the adjective clause,
even though this verb is necessarily preceded by all other words of its clause:

zare 'a d:Jbdabbe

today in-came .it. letter
'in a letter that came today'

w:Jd:J ine kg../ak-:J-W d:Jbdabbe

to me from-sent-he-it letter
'from a letter he sent to me'

It was mentioned in 3.3 that in Amharic writing a one-syllable preposition is joined

with the following word and a two-syllable preposition is usually written as a separate
Some positional relations are expressed in Amharic with POSTPOSITIONS, words
which function like prepositions but follow rather than precede their noun. Some of the
common postpositions are lay 'on I surface', wist' 'inside', wit!l' 'outside', at':Jg:Jb 'next
to', and ga(r) 'with' :

t':~rgp'eza-w lay all:J

table-the on
'It is on the table.'

bet wist' gflbba-hu
house inside entered-!
'I entered the house.'

Postpositions may cooccur with prepositions:

b:>-t':N:fJ'eza-w lay
on-table-the on
'on the table'

i-bet wist'
at-house inside
'in the house'

Other such pairs include (b~) ... lay 'on, upon', (ba-) ... wist' 'in, inside' {or {i-)... wist'),
k:>-... b~fit 'before', k:>-... b:>-h"ala 'after'. The preposition in parentheses may or may
not appear. The postpositions are nouns in origin, for example lay 'top, surface', wist'
'interior, inside', w~c 'exterior, outside', fit 'front, face', and h"ala 'back'. Three
example sentences are:

k:>-ne ga(r) matt'a

with-1 with came.he
'He came with me.'

doro~~-u (b~)t'ariya-w lay all-u

chicken.Pl-the (on-)roof-the top are.present-they
'The chickens are on the roof.'

polis-o~~-u (i-)bet wist' gflbb-u

police-PI-the (in-)house inside entered-they
'The police went into the house.'

Some prepositions also function as prefixes subordinating the verbs of adverb clauses
(see 4.9).

4.5. Coordination ('and'}. Nouns and noun phrases may be coordinated by suffixing
-nna 'and' to the next-to-last noun:

bal-inna mist
husband-and wife
'husband and wife'

iwnat-inna wis:H
truth-and falsehood
'truth and falsehood'

Sentences as well as noun phrases may be coordinated with -nna, but only if the verb
to which -nna is suffixed is in past, imperative, or simple nonpast form, as in these

t:mass-u-nna w:Xt'-u
arose-they-and left-they
'They got up and (they) left.'

hid-irma iy
go-and see!
'(You, Sg.2m) Go and see!'

yi-m~ 'a-nna yay-all

he-comes-and he.see-MV
'He will come and (he will) see.'

As in the latter example, a nonpast verb suffixed by -nna must be a simple nonpast,
lacking the auxiliary-verb suffix of the main-verb nonpast; yi-m:Jt'all-nna, for example,
cannot occur.
Nouns and clauses coordinated as alternatives have w~m or w~ss after the first
noun or clause; W'o/-SS is for questions. {For the question word Wli'J' see 4.2.)

!ay WliJY-SS bunna tif:Jllig-all"""h (with pitch rising on the verb)

tea or coffee you.want-MV-you(Sg.m)
Do you (Sg.m) want tea or coffee?'

qiddimunu hetl'-all w~m al-m~t'a-mm

earlier left-he or Neg-came.he-Neg
'He left earlier or he didn't come.'

Amharic does not often use -nna 'and' to coordinate clauses, as this purpose is more
often fulfilled by use of the minor-verb converb (, the typical function of which
is to express all but the last of a sequence of verbs, for example t'mt'it-:JW and anbib-o in
the following sentences:

burma t ':Jtl 'it-~w hed-u

coffee drinking-they went-they
'They drank coffee and (they) left.' ('Having drunk coffee, they left.')

w:Jndimm-e mm 'ihaf-u-n anbib-o m::J!las-:J

brother-my book-the-DO reading-he returned-he
'My brother read the book and (he) returned it.' ('Having read the book, my ... ')

4.6. Contrast {'but'). 'But' clauses, or 'contrast clauses', are coordinated with gin
'but', n:Jg:11' gin 'however, but', or, in literary style, daru gin, which follow their clause:

qiddim izzih nabb:- ahun gin w:xi:J bet hetfY-all
earlier here was.he now but to house has.gone.he-MV
'He was here earlier, but now he has gone home.'

b:rgize d:-s-o n:Jbb:;Jr n:Jg:' gin al-ayy:J-hu-t-mm

on-time arriving-he Aux however Neg-saw-1-him-Neg
'l:le had arrived on time, but I didn't see him.'

With n:;tg:JI" gin contrast is strengthened or contrasted.

Another expression of 'but' employs the word in]i, which, with a negative verb, adds a
sense of contradiction to the contrast:

fiJIYa/ inji, bag al-g:JZZa-hu-mm

goat but, sheep Neg-bought-1-Neg
'I didn't buy a sheep, but a goat.'

After inji there is a slight pause and fall of pitch, shown by a comma in the example.

4.7. Adjective clauses. Adjective clauses (sometimes termed 'relative clauses')

modify or describe noWlS. The Amharic adjective clause has y:r prefixed to the verb in
the past and y:rmm- prefixed to the verb in the nonpast. Like other modifiers an adjective
clause precedes the noun it modifies:

ka-aksum y:rtagaritf:J hawlt

in-akswn Rei-was. found. it statue
'a statue which was found in Axum'

sil:rt 'orinnat-u y9mm-i-awgra m:JS'ihaf

about-war-the Rel-it-relates book
a book which tells about the war'

The prefix y:r of adjective clauses is identical to that expressing the possessive of
nouns (3.2.5).
In old Amharic literatllre and in the Menz and Wello dialects, instead of y:rmm- the
adjecnve-clau8e prefix of nonpast verbs is imm-; in the Gojjam dialect and sometimes in
that of Menz and Wello it is just m-.
Like other noun modifiers, an adjective clause describing a definite direct object
carries the definiteness and defmite object suffixes (-w-n in the following example; 3.4).

k:J.-wiCc' agar y:rmatt'a-w-n S;;IW t ';J)l)I:Jf[-in

from-outside country Rel-came.he-the-00 person asked-we
We asked the person who came from abroad.'

If an adjective clause is in a prepositional phrase, the preposition is prefixed to the

verb of the clause and the prefl.X y:r is absent (3.2.5). In the following example sil:J.-
'about' is the preposition which necessitates absence of y:r.

ke~-wiCc' ag:Jr sile~-m:Jtt'a-w s:JW t':Jyy::Jq-in
from-outside country about-came.he-the person asked-we
'We asked about the person who came from abroad.'

The verb of having (3.7.6) has a special form in the negative adjective clause, -lel:J,
for example y:rlela-iiii ganzab 'money which I don't have'.

4.8. Noun clauses. As adjectives may function as nouns (3.4), so adjective clauses
may function as noun clauses -when there is no noun which the clause modifies.

ye~-t:Jganii:J-w gurage wist' n:Jbb~ Gurage in
'Where it was found was in Gurage(land).'

y:nm-i-n:Jgr-is wiS:X ne~-w

Rel-he-tell-you.Sg.f lie is-it
'What he tells you (Sg.t) is a lie.'

As definite object of a verb, the verb of a noun clauses is suffixed by the definitizer -w
and the definite object suffix -n:

ye~-s hf-k-:JW-in anabbab-ku

Rel-wrote-you.Sg.m-Def-00 read-1
'I read what you (Sg.m) wrote.'

A noun clause expressing purpose has the nonpast verb prefixed by/- (usually 'for').
The subject of the noun clause and main clause are ordinarily the same. Such a clause is
typically expressed as an infinitive phrase in English ('to take them', in the following

1-i-w:JSd-acc:JW a-1-:fallig-imm
for-I-take-them Neg-1-want-Neg
'I don't want to take them.'

The same meaning may be expressed by l+infinitive (l~m:J:WS:xi in the example):

sant'a-w-n le~-ma-wsoo a-l.j:Jllig-imm

suitcase-the-DO for-Inf-take Neg-1-want-Neg
'I don't want to take the suitcase.'

Similar in meaning is a clause, of somewhat literary style, expressed with the simple
nonpast verb followed by the word zand 'that'. The subjects of the two clauses differ.

yi-mat'a zcmd mni-f:Jllig-all:J-n

he-come that we-want-MY-we
'We want him to come.'

Another equivalent of an English 'that' -clause, whose subject may differ from that of
the main clause, employs inti- prefixed to a verb in the nonpast.

ind-in-m::Jt'a y!f~lig-all-u
that-we-come they.want-MV-they
'They want us to come.'

4.9. Adverb clauses. Adverb clauses, such as expressing time, cause, and condition,
employ a prefix, often also having prepositional function (3.3), on the verb of the clause.
The adverb clause must precede the verb of the main clause, for which sentence-final
position is reserved. (For the word-order position of adverbs see 4.1.4.) The tense of the
verb of an adverb clause is ordinarily determined by or depends upon the tense of the
main verb.
Verb prefixes of the basic adverb clauses of time, cause, and condition are s- 'when'
(t- in northern dialects other than Gonder}, ~::J-. 'while', sil::J- 'because' and b- 'if.
Prefixed only to nonpast verbs ares-, b-; prefixed only to past verb are sil::J- and fui::J-;
si/::1- + mm- is prefixed to nonpast verbs.

When ,clause. A sentence with a time clause whose verb is prefixed by s- 'when' is:

t:mzari I 'iyyaqe s-i-t '::Jyyiq ast:mzari-w a-y-m::Jllis-imm

student question when he-ask teacher-the Neg-he-answer-Neg
'When a student asks a question, the teacher doesn't answer.'

When it is prefixed to the verb 'say', in an apparent quotation clause, s- expresses the
immediate intent of the speaker:

i-w:N '-alJ::J;.hus-i-1
1-go.out-MV-I when-he-say
'when he is I was about to go out' (lit. 'when he says I will go out')

The stem of the verb 'say' in the example is simply -1-, the vowel of the stem il- being
absent after the subject prefix y-, which here (after a consonant) appears as i- (s-y-il > s-i-
il > s-i-l). (For forms of the irregular verb 'say' see 3.7.10.)
In the dialect ofMenz, the verb prefix of 'when' clauses is t- rather than s-.

While clause. The prefix ~::J- with the verb in the past is a time-clause expressing
'while', for example:

s:JW-o(lf-u iyy::J-bsll-u yinnaggsr-all-u

people-PI-the while-ate-they
'While the people eat, they talk.'

Notice in the example that, although the iY,y::J-clause employs the past conjugation, tense-
interpretation of this verb is that required by the nonpast main verb.

Because clause. A 'because' clause employs sil::r (which as a preposition is 'about,

wiha-w q:;szqazza sila-n~b;;r-:J al-1-att'~-ku-mm

water-the cold because-was-it Neg-Refl-washed-1-Neg
'Because the water was cold, I didn't wash.'

The prefixsila- requires'a verb in past form. If the verb of the cause clause is nonpast, the
prefix is sila-mm-, as in:

sil:J-mm-iz~b izzih inniqir

because-it.rain here let's.stay
'Because it it raining, let's stay here.'

Such constructions with -mm- are often thought to contain an adjective clause whose verb
is prefixed by ya-mm- (4.7). In the example above, that is, s11a-ya-mm-y-z:mb > SI1:J-
mm-i-z:mb, in whichyfJ- ofy:rmm- is necessarily absent after another prefix (3.2.5) and
Sg.3m. subject prefixy- > i- after a consonant (2.1.4).

lf clause. A sentence including a condition if clause with b- is:

h-i-1'gyyiq-:Jifri i-n:Jgr-:JW-all:J-hu
if-he-ask-me 1-tell-him-MV-1
'lfhe asks me, I will telJ him.'

If the verb also has the contrast suffix -mm (3.2.7), the meaning is 'even if.

b-izgnb-imm :inni-hed-aflg-n
if-it.rain-even we-go-MV-we
Even if it rains, we will go.'

Other adverb clauses. With the verb in the past, other adverb clauses are expressed
by use of the prepositions kg. and b:J- with and without postpositions, for example k:J-...
Jgmmiro 'sinee' (jgmmiro, Sg.3m. converb,lit. '(he/it) beginning'), k:J-... bah"'ala 'after'
(b:J-h"' ala, lit. 'at back'), ,b-... (negative verb) (bgqf' or b<1stgqf') 'unless', and ba-... gize
'when', lit. 'at (the) time' (gize 'time'). Examples of each of these are:

t:Jlantinna kfJ-d:JJTfJ!>-ku jgmmiro

yesterday from-arrived-! beginning
'since I arrived ye8terday'

b-b<1Ra-hu b:Jh"'ala
from-ate-1 after
'after I ate'

m:Nihanit-u-n k-al-t'~tt'a (b:xpr)
medicine-the-DO if-Neg-he.drink. (e~cept)
'unless he takes the medicine'(= 'if he doesn't take the medi~ine')

biro b~hed-ku gize

office at-went-1 time
'when I went to the office'

An adverb clause expressing 'like' or 'as' employs the preposition md:1- 'like, as'
prefixed to -mm+nonpast verbs:

issu md:rmm-iyad~rg ine ad:Jrg-all:J-hu

he I
'I will do as he does.'

An adverb clause expressing 'until' employs either isk- 'until' or isk~-mm- prefixed to
nonpast verbs.

isk-i-m:H'a izzih inni-t'abbiq-all~-n

until-he-come here we-wait-MV -we
'Until he comes, we will wait here.'

is~mm-i-mat'a izzih inni-t'ab~iq-all~-n

until-mm-he-come here we-wait-MV -we
'Until he comes, we will wait here.

4.10. Cleft sentences. Statements and questions structured like the following, termed
'cleft sentences', are more frequent in Amharic than are English sentences similarly
structured. Such sentences presuppose as background and known to the hearer some
proposition expressed as a noun clause. In Amharic, the verb of the presupposed clause is
suffixed by the definitizing ('the') suffix (3.2.2). Presupposed in the fo1lowing sentence
is that 'someone ordered it'.

y-azz~-u-1 issaci!:lw n-acC:Jw

Rel-ordered-(s)he(pol)-the (s)he(pol) is-(s)he(pol)
'It is (s)he who ordered it.' /'The one who ordered it is (s)he.'

Questions structured as cleft sentences are perhaps as common in Amharic as simple

questions. Thus instead ofthe simple question man m:Jtt'a 'Who came?' one is as likely
to hear:

y~-m~tt'a-w man n:1-w

Rel-came.he-the who
'Who is it who came?' /'Who is the one who came?'

In cleft sentences an exception to verb-final order may be heard, in which the clause
withy~- (noun clause) follows the main, be, verb:

JSsacc<JW n-acc:JW y-azz<JZ-u-t
she/he(pol) isMshelhe(pol) Rel-ordered-shelhe(pol)Mthe
'She/He is the one who ordered it.' I 'It is she/he who ordered it.'

man n~-w ya-m~a 'a-w

who i~helit -Rel-came.he-the
'Who is the one who came?' I 'Who is it who came?'

A thorough discussion of the cleft sentence phenomenon in Amharic is chapter 3 of

Olga Kapeliuk's Nominalization in Amharic (1988, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner).

4.11. Sentences in the appendices. A list of useful sentences, including those for
typical greetings and other basic conversational purposes, is provided as Appendix 18.
Word order and other aspects of Amharic clause and sentence construction are also
exemplified in three Amharic texts provided as Appendices 19, 20, and 21, each in
Amharic writing and phonetic writing, with an English translation.

5. Amharic Writing

5.1. History of Amharic Writing. The Amharic writing system is an adaptation of

the writing system evolved some 2000 years ago for Ge'ez, the Semitic language of the
ancient Ethiopian kingdom of Akswn, also known as ETHIOPIC. Ethiopic writing has been
adapted for use in writing a number of modern Semitic Ethiopian languages, notably
Tigrinya and Amharic, and for Cushitic languages of Ethiopia as well.
Following is a history of the Ethiopic and Amharic writing systems, briefly traced
from the beginning of writing over 5000 years ago.

5.1.1. Sumerian. WRITING is giving visible form to language, and the first-known
writing system is that of the Sumerians, of 'Fertile Crescent' Mesopotamia-Babylonia,
from before 3000 BC. It is reasonable that the Sumerians would have given birth to
writing because it was there, a suitable time after the beginnings of settled agriculture,
that the economic surpluses and associated activities of agriculture made possible the
appearance of the first cities, within which the necessity for record-keeping, of
inventgries, and trap.sactions, must naturally have first necessitated writing.
As seen in Figure 5.1 (Senner 1989: 7), the units or GRAPHS of the Sumerian writing
system at first represented words in an ICONIC or picture-like way. With the passage of
time, however, the forms of the graphs naturally became stylized and simplified and as a
result eventually had no apparent connection to their meaning. The resulting relationship
of form and meaning is fully SYMBOLIC, and must be learned as a conventional or
arbitrary relationship. At this stage the graphs represented no longer the pictured
meanings of the words, but the words themselves. This is LOGOGRAPHIC WRITING.
The Sumerian writing system was soon adapted and elaborated to write the
neighboring Semitic language AKKADIAN (or Babylonian-Assyrian). Both Sumerian and
Akkadian writing were typically done by impressing a wedge-shaped tool into wet clay,
and so were termed CUNEIFORM WRITING (Latin cuneus 'wedge'). Eventually the
meanings of graphs evolved to represent no longer the words but the sounds of the words,
as PHONOGRAPHIC writing.

5.1.2. Egyptian. Egyptian writing, known in its early stages as HIEROGLYPHIC (Greek
'sacred carving'), is known from around 3000 BC, so somewhat later than Sumerian. As
in Sumerian, the graphs of Egyptian were originally pictographic or iconic, and as in
Akkadian they soon evolved as logographic and then phonographic.

Figure 5.1. Evolution of five 'Sumerian cuneiform graphs, 3000-800 DC
(from The Origins ofWriting, by Wayne Senner, 1989)

Pictograph -
Original positioned Early
Assyrian Meaning
Pictograph as- Babylon_ian
... ..
~ -tq -.l>:b
~ bird

~. ft. ~ lf< fish

~ ~ :--$~ donkey

~ ;{> ::1> ~ ox

<:>-. 4 if sun, day

Because an invention as creative and significant .as writitJ.g might reasonably be

thought not to have occurred twice in such goographic and temporal proximity; because
Sumerian and Akkadian appear to predate Egyptian in the archaeological record; and
because Sumerian or Akkadian writing would probably have been known, if imperfectly,
to the Egyptians, Egyptian writing is suspected to have been inspired by, though certainly
not copied from, Sumerian or Akkadian.
As seen in the first column of Figure 5.2 (Davies 1988: 60), many graphs of Egyptian
hieroglyphic writing remained completely picturelike and unsimplified, even though with
the pas~ge of time they took on very unpicturelike meanings.
Hieroglyphic writing evolved in simplified cursive styles, for writing on papyrus not
stone (this was hieratic 'priestly writing', and later demotic 'popular writing'), but in the
Christian era in Egypt, Greek writing supplanted the native tradition, and then with the
spread of Islam across North Africa from 700 AD, Arabic supplanted Greek, with the
result that, eventually, the practice and knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was
completely forgotten, and had to be discovered and learned anew by scholars, notably the
Frenchman Fran~is Champollion, in 1822-24 (for the fascinating story, see Pope 1975).

Figure 5.2. Egyptian, Sinaitic, Phoenician, early Greek, Greek, and Ethiopie
(from Egyptian Hieroglyphics, by W. V. Davies, 1988; Ethiopic added)

Egyptian .Ptotosinaitic Phaenician Early Greek Greek Bthloplc

8 {j <( ;.1 A 'h

LJ 0 8 n
1 '- 1 1 r 1

r Lf: ~ E dt

\\V ~ k b

INNN.. '1 OP

~ '1 '\ ~

<2>- 0 0 0 0

6) 4 1 l.

+ + X T T +

~ w 7

Even though the graphs of Egyptian writing were picturelike,. the interpretation of
these in reading was only sometimes logographic, as the word the meaning of which was
originally suggested by the picture, but sometimes phonographic, as the sound or
approximate sound of the word.

5.1.3. Sinaitic. Before 1000 BC, speakers of Semitic languages living on the
Egyptian periphery including the Sinai peninsula began to adapt EgyptiaD. hieroglyphic
\\Titing for their own purposes. These various adaptations have been termed SINAITIC.

Instead of accepting the Egyptian graphs with their Egyptian sound values, Sinaitic
writers gave the graphs the sound values of their own Semitic languages. For example,
the Egyptian graph r-J represented 'house', a word which. in Egyptian is thought to
have had the consonants pr plus an unknown vowel. Sinaitic Semitic speakers read this
graph with the pronunciation of their word for 'house', perhaps approximately bayt. The
Egyptian graph ""'M. represented 'water', a word which had the Egyptian pronunciation
nt plus a vowel. Sinaitic writers took the Egyptian graph. for 'water' but read it as their
word for 'water', perhaps may. See the Sinaitic adaptations of Egyptian in the
'Protosinaitic' oofumn of Figure 5.2.
The interpretation of graphs of Sinaitic writing gradually evolved regular ACROPHONY
'main sound', in which the phonetic interpretation of the graphs, as well as the form, was
simplified as the main sound of the word, usually the first consonant, so that n was
simply b and JI.N.:A. simply m. The Amharic (and English) graphs which derive from
hieroglyphic graphs have sound values of their Sinaitic not Egyptian ancestor words.
Sinaitic adaptations of Egyptian spread among the Semitic peoples of the ancient
eastern Mediterranean world, and had their own subsequent evolution. In the north these
evolved as, among others, the Phoenician, Aramaic, and Hebrew writing systems. In the
east Sinaitic evolved as Arabic, and in the south as South Arabian and Ethiopic writing.
All these were CONSONANTAL writing systems, in which graphs mainly represented
consonants, and vowels only exceptionally. Typically only consonants were written
because (1) Sinaitic writing had evolved 011 the acrophonic principle, and the acrophones
were consonants; (2) in Semitic languages there are many consonants but few vowels;
and (3) in Semitic languages consonants rather than vowels are particularly important for
expressing the concrete ~eanings of words. The latter is the characteristic of Semitic
languages termed 'root and pattern morphology', as seen in Amharic (3.7.1).
5.1.4. Greek. The Greek ALPHABET resulted when about 900 BC the Greeks adapted
Phoenician writing and used some of the extra Phoenician consonant graphs to represent
their vowels. Such innovation may have seemed necessary to them, because (1) in Greek,
an Indoeuropean language, vowels were more numerous than in Phoenician; (2) in Greek
vowels as well as consonants express important nongrammatical meanings; and perhaps
(3) because of an observed reluctance of borrowers to discard parts of a borrowed system
with which they are unfamiliar.
Later, of course, the Romans adapted the Greek alphabet and spread it across Europe
and to England, where its eventual descendant is the English alphabet. See the columns of
Phoenician, Early Greek, and Greek writing in Figure 5.2. The English descendants of
some of the Greek letters of Figure 5.2 may be apparent: o and t, for example.

S.l.S. South Arabian. In the southern Red Sea region, in the same period of history,
South Arabian writing also developed from Sinaitic. Writing in these languages first
appeared along both sides of the southern Red Sea perhaps as early as 900 BC, in use for
Semitic languages of the Red Sea kingdoms including Saba in South Arabia (Sabaen
writing), and, about the same, time, in the northern Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum
(EthiQpic writing) (de Contenson 1981, Fattovich 1988, Ricci 1994). Like Semitic writing
systems of the Mediterranean World, these were consonantal writing systems, in which
generally consonants but not vowels were written.
East of the Red Sea, South Arabian writing did not evolve for popular use, and is
mainly known. as commemorative inscriptions, in stone, of South Arabian kings, and as
graffiti. With the spread of Islam after 700 AD, South Arabian was fully replaced by
Arabic. See the first row of Figure 5..3 (Drewes 1962: 79), in which South Arabian
writing ('sudar. mon.', sudarabique monumental) is seen in its typically formal, angular
and regular style.

Figure 5.3. Evolution of writing in Ethiopia

(from Inscriptions de L 'Ethiopie Antique, by A. J. Drewes, 1962)

sudar. mon.
].E. 5 (GDR)
Safti A, B, C, A
D.A.B. 7 (Ezana)
D.A.A. 10 (Ezana)
D.A.B. 11 (Ezana)

5.1.6. Ethiopic. In Ethiopia, by contrast, writing underwent popular adaptation, with

graphs became less angular and formal. Figure 5.3 shows early Oe'ez or Ethiopic writing
in the second and third rows, and also exemplifies writing from three Ethiopian
inscriptions of King Ezana (ca. 330-365?), at which time writing was well established in
Aksum, and was used in competition with Greek, which was also known (Anfray 1990,
Schneider 1995b; for photographs of the inscriptions see Bemand et al 1991 ). Ethiopic
writing, in fonns regularly distinct from South Arabian, is well evidenced in a number of
lengthy commemorative inscriptions attributed to Ezana, during whose reign, also,
Ethiopic writing began to include representation of vowels, not as separate symbols as in
Greek but as extensions and other modifications of consonant symbols. Some of these
modified graphs are seen in the fifth and sixth rows of Figure 5.3; notice in the fifth row,
for exap1ple, A distinct from earlier basic It,"''. distinct from ao, and -a distinct from n.
At about the same time, Ethiopic writing began to be written from left-to-right,
opposite that of most other Semitic writing systems. This may have been an influence of
Greek, a left-to-right writing system also known in Akswn and employed on inscriptions
and coins.
It is not known whether the Ethiopian innovation of vowel-writing was a unique
invention of the Ethiopians, or perhaps an inspiration from Indian Brahmi writing, which

somewhat similarly represented vowels, and at a somewhat earlier time. Knowledge of
vowel-writing could have come to Ethiopia with regular trade known to have existed
between cities of Western India and Aksum (Daniels 1992, 1996; Getatchew 1996;
Schneider 1995a). Such local evolution of the system might have been expected,
however, certainly if Ethiopians had even superficial knowledge of the Brahmi system, as
the natural result of a tendency for stylistically variant graphs of a single consonant to
become associated with some vowel (Hudson 2001). The record, however, seems to show
a rather abrupt appearance of vowel representation.
The Ethiopic numbers seem to have been adapted from those of Greek, in which the
numbers were letters in the sequence of the Greek alphabet. Compare the Greek and
Ethiopic numbers in Figure 5.4. The second row is Ethiopic, and the third and fourth
rows are Greek upper and lower-case letters. Similarities of Greek and Ethiopic are
particularly apparent for 2, 3, 9, 10, 80, and 100.
Eventually the Ethiopic consonant graph for b, 0, for example, was modified as R- for
bu, R. for bi, 0. for be, etc. The original and basic consonantal graphs were reanalyzed as
the consonant plus the most common vowel, so 0 was reanalyzed as ba, and in Amharic
a became g, The structure of the Ethiopic writing system in its adaptation as Amharic
writing is discussed in 5.3.
Because of their shared history as adaptations of Sinaitic writing, Greek and Ethiopic
(and Amharic, which is derived from Ethiopic) have similarities apparent in a number of
comparisons of graphs in the Gre~k and Ethiopic columns of Figure 5.2. These have
similar form (sometimes upon reorientation) and sound, for example Greek B and
Ethiopic 0, Greek f(g) and Ethiopic 1, Greek A. (/) and Ethiopic 1\, Greek T (t) and
Ethiopic ~, and Greek l: (s) and Ethiopic IP.

Figure 5.4. Ethiopic and Greek numbers

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
~ ~ ~ '
ll ?i i.... % 5: ....jj' I
A B r ll E c; z H e I
a ~ 'Y a E t; ~ 11 9 t

10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
I ~ m !I I :i! ~ ~ l !
I K A M N ..!::!. 0 n 0 p
t K A. ll v ~ 0 1t Q p

5.1.7. Amharic. After the decline of Aksum around 600 AD, Ethiopic writing is
absent in the archaeological record, but reappears in manuscripts, on parchment, from
about 1250 AD, in use for writing Christian religious literature and chronicles of the
kings of Ethiopia. About 200 years later, a slightly modified form of Ethiopic began to be
used for writing Amharic. This Amharic adaptation of Ethiopic consists largely in
development of a regularized system of punctuation, and invention of a set of graphs for
the series of palatalized consonants, which were not regularly used in Ge'ez (5.3.4).
Subsequently, Ethiopic was adapted for use to write Tigrinya, and Amharic writing
was adapted for use to write other Ethiopian languages. Amharic writing today fulfills all
the needs of modern literate society, for letters, novels, poetry, legal decrees, newspapers,
and magazines. The problems of writing Amharic by typewriter, the large number of
graphs and the inappropriately small size of typescript, have been solved by computer
mediated writing.
For three texts in Amharic writing, with phonetic writing and translation, see pp. 135-
Graded lessons for learning to read Amharic as a writing system for English are
provided as Part 3 of this book, from p. 145.

5.1.8. References for 5.1

Anfray, Francis. 1990. Les Anciens Ethiopiens: Siecles d 'histoire. Paris: Armand Colin
Bernand, Etienne, A. J. Drewes, and R. Schneider. 1991. Recueil des Inscriptions de
l'Ethiopie des Periodes Pre-Axoumite et Axoumite, Tome 1: Les Documents, Tome II:
Les Planches. Paris: Diffusion de Boccard.
Contenson, Henri de. 1981. Pre-Aksumite culture, General History of Africa, Vol. II.
Ancient Civilizations of Africa, ed. by G. Mokhtar, 341-361. Berkeley: University of
California Press.
Daniels, Peter T. 1992. Contacts between Semitic and lndic scripts, Contacts between
cultures_: selected papers from the 33rd international Congress of Asian and North
African Studies, Vol. 1, West ~ia and North Africa, Amir Harrak, ed., 146-152. Ed-
win Mellen: Lewiston, N.Y.
Daniels, Peter T. 1996. The first civilizations, The World's Writing Systems, Peter T.
Daniels and William Bright, eds., 21-32. New York: Oxford University Press.
Davies, W. V. 1988. Egyptian HieroglyPhics. Berkeley: U~versity of California Press.
Drewes, A. J. 1962. Inscriptions deL 'Ethiopie Antique. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
Fattovich, Rodolfo. 1988. Remarks on the late prehistory and early history of northern
Ethiopia Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies,
Vol. I, Taddese Beyene, ed., 85-104. Addis Ababa: Institute ofEthiopian Studies.
Getatchew Haile. 1996. Ethiopic writing. The World's Writing Systems, Peter T. Daniels
and William Bright, eds., 569-576. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hudson, Grover. 2001. Aspects of the history ofEthiopic writing, Bulletin ofthe Institute
q{Ethiopian Studies 25. 1-12.
Pope, Maurice. 1975. The Story of Archaeological Decipherment, from Egyptian Hiero-
glyphics to Linear B. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Ricci, Lanfranco. 1994. "On both sides of al-Mandab", New Trends in Ethiopian Studies
(Proceedings of the 12th International Conforence of Ethiopian Studies, Vol. I),
Harold Marcus and Grover Hudson, eds., 409-417. Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press.
Schneider, Roger. 1995a. A propos de la vocalisation de l'ecriture ethiopienne, Comptes
Rendus du Groupe Liriguistique d'Etudes Chamito-Semitiques 31. 107-108.
Schneider, Roger. 1995b. L'inscription 'trilingue' et !'inscription en 'pseudo-sabeen'
d'Ezana, Journal ofEthiopian Studies 29(2). 1-3.
Senner, Wayne M. 1989. Theories and myths on the origin of writing: a historical over-
view, The Origins of Writing, Wayne M. Senner, ed., 1-26, Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press.

5.2. Consonants and vowels in Amharic writing. Amharic has 39 phonemes: 32

consonants and seven vowels. The 32 Amharic consonant phonemes (2.1) are:

13 stops: p, b p, 't, d, f', /c, klV, g, gIV, q, qW, J


3 affricates: ~.J, c'

8 fricatives: f, V, S, s; S, Z, ~ h, hw
3 nasals: m, n, if
1 lateral: I
I rhotic: r
2 glides: w,y

Table 5.1 presents the 32 consonant phonemes of Amharic as they are written in Amharic
basic graphs. The three ~onsonants ?, ::.~ and s' each have two written forms, and one, h,
has four.
The seven Amharic vowel phonemes (2.2) are ~. i, u, a, e, i, and o, with phonetic
qualities approximately like English vowels as follows:

fJ the vowel of but (Amharic name gi?iz "'t)'Jf)

u the vowel of boot (Amharic name ka ?ib I'Jt)ofl)
the vowel of beat (Amharic name salis "#Ail)
a the vowel ofpot (Amharic name rabiJ l-ilt))
e the vowel of bait (Amharic name hamis 'IIJDI't)
i 'higher and more centralized than the vowel of bit; similar to the second
vowel of a casual pronunciation of churches (Amharic name sadis "l ~it)
o the vowel of boat (Amharic name sabi? 'lilt))

Table 5.2 presents the seven vowel phonemes as written in Amharic in association with
the preceding consonant b.

Table.~S;l. Amharic consonants in Amharic writing


vl pT
h a




vi= voiceless, vd =voiced, gl = glottalized ejective

Table 5.2. Amharic vowels in Amharic writing

Front Central Back

! i in bi a. i in bi-n uin bu a-
I High
inba a

i Mid e in be (1. :J o in bo fl
~- - ........ -.
I Low ainba'l

Table 5.3. Amharic fidel in traditional order
~ u i ii e ' (i) 0
h o fJo l y -L tJ II'
~ ~

,.,""" ..,

s "1. ~ rr

7r 7f- it if it 7r "
q ~ 1! :J 1: lp
.,., + ----l
I ,
- ____
---:r; - - ------ ..
1: .,.
-.. -=-- --- -
.,. .. ----~-~-- ----
~ 'T T.. :F ~ :If ~
h -
n =- t-l ~ :-J::-~ --
7 . 1- 7..
.. --
't ------
~--- ..

-- (~_a_ __,. ___ --------

hl h.
h h-
. .. .. - -----
,..~ .. h.
---- ...... ,_.. .....

- (11. 1l
re .,
.I\ 1l.

___ @~---
z ,.,.
ot o-
----- -------
-- 't. ......
11 ,.,.
p ..


'- y
1t: 11'

d ~
';if ~
~ ~
... - 1----
___ g _____ 1 - -1- - -1----- .,. -- ----- --------- ..,
--------- ---1--
t' til
1 - - - -r - - - -
----- - ;J
m. tJ)
.,. ")
r------- .. ------- ---
~ ua-

A. A.
Q;1r' "V'.
- - - - 1 " ' - - ___ aJ. .... ... -------- ---- - -
k ,., ,..
s' - - t ., "L I'
------ ~
---. . ~---

,--1t . -. . . -~-
... -.. '
J A. L 'f. A. t::
L_.E____ T "F 1:
--- ;,--;- --i .I T
L_ _ - - ------

1. The vowel of this lst-order..fidelis a not~.

5.3. Structure of the Amharic writing system. The Amharic word for the graphs or
letters of Amharic writing is fidel. Restricting the term letter to graphs of the Greek or
Latin~based alphabets, here we shall refer to the Amharic graphs by their Amharic name,
We think of the English alphabet as having 26 letters, but with duplications and
multiple irregularities there are actually over 200 letter~to-sound associations. For
example there are.c, k, and ck for the. sound [k], ph,J, and gh for [f], c, sand ss for [s],
plus the multiple sound associations of the vowel letters, such as e, which is pronounced
differently in be, set, veil, niec:e, and bite! Amharic has more graphs, but unlike English
the associations of graph and saund are quite regular.
See in Table 5.3 the basic 231 Am.h.aric characters (33 consonants x 7 vowels), in
traditional Amharic fidel order. The second column of the table shows the 33 simple or
basic graphs (the 32 consonant sounds of Table 5.1 plus the six duplicate graphs(= 38),
minus the four labiovelars and v).
Despite its large number of graphs in comparison to a European-language alphabet,
the Ethiopic-Amharic writing system is quite efficient and systematic. The 231 different
fidel are not unrelated and independent forms. Rather, one learns the 33 basic forms
(either the column of~ or that of 1), the six patterns of regular modification, and perhaps
a dozen or so irregularities. Thus one learns only about 60 form-and~sound associations
in all, which experience shows is not a difficult task for our minds and memories. One
needs only reasonable _motivation and a few hours of attentive practice, such as given in
Part 3 of this book.
The 33 basic graphs are ordinarily read as an Amharic consonant plus the vowel ~.
\ '
and the six modifications of this are read as the consonant plus one of the other six
,-owels, from left-to-right u, i, a, e, i, o. In charts of the Amharic writing system, as in the
examples below, :fidel with the vowels~. u, i, a, e, i and o are always listed left-to-right in
this order and so are termed the '1st', '2nd', '3rd', '4th', '5th', '6th' and '7th-order' fidel,
respectively. Thus also the vowels are termed '1st-order vowel', '2nd-order vowel', etc.
The Amharic names of the vowels (from Ge'ez) are listed in 5.2.
Exceptional to the association of vowels are three of the graphs of h, and those of .?,
which are read as the consonant plus a in the 1st order (column of~; these are marked by
a footnote in Table 5.3).

5.3.1. Patterns of vowel modification. Vowels are written as extensions and

modifications of the 1st-order consonant fidel, as in the following seven forms of the
tbree consonants b, t, and m.

lb .. n-ii; - r;. bu n:bi-----q-.i,d..... a-b;-- it- ;;(;F!""ti--;,~--. .

:1 .,.. t~ il tu t ti ;1- ta i: te + t(i) .,. to
L~ ~--!1!~--- .~-~~- ..~--~--'--~ rna. diJ. ~- ~ '!'fiJ. ~ _flU!__

The parentheses around iofthe fidel of the sixth~column- b(t), t(1), and m(t)- show
mat 6th-order fidel may be read with or without their vowel, as either bi or b, ti or t, and

mi or m, respectively. At the end of a word a 6th-order fidel is read without its vowel
(except sometimes in poetry). Thus :I"A 'word' is read qal.
One learns the Amharic writing system from several hours of practice and use, not
from analysis. However, for most learners it is useful to know consciously the logic,
rules, and regularities of the system. Notice in Table 5.3 how the fidel largely realize the
following generalizations that describe the basic system of basic-form-plus-vowel
modification, as follows:

1st order, consonant+:;.: simple fidel

2nd order, consonant + u: with a line extended at the middle right
3rd order, consonant + i: with a line extended at the lower right
4th order, consonant + a: with the lower left opened or single leg bent left
5th order, consonant+ e: with a loop at the lower right
6th order, consonant alone or + i: with an irregular bend or other modification
7th order, consonant + o: with the lower right opened or with a loop

In a perhaps better interpretation (of Baye Yimam), the 6th-order fidel is primary,
because the particular irregularity of this cannot be predicted. Then the 1st-order fidel
may be predicted as a simplification or regularization of the 6th.
There are four general shapes of Amharic fidel, according to their number of 'legs':
one, two, three, and legless. The two-legged fidel are the most numerous. Two-legged fidel. Thirteen fidel have two legs: Table 5.4. Notice the very
regular pattern of vowel-modification for the two-legged fidel. There is one exception to
this regular pattern: 7th-order fro lo, in the darkly outlined cell of Table 5.4. Instead of a
shortened right leg, it has a loop at its middle right.

Table 5.4. The 13 two-legged fidel

1l i 1l-
A- ---r-~
-1\.- ~ 1l 11 1\-
-- y. ~----y t . ")1: . it. '(" .. -~- ---~---- . -- -;~r -
-~-r -i -.1! -+ n- n. t) n. ______!! __ . -
' ; ~ i ~ A ~ A ~ ~

S I ~ ; ~
--~-.E~_-____ r=---*-~---:-~-~-. ----~-- ----~-----~ JL __________ k :_____ !__ __ _
~ q ~ h ~

_---~~;_:_-- -_---~~--~"!.~--- ~~- .. R. ~---~~=" ~~~- Po. ----r-~ ___ _!____.

-----f---- ----- -~ ' : -- -~ --- ---1-- --~---- ----~ --+- ~
z I .,. I 1P I 1e - -tr ! ,;;- -e--- Pfi-- -- ~-
L___~'"-----'------'------'--- ---'------'------''----__J

Notice the 6th-order fidel in the seventh column. There is no pattern for these, except
for being regularly irregular. For four of the two-legged fidel, notice the subtle difference
between the 2nd-order fidel with vowel u, and the 6th-order fidel with vowel i:


2nd order
----- ---- 6th order
------------------ ~----
II- du ~ di
)1: '
Ju ~ Ji
s'u "

The 2nd-order fidel have an extension in the middle of their right leg, but the four 6th-
order fidel have the extension attached to their body. One-legged fidel. Nine fidel have one leg: Table 5.5. Notice the pattern of
vowel-modification for the one-legged fidel.

Table 5.5. The nine one-legged fidel

G1 u i a e (i) . o

t .,. ~ +.. ;1- of; ,. of

---:y ----- .:r -- r- --~- '" ----y-- ~~. -----"i ------ ,.

Exceptions to the patterns of one-legged fidel again appear in darkly outlined cells:
the 7th-order (o-voweled) fidel have a loop near the top except for 1 go, T po (which
differs subtly from 4th-order ;F), and r- yo; and 4th-order 'i' na and 'r:- ifa lack the left-
bent leg of other 4th-order fidel. Notice the unusual extension on r.. yi and the mid-
position of the extension on Po ye. Again the 6th-order fide) have no regular pattern but
involve a bend or other irregular modification of the 1st-order. Three-legged fidel. There are three three-legged fidel: Table 5.6. Notice the
pattern of vowel-modification for the three-legged fidel. On the pattern of two-legged
fidel, the 7th-order fidel have shortened right legs. The 6th-order fidel all have bent
middle lines. There is one irregularity, in the darkly outlined cell:- beCause all the fidel in

the set of Q;L have loops as their right feet, the usual lower-right loop for 5th-order e is
raised: Q;L.

- --- .... ------- ------

Table 5.6. The three three-legged fidel

-- --- --
:} u i a e
(i) I ,.,
t' m
th -------- tft.
IlL .., ill
"" A1.
""" .... ca.
Q;l: Legless fidel. The remaining eight fidel have no legs in their basic first-order
form: Table 5.7. These legless fidel have less obvious but still apparent patterns of
modification, often involving addition of a leg, which then follows the pattern of one-
legged fidel. Except in the rows off d. and r l., a right-leg is added in the 3rd, 4th, Sth,
and 7th-order fidel, which leg follows the pattern of one-legged fidel, for example 3rd
order Pl. of the row of,.,.
Again notice irregularities in the darkly outlined cells. Compare 2nd-order 4- and 4th
order ~.fa; the former has a slightly left-bent leg. Compare 2nd-order? ru and 4th-order
t. ra, the latter of which is quite irregular, as is 3rd-order t, ri. Compare 2nd-order m.
wu, whose extension is at the lower right, with 6th-order dJ w(i), whose extension is at
the middle right.

Table 5.7. The eight legless fidel

'l oa
- - - .. ---- r-----r---:"
___ L__
, ,
i a e
................. ------
d. .,. -
----- .... d.. .. ----------
....1-...;....--f------ fi; t::
-- -- -
m -
- ---
- --- ..
IIIII. ,.,
'I Y. u II'

r l. ?
s ,., ,.,.
. - --- - ------
'I "'
-------- 'J. "
'P ' dJo

5.3.2. Homophonous fidel. We have noted that some consonant sounds are written
with more than one fidel, somewhat as English lc, c, and q may all be read [k], or s and c
both read [s]. Amharic has less. of this than English, but there are

2 ways to write .?,

4 ways to write h,

2 ways to writes, and
2 ways to writes'.

In the period of the Derg government in Ethiopia ( 1.5), spelling reformers of the
Ethiopian Language Academy sought without success to eliminate these seeming
redundancies in favor of the most frequent fidel of each set. But no government agency
today enforces the .privileged status which Amharic once enjoyed, and spelling practice
concerning the homophonies varies considerably.
In fact, the homophonous fidel do not represent a severe learning problem, and their
use is not entirely a redundancy, as this expresses the affective meanings associated with
the perception of readers'that the writer has knowledge of the traditions of the writing
system. Furthermore, the availability of the homophonous fidel enables the potential for
useful development of contrasts based entirely on spelling, such as English son vs. sun
and cell vs. sell. Two ways to write 'l. In Ge'ez and presumably earlier in Amharic, there
were phonetically similar consonants .?, a glottal stop written h, and f, a voiced
pharyngeal fricative written o. Subsequently the sotmd f was replaced by ?, but both
ways of writing survived, so now 7 is written both 11 and 0, as in Table 5.8.

----,...---a--,--u-~--i -T
Table 5.8. Two ways to write l
a [- -;- 1 (ij _____

1--::~-1---~--}--- -~-~ ~ ---~-r--~- ~ --~~.

The two different ?'s are distinguished by name as follows: a/lefu ?a (hl\.4- h)
and aynu ?a (0,_,.. 0). More frequent i~ the set of h.
Notice that the first-order vowel of these two fidel is not :J but a. This is because in
the history of Amharic an a which followed the 7 and f was preserved as a when
elsewhere a usually changed (centralized) to Q. Thus the 1st-order vowel of h and 0 is
the same as the 4th-order vowel, a, and all of h, ,., o, and 't are read ?a. (In fact, in
earlier Amharic 1st-order a probably contrasted with the 4th-order long vowel a:. Then a
> :J except after certain consonants where a: survived, and then long a: > a.)
The historical glottal stop which was written in Amharic as h or o is now usually
absent in pronunciation, and is ignored in word-initial phonetic writing (2.1). Thus hU'I
'flower' is written abg/Ja and not ?abgJ,a, Between vowels, however, the glottal stop
often survives. Thus tl't.,.. hour, watch' is either SQ?at or saat, the latter with :J
assimilated to a.
As English words may be written with one of k or c and not either - for example cat
not leal and kitten not citten - preferred Amharic spelling employs the historically
appropriate member of a homophonous fidel set. If the Amharic word has a cognate word

in the ancient Ethiopian Semitic language Ge'ez, the Ge'ez spelling is usually considered
preferred. For example, and 'one' is written h?~ and not,_.,.~, 071!:, or -t?Jl:; and ayn
'eye' is written 0~7 and not 't~?, h~7, or,._~.,.. If in doubt, use the more common of
the homophonous sets, h in the case of h and o.

5.3.2~2. Four ways to write h. In earlier Amharic there were four different h-lik.e

a voiceless glottal fricative 0, phonetic [h],

a voiceless pharyngeal fricative [b] (th ),
a voiceless velar fricative .... [x],
a second voiceless velar fricative "'ft [x], which arose as a weakened or lax
pronunciation of voiceless velar stop h [k] (5.3.4).

All four of these later merged as [h], so today four different fidel write h, as seen in Table

Table 5.9. Four ways to write It

Three of the h's are named as follows: hal/etaw ha (YfL;I-OJ- 0), ham:H'U ha (thOD~
th), and bizuhanu ha (all ... t- .... ). The newest h, "H, so far lacks a standard name. Most
frequent is the set of v.
Notice that the 1st-order vowel of the first three of these is not :~ but a. This results
because historically, like h/0, these 'low' consonants preserved following a which
elsewhere centralized as :J. Thus V, th, and .... are never pronounced with the vowel a but
with a. The other fidel for h, 11, arose after the lowering effect of h's on a, so the
pronunciation h:~ for 1st-order 11 survives.
Again Amharic spelling prefers one of the set of homophonous h-fidel in particular
words, that ofthe cognate word in Ge'ez, if there is one. Thus hilm 'dream' is written ih
A;o and not u/:\,-, ""J.Afll, or l\A9". Two ways to writes. In the past in Amharic, there were two different s-lik.e
consonants: s and a similar sound, perhaps a lateral fricative (IPA {). Eventually the two
merged ass, so today there are two ways ofwriting s, as in Table 5.10.
The two different s's are distinguished by name as follows: nigusu s~ (7'1-,.,. IP) and
isalu s:~ (}.'lof; ll). More frequent is the set of ll.

Table 5.10. Two ways to writes I
I ~ u i a e (i) 0
s I) & tL
I} {L
.... ,. ,."
Amharic spelling prefers one of the set of homophonous fidel in particular words, and
the spelling of the cognate word in Ge'ez, if there is one, is authoritative. For example,
sillase 'trinity' is written P''\tL and not it'\tL, lt'\PL, or JP'\11. Two ways to write s~ rn Amharic prehistory there were different consonants
s: an alveolar ejective fricative, and a seemingly unsimilar sound perhaps c[, a retracted
or retroflex d. For reasons unknown, both of these came to be pronounced so today s:
there are two ways of writings~ as in Table 5.11.

Table 5.11. Two ways to writes'

:J I u i a e
---- f-
J\ I &.
~ A.
s' 8 I 8 '1. 'I '1

The two different s' fidel are distinguished by name as follows: s':Jlotu sb (J\1\-Il A)
and s':Jhayu sb (8th~ 8). More frequent is the set of R.
Again Amharic spelling prefers one or the other in particular words. The spelling of
the equivalent word in Ge'ez, if this is known, is preferred. For example, s'~hay 'sun' is
\\Titten Bdl~ and not Rm.e.

5.3.3. Labiovelar and labialized consonants. In addition to the basic fidel of Table
5.3, there are special fidel for the set of labiovelar consonants k'.,, gw, qw, and hw (2.1.2).
(The English words quote [k..,ot] and Gwen [g"n], for example, have initiallabiovelars.
In pronouncing these words the lips are rounded before and during the word-initial
consonant.) The labialized h is in the set because this h is that of .... which descends from
the historical velar fricative x. See Table 5.12 for the fidel of the four labiovelar conso-
nants in combination with the vowels a, i, a, e, and i.
The labiovelars do not occur with the labial vowels u and o.
The difference between the fidel of the columns of i and i is that the right-extension
of fidel of the: latter is somewhat raised, a difference not always apparent in some

Table 5.12. Labiovelar fidel
g i a----- e i
r------ 1-----::----- t--~ ---

gw ,..
.,., ~
Pr ,.tJ. l'l-
qlV 'to ~
hlV ..... ""J.. *
'>. '). .....

There is a regular formation for labialized fidel of the non-velar consonants followed
by a. In these fidel,~ is attached as base of the 4th-order fidel, unless this has one leg, in
which case .... is attached as base of the 1st-order fidel; rwa is exceptional. These special
fidel, some of which are infrequent, are as follows.

Labialized m and r have variants: o; mwa and ~ rwa; these arc perhaps less common
than their alternatives.
These labialized consonants with the vowel a are also written as 6th-order fidel
followed by 'P, for example fl'P instead of 'J. bwa and A'P instead of '), lwa. But the
latter way of writing is preferred.

5.3.4. Historically later fidel. Notice the pattern of the following fidel pairs.

Fidel of the second column are those of the first with the addition of- . In the history of
Amharic the consonants t, d, s, n, and k of the frrst column all underwent a change, in
certain words, to yield C, J, S: rJ and h, respectively, of the second column. Alveolar t, d, s,
and n were palatalized as t; J, and S. and i'i respectively, and velar k became the velar

fricative x which later became h. To express these new phonetic distinctions in the
language new fidel were created by adding ... to the fidel of the original consonant.
The two fidel 11- ~ :;J and 1f Z:} have a similar history as palatalized derivatives of m
and II, respectively, but have different means of formation.
More recently and in the regular way, the Amharic writing system has derived a fidel
for the sound v, by adding ... to n b, as lf, This fidel is needed in a number of recently
borrowed words including 'visa' and 7'~'1 'vodka'.
Finally, for writing:} there is a rarely used fidelli, which is It plus .... Remember
that the lst-t>rder fidel h is read a not :;J. 1i is needed to write just one Amharic word, the
interjection 11l. :}r.J 'Really?', and for writing non-Amharic words which begin with :;J,
such as English 'liT :;}]J 'up'.

5.3.5. Numbers. Amharic numbers are written as in Table 5.13. The Amharic
numbers are not used for mathematics, but often in dates, and page and chapter numbers
of books. There is no 'zero'. For mathematics, the 'Arabic' numerals known in English
writing (' 1', '2', 3', etc.) are used. For the source of the Amharic numbets in Greek, see

I Table 5.13. Amharic numbers

5.3.6. Long consonants not written. An Amharic consonant at the middle or end of
words may be long or short (2.1.4). A long consonant has duration almost twice that of a
!bxt consonant. Different Amharic words may differ just by consonant lengtli. such as
.:b "he said' vs. a/lg 'it/he is present', and wana 'swimming' vs. wanna 'main, principal'.
,Jm the International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA. allg is [al:~] and wanna is [wan:a] .)
English has phonetic long consonants too, in words formed of parts such that the two
;wns end and begin, respectively, with the same consonant, with a stressed vowel on
5l!er side, as in bookcase {with a long k, which may be contrasted with the hypothetical
1WiWd book-ace, with a short k), and unnamed (with a long n; compare a named, with a
D:n n). Spelled double consonants in English are otherwise not pronounced long; for
=ample, the consonants spelled ss in kiss and nn in winner are not long.
Even though they represent a contrast of sound and meaning, in Amharic writing long
DJ! short consonants are written the same, so both a/:} 'he said' and a//:} 'he/it is present'
~~tten hi\, and both wana 'swimming' and wanna 'main, principal' are written "P~.

5.3.7. Alphabetical and dictionary order. There are two traditional ways of
ordering the fidel, one of which was shown in Table 5.3. Two important dictionaries for
students, the Concise Amharic Dictionary by Wolf Leslau (1976) and the two-volwne
Amharic-English Dictionary by Thomas Kane (1990), follow this sequence for ordering
dictionary entries, except that homophonous fidel (5.3.2) are collected in the place of the
most frequent of these. One has to learn this traditional order to look up words in these
For learners who know the English alphabet, the fidel can also be ordered non-
traditionally, but very usefully, according to the equivalence or near equivalence of the
phonetic symbols of sounds of the fide] to English letters. This English-alphabetic order-
ing of the fidel is used in the wordlists of this book (seep. 187), and is presented in Table

Table 5.14. Amharic fidel in English alphabetical order
i a e (i)

(~a -,---01.---J---(Jo
b a ,... p

'r-_!!..._-~-.1!!_- _If. -----~-------~---1-

! . . d. -~-- ---~---- --~ - ---~
... ~ --~-~-
-'r- ~-----~--- ...

g 1 ~

L--~-- __ ,,.. __ __ t~t.



"'" ih
---- - :~~~:~ ...... fJ.-if..-_~..:-,. -_-_ _ ~:~~. ~~ u__. -~-=~-,
, i
I .., ..,. "t ;) ..._ .., .q-
-~-+ -i---~-----."" {-----Y-----~---~ ---~----1[ . _
~- _!_ ... I. .J!_. -...-~ ,,_.,... --~.... ___,. tt_. . .. .~-- -~ -"" h -~ ..!' ...
I ' ~ ~ ...1'
.... -- A
... . ... ~
,__ ..~ - A
- ~
m 011 fJIIo I tl'f. "''
OIL 1JP ,-
n ) -~- I ).. --~...-1 'l
'i' cr
f-- n "1 .,. --'Y.. --- ... ..3_______ '2 "f l
q. ---
--- .!!...... - -- T ~ .... ______
_ .. ______ 7
~ ----!--------. ~- - - - -T
--- - - - - -T- - -
__..._______ A ~ L ~ ~ ~ ~

,_.!/___ .,. "15 "t :J' 1: lp ....

r ? . .. tl
..,~... - ... . a;- ~- ~
~.... ... ~
'"'It c"
..,. --- _.. ..,. ---ur- -- ..,
--a.-..- .. -a.-- . -----!\-..... ~-
......"'i' - ...
8 flo t , 'I. IJ I'

1. 1st-order fidel bas vowel a not ~.

Appendices to Part 2

1. The three pronoun sets 112

2. Numbers and numerals 113
3. Months of the year and days ofthe week 114
4. Time and telling time 115
5. The twelve verb types in six forms 116
6. Example verbs of the twelve types 117
7. The twelve verb types in the past 120
8. Negative past, nonpast, and jussive 121
9A. Six verb types in the minor-verb nonpast 122
9B. Six verb types in the main-verb nonpast 123
10. Six verb types in the jussive and imperative 124
llA. Six verb types in the minor-verb converb 125
tlB. Six verb types in the main-verb converb 126
12. Verb of being 127
13. Verb of presence 128
14A. Verb of having in the present 128
14B. Verb of having in the past 129
15A. Negative verbs of being, presence, and having in the present 129
15B. Negative verbs of being, presence, and having in the past 130
16. Forms of the verb 'say' 131
17. Past, nonpast, and converb of impersonal verb 'be hungry' 132
18. Some useful sentences 133
19. Amharic text: Prodigal Son 135
20. Amharic text: Love unto the Crypt 138
21. Amharic text: History ofthe Ethiopian People 141

------- --------------------------------------------,
Appendix 1. The three pronoun sets
Independent pronouns 1 Noun-possessive Verb-object
suffixed pronouns suffixed_Eronouns
1 Jl~ ine n.-t bet-e )'1~'1 n;)g~rcl-nn
:-- r-- I my house --;;----l--=-h-=e--=to'-ld_m
m h'lJo ant;.} n.+u bet-ih t1~u n;.}gg;)r~;::i:l _____ _
f 1. ,.~--a-n--::c::i--------l-n.-=-=-+-=11=-=b-e-=--t--:-::i~~--~--:--t,--~":':'lf=--n;)--'g=g'--;.}-rn--,-s:;------1
2 ll~~/llch~/h'l~
pol iss-wo I irs-wo I antu2 n.+~ bet-wo )' 1 ~~+ n;)gg;.}f;.}-WO(t)

! Plural
!------' ------" .. ". -- ......... ...... -------"-----"" --- - - - - - - - -..--3-"" ,. " ... --
:1 Jl"'i' iihla 0.:1-':f'l bet-accin t1~..,.
2:.~ ...... _)2~.,. ---~~n-~~~--~-:.~:::~--~--~--~~t_':f~:~.~~-~~a~-~~~~~t.':frt. ___~~gg_?~-ac~ihu_..-__
Jl )'ll I Jl tell-
inn3-ssu I inn~-rsu

1. As direct objects, the independent pronouns are suffixed by the definite object
suffix -n (3.2.6).
2. anlu in the dialects ofWello and Gojjam.
3. Compare )'1C'l n;)gg;.}r-n 'we told'.

Appendix 2. Numbers and numerals
0 1 and
i: 2 hul~tt
J:: 3 sost
ll 4 arat
~ 5 ammist
]; 6 siddist
% 7 lliJlt' s~bat
!!: 8 ilfD'llt' simmint -
lltn'1 ....... -.. .... ~t~ihl
---xll ---To9 OJPC assir
---:?i -- ----1T "tJPt.'lS': -- --asrand
a-- i2 'ffPi.--v.K:r-- asra-tiut~tt
- i -- --2o-- .,-y- --- - -iiaya ____
----~~ ---- - 2i ij-y-"i,'li:. haY"ciand
~t-- 22 ---.,,--v:A:,. ha-ya--t1uiait

~~:0: 121 oP+ 'I Y h'l P: m~to hoyo and

IN\+ oo+ hul~t m~to
221 'I Y h'lS': haya and
--!I 1000 - . if.- -- ~i
- ~,.;:---~-- -- - --- - n: .
;;;+- - ---~~ arat-mato
~.~~- I
-~~:~~- _____ I43s _1 IP~~----~,.,_?.!__ --~~~~ ~!rnmin!

Appendix 3. Months of the year and days of the week

~-- . ---
~--fill~ h l.,., ! Thirteen Months
ffiQSkQrnm (begins) September II or 1~
I t'iqimt October II or I2
__ -4_C,_-+-__h...,i=-d_ar_ _ .l November 10 or 11
~~UI iP tahsas December I 0 or I 1
'PC t'irr January 9 or 10
lriit+ yQkkatit February 8 or 9
oo;~a.+ ffiQggabit March 10 or JJ
Dt.f11.f miyazya Apri/9 or 10
'1'lfl+ -- ginbot __M_qy 9l!! 10 -------
,., ~ s~ne June 8 or 9
-- -- i----------:--:---------
th lJD I\. - .. hamle July 8 or 9
nQhase August 7 or 8
)' thll.
~-._,.. -:-~-:--
. -- ---- ---
p'agwim~(n) - _______S!.P.__te__m..;.~b--er__6;;... - - - -

The Ethiopian calendar follows that of the ancient Egyptians, so months approximate
those of the 'Julian' calendar of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Each month has 30 days
except for the 13th, p'ag'"ime(n), which has five days, or six every four years ('leap
years'), when the other months begin on the second-listed day in the table. The origins of
the month-names are unknown except for p'ag ..ime(n), which derives from the Greek
epagomenai 'inserted days'. Such absence of etymologies is suggestive of the antiquity
of the Ethiopian calendar.

---=--~~~--- . --"-----------
:---rD;..:a;:,r.y~s ofthe Week
. ---n-q. 8QM<>--- --.. . -

--Of"nll~--- -- maksQJ'h'io Tuesday

rnbu? I rob Wednesday
""' oo/1 hamus Thursday
--..-----+---------- --------. .--..-
'tC-11 or~------ _____E!_~dfi).'_ _____,
'P~"t qidame Saturday
,___~_th__~_ __.__.__ ihud --l---s~-~

Ma/r.sgififo 'Tuesday' is thought to be from magist sgifiJo 'next (after) Monday';

rgbu? /rob 'Wednesday' has the root for 'four', so 'fourth day'; and hamus 'Thursday'
has the root for 'five'. 'Saturday' and 'Sunday' appear to be shortened from qidame
~ sgnbflt 'preceding Sabbath' (Saturday) and ihud sflnbgt 'first(-day of the week) sabbath'
(Sunday) as in Ge'ez.

Appendix 4. Time and telling time

iI Hour in Equivalent time in
Time in Amharic
I Amharic I
English (a.m. & p.m.)
I "'JPt. 11-1\,. ll't,. asro hul~tt sa?at 12 six o'clock
I h"l1: fl't'r and~?at I seven o'clock
11-M- fl't-t- hul~tt s;.)?at
- 2 eight o'clock
Y"lt,. fl't+ sost S<J?at 3 nine o'clock
. --
.ht.,. ll't,. arat s;.)1at I 4 ten o'clock
hf'"lt'\'" ll't-t-
_,..,_.. a.mmi:st SQ1at 5 eleven o'clock
f----- 1-----
111:-lt'r ll't.,. siddist s~?ai- 6 twelve o'clock
fl'l'r ll't"t sabot sa?at 7 one o'clock
lt,...,,. fl't'r
-- simmint s~?at 8
two o'clock
rlm'1 ll't'r ~t~nii s;.)?at 9 three o'clock
OI,"C fl't+ asstr s~?at 10 four o'clock
- 11 --
"'JPt."l1: ll't:r- asr-an(f'Sa?at five o'clock

Times may be distinguished as q:m 'day, tlwat 'morning', mala 'afternoon, evening',
miit 'evening', and lelit 'night'. A quarter hour is expressed as, for example, arat s~?at
k~rub 'ten-fifteen' (rub 'quarter'), and a half hour as, for example, and s~?at t~kkul
'seven-thirty' (ikkul 'half, equal, middle'). These and times additional to and less than the
even hour are exemplified as follows:

Time in Amharic Equivalent time in English

kg- f oWQ/U QSrQ hu/Qff S~?a/ 'six o'clock in the morning'
k~-miitu hul~tt s~7at 'eight o'clock in the evening'
k~-miUitu hul:Xt s~?at k-assir 'eight-ten in the evening'
k~-lelitu z:X'~ifn s~?at kg..haya 'three-twenty in the night'
assir s~?at k:;,-rub 'four fifteen' (a.m. or p.m.)
and s~?at t-:Jkkul 'seven thirty' (a.m. or p~m.)
k:J- t .watu 1-arat s:J?at ammist gudday 'five minutes to ten in the morning'

Bilingual time telling. Because of the problem of translating times whether word-for-
word or as equivalents of time, when times arise in bilingual conversation in Amharic
and a European language, clarification may be provided as (b~)awroppa aqqot'at'~
"(in) European counting' or (b:r)ityopp'ya aqqot'at'~r '(in) Ethiopian counting, for

fb:r)awroppa aqqot'at':- hul:Xt s~?at 'two o'clock in European counting' (thus eight
in Ethiopian counting)
fb:r)ityopp 'ya aqqot'at':Jr sost s~?at 'three o'clock in Ethiopian. counting' (thus nine
in European counting)

--- -- --~---

Appendix 5. The twelve v~rb types in six forms

Verb subjects are Sg.3m. ('he/it') except for imperatives with Sg.2rn. ('you' (Sg.rn)) subject,
and infinitives without subjects.
------- --
Past Nonpast Imperative Jussive Converb Infinitive

1. )1l. .r.t"'C '1'1C I .r._'1'1C tu: OD'1'1C

told yi-nagir nigQr yt-ngQr m;,gr-o m~-ngQr

2. Lf\1 I .r.LA"' LA"' .r.LA"' I LA'l tJDLf\"1

wanted i yi-fuiJig f~llig yi-fullig mllig-o m~-fa1lag
3. .,.l.
- ,r..rpc

.... -----
4.flr -fl.r. n.r. .r.fl.r. fl.r..,. oonr+
separated yi-layy layy yi-l~yy l~yyit-o roo-layyat
5. ",.,

6. {ll')
---- --- -- r-:et\t) {\I')
--- ,r.{lt) 1\hof ODf\l')t-
measured yi-lakka lakka yi-l~kka lakkit-o ma-lakkat
7. 1/otJD
-- .r.+'l" J!'J" .r-11'1" 'I! 'I" 00+9"
stood yi-qom qum yi-qum qum-o m~-qom

.r.'LI!: '1.1!: - .r.'l.l!: 'l.Jt tJO'LI!:

8. 'L~
went yi-hed hid yi-hid hi d-o ma-hed
9. l)tJD
-- .r.ll'l" 1),. ,r.l),- 11'1'" oal)? ---
, kissed yi-:sim sam yi-sam sim-o m~-sam
- . ....iJcti ........
10. lll.h
- - ...... - . -
lien-- ~iiclf. -diiii"lff
barrgka blessed yi-barrik bark yi-bark bark-o ......... m~-bamk
--------- .
11. IJIIIlhl.
.... -
"j..OD"hC -- .. -iiiia ,.,..ifnc . -
tic - OD/IhC ODOD/lhC -
testified yi-masakkir maskir yi-maskir maskir-o ma-maskar
! 12. ff);J
. - .. ........ _.
.r.lft ;J
-;;.,~-- ..
' .r.lf');J,.,...,.,. ODif');J'Jo
1.-~~gga .. Jforgot I
........ --- -- -
.. !.!.!~~~~~ . ....... ------.. - --. --- ....
~ng-it-o ma-~nga-t

Appendix 6. Example verbs of the twelve types
This list of example verbs of the 12 types (, in Sg.3m. past-tense fonn, iS
provided as a basis for practicing, across the types, a variety of verbs in the different
conjugations. There are more verbs of some types than others, and types I and 2 are most
common. Verbs whose English translations are ambiguous for transitivity, such as
'broke' and 'opened', are marked (vt) 'verb transitive' or (vi) 'verb intransitive'.

I 1. Ul.-type (A-type) 2. d.l\'1-type (B-type)

I. )'U, ngggam told ..

~----- ~-
d.f\'1 fgllggg wanted
------ - - - - -- --- . ---
1 oaai\ mg~la resembled h"fh aih'fgkg chewed
ihd.i" kgffuta opened (vt) han ossgbQ thought
zaffgDQ h+oo attQmg
---- .. .publish~t!. .. . ..............
llfd.t . sang -
t R. h,. -- ~=-----
cbkkgmg gollired
..... - -
aR.i\ bQdcblg mistreated
: lftll zamwoo fi-t)' bQUQDQ
rained - scattered (vt)
hJU. oddgrn passed the night aJ.d.l. ~'affQrn danced
ml.1 t'arrgga swept QJ.tJIIl, ~'gmmgrn addedf!E)_ ____
fllll. 8Qboorn broke (vt) /AtJDi" ~'gmmg~ was calm
lll.R. bQrl'Qda cooled (vi)- ml.ll ~QIT3SQ finished (vi/vt)
hd.i\ kgffg}g paid 1.'14. dggggfg supported
--- --------
-- - dal.lUllQm
(DR,.,. fell added (up) (v!l
aol.m mgrmt'a chose __ ..
_______ hhOD okk3IIlQ treated
Ill..,. S311'3q3 stole
___________ -- ...... 4./.0D fQrl"Qmg ------ signed
_,. r---'"'--------
--- qgtt'gm
. --
4.AOD fgss'gma
-- . .
-------------" . dgri.Jgg-
hired ...... . completed_{~--- ..

arrived l"-Z Jgmmgrn began (vilvt)

hilt azmna grieved (vi) 'IODI ggmmg~ estimated
/t.ODR, l3IIUI1Qd3 .E_ot used If!. ....... mat ~ssang decided
R.l..,. da~qa
-- dried('!!)______ 1\00) ---- -lQillm.ani ......... ---~-----

1--- ... be_g_g_(!!____ .. ----..

dllh~ makkara advised ... Jgwwat'a chang~_j!_t) ___ .
--- -----~---- ~--- - .
-----~- ' .... -.
--~-- ...
om.,. awwgqg__ ... knew ODI\1} mgllasg _!J._!E!!!~~,(vt) ___ .
------~-- .. ------~--- - - ---- r----:-- .. ---------
hl.fl Qr!QSQ plowed Oil~.,. IIlQrraqa blessed ----
hOD) ommgng believed ,.,hl. mokk:ara tried
---------- ....... --------------- - ........ ------ --- -u--- - -

'hl.4. arrgfa _ ~ested (vi)_ . -- 1"1.(1 q?ddasa __ - . .~q}J..~iJ!.e.~- ---

- -------- ----- -------
AM allafg passed J!!) __ .. . . . . .,.mi\ _qatt'gla ... contmue.t!_{vt) _ .
------- --- ----- --
luna ott'aba washed (vt) 1"Vl. qayygrg
- - - - ------- --- --- .... - - - ---- ~!!!_!l_ch~!! (vt) --- --
'f'l.ll qarl"QbQ .approached Al\f s'allayg - prayed
.. ---
dJ(fR, wassada took 71'4.) t.:lffan.g .~!.f!PP~ti. .. .........
-- --------- ----------- .. -- - ----------
tiJl,R, warrada descended '111\,. ~llgma mvarded
------ .... ---- -- ----- - - - - ----
put on ma.,.
I:::~~: --T~:;:ed
AlJ(f l3bb38Q
- - ..l.tatT.;,fa- .. - . Survivei{~i; . mr.,.
.of-l.4. I

Appendix 6, continued


[_~-= 3. 1"<::~-(A~type)
. -

.. __ 4. 1\r-type (B-type)
; 1"l. tprro remained ltr 1;,~ se!JE!atedJyt)
llm ~tt';, ... --gave ir'f ~iii}.) accompanied
----- ,,_____ ,__;_, __ .......___ -----.-----r:--" --------r-----'------------"
hf ay~ saw +r qoy~ waited
-oaif----------ng~~------ - was evening cr"f - waiiif;, 3wam --
-~-- ---~~Q"--- ...... __ shaved ii'P: haJJ;, ----wa~-~table

I 4-Q;J. fu~~;, _E!'OUnd UJ!.. ern w~~ lied

4.~ .. _
. !.?.JJ;,
used up (vt)
fled (vi)
i 5. tl"7-type (A-type) 6. 1'\'1-type_ (B-type)

l~r:-- ~-:. -::~~~~:::~1:~-=--:r-:;

' lflllnt m~tt'a came .,...,__ q;,mma snatched
lDnt ____ w;,tt'a ,_.. went out +IJ _ tgkka _ r]aced
Pt. S3rra worked .,.,. _ :.'!~~~ ........... Enn.l!..!~.~~!!..
11 ... -~~ .. b~uiii...:.~:~ . . . -..... i\;1 .......... lagg~-------- -----~!~E---. - ... - ..
: l.'l_ .. __,_ ~~sa forgot _ ,.,., SQWWQ sacri.flced
7. +on-type 8. Y.~-type
1-:------.---------,-~:---:---l--:;---=-------- - ....... -------------- .. ----
+oo . qoma.. --~~ood~Jl....... _....... Y.~ .. -- bed;,_______ went___________ _
-- -+-.h_-o_n_a___-t...:b_e.:..;cam-:~e'------ t:r;~,tl .-... -~'as;, ... smoked (vQr_
1----- mota died If.., zega w~s subject1 .... ----
em rot'a ran irm ~t'a sold
--qoz_----.. - 'iio~.. 1iveii ...... --- ----------,:" . --~- -----~;;,:~looils"h-
:!-. . --.. it~ . . . _. -i~7.-~2i~~~--:~=~- ~:r:.z~~~~ ~aE?__ --- was__generoy!___ __
fasted ___ _ _!~ . !?w?... __ ....... _MJJ~. ___ .......... .
ii'i\ ~ala was sharp =F'h ~ka was stubborn

-1. 'be ruled, be tribute payer'

See types 9-12 below.

Appendix 6, continued

9. ilDDtype 10. 'll. h-type

,_ soma kissed 'll.h b~lm blessed
hi\ ala said ;JI\a gallQ'bQ galloJ!...ed (vt)
111/\ t'ala
- --
threw ;Jan gabbQZQ
1..:!.'~------r:-ya~za__ ____ held fill l. h -t-m--:--:011"3=--k::-~--+-'-f;a_..rp_JIU11_ed_'-----J
I ;I=/\ ~ala was able 111d.m t'affQt'Q was sweet
~- saqa laughed filii\~ mallQdQ was daybreak
II) dalr.:l got well fill ll) ma~IlQ weakened (vi)
1. "~--- ____ ~~~~-- __ -----~~ed day ..._____ _lint. ____ dabbQrn___ thrived ______ _
I oAJ.t ~allQ loaded :Pill qa~m moaned

r. ~~~ . =::ty~-- -~ _~-=~p:<L _ _ _

: +td.ll
_-~~-~~~~---- gathered ............!!.~~--------bQrnt~_ . . _ .~f!.S slro".l_ ___ .... .
mnQ:f:fQsSQ . breathed Ut;J ZQnQgga fot:E._ot
rtDi hl. t~~QkkQrn was strong _ n1 gQnQbba built in stone
i (JJl,(JJl. WQrn'W\Wrn threw ~ t'l dQn~bba ass!z!!_ed
: lltn+ sgnQboob slf!i!dfew days Ul.;J ZQrngga stretched (vt)
i::~~ i::;:~ -;;:.red_
1llii-.. ,--ino8Q~iQ--
___ ::J:- :;::: - :!ted(vl)--
r;"iUibiishei_ ..... ... n-iil-- ------ kgnooda ~Osw-eJ

1. measured by forearm

Appendix 7. The twelve verb types in the past
(Long consonantS underlined)

I. t1 2. 4.1\1 3.... 4. "'

I s. 11..., 6. ftiJ
told wanted remained separated . heard measured
f-=-;--:-~--------- ---------- - --------- ------- ---'------------- ----- -----
.,.l.rJo ..
1"l.tJ "'"" .=-~~1I ,.,,.,""
1"l.7r-- ..... -;-=----
ll"7tJ__ ,---- --=--- -

f UC7r 4.1\"'lF 1\fi'f I llOIJ7r 1\tai'f
t1? 4.1\.,. 1"? .1\h-
~-------- --=--- - -
-~z . -ttf."''
"' -- -,--it~~if .
-1- l)tJDo --!:'::- .. - ...

3 f
m )1{.
U'f --
-=--- ---=-=--~--- ,Lftl'f -- . '1-l:Sf'. -i\,*-.. . . r~tOIJt--
' ftta
ttti~-- --I
- _P~L
)'1? 4.1\.,. 1"? 1\f ! I)OD- 1\tl

7. 'lOll
-----------r----- - - - - - -
8. .,.,..
9. Y.R.
10. IJ~h
-~- I I. OD(Ihl.
I testified
12. ll'i ;J

I. The Sg.l suffix h-/ rJe and the Sg.2m. suffiX h I tl have k after consonants
and h after vowels. However, rJe and tJ may be written even though 11- and h
are pronounced.

:ppen~~~ 8. Negative past; nonp~~t, a~d-l
jussive (Long consonants underlined)

---~--l- r:g.~~'!ell'
------ ___ .)~~ .. _ j Nonpasf I Jussive.r-
ry- htt)1Ch-,_-
!-- ..... -r-:.--- -=---==-- ...... --~~~:!~~
hA'l1C 4
--r hi!\ )1ChfD
-,-h" 'ri.ciiiP _____ - -

pol.l. ~-~!;!_<.fD -- ... ~~ )"'_~(f2_ _1~~71?

1- ! m j ht\)1~,.- h.e)"IC(9B) __ h.e'l1C
i3 if i hl!\)1~lfr L~IJ-t"lc(f:t __ ~~.,c 5
1..~"'~1~_,., ____
J l..e)"l?(!:} --~?1?
Lt~I ' hAt ~;r:'l9-
;..,.,,c;-s ..-
i-.. . . . . l""'-~~~-~--
hi!\) 1~lfl},., ,.::,..,-,?"
_r,.,l'.)"l?_(~t hi'l1?
_ --- ... --

--- -----
Root bla 'eat'
.:=:-..:=... T=.=-~~---=c- ~onpast .. ....LJ~sive
~g~~~~..---- -- ...... . ..--- .... ~... ----...
.I . ....... '"""-= .....htta'\J!:}
hAU'\fHD ____ "S ....... -- hA-ll'\
.... ..... ~

m hAa'\ur htra~
....... . ... -=--== ... --- ---- ...... - htr-a'\..........) ... -
2 f 1atta'\lrr h+a.e{~) h.rr-av..
po( hAaf\o,.. h.eaf\o~J h~-af\o ..
m htta'\,.. h.e.-tJ'\
f hAa'\'f90.. .. --~~-~~{!:)r . --s---
3 ...--:==--. -~::. . ~:tn'\_{!:}. .. .. h"rU'\

31W' -
pol httaf\or . h.eaf\o(r)
1 - . - -t::~~~- -~=-~~~( . t::z'--
1. Negative past is affirmative past prefixed by hA- and as a main verb suffixed by -'JD.
2. Negative nonpast is affinnative minor-verb nonpast prefixed by h- and as a main
verb suffixed by_,.,,
3. Negative jussive is affirmative jussive prefixed by h-; negative imperatives are equi-
valent to negative jussives.
-!-. Sg.l prefix of the negative nonpast and jussive is A- instead of~- of the affirmative
5. + and "t of the subject prefixes are ordinarily long in negative imperatives and
optionally long in other negatives.

Appendix 9A. Six verb types in the minor-verb
non past
(Long consonants underlined)

t1l. (A- ~/11 (B-type) 1"~ (A-type)

Affixes type)
wanted remained

-7-i -~-_---.-~....~yt-~.~:_.:. . .:~ :.0...... ~.--. -: :"!-:-:~: :-~..-:--_-~---... !'::"'"_!':"'=:~=-:::-.~~~~~~~~:=:::~=------------.j

_+!! 1--=

I l
"r. (B-type) 1
~----,:-'-=~ffl=Ix;;.;_es;;;.._.L-....;;s~epc;,;ja=-~=ated I
a, <A-type) 1 ;.,. cs~type)
heard measured
~~::.:l.::;:;;:ar:__,._ _,_,
KM hllllll ht\'1
1 ):-... I separate I hear I measured

1. Sg.2f. suffix -i palatalizes a preceding coronal consonant except

2. 'l of the Pl. I subject prefix is optionally long.

. . ~---- -~--

Appendix 9B. Six verb types in the main-verb non past
(Long consonants underlined)

~--c-- "111.. (A-type) 4.~1 (B-type) 'P~ (A-type)

I told wanted remained

i-...-all~hu ~.,..,~~1}< 114-A;J~IJ- ,..,~~f)

1 /want /remain
m t-... -allah :r"l"l~I'\U "r4.L\;JI'\U :r1"~1'\U
t-... -i-olla~ 1
2 f -- .. -- ---- -- "r4.L\'1.Y~'lt :r'P~YI'\'If
- -1 ---------="-
J!,d.L\;Jfr J!,'l'
pol y-...-allu ____
- m _y-... -all J!, ., ., t." J!,d.t\;JL\ ,...,.~"
3 f
- t-... -alla~~
-- ,. ., .., ~ 1'\:lf - "r4.L\;JI'\'/f
~----:- --- --
pol y-...:~aHu ,...,.,~fr ,_..4-A;Jfr J!,'l'
-Plural - --
--- .....

h'})"l~~'} ,.'}.,.~~'}

. )'-. .

. ......)"l~fr ..
. .1'\f. . _.(B-type)
... ~4:\j~"ifri-

___ ------r--.llDil
,..4.~,~/r ........._. ~-!~~-
--)1. _ ------ ----
. .--------

1'\'tJ (B-type)


I Affixes ''l seoarated heard measured

Singu~~. _
1 , t-... -all~hu hfiYfUJ ~ll"'' ~I}< hfl't)flrJ-

2 f
m t-....... -ollah .
_______ ,_

t-... -i-alla
--- I seoarate
--~1\.f~~--- - .

'iJ:i)"'tii\ii-. --~fl't)l'\~ -----

. ..
-- .P..~-~- x~.- -':'nu .... -~1'\YI'\. .. L~ll"''f! ----- J!,t\'t)t\o
.. _m
. ____ .1:=-::.~ll-- .... J!,I\YA ! J!,lliiiJA .efl'tJA
.... ---
3 --f -- t-... -alla~~ -!_MI\'if ..... -... --1----=------
: :rt)"'Jflif"""'-- :rt\'ttl'\2f
--. -~------ ---~---
pol y-... -allu J!,I'\Y~ .... _!_~llfJfl~ .et\'t)~

- _ _
- - - - _---:-c-_ _ _ -

r=-r~~~~~l =~~r r;~;1~: ~!~~l~-~

1. Sg.2f. suffix -i palatalizes a preceding coronal consonant except r (2.1.6).
2. ") of the Ptl subject prefix is optionally long.

Appendix 10. Six verb types in the jussive and imperative
(Long consonants underlined)

-. --- I --"ij_t.-(A--typ~)-- d.!J7 (B-type) 1"~ (A-type)

. told wanted remained
---!-.Affixes Juss. __ .___ lli!!Q'--"-e.:;_r_.. __o_:_J=us=:s_r_....._.-._--~~~--m_-t-"-p-"""'ce-r'----;'-'J-:::_u:ss====:Im:;:t:pce:r~
1-. let me
let me tell lei me seek
m --~-:.-- .. --- "l7C &.t\"1 ! -- ,;pc

- . ___ ---~~t--~-~~~.,~~1 pe,--_r~~~.~-1~i:4) __
Affixes Juss , Imper j_!uss , Imper I Juss __ lmper

1. Sg.2f. suffix -i palatalizes a preceding coronal consonant except r ( 2.1.6).

2. Jussives of B-type verbs are equivalent to nonpasts except for Sg.l prefix A- of
jussives vs. ~- ofnonpasts.
3. The Pl.3 (= Sg.3 polite) jussive functions as the Sg.2 polite imperative.

,------- -------- -------- -------------------------,I

I Appendix-ItA. Six verb types in the minor-verb converb I

(Long consonants underlined}

,.1l. <A-type)
r .~..~., <B-type)
. .
1"l. (A-type)
-- - ----.-------
I ,. .., t:.
--. -- -----------
4.A'1. cpc:! I

... -:e I, telling I. wanting I, remaining

, .. -Qh t"fl.'V
4.t\1'V 1"c+u
.. -Q
--- -
,..., l.Ti
_ , _ _ _ ., - ... u ----
--~A17'i ___ ----- ---------------1:
... -QW
- t"fl.aJ. 4.t\1tD- '1-c+m- i
4.A1 .,.c.,.
1 3 f
m ... -o
... -a
t"'lt- ....... 4-t\;:J 1"C:I- ---1
k.:- pol -- ... -QW t"'ll.tD- ~t\1tD-_ 1"c+m-

1~~:~- ::1?:----~
------ -~- -- - -- .... --------
~-~-- :::-~~~~ihu --}~-i~fj.
:-r------1 ~~- --~:!-~~ I -:: ..... , . - - .. - I
: /\_f(B~tYpe) 1 11D1J_ (A~type)J. t\t, <il~tii>e)
1 i
_ __j__!lfflxes _separat~--- __lrearq measured ~-
Singular-r---- -..,--:;;~..- - - ,~---- --.--:;:'i:"'i".--
.1 . I
! ...-.e
1\.e.~ 119"~
. I, separating I, hearing
/,measuring i
m ! ... -Qh M+'V 119"1-'V tlh+'V
----- .. . .. ---- . . . "---=-------- --... . . "----- . ------- ---=----------- --- J'
2 f ... -Q~ 1\.e.H'f 119'"1-i'f tlh+7i I
-- ...P~!.. -=:.:~-~-- .... -~.e.+~ --------- --~~!~-------- llll+co:__ - .I
3 tr:!; ~: i;~ ~ *~~ :=~: ~:;,g;=~
_____ L.,..:;.....-._ . _.!_ - - - --~------ -- '-------- - - - - --~ ~ ----~ _ _ ,.J

-r-~-~ :::~~ P~~~- r~!~-. t~~--_j

_3____ ____
.:::~~--- _!a.e.'!'_':!!:_____ - . -~~~-~------ ~~+~ i

l. Sg.l suffix -:e palatalizes a preceding coronal consonant except r


Appendix llB. Six verb types in the main-verb converb
(Long consonants underlined}
4.!J.1 (B-type) "l"l.
Suffixes told wanted remained

m ... -~h-all "l''ll.?A 4.A1'/A "I"C+'IA

2lf ... -~8-all '1'1/."tfA .. _4.A1~A__ ---~c,.?ft!\
1 pof -~.;;;~<in- . )~l..Pt\ LA19'A .,.c.,., A
j m ...-w-all'' _1_'1'1_Z:......:A=---1-d.......:A=-Pr=A=------ __
3 f ... -all~<!<! "1'1t-.o! 4.A;Jtllf "I"C:N''lf
pol ... -~w-all "1'1l.'l't\ LA"I'f'A "I"CI'f't!\

1 ... -~n-oll "l"ll.'i"A 4.A1'i"A .,.C.,.'i"A

2 ~:::O&iiiU~ciri ~ t;;~~~-A il\?'if-:-.t.. -;;;c:~-~-:-.t\- -

---..-..-L . . ~~!!!~~! ....J..";~:;.::.~>.l -----------....---------1

Sin2ular ----..
. .~~-~'!.._....... --~~e~~;::>_-

1\~'iiY fjiJ- ~ ,.,'iiy 1\IJ- of\ h :ri.f'_of\v-

... .:.:e-Yall~hu1 I have - -
~-- t ed
sepura I have heard I have measured
-=--:-~=?----t--~--==----+-=--,-==--- ... -.........
__ ., pol . ...~w-all 1\$!-+.,.A ~,.,_,.'PA 1\h+'PA
2---...... -.. --- ................... --=-..-=-----
m ...-w-all 1\$!-'J:A ,..~:I:A 1\h'J:A
3 f ...-allOCf M?NF 7tjii~7\lf-- ....... -of\-=h::...::l-=ll=-'F-----1

1. Sg.l suffix -:e palatalizes a preceding coronal consonant except r

2. Sg.3m. suffix -o > w (labializing the preceding consonant) before a

~peodlx 12. Verb of being
(Long consonants underlined)

1:Sin~ ~- :. ~lar.. c--~~s~~i".I~-~~ :_I~ ..~-J=-f~_{ma:i~ ver~L

---.. ;--- - - ____ ...... -.--- :-
I ,.., I am )nett /was hll''i"l\11- I will be
tv . . - -~nd1 ...........--.;.ll''i"i\il-- . --
lfIJ''f..Y 1\lr
m )aJo ,.nt. ---
- )ftt.'f ~ll''i"A
3 1--- )'fl I 'i"+ lJrF'i" 1\':f
,.n-""- ~lr'i"lr

-- )RC')

h ')IT'i" 1\')
.. _
~-- --
2 'i":r-'11" ,.n~:f:v- +II' 'i" "'FIJ"
'i"faJo ~ll''i"l'r
3 ----.. )R"-

1. 'i""r is ,._+object suffix pronoun -alf-; )'f is ,._ + Sg.3f.

regular past suffix _g;: (3.7.4).
2. Also "rii''1Yfj_71'.

-- - --- . - -

Appendix 13. Verb of presence

(Long consonants underlined)

. ---r_---prege-nt - r --- I>asr____l ___ --Future

~: ~~t-=1~~~.:1 ;:i
:rr ~~m~ ~~f*~ ~!~
II be

~ h!f"" - I )ft? ---~

! M't.{J ....
~- f =i:~=
lpoi""'i -hi\-
- -m~-=- if~
_; -,.11<- - --..-.. _,-jiq. t.{J

~ .. -
Plural -- --
1 hi\')
- h'\'fv-
)'fiC') J ~.,.
2 _, ____ )llt.'f~~=~-.. -1 ,.,..
__ )'II<. __J "''~'

1. The verb
""'h.O ------.

has present meaning but the form of

the past.
2. Verbs of presence and being are the same in the past.
3. Also tr'l'CJ'.01f.

Appendix 14A. Verb of having in the present

(Long consonants underlined)

____ .......... Sg.rn.'itiiug-[-- Sg.f. thiilg-r Plurafthlngs

__ ossessed __ _ possessed ! _ possessed
-~1-~arh:i\-, -
--- -~ia?i1F'if
I -
1 have it m I have it (f)__ I I have them
2 ~ ~~l:
-- . . . . . . . . . ,..,. _ _ _ .,
- . . -~~t - -
.. ,. ---=::"" --- . --
, _ _...,..,,.,.,.--

3~ ~~; T~i- ttt~
4-- -~
w1i: - t~{~
!. h'\=Fm- . hl\7:r:m-

Appendix 14B. Verb of having in the-past
(Long consonants underlined)

-- __,._____ .........!'

_________ ________________ ..___________


Appendix 15A. Negative verbs of being,

presen(cLoe, and having idn t1 ~edp) resent .I
ng consonants un er me 1

:. . . . . . . J __- : ~.e!!!L__ . r _Presence___ ----l=]jaY.Lti.. . _ --

--~ingl~f!I:. h"tj.f1iJ.'I"....... Vf11JoiJD ------ -- f"rt\"f9D____ -....
_. _ I arr}_~ot I am not present. . I don 't have it.
2 --r- - ~~-~i\nfiD . . - - it..w;- f~ffijrt
. po(--hi~~ fhf'" - r~,_,+,.
m h~R.i\tpo . f/\IJD- f/\aJ.,..-----

~~[ -~~--i~~ - I~~~~-- . --~~fr.:~:-_:~~:. .
=t~]~trif~ ~::~-~~-=:-
1. Exemplified is Sg.3m. thing possessed.

Appendix 15B. Neg..tive verbs of being,
presence, and having in the past
(Long consonants underlined)
Being and
Presence' Havini
hA)l!CR-~ h t\)' !!l.:1r
I Iwasnot I didn 't have it.------
hAtncli~- ....... hA)'nt.vr-
2 f hl\)ncw9'- hA.,a t.w-,..
pol hA.,n?,. hA.,nt.ra+~
m hA.,nt.SJD .. hA .,nt.CJJo9P ......
- ... -
3 f h"A.,at.=F,_... hA.,n~+r-

.~L.. -hA.,n?,.~---------~---~
.. --- -- ..."":"":"!'.-.:=.---=---
1... - .... hA., nc?,.
.......... -hA)a~.,-,-a . -
_;.___, __ -t.A"ia~""lH" hA., n~'FfHD i

3 hA.,n<-,.. hA., n~'TCJJo,..

1. Verb of being and verb of presence are the same
in the past.
2. Exemplified is Sg.3m. thing possessed.

II Appendix 16. Forms of the verb 'say'
(Long consonants underlined) !
t_ I i'aSi~ Jussive _;~~ Converb ~
l;i~=7!~-.l~~j;.~if.:'!:;i~- 11~l
! t _ .l~~--. - i ~f/'ir,. 1.~~- -~~~--. . :-~~-!.tii -~-;~~- .:::_j
2 ..
i,.... ~ '-1\

-ol hi\
._ I --.
.... --"'""'"--r:: : '-Uir
.......... .._... _... ,,._____
-111\CD<,_ ...... ..

i,.,_t.P ,.~;~ ~~--t!i-=:: 1:~f ~~:
. --~----. - ------ _._._ . _-
..!_:......,; ---
--. :r~
. ---:

K3~~~-~~-~. ----r -1 ~"' - - : :~ -

. . . I -a I\ CD-
-- __

1. As a question, shall/ say?

- --

Appendix 17. Past, nonpast, and converb of

impersonal verb 'be hungry'
(Long consonants underlined)

Past Nonpast Converb

~n-:2 ~cnytt. Cfll_A
1 lg_ot hungry I will be hul'!m_1 I am hungry
m t.tnJ ~C-IJ'/A CfiYA
- t."n'ii - --- ~c-n?fl\-
-- -----~- --
2 f CP7J'l\
pol t.IJJJI{.,.} ~C-IJJJI;I-A CPS'~ ;I-A
m t.IJCD- ~CIJ'f'A _., ___ ct:J-A
3 f
zq~--- - -- --- ~CIJ:I"t\ CI),;I-A

-~- - -. -- --- -~F":_T'f'A________ __f.'ff'PA" __
1-;_______ .. ......... '-- ..... ---- -~--. -----
1 ........ t.IJ") ~cnli"A ....... Cfl'i"A
2 . 't:tl':frJ.- ' ~C 11':f~-A = 2""''"''
3 t.IJ'fCD- ~CIJ'f-''PA C'li-'f'A"

1. I will be hungry or I am usually hungry,

2. bo-a> b1'a.

Ten impersonal verbs (Sg.l subjects)

t.n"f I am h_71,ngry .,,,.., I understand

niD,"f I am thirsty Dflalt'1 !think, ilie-~~ to me
hllfiDD"f I am sick R.hfJII'1 1 I am tired
{:flf"-'LJ:ti"'':J...J..foel (cold) 5'61"'1 I miss, I yea~n[or
~~ I am bo__ re_d___ hltd.lt1'1 it is necessary/or me

1. Also nonimpersonal verb R.h9"h-.

Appendix 18. Some useful sentences

Hello. (lit. May he give t'enay:i:st'illinn m.'i" ~h~t\"1 ''

(you) healthfor me.)
Good morning (Sg.2j). (lit ind~min add:;>rS h ") ~ ,.,.,. h~C'if?
How did you pass the night?)
Good morning (Sg.2m). ind~rllin odd~rk h ") R. ,.,.,. h.'?.Ch?
Good morning (Sg.2pol). ind~rllin oddaru h ") R. ,.,.,. h.'?.??
Good afternoon (Sg.2j). (lit ind~rllin wals h ") ~ ,.,.,. 'PA'if?
How did you pass the day?)
Good afternoon (Sg.2m). indamin walk h.,.~,.,.,. 'PAh?
Good afternoon (Sg.2pol).
How are you (Sg.2mlj)?
How are you (Sg. 2pol)?
indamin walu
ind~min nah I n~s
indamin n:;>wot
..,. ~,.,.,.

)'IJ I Hi?

Are you (Sg.2ml.f) well? dahina n~h I nas ~--.r; )'IJ I )''if?
Are you (Sg.2pol) well? d:;>hina D:;>WOt ~........ )'SJI.:'J?
Is everything okay? hullu d:;>hina n:;>w o-tr ~"''i' )'lD?
I'm fine. (lit. I'm well.) d:;>hina nann .(!. "''i' ,.., :
Thanks to God I'm fine. igzer yinun:;>sg:;>n h .., .. c ~Oil il'l'l

dahina n:;>nn ~"''i" ,.., ::

Everything is okay. hullu dahina naw o-tr ~ ..... 'i" ) liJo ::

Have a nice day (Sg.2m/j). dahina wall way ~"''i' 'P t\ I 'P .e ''
(lit. (You, Sg.2mlf) Pass the day well.)
Have a nice day (Sg. 2pol). dahina yiwolu .'?."''i" ~'PI'r::
Have a nice night (Sg.~f). dahino (i)dari ~;r; (h)~~
(lit. Pass the night well.)
Have a nice night (Sg.2m). damna (i)dar R."''i" (h)R.C::
Have a nice night (Sg.2pol). damna (i)d:;>ru ~........ (h)R.?::
Thanks. (lit I praise) ammasaggi:nallahu ~.ootl'"l'i" t\rJ- ::
Thank you. (lit. God igzi?obher yinunasgan ~.'"lllhtMa.C
be praised.) .e 00 {1'1") u
Yes. a won hsP'l::
No. (lit he I it isn 't present.) y~llamm Vt\tJD::
No. (lit he I it isn't.) ayd~llamm h.eR.t\tJD ::
(No,) I won't imbi htJDa...
(Okay,) I will. issi hit::
(It's) Good t':i:ru (n~w) 1'? ()'aJ.)::

Appendix 18, continued

(It's) Very good }x}t'am t'iru (oow)

Enough. (lit. It is I was enough.) }x}qqa ll?u

It's enough. yi}x}qoll ~11:1-l\::
Excuse (me). (lit. Pardon.) yiqirta ~:PC:/'::

How much is it? sint n~w ~ .,.,. )'CD-?

What (lit. how much) is the price? wagaw sint~w .,.;J CD- ~ .,.,. )'CD-?

How much is the food? migibu sint n~w ,..., flo ~ .,.,.. )'CD-?

It's expensive. widd nQW CJ)o 1!: )' CfJo II

It's not cheap. rikko! ayd3ll3mm ctalr h~~",. ==

What is your (Sg. 2j) name? simi:s man n3w ~ V"'lr Oil") )' CD-?
What is your. (Sg. 2m) name? simih man n3w ~,.\1 ,.,. )OJ?
What is your (Sg. 2pol) name? simwo man n3w It 9",. , ") )' OJ?
My name is (Marta). sime (marta) oow It,., (.., C:l-) )' CJ)o II
My name is (Yohannes). sime (yohannis) DQW ~..,. (f"da")/t) )(Do::

Can you (Sg.2j) ~peak Amharic? amari:rllla ti~iyall~

(lit. Can you Amharic?)
Can you (Sg.2m) speak Amharic? amarirllla ti~ilalloh hOifC"rJ' .,.2f'\ 1\\1?
Can you (Sg. 2pol) speak Amharic? amarirula yi~ilallu hiPJC"rJ' ~'f'\1\?
I can 't speak Amharic. amari:ID'l:a al~ilimm hl17cr:- hl\'f'l\,.::
Do you (Sg. 2j) speak Amharic? amarifu'l:a hlllfc"rr' +'1'1~YI\lr?
Do you (Sg.2m) speak Amharic? amarinna tinnagg3rall~h hOIIC"rJ' )'1'1~1\\1?
Do you (Sg. 2pol) speak Amharic? amarifhia yinnagg3rallu hdiJC" ~'1'1&-lt?

Wait (Sg.2mlf/pol)! qoyy I qoyyi I yiqoyu .,..e1 I +t!-1 I .e.,.~!

I don 'I understand. alg.:>bbailiiim hl\11J'1'J" II
Please (speak) slowly (Sg.2j). ibakkis q~ss }x}y h'lh'lr ~It n.e==
Please (speak) slowly (Sg.2m). ibakkih qgss bgJ hiJhV 1'/t Ill\::
Please (speak) slowly (Sg.2pol). ibokkwo tpss yioolu h 11hP' ~~ .elll\o ::

What time is it?

Where is (the post office)?
sg?at sint ngw'?
(posta bet) ygt oow?
ll't"r /t")"r )(Do?
(Tta;l- IL+} )CD-?
Where is the toilet? sinb bet ygt ngw'? 'lr").,. IL+ f+ )(Do?

No problem, ~iggir y31lgmm, 'f'7C fl\,.::

Appendix 19
h1JIJ"1- A~
Prodigal Son

The following. Amharic text with phonetic writing and translation is the well known
Bible story of Luke 15.11-32, written .in simple Amharic for school children and
published in Addis Ababa in 1971.

h7~ flaJ. IJtM A7'!f )O~t :: :1-ll'if- A1: h'lt7 ~11LU ilh- f\OD)(I)o ::
and ~w hu1~tt liJo~~ n~boorut. tonna~u liJ abbatun indih bilo l~mm~n~w
A man had two children. The younger son begged his father saying thus: "Ohfather,
<d,IJt U'1- ''J,1~1 rJtr f\"'1\'t ll&.A;:Jf\rJc :: {U\ILU tl11HiiU ilm"1 :: >>
"abbate hoy ag~run hullu l3may~t if3lligall3hu. sil3zzih k3g3nzabih sit'3ibl."
I want to see all ofthe country. Therefore give me some ofyour money. " His father was

hiJ~ Ot~~fll hH) :: )1C "11 111101 f\A:( flm :: tl1't.~ tiL 0'!\'\ A~
abbatu b3t'am QZZ3n3. n3gQr gin gQnZQbUn l~liju SQtt'3. kQt'tqit gize oohwala liJu
very sad However, he gave his money to the boy. A short lime later the boy had taken all

11Htl-1 IJttr CDll~ m~ ?:P h1C Y,~ :: OllffD h1C f\illl- O,DDt O~li:J
gQnZQbun hullu WQSdo WQdQ ruq ag3r hed3. b3ziyam agQr 13bizu a~t b3d3ssito
the money and gone to afar country. He lived happily in ihat country for many years.

it01m :: 111~ YOt llf\ )fllaJ. OH HfJOAT h1'1li' A~ \'h'11~1

t3q3mm3L'Q. bizu habt si:IQ n3bb3l'QW bizu zam3do~~ agQiln~mno li:Ju y3?abbatun
Because he had lots of money he acquired a lot ofdependents, and the boy squandered
11H11 001'1\ h'Jtl) :: )1C "11 otLJ'fD Me ~'\'P liJil lf)'i" ft\';q:
g3nzab oomulu abakk3DQ. nag3r gin ooziyam ag3r tallaq r.lhab honQnna YQ1iJu
all of his father's money. However, in that country a great famine happened and all the
'l'tH11 rJcfr hf\tOt :: J'A1DIIl flaJ. )fll'i" '1'1f0 JPt. h'\17f0 :: JPt.
ggnZQb hullu allQqQboot. yoltQmofQ SQW n3bb:;,fQnna minimm siro olagQiU'i3mm. siro
boy's money was used up. He was an uneducated person and found no work. As he

f\..&.A"' f\.&.L\"1 h7.P: 1fll. h1'1; 10l.aJ. illfo htaDIJ?-'f )O?.t :: fliLUfB
sif:;)llig sifQllig and gabQre agQiU'i:;). ggbarew btzu asamawo~c naboorut. bazihim
looked and looked for worA; he came upon a farmer. The farmer had a lot ofpigs. For
,-tn.rt \'1fll.m- ILt tltltdiJ(I)o ?'I> )f}l1: 10l.m- <<h.V. l\:(! JPt. hi\!
mikniyat. y:;)gQbarew bet k~katamaw ruq n3bbam. g3barew "ay liJe! sira allQ!
this reason the farmer's house was far from town. The farmer said, "Oh, my boy, there is

fllt h'ldlfsP7f -on- -i''(J)a :: co~ OIJ.'lco- 'L1:~ m-fi,,(J)a :: l.t,-
ya?ine asomowo(!c bizu noccaw. wacb medaw. hidinna t'abbiqa~~w. inenun
work! My pigs are many. Go to the meadow and look after them. And every day I will
nrto;. t.P'c ,..,...,. lln-r'la\rJo>> t.a\ =
bayy~q~nu ossir santim is~t'ihollQhu" alQ.
give you ten cents. "

hl"C lt1i!fD! COt. 1'1:! t.U 01.. itU 11C f'10l.(J)a (I(J)af,. ht1'1 Oft}
assir santim! WQY gud! yih bizu ~ih bir y~n:.:~bb:.:~~w s:.:~wiyye ahun ooyy:o~qQnu
Ten cents! So bad! This person who had many thousands ofdollars, shall he now get
hi"C f\1h,- 11~A? t.U 'tA~ (leo- not. ht1'1 hitO'JsPf1 1-mfi:JA?
assir sontim yagQnnoll? yih tilliq &'QW y:o~nQbbQm ohun osomowo~~in ytt'Qbbiqall?
ten cents each day? Will this person who was important now keep pigs? Does this person

.eu 'tAtr "JO'lf 11.l.1 (I(J)af. hiJ-1 fhltO'JsP7f 9""10 aufl'\'t 1-~A:JA?
yih tilliq gibm yodQITQga SQwiyye ohun YQ?osamowo~~ migib mQblot yifQIJigall?
who gave great feasts now want to eat the food ofpigs?
h11: t1 "J't A)l: l.1'l.U 111\- hOO:- <<Oh'li: ll.'t (I(J)a U<tr fDIJ.n'co-
ond QQD gin liJu i:ndih bilo assQoo: "oo?obbote bet SQW hullu YQmmibQqow
But one day the boy thought; saying "At my father's house everybody has enough food

9""111 ha\(J)a :: bt 11 fbi\.., 9""111 l\0'\a\U< :: ,_a\ILU CD1. h'li: IL't

migib ollQW. ine gin y:.:~?asoma migib ioolaUQbu. silQZzih WQl:b obbote bet
But here I eat pigs' food Therefore I will return to my father's house and be one of
tDDA'lt hh'li: IJ.It.t'll'f'l l.lT~a\11'>> ::
tam~lli!!e kQ?obbate SQOOtQJ'h1occ ondun ihonall:.:~hu."
the workers at my father's house. "
,_a\ILU A'( 011. b'l~ n.t toaa\0 :: llCO_,. 1-i' ~:p 'la\ b'l~ t.rco-~
si:l:o~zzih liJu WQd:o~ obbotu bet tQITlQll:o~sa. irsum gQnO ruq sollQ abbatu oyyawinna
Therefore the boy returned to his father's house. When he still far away his father
hH'la\t :: b'l~ Cm-i' t\'(1 'lf.lll :: 'tA't 111'1f h1.l1a\t :: fCDC'J> ta\Ot
ozz~n~llQt. obbatu rot'Qnno liJun samQ. tilliq gibzo odalTQgallat. yawQrq q~IQb~t
saw him and was sorryfor him. His father ran and kissed the boy. He prepared a great

Omco- ~= :1''\t A1: "11 RhCii )Ol. :: CD1. O.'r DD"r.Y. b11." UJ{,.t~ <<'-U
s~tt'Qw. tolloqu liJ gin oo?ir~a DQboo~. wadQ bet mQt'ito and sgratQilfio "yih
feast for him. He gave him a gold ring. But the older son was in the fields. Coming to the

fi1.P:1 )OJo?>> 11fro mft :: llrl.T 1111- g;a:'l\t )OliJ' :: IPt.t>r:'c&:-
mindin n~w?" bilo t'~yy3q3. k~bet bizu ~'uh3t n~boornnna. s~rat~nnaw:
house, he asked a worker, saying, "What is this?" There was indeed a lot ofshouting

<<W1.P:fllll lU\ 1-dlll\{1 hiJtU 0'1 hl..'.l\tiJ' ,fl'lf h.'.l'JI\T>> fltr

"w3ndimmih sil~ t~nn~ll3S3 abbatih ~g gibm ad3ITQ~l13t" bilo
from ...the house. The worker answered him saying "Because your brother returned your

oul\nl\t :: :t-"tt A1: '11 1-.Y.IIl'i" m.r. O.'t t\ou'1'1t hAm.r..r.r == hiJ"'
roo113s3li3t. tallaqu liJ gin mqott'anna ~d3 bet l~m3gbat alw3dd3d3mm. abbatu
father slaughtered a sheep and prepared a feast for him. " The older son was angry and

W'f.Y. W1., rl.T lt1.ct.1'1 1\0D)(I):: :J-'\t t\1: '11 <<lt)IT lt~ 1111- 'tou'l
~tt'ito w~oo bet indi~ba l~mm~n3w. tallaqu liJ gin "inn~ho ine bizu am~t
didn't want to enter the house. His father came out and begged him to enter the house.
h1~ 'ICY OILU,. },wt.I\IJo :: )'JC , , 0'1 1\h'& h"tl..P:U,- i '10'lf
ind3 barya b3zihimm is3ral13hu. D3~r gin ~g l3ne alall'Qdihim; gibw
But the older son said to him, "Look, I have worked here for many years like a slave. But
h"t.'.l."'\19"; fh'&1 HouA'f hAmt.UfP>> iltr oul\nl\t == h'l~ '11 <<AX.
alaoorl'Qghim; y3?inen Z3m~do~~ alt'3rrahim" bilo m3113s311~t. abbatu gin "li:Je
you haven 'I slaughtered a sheep for me; you haven't prepared a feast; you haven 'I

If'-! h'll IH\'UL hh'& ;:JC )U :: M,~ fiT) IN\ fh1t )(I) :: )1C
hoy! ant3 hulgize k~?ine gar n3h. l~?ine y3hOn3 hullu y37ant3 n3w. n3gar
invited my family. "But his father said to him, "Oh my son, you are always with me.
"11 '-U W11:fDU .,..y. )OC' m~ lt~ toot\{1 :: m~.Y. )OC; htn
gin yih W3ndimmih moto n3b~r; W3da.iMa ta1113ll~3. t'3fto n3b~r; ahun
Whatever is mine is yours. However this brother ofyours had died and has returned to
t1l,- :: 111\H.U )c& '1.-f)'tf 1~l'1&>> hl\c& ::
t;,ggiif.iamm. sil3zzih ngw gibm yadall'Qghu" al3w.
us. He was lost and now is found This is why I have prepared a feast. "

Appendix 20
~:PC ~flh oo?-tJC hiJJLit 'tt\..,ff}o
LolJe unto the Crypt by Haddis Alemayyehu

The following Amharic text with phonetic writing and translation is a selection from
the seminal Ethiopian novel published in Addis Ababa in 1969, pages 317-318 .

..,_..,- - - Jn - - - A~'i! m,_n !!..')?"

"d~n ... s':m... lis'of~yss d~n?"
"Shall !write d:}n ... s':}n..., or dan?"

...,.,, - - - 11-1\il"'fD :: ..~&.

"hul~ ... hul~ttunimm s'afi."
"Write ba ... both."

!!..')fD l'a')p& 1\DD"t;! -fl'rCJD'hC 01\~9" 1lOIJ)~(I)t9" 1.1L f'lll

d~nimm s'~ninun l~m~s'afbittimokkir hul~tturnm k~man~Ililawimm gize y~ba~
When she tried to write d:}n and s 'an. bath were even messier than any time

~fl'\it ::
''fA- - - fAfD! 'h"'!!.- - - ll- h,_- - - h,_!!..Ar!" hl\'i' 'h1!!.. IJ-A1.fL(J)e
"y~lla ... yallamm! inda ... ssu oy ... aydallamm!" alanna inda hulgizew
"Nn ... no! Nn ... not like that, " he said, and as alway he took her hand to have her
)\:E>cp.., ,.,. AcPJn~~ n,t. 1..,.., tl-fl -afro +t9"tn t.-1\t t\..,}1..., nt.t.:r
:i:JJiwan yizo lamass'afbg:i:ra gonwa ~rabb bilo mq~mt'o roqut kindun baroqut
write with him. Coming close, he sat at her left side and, passing his bare hand aver her
~tt'lfcr t,"Ac: ~ t'1 'h:E-Ifl1 t\ou111 h1.ctdDT(I)t A-flll-1 ttt'1 m11 mlt>t\A
ti:k~~~owoasallifo qaiiii i)jiwan lamayaz indim~ccaw J.i:bsun kaqat'itl wagan t'aqlal
bare shoulder, to take her right hand more easily he rolled up the sleeve ofhis right arm

h!!.."C.., W!!. 'rhiTlD< 14- li.I!!..C"':- fl(l)tnlll" tlt:J"m(\m- 'h ... ~. ft)... t'i!CJ'
adirgo wa<b tik~ssaw g~fa siyadarg:- bawist'u k~mqatt'~law isat y~bmssa taffino
and pushed it up toward his shoulder. When this uncovered the warmth ofthe fire

f.Y.flD- OD<t'r l\ofln t-t.ncr.., HA+ l\1'\lfl tndlfm- :: t\111-

11\1' n.A
yaqoyy~w mwpt libsu gal~tt sil qamiswan ~lqo lag~lawa ro~mmaw. kindu
which had long bumed inside him, it passed through her dress and was felt by her body.

'rtllf'P1 t"'f hir. t"'f h~T1s 'rtrh 'r't4.1t ?tr:T1 h11'r-P1 n.~tat A'-
tikQsSa.won qQM iJJu qQiln :i:JJwan, tikkus tinfo~u Jorowan on~twan sillQkot liyyu
When his arm touched her shoulder and his right hand her right hand, his hot breath

ou-tt flD1~)-f=.
tJO<tt OJLU Uf\- OtrA h1~ ~1\bttll CdfhOA
muqQt y~nwndi:nnatu muqat rozzih hullu rokkul in<b elektrik mo?ibal
touched her ear and neck with a special warmth. the warmth ofhis manhood, and it was

Oflt.'l.t\'rT iCC: h;t.t\'r :: 1 fi.,'I\'JB s 1 lD--11 h'l.t\'rT bdlfC fl~'i: h'l~

oo~rrakolotwo gorfo ogolot yo IamlQm yo wib akolotwa kamar safafinda
as if a wave ofelectricity ignited her body. Thatfertile and beautiful body, as ifmade of

tiJ.It. rHr s oa-tlf h1~"'Ld.t. ll'fr '1-111 Ot11t fJII:Pfl.1' s t11t Ot11t
tasarro hullu muqat indammifuro hullu tinn:i:s batinnis maqlat' tinn:i:s batinnis
pure beeswax, as if it feared all warmth, began little by little to melt and pour out. She

oo~nil loot:: nm-~tT1 OflaJo~'rT CI'JH11 t'l'i''r :: IDIL.fOJo

mafsas Jammara. ~winnatwon magzat basawinnatwa mOZQZ tasonot. mdiyow
was unable to control her body and unable to make it do anything. Immediately, without

il;l-hOOJo f):f"11HOJo 11i' d..'r,. m~ d..~ HlDC hfl.'i' h'i:T itl~.Y.
sattosbaw sattOZZQW raswo qano fitwo mdQ fitu ZQwarr o)Qnno afwo takQfto
thinking and without commanding it her head turned straight at his and, open, her mouth

,...., hf. f.fl.;t n. '~ ODD111: t1'i'"f == 1lrt..r h~cr hCilil'i' nc~....,
ygssun of fi:llggo sihed bamangad taganoiiiiu. bzziyo iJJoc~ irsasinna kirtasun
seeking his, their lips came together. Then her hands dropped the pencil and the pencil

1'fl.lD- h11is1; ,,..., h'}r.f filT1 tmr1'ooOJo tHm- hf.T ~~~ M q~cp
t'ilaw ongatun yassumm iJJo~ yasswon tat'gmt'tin.QW yiZQw ofwa bafu afu bafwa
box, and her hands wrapped around his neck. His mouth melted into hers and hers into

lD-il"f tfl.m. :: ~,... Oil'P hh'P 0& lD-h1' m~ :: ~'i'-.A IJ'
wist' qgllat'u. issu basswa isswo bassu wist' t'affu. hulattu danagil hulattu
his. They became lost, he in her and ;~he in him. The two virgins, the two pure ones,

'lR-'11:- 1-U1 fi'fl.t\i1 1-U1 ff11i1 1-U1 flnof. ~1C 1'-~ f'l~d.
nis'uhon:- yih.fn ya!QbQia~~a yihin yaqos~g~a yihin bQbfu DQg;,r yoddafu yagoddafQ
abandoned the soiled and dirtied world, hurt and stained by evil; they entered another

htlfD 1'1\co-:- m1. 1\..t\ m~11: hl\9" 1& == h'lt.'r "~ tttt.r
al~m t'ilaw:- wada lela alQm W-)dond addis alam gabbu. indet t'iru olam
world, a new world What a new world

)CD<! f~~C hl\~! taC h11J.l~ ~~C il?F hilll fOIJ.Ylt.O'r OJ1fl- ~lf'C
n~w! y~fiqir al~m! sar ine~tu fiqir bicca abbibo y~mmiyaf~rablr.:lt, w.mzu fiqir
it was! A world of/ave! The meadows and woods blossomed only with love, the river

il?F fOIJ.flhO~ ; hM1 'i: ~'I'C 111- fDIJ.Hr-<.Ot ft;:~C'i' ft;:R.fO

bicca y~mmiyaf~sibb~t a?iwaffiqir bicca y~mmi~mmirublr.:lt, y~fiqirinna y~fiss'tun
flowed only with love, and the birds sang only oflove. A world of love and complete

'-ht hi\fO! hU' IJ-f\'r ftl4- lJUt\ fOCJl-q.'f h).f IJ-f\'r ftl<f. l\11111:
d~sta al~m! inniya hul~tt y~kifu bahll mirkonnocc inniya hulatt yakifu limad
happiness! These two captives of evil tradition, these two prisoners of evil custom, cut

hht..'P'f O'Jillf'fCD<1 +em co- ttmu tf'fco- hfOl\mco-:- tl4- hC''J. lJUl\
isr~nnocc ma~riyacc~win qort'aw k~wahlniyaccaw am~lt'~w:- kifu aroge bahll
their bindings and escaped from their captivity. They entered a world where the evil old

t\4- hi:'J. l\0'11: 01\.f\O'r ~R.fO OOIJ.etm'I'O'r hf\fO 111-:: ft\4- l\OIJ1:
kifu aroge limad oolelQboot fiss'um oomaytowwQqiboot al~m gabbu. yakifu limad
traditions and evil old customs were neither present nor known. They forgot the evil

hht..'r:-)t'fiD-1 'IC):J''fiD-1 l..ll :: hf ... ! fO)CD< h1.1lf 1){\0J- hM" ID-it'f

isfQififann:<>taccQwn barinnQtaccawn fQssu. oya ... ! minn~w indiyo bollaw olQm wist'
habits of their imprisonment and their slavery. Oh ... ! If only they lived always in a world

{\tJ-t\1.tL O'i"<.! fO)ID- h1~..f ,f{\m- -r-:. fl\?P hM" m'-tlU tl<f. fiD-1
lahulgize b:morul minnaw kandiyo yollaw t'iru yalim al~m WQdazzih kifu yQwn
like that! If only they didn't have to return from the dream world to this wicked world!

hf\911 lJl\tau{\fl-! )1C ,1 9"1 tlf'i'l\ tDD{\tafr! too{\1)-!

olam boltamallasu! nagar gin min yihonol yimmallasollu! t~mallQSU!
But what else could they do but return? They returned!

Appendix 21
r h/r fhlt 1' .m 'lHJ h h 1\:P :1-f ., 1U. tBJ c.f',.,
;J- t. h
History ofthe Ethiopian People by Aleqa Tayye Gebre Maryam

The following Amharic'text with phonetic writing and translation is a selection from the
book first published in Addis Ababa in 1922, pages S0-51 of the 1971 edition.

hOIJC'li' h{Jftt.~h1' ! W'l"'l. f hctlft fdlltq )aJo h1:CC I OfD1r' lU\/\

oinoriiiiio k~?ibroyist', k~tigre, k~?~b y~m~tt'o n~w inJi, boolinimm k~le1o
Amharic comes from Hebrew, from Tigre, and from Arabic, there are not found in it

*1* f"l'l'i''10ta 'A 'lf\'r ::

qwonqwo y~mmigg~noiiiiiboot qol y~ll~m.
words from any other language.

hDIIC~ "=1* DIIG''JC rxoa~nt IID111 "111 fl1tl-A Hou1 )OC ::

omortiillo qwonqwo m~nnog~r y~J~mm~ruboot zaman gin, yatankwol zam~n naboor.
But the era in which the Amharic language began to be spoken was an era of

:!!I~ O,oalJ f'i"llD1 f'\lli'f-1 011"1f'~ h&.lll :: OOC~ "'{J'tl'i'

sost mato hamso omat y~norgwn yalast~in m~ngist o~msa. babirtu gi ?izf.nno
intrigue. It destroyed the kingdom of the Lastas which had lasted for 350 years. If one

cttft~ t"'c~r rOIJfm-4' hdlfc~ IU"'~ta h.e.nOIJr 1 n.YID1'r

argbii'hla tigriiiiiomm yammoyowq, omori:ibla binagrut aysamamm, kattownimm
speaks Amharic to one who doesn't know Tigrinya, Arabic, and Ge 'ez very well, he won't

h"''t.m- f"'Jt.m-1 'A h.e.nn1Jm9" :: .roannm- oohtr! ILl"'tJDaJo 1..h

amaraw yamarown qal aysamowimm. yomasag~n~w maslo, birngm~w dass
understand; not even an Amhara will understand Amharic. Thinking he is praised, when

~f\'PA'I .e.f':JA :: .e.llf.'Oa1 oa{l(\u; lLfoufl"')aJo fl'JBDlD- BDhfr 1

yiJ~wollinno yisiqall. yi~doow moslo, biyoma~ggi~w y~rnggamaw maslo,
he is cursed he is pleased and laughs. Thinking he is insulted when he is praised, and

ttooctm- .fOIJc'r.''} 'TAlf> h) ;J1C fDIIfaJ-~ ,_h4-'PA ~"ft.II1A9" ::

bimarriqaw, yomoriiit'l.on t'i:lq annagag~r yammoyowq yikafawall, yiqqwott'allimm.
cursed when he is blessed, one who doesn 't know deep Amharic is offended and even gets

MtOIJl. tl'f? hOIJC~ ti.HfDC ; tl'\'- VOIJ.lld'l hOIJC~ hl\11f\ 0(1)oil'f
azmari ~t'iru amariiiiia biz~mmir, oolay y~mmiss~mma amariMa alhlso oowist'
When he sings in good Amharic, a minstrel dresses up what is heard on the outside,

0/1'-ofl s m'-fD flftlfiC'i' flfOD(I11 hCIIJC-r.'1 h:E-, h"fRtm-

bissad<bb, wayimm biyakabirinna biya~m~ggin amarinnan i.JJig at'bi(}QW
and whether it insults, or honors and praises, nobody will know except for those who

tldll.f(Oo~ tltC IJ-1\-,. hfiltm-{\m-,. :: '1-ll'diJ. ll.'i'1C M .f.lfoC'i'

kammiyawqu ~q~r hullum ayas~wwil~wimm. gwaJJame sinnag~r ~we yiqirinna
know Amharic profoundly. When a Gojjame speaks, even Shewans and Begemderes don't

O'LfDJ':I.. h.l'dJ<tCJJofD s Mf\.ll Mf\.1 tlhdiJ C~ t'i'1l.CJJo s '-'1'\l\ ::

b~gemdire ayawq~wimm, igalekko i~len ~?amariMa t~magg~rnw, yibbalall.
understand, and they say "so and so spoke in Amharic about something or the other". In

hOIIC~ OIJ(\t t1Ll.1~ *1* i''l\ OIJM )(Do:: ill\H.U hdtft.'lil
amariMa mal~t bafarnnJ qwonqwa pol~tika mol~t naw. silazzih amaro ya?ityopp'is
foreign languages, to speak Amharic is to speak politically. Therefore the Amhara is the

l\~ *1*(0o, r t.t1DD(Oo1 h'l-rr: nl1tl-l\ hl(l)oc ODD'i'1? f:I~

liJ; qwanqwawn yarn~~wn asatt'tro ootank.wol azawro OOIIlQnnagar sost mato
son of Etiopis. Shortening what was lengthy in the language, by clever and devious talk

'toot f'a"l.dl1 DD1"11"~ hd.l.ll :: hCllfD 0'1'\1C '\,_ m,tp fl'a"

hamsa amat yanornwin mangist afa~sa. irsumm oobalagar lay ~awa bono
he destoyed a kingdom which had lasted 300 years. He is the army that established itself

rt ... t. ... t.-et )(Do== hiltuLu nt-..Y. h~O\ aoS~tth~ rttS~ )(Do==
ya~sarro sarawit naw. iskazzih ka?ato as'me mas'ihaf yataqadda tarik naw.
as lord over the peasantry. That until now is history drawn from the book ofAto Asme.
ru Me 'r::'lf rttOIIt. m11fl nm,_t h1'- 01111 hf(Oo~,. ::
yazziyo agar tarik s'ofocc ya?amam hizb kawadet in<b InQtt'a ayawqumm.
Historians ofother lands don't know where lhe Amhara people came from. It is said

.t~"'oa"r 11-1" '\1\tl'\ hM'J':f' 'lf),f" dl1.l':OB- 'l'l'-'-(Oo tiL! m,_

dagmalliiamm nigus lalioola asqadmo sayonaggis wandtmu bassaddaoow gize, waoo
that before Lalibela 11 was made king, when he was exiled by his brother, he went to

flilC 'LP. s hil'\fU Y'l-nHntff(l)o1 t1Cilt1'i"'1f ~itu fdlf.YUI\- h)H.U1

misir hedo, islam yaqoozab~zac~win kirstiyanocc silsa ih yammiyahlu inn~zzihin
Egypt taking some 60 thousand Amharas, Christians whom Islam had made wanderers;

r:' ~fl .lD.P. .h.:rf'~ 1 h'l '- oPIIl 1 nm1 ~ao. hhPa. ;JC t'P"'.Y. 1
yizo w~d~ ityopp'ya ind~ m~tt'a, k~w~ndimu k~?as'e gar t~wagto, dil

when he came back to Ethiopia, he fought with and defeated his brother the emperor, and

h~C'l fiii'~,P':r"l h1~1H; ~'iH.U9" hOifr:' nr:tJ h1C f~"l1.1 lLt

adrigo m~ngistin ind~ya~. inn~zihim amoro~ ooroha ag~r y~ngiya betQ
seized the kingdom, and these Amharas carved and made the rock ch.urches in Roha

ncilt1cr' m'ftt.m- h1'-.... <-fVr ~'i1t-A ~: ~u fi:P.-9" d,ot ~'l.r. lf'i 1 h.Y.
kristiyanoe~ ~qn;)w ind~s~rrull~t yinn~gg~ral. yih fiss'um has~t ind~ hon~. ato
country. That this is" all completely false, Ato Asme has well given the answer, having

hild\ fJIIt\ll9 h~C1lD oPI.\il 01'tCJ)o0:J't\'i' ! hO!ft. fh.lff't 1 t\"f: h1'-

as'me m~lkam adrig~w m~ls s~tt'it~wib~tallinna, amara y~?ityopp'ya liJ ind~
explained that the Amhara is the son of Ethiopia and not ofany other tribe, and that his

If')' hi\/\ W'J') l\')#1'-1.1\ I ,t:),t:aJo9" hhf-11 h1Hit.~i11' I tlhlJ~

hon~ k~lela w~~n ~ndayd~ll~. qwanqwawimm k~?ayatu k~?ibrayist', k~?abbatu
language is that which comes from its grandfather Hebrew, from its father Ge 'ez,

nua11r nm1~qo~ hl\i.-R ' ht.,C~ foo111 ~1'-lf'i hili.~~'PA ::

k~gi?iz, k~w~ndimm~u k~?amb, k~tigriiina y~m~tt'a ind~hon~ asroddit~wall.
and from its brothers Arabic and Tigrinya.

~-r:-r ill\''i' ill\'~1 n~t;:'im- 1 no.r rrc, no,.tc A'f: 1
il'iiiam stl~ ityopp'isinna sil~ ityopp'ya ~s'afn~w k~sem z~r k~?ebor ltJ
Concerning Etiopis and Ethiopia, in what we have written we have demonstrated

h'i1'- f''l>"11! hh"'l\1111 uc ~1'-lf'i f"'f)ll' rt.,t..' rh..,t- 9:1*9"

k~n~~d~ yoqt'an, k~?ag?azyan z~r ind~hon~. y~gi'liz y~tigre, y~?amara qwanqwam
with much evidence that Ge 'ez, Tigre, and Amhara language comes from Hebrew, from
hf)-Rt.t.il1' ffllllll h'~'-lf'i 1 R-RH- 9"hhC h.tlt.t') hlll.~t'i'A ::
k~?ibrayist' y~m~tt'a ind~hon~. oobizu misikkir osaymn asraddimnall.
the lineage ofAg 'azyan, the tribe of Yoqt 'an, the son ofEbor, and the lineage ofShem.



Children learning their first language typically learn to read after age five, by which
time they have acquired basic knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, which makes
possible their learning to read the language. By contrast, adult learners of foreign
languages often try to learn the language and to read the language at the same time. This
is notoriously difficult, a violation of the proper sequence of learning for these naturally
ordered skills, and the cause of much failure in foreign language learning.
The matter is easier, however, for adult leamers of a language whose writing system
is similar to that of a European language which they already know. This is the case for
speakers of European languages who take up the study African languages such as
Swahili, Zulu, and Hausa, which have writing systems based on those of European
languages. Amharic, however, and as discussed in 5.1, has a writing system with a
history quite apart from and as old as that of European languages.
Good textbooks and language courses for adult learners of languages with non-
European writing systems, such as Arabic and Japanese, suppress the teaching of the
writing system until several weeks into the course, until the basics of the language have
been learned by oral methods and by use of a phonetic writing system. Fortunately
Amharic writing, fidel, can be used to write English, so learners of Amharic who read
English can learn fidel straightaway,. as a way to read English, without waiting to acquire
even basic knowledge of Amharic words and grammar.
Below are presented 25 exercises which teach the use of fide] for reading English.
Before starting these exercises, learners should thoughtfully read the presentation of the
forms and structure of the Amharic writing system in 5.2 and 5.3, and refer to this
when doing the exercises.
English may be written using fidel, except for three difficulties:

The fidel are used for six Amharic sounds which are absent in English: the five
glottalized ejective consonants ~ m., p' A, q .,., s' 'A./8, and t' m, and the sixth-order
vowel i.
There are a few English sounds which are absent in Amharic and have no standard
representation in fidel: the consonants [6] of throw, [CS] of this, and several vowels includ-
ing [re] the vowel of cat and [1] the vowel of this.
The Amharic palatal nasal consonant if 7 occurs only in the middle of English
words including canyon and onion (spelled ny or ni), and the Amharic voiced aJveo-
palatal fricative z 1f occurs in only a few English words (from French), including genre,

measure; and rouge. These words are too infrequent to enable useful practice in the
exercises below.
Thus the following exercises do not include practice with fidel of the six Amharic
sounds absent in English, or with the fidel of II and i. But these should be readily learn-
able later, after mastery of the twenty-six fidel-of sounds which regularly occur in both
Amharic and Engli~.
After learning the fidel taught in these lessons, students may move on to the fidel for
the seven Amharic consonants absent or rare in English, by studying words in the
Amharic-English wordlists which begin with the sounds c' "" p' A, q 1", s' & I B, and t'
m, and, eventually, Amharic words with II 1, and z1f.
For writing the English sounds not in Amharic, in later exercises we substitute fidel
for Amharic near-equivalent sounds. In fact these substitutions are those which Amharic
speakers typically use when they pronounce English words with these sounds, for exam-
ple, rl.~ [zis] for English this [CJ1s] and "\-a [lab] for English lab [lreb].
Answers to the exercises are provided beginning on p. 174.

25 Exercises for Learning to Read Amharic

1. Patterns of vowel marking
The general patterns of vowel marking are seen most clearly in the two-legged fidel. The
following table shows the two-legged fidel which may be used to write English. The first
row, of ?, is that which may be used to write vowels alone.

b ~If
a- - a. , ~
-a:-- .q ..-
- ""([-- --~---- --...- - - .ij.-00 . !" .. ,_ ,..
-;r-- _ on:--
00 .. Ji- _...... 00 1\. "11 u 11- --
J ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
_______.. __
. --/\.- ----~-
.. ----A.
h. ra-
OO - ... ,._, ___ - ----. 00. --00 0 0 0------ ----
a ............w- ... jr ,r .. ;y --- --n----w--
oo ........

r . . w ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

z ----,-1- ,. ~~. 1.. ., ~-- ...........~ .... ..

Vowels other than :1 are represented as modifications of the fidel of the column of :1, in
patterns discussed in 5.3.1. Notice that one two-legged fidel, tr lo, is an exception to the
pattern of other consonants + o.
Study the patterns of vowel marking in the table above, and then, if possible WITHOUT
reference to the table, identify the vowel (one of~. u, i, a, e, o) of each of the following
fidel 1-60. If you know the consonant, write it too. H:owever, the goal is to recognize the

patterns of vowel marking, so included in this exercise are a few consonants not shown in
the table above, but which follow the patterns. 11. ., 21. tl. 31. , 41. a 51. Ill'

2. t\ 12. It 22. (e 32. 1r 42. ,. "52.1JD<
3. '\ 13. II 23. I) 33. :P: 43. IL 53. OJ}.
4. t\. 14. ,_ 24. n 34. "F 44. ~ 54.Q
5. ll. 15. II. 25. h- 35. 1: 45. :r: 55. llllil.
6. (e 16. /( 26 . .,. 36. 1l 46. =r! 56. ca
7. h- 17. II 27."" 37. -n 47. h. 57.1fD
8. " 18. 11- 28. 1. 38. "ft. 48. lr 58.m.
9. ll 19. 11 29. ;if. 39. 1l 49. ,. 59. tr
10. h- 20. a. 30. ')f 40. a. 50. ,.. 60. "

2. Matching words written with two~legged fidel

Following are groups of one-syllable English words consisting of one of the two-legged
fidel followed by word-final T t, for example fllfo but. Refer to the table of two-leggd
fidel, and in each group of five match words written in Amharic with words written in
English. The first is artswered as an example. The vowel is given; you have only to
recognize the consonant.

A. Words with vowel:] B. Words with vowel u C. Words with vowel i

_A_ 1.:1:+ a. CUI 6. a--.,. a. suit 11. h.+ a. heal

2. h.,. b. shut 7. f\Jr b. coot 12.ll.+ b. sheet
3. fllr c. but 8. h-'r c. shoot 13. ll.'r c. eat
4.11-l d. Jut 9. 'lf., d. boot 14. 7t.,. d. seat
5. if+ e. hut 10. ll-+ e. loot 15. fL+ e. heat

D. Words with vowel a E. Words wit;h vowel e F. Words with vowel o

16. .cFr a. jot 21. A+ a. bait 26. i"'r a. boat

17. , .... b. cot 22. h.+ b. ate 27. /(+ b. shoat
c. lot 23. ,._,. c. Kate 28. ,.,. c. oat
18. """
19. tt+ d. dot 24. ,...,. d. late 29. fl'r d. coat
20. ')fo} e. shot 25. IJ.'r e. dale 30. fl'r e. dote

English words beginning with z, written in Amharic with fidel of the set of H, are few,
and none appear in the words above.

3. Reading words written with twolegged fidel

A. What are these English words written in Amharic and ending with t, written + in:
Amharic? The first answer in each row is given.

1. Words with vowel a al" but n.:r 1Vr iTl" :t:+

2. Words with vowel u 11..,. hoot h+ iT-+
3. Words with vowel i h.+ eat a.+ """
ll.+ it+
4. Words with vowel a 4+ dot ,..,. tt+ "\+ ))":,.

5. Words with vowel e ate a.+ J>..+ n..:r t\.ol)

6. Words with vowel o P+ boat ~,. ll+ ;or:,. l-+

B. What are these English onesyllable words ending with n, written 1' in Amharic? The
first answer in each row is given.

7. Words with vowel a 81' bun 1!..1' {)1' ift

8. Words with vowel u R-1' boon -'1-1' ,.:..,. t\-1' ()-1'

9. Words with vowel i 41' bean 11.1' )[1' t\1' {).1'
10. Words with vowel a 41' Don :{")' t)")' "\1'
11. Words with vowel e ,.,..,. Dane :t1' h.1' t\.1' ll.1'
12. Words with vowel o J.t own ~.,. 1'1' lr1' i'f1'

C. What are these English onesyllable words ending with d, written ~ in Amharic? Only
the first answer is given.

13. Words with vowel a a~ bud I!.~ :t:l!. h~

14. Words with vowel u ;y.~

'f.R. ()<~ a-~

15. Words with vowel i ll.Y. II.~ 11.~ t\~ IL~

16. Words with vowel a ...~ tt~ i)~ ?f~

17. Words with vowel e h.~ :(I!. t\.Jl: 7t~ U.S',:

18. Words with vowel o ,.~ I'll: 1'~ lrl!: "jr~

D. What are these English one-syllable words which have no final consonant, and end in
a vowel? The first answer is given.

19. n. bee Ia h. p. tr "}!.

20. 4- IL "if- i'f ll 11.

21. A a. n. ~ 'ft. A.
22. ,. .r.. ,... if. 1\. h.

4. Matching words written with one-legged fidel

The following table shows the one-legged fidel which may be used to write an English
consonant + vowel.

This exercise presents groups of English one-syllable words consisting of one of the
above fidel followed by word-fmal +t, for example )'+nut. In each group offive match
words written in Amharic with words written in English. Words with two-legged fidel are
t.ncluded as review. The firSt answer is given.

.-\.Words with vowel a B. Words with vowel u C. Words with vowel i

_e_ 1. ,.,. a. but 6. ..,.,. a. suit 11. h/t a. neat
2,1,. b. shut 7.1* b. Knute 12. "t"t b. cheat
3. 1"+ c. gut 8. c. hoot 13. t+ c. eat
4. a"t d. putt 9. 1\-"t d. toot 14. ';f "t dPete
5. if,. e. nut 10. ,....,. e. lute 15. "[t- e. heat

D. Words with vowel a E. Words with vowel e F. Words with vowel o
16. ,,. a. tot 21. ~,. a. bait 26. .,,. a. coat
17. 'i""r b. knot 22. 1.-'r b. eight 27. .,..,. b. oat
18. ,,. c. yacht 23. ,..,. c. Nate 28 ......,. c. tote
19. :r+ d. pot 24. a.+ d. hate 29. ,.,. d. note
20. :1-+ e. got 25 ......,. e. gate 30. l'llf e. goat

Few English one-syllable words begin withy; only yacht was included in the practice

5. Reading words written with one-legged fidel

A. What are these English words ending in r, written c in Amharic? The fii'St answer is
given. Words with two-legged fidel are included as review.

1. Words with vowel ~ 1"C purr nc he ac ac

2. Words with vowel u f.C 1::c ~c floC a-c
3. Words with vowel i 1.C tc 1:C .ct.C a.c
4. Words with vowel a :rc :I'C ?J=c 'IC 'Kc
5. Words with vowel e "':C I:C ~c h.C a.c
6. Words with vowel o ~c ;rc .,.c f"C 1C

B. What are these English words ending in /, written A in Amharic?

7. Words with vowel a 1/:\ )'/:\ 'lh\ '-A I\ A

8. Words with vowel u "FA i:A ~A 1/:\ h-A
9. Words with vowel i l:A 1:A U\ ll.A h. A
10. Words with vowel e ~A 'I'A "'.A "'LA of: A
11. Words with vowel o tA ')A TA 'l"A 'l'A

C. What are these English words ending in n, written ') in Amharic?

12. Words with vowel~ ..,.,. ,..,. )'') .,...,. I)')

13. Words with vowel u ,...,. i:') ..,..,. .,..,. )1:')

14. Words with vowel i 'ffl (\') ll') i(') h,')

15. Words with vowel a ~.,.
,.,. Jf') ':lh t)')

16. Words with vowel e 1.")
17. Words with vowel o ,,..,.
D. What are these English words with no final consonant but ending in a vowel? The first
answer is given.

18. t knee t 1: 1 .qo fl.

19. 'l' .,. IL :ri ..... "L

20. to 1l .,. .,.

~ ,. ~ ....

21. ""

6. Matching words written with three-legged and legless fidel

The following table shows the three-legged fidel (first row) and legless fidel which may
be used to write English. The second row, of ?, is that which may be used to write vowels

----+-:;~____ i. ----1-jm.-- ~ - j ~ --1-0;..,---1

t -w-lf & 1 ~ _ ~ 1:1 -f_- .
~ .. _ _
-t-Oiai.. t.-__ _ If: - T l'l".. rJ'
m ,.-- ,... ""'7. - --,.,--.. -~ ~ ----.---;r----
r l.
-s____ -;;;:;--- --.,..
"- 6
"1. .. --..
ur-. ; "L
i.' -r-c --..
.... .. 'I'. .
.... --i .... r-:---- ---
w lD & If!..... . ....!.. ... 1 .: .. _!.. ... ...

Following are groups of English one-syllable words consisting of one of the above fidel
and word-final+ t, for example oo'r mutt.
Recall that VN, dt/dJ, and...,/":~, and '1l are all read as [ha]. Only 1l can be read as
[h~] so hut must be written 11+ while hot may be written v+, Y"r, m"r, ..a..:r, ....,.,., and
In each group below match words written in Amharic with words written in English.
Words with one and two-legged fidel are included as review. The first answer is given.

A. Words with vowel:;~ B. Words with vowel u C. Words with vowel i

_d_ I. OD"r a. rut 6. .;.:,. a. moot 11. ~..,. a. eat

2. l."r b. hut 7.-M- b. boot 12 . .t.>\'- b. seat
3. ,.,. c. but 8.tJDo'r c. route n: ot.,. c.jeet

4.n+ d. mutt 9.......... d. toot 14. "1.+ dmeat
5.1\+ e. nut 10. n-:r e. suit 15. Y."r e. heat

D. Words with vowel a E. Words with vowel e F. Words with vowel o

16. m+ a~ rot 21. -e+ a. fate 26. c+ a. coat

17. t."r b. tot 22. d.+ b. rate 27. ,.,,. b. oat
18. ,,. c.Mott 23. 't.+ c. mate 28. ,,. c. boat
I 9. 'P"r d. hot 24.l.+ d. wait 29. ,.,. d. wrote
20. :1-+ e. watt 25. OIL+ e. eight 30.... ,. e. moat

7. Reading words written with three-legged and legless fidel

A. What are these English words ending in r, written c in Amharic? Some words with
one and two-legged fidel are included as review. The first answer is given.

1. Words with vowel ~ LC fur IJIC me Tc nc

2. Words with vowel u ,.c ~c 'Fe i:C l\-C

3. Words with vowel I d.C l..C 't.C 'LC .&LC

4. Words with vowel a OIJC -s.c 'tc 'PC ~c

5. Words with vowel e "''.e t\.C :r:c h.C if.C

6. Words with vowel o t'C ?'C t:C C'C if~C

B. What are these English one-syllable words ending in m, written 9" in Amharic.

7. Words with vowel :J i.IJD 009" )'IJD ,.,.. ,,.

8. Words with vowel u
9. Words with vowel i .,.,. tn.IJD
10. Words with vowel a 11119" IJ9D :J-9" 119"
11. Words with vowel e d..IJD ..,.,. 't.IJD OIJ.IJD 1.9"
12. Words with vowel o CIJD tl-9" t:IJD ~IJD fr-9"

C. What are these English one-syllable words ending with z, written 1f in Amharic?

13. Words with vowel:} L11 aJ1f ~11 1111

14. Words with vowel u oo-11 UJ<1I tnl fYtf 'ii11
15. Words with vowel i ~....,
Pf.1f ct.lf n.11 h.1f
16. Words with vowel a 't11 "711 .,.,
17. Words with vowel e 1.:11 tt.1f D\11 .1..11 '1!11
18. Words with vowel o .,, ,.., C11 ,., .,.,
D. What are these English words with no fmal consonant? The first answer is given.

19. OIJ. me 'C c: 00< tft. IJf.

20. 'r UL .... ~ 1 ,.
21. r:: 1: i: ,.., m. "'1.
22. q> d. p th. 11. 7t
23 . ., t 1'1- ,. y, ,..
8. Recognizing patterns
This exercise is to sharpen perceptions of the patterns of formation of the fidel and
exceptions to the patterns. Refer to the tables in 5 (especially Table 5.14, p. 109), and in
each row of the following table mark two fidel which are switched and in the wrong cells.
The exercise is just to sharpen your perceptions, not to test memory or mastery of the
fidel, so don't hesitate to refer to the tables in 5.3.
The cells of the misplaced fidel of the first two rows are marked as examples, by dark

, 2
I -
a ~~a) ~ ---~
... ~.(a). t----"---1----t
.. ~ . f. ._:-.~-~- fr__.. ~
' 3 b -~---- - -~ . --~-- l- ,, 0~ J.. -o~ .... --_I_!_ ..
5 ~
d T
'i -,.
.. 0
. 00_~- i' ;.:
.. - ... O~ !
2f.... ... ---
oo~- -

.f .0oz ::-~~-~ _-------~~4:~--oo ...10-j__ ~:f.-0 :.- ...-.~o:~~t~'i:o--= -.- ..;;~:.....0~

..1-....._g__ o o_.:! __ .' 00--~--o . ooi--- 0! j_ _o _... -- ~0 __._-__--j_--0 : -__-.. -0 ~--0--
.. 8 .. f!o(h.E) ~-.. i
~ h th (ha) tft. th. ,h th. j ih dt
ll~ --~~~1- . 0o~-- 0.... :;t-"(""' ~- i~ ..-+. -~ . . . . - } 000
!i R _.._.. 1i . . _____
--- . J. :( -~--
)[ ..1. .. _JI:____ . _I_11'____ o-1. ~ ! ~ --1 ___"It___!

:} u i a ! e (i) o
13 k h h. h. t) j---~ h fl
14 I 1\ --~------ 1\. "' A----- tl.-'----~ -
1----7--15::-+--'-m-+-,-=-- Dt Dt l1fl OIJ. oP 'I'"
- . - --- - - - . -. . " .. ------ - -------
16 n )" t- t ") ~ 'i' ':'

ll t ~ ~ t + ~ ~ +
n w ~ & ~ m ~ ~ ~

,._1_!_ ~ ~ : - ---{----- -~----
Following are the eight fidel sets of sounds which do not have English equivalents
(26-31) or whose English equivalents are rare (32-33), and which are thus absent in these
exercises which use the fidel to write English. Notice, however, how they fulfill the
patterns of vowel modification. Only one fidel, that for .d'a, is exceptional to the patterns;
this, however, is like that ofna, 'i'.


~~ c_ . ~ 1- ~
T- i-
. ~
r- a
I ~
r- --~-----~r;y-;~--- o

~- ~ ... ""'
=' .
~~- P.'
~- _g_r----f---
l . ; ~- l-----
~- ~-
Z .~-
;~ s' -+-- ! ~ --1----i--.. ~ : ~
Jfl ~----- .t . . ; . _,___1C-'---_.___v-=--__.__~----'
. . . . ~- ~----~:_; - -~ . . ----~---. . . . n
_ ___.__1f
_ ~-- ! I ..........

9. Recognizing members of the fidel sets
This exercise is to sharpen perceptions of the patterns of formation of the fidel and to
reco~ exceptions to the patterns. Find one mistaken fidel in each row oft~e following
table. The first columnis all correct
The exercise is just to sharpen your perceptions and not to test memory or mastery of
the fidel, so you may refer to the fidel tables (especially Table 5.14, p. 109), The cells of
the mistaken fidel in the first two rows are marked by dark outlining.

~ u i a e (i) o
1 h (a) tt 11. ._ h. la h
2 a 0 (a) o- a. 't 't. 11 p
3 b a & a q ~ ~ r
4 c T
~ ~ ~
--4..-- . . . ~~----- -~------~-------"A--
~ ~ ~

.6 z
---d.-- ---4.: .. -- --~-- ......~. -- ----;c:-- r--- "i""- -r- .. - ~ --
_]__ g_,_ __.,___ r--;_. -~--- ......2. --- . __!__ -. .. 1-.. . . - ...,. ---
8 IJ {iiaJ rJ- 1 "I Y. V U.
r-9 th 'ha m- dt. dJ -- r- th. --1-- ih th
-10 h ~r---;o;:--~~--- ;J .... ... .rr
12 ""f.. ~
--:;:. . .. .. . ~ u
ji!"'"' .. -":(
--~-- ...
- .........~---
~~-':-+-- . ---- - - - - - ----- ..-----
!!--+---~------ ~---1 ~---1--~ ... - ~ + ~
! ..... . .
Ts ,- -,. ji;... --d{ -- ... ,.,._. --ii!.' ... ..m.. ;;--.. . .
-1'6" --,; .... -----~- ..... --,;.-....... --f---.. ..,............. "'i"" ..........-;;-......... qo
17 p T "F "[ ;J" 1: 1" ,;
18 r t. "'- /, t. t. 4. r:
"f9 - r-----tl- ... ---i).-------tl- _.. _4-- ----it.:" -------h- --'"(1"""'-
------ s ---- - ------. --------- --- ......... ___ .. ___ --------. --- .. -----
w ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
21 ! "if 7J. n: 'II' n.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ---------- -- .. -:----1------f---:::-~
7f rr
r-7.2 __(___ -~- . _......~-+----1: ..... . . . ! ______ ______!__ ........ _?__ !_ -
~ W -~ & ~ ~ ~ ~ 0
r-=--:--r--- - : - ----t---. .-- -----
- t - - - - _ _ ..______ _

-s--- ;-----~--~~=--: :~{ --~=-- ~- ---~~--~-~--- -----~ -~.J --=~1-~~--

Following are the eight fidel sets of sounds which do not have English equivalents or
whose equivalents are rare, and which are thus absent in these exercises. One fidel is
mistaken in each row. Find the wrong fidel, and notice its correct form in Table 5.1.4 (p.


f} u i I a e (i) 0
26 c' Q;J, IJJl m. I ..It - tJJ;- 1." (;A.

27 if
r------ ---
A" ,.


:1" --
~ I
Tt 8 fJo 8~ t f) I'


1( '1f
n) m.----

'fr .,.

10. Fidel 'flash cards'

Make flash cards for the fidel. On one side write or cut-out and paste an English word
written in fidel. On the other side write the word as written in English. Here are two

11. Writing the fidel

Practice writing the fidel. There is no fixed or standard way of fanning the fidel with
strokes of the pen or pencil, but the favored custom is to use lines written from top to
bottom and left to right. Practice Amharic writing by copying fidel from the charts and
words from the exercises above. Try to write your name and other English words using
the fidel. Following are some English names written in fidel.

~ l)o (\ :(,') :1-lJD 'lC'lt. t."Tc~ )l:.ct

Ray Sue Lee Jane Tom Barbara Richard Judy
,t.;(c h.SfDfJC/\ h.t.h C11 t.fJCT ~l./1 dt. ')l. 011[.
Roger Kimberly Eric Rose Robert Doris Henry Marie

Some English names with biblical sources have Amharic cognate equivalents.
Following are a few of these.

DIICYIJP ,ll'),h..t\ h..t\41L"Y A.-rC"/1 Uf,t. ~Do""h "t1'Jh..t\ f"th')/1

maryom don?el elsabet' p'et'ros sora p'owlos mika?el yohannis
Mary Daniel Elizabeth Peter Sarah Paul Michael John

12. Mnemoni.:s for the fidel
The following mnemonics, or memory aids, have been suggested by students as helpful
for recalling the sound associated with a fidel. Interpretation of some of the mnemonics is
not very obvious; however, strangeness can be useful as an aid to remembering. Try to
think of your own mnemonics - something which the fidel looks like or makes you think
of. Often the more personal and imaginative your mnemonic, the more effective it is as a
jog to memory.

h (l)l a person pointing At something

0 (lp an Apple
fl b an iron Bar Bent, the end of a Baseball Bat
':f c a CHain, the track of a CHoo-CHoo train
tA c' three matCHes
11. d the legs and head of a Dog
d. I
a Finger-tip, a number six which needs to be Fixed
a Garter snBke, a blade of Grass
rJ ha How are U? a Hole in the ground
th ha a Hand rake, the devil' s pitchfork of Hell
.... ha a Harp, a Handle
ll h a lett~r 'H with a Hat, a Helicopter
J: J a person throwing a Javelin
h k a Kid's high chair
t\ I a Greek Lambda, an upside-down heart, hence Love
Ofl m a Marshmallow, two Musical notes
)' n a Nose, a kNee
"f n
the uN-English sound of Pi in Spanish
a Popsicle, a trellis for a Plant, a telePhone Pole
a Peeping baby bird waiting for .Peanuts
.,.A p'
q a Queen's scepter, the letter Q modified, a Quill pen
l. r a nose=Rhino in Greek, a cursive letter R sideways, the hook of a Rake
n s a tuning fork for Sound, a Submarine tower, a picture of a Son
... s Sound waves, Swings at a playground
& s' a person Standing
8 s' a Split circle, an eye Seeing
if ! someone wearing a bow, hence SHe
.,. t a letter T, a Telephone pole
m t' a Trampoline, Tunber
lD w eyes of an oWl, the World
,r y
a Yo-Yo
poles of the end-Zone
1f z a Z smoothed to [~] (the sound of J of .Jean in French)

13. V arlo us words for practice
Following are some English one-syllable words written in Amharic. Words of each row
end in a particular consonant written as a sixth-order fidel. The answer is given for the
first word in each row. What are these words?

A. Words with vowel ~

1. Words !hyming with cut a-t- but ):,0 l.'r w.r,

2. Words rhyming with hum l.IJD rum .,,.. aiJD ~,..

3. Words rhyming with Jud oo~ mud a~ h~ ~~

4. Words rhyming with pudge a~ budge 4..~ )'~ n

5. Words rhyming with sun l.'"l run +'"I CD') .,,.,
6. Words rhyming with hutch +'If touch oo'f' ll'f ~'f

B. Words with vowel u

7. Words rhyming with hoop
8. Words rhyming with coot
9. Words rhyming with Dude
1'\-T loop

10. Words rhyming with loom .CS.IJD doom ?IJD UoiJD ,,.,..
11. Words rhyming with June 11-'"1 soon tJDo') ~
12. Words rhyming with loose tJDoh moose )'oh ~h ~h

C. Words with vowel i

13. Words rhyming with seep dt. T heap t\T t,T 'ET
14. Words rhyming with beat "L+ heat "'1.+ ll.+ n+
15. Words rhyming with lead t~ need l,~ ut~ a.~

16. Words rhyming with theme l,'}'l ream tLIJD II.IJD i:IJD
17. Words rhyming with bean t\') lean Oil.') Uf.') it?
18. Words rhyming with cease t\h lease 7.h "Ch th

D. Words with vowel a

19. Words rhyming with top 'IT hop DIIT ;FT 7IT
20. Words rhyming with tot th+ hot '\'I- t-'1- .?'I-

21. Words rhyming with mod t-Il: rod ll!l: '?!!: :1-Jl:
22. Words rhyming with job DY-a mob 11-a '\-a ll-11
23. Words rhyming with Lon t)') con ,II') :(") &.')
24. Words rhyming with dock '\tl lock C?tl &.h ifh

E. Words with vowel e

25. Words rhyming with gape il'.1" shape i:T h.T ILT
26. Words rhyming withfate th.+ hate A+ ce+ IJII.+
27. Words rhyming with laid :t'.:!l: jade "'1.1!: 1..1!: it!l:
28. Words rhyming with name 1\.tJD lame t'M'o il'.tJD -ttJD
29. Words rhyming with vein h.')' cane OIJ.')' 1..') :e')
30. Words rhyming with lace ~Ia face n.ta "'Cia

F. Words with vowel o

31. Words rhyming with dope U"1" hope C'1" -'1" ..,.
32. Words rhyming with wrote ,,...,. moat .,,. 'i"'+ ,......
33. Words rhyming with node fr-1!: load C!l: {II!: 'if!!:
34. Words rhyming with roam U"tJD home tatJD c:.,. p.tJD
35. Words rhyming with tone .,.,.,. moan ';f') fr') ,..,.
36. Words rhyming withfore rae core ;rc ~c 'I'"C

G. More words with vowel g

37. Words rhyming with nub hR cub 11-R T-tl +a
38. Words rhyming with hush l.'lr oo'lr 1\'lf 1'1r
39. Words rhyming with cull 'lA '-A )A 1\A
40. Words rhyming with luck :Ph an 1Ph 1\h
41. Words rhyming with cuss l.ia ala -~ hla
42. Words rhyming with for TC lie we CDC

H. More words with vowel u
43. Words rhyming with boo .-,. who ~ l}c 7f
44. Words rhyming with tool 4-1!\ ?A II-A "FA
45. Words rhyming with dues ~11 ~11 11'11 f\o11

46. Words rhyming with doom ?SJD ..,.SJD


47. Words rhyming with dude ?.~ l}c~ 4-~ au-~

48. Words rhyming with tour on-e r-.e f\oe "Fe

I. More words with vowel i

49. Words rhyming withfoe Y. he Oil. Ill. it
50. Words rhyming with keel "\A ttl!\ t.A Oil.. A
51. Words rhyming with near .Le h.e t!.C t.e
52. Words rhyming with Reese '[JP IJf.JP (\JP 'I,JP
53. Wordsrhymingwithneed h~ ce~ Pa.~ .L~

54. Words rhyming with bees t11 tl.'rf IL1f 'i:'rf

J. More words with vowel a

55. Words rhymi'ng with car cf.C far :Jc 'Ire 'PC
56. Words rhyming with hock Olfh 'lrn uth .-.n
57. Words rhyming with mod t)Y., ?~ ;J'~ 'PI!.
58. Words rhyming with lob &.-II 'la ~-~~ 'i"-11
59. Words rhyming with hot 1\'1 'i''l- y:,. ;1':,-
60. Words rhyming with shop IJT .TT :J-T ttT

K. More words with vowel e

61. Words rhyming with bay 'l hay/hey A t. 11.

62. Words rhyming with cake iT.h i:h t..h OIJ.h

63. Words rhyming with bait 'I. 'I- A..+ t.:r 1..+
64. Words rhyming with maid A~ '~ "['~ ~~

65. Words rhyming with mail "':A ll.A iT. A tA

66. Words rhyming with gaze fl.'rf 07.11 A.-11 ,.,.,
L. More words with vowel o
67. Words rhyming withno r: row p 'If tr-
68. More words rhyming with no i'" r:: , p.

69. Words rhYming with lore 'I"C 1'-C f\C :.r:c

70. Words rhyming with pole (It\ IJPA 'tiA r::A
71. Words rhyming with coke Ph 'Ph Th :.Y:h
72. Words rhyming with doze ,.., C"rl '1"11 111

M. The following words begin with a vowel, written with the fidel sets of h or o. What
are these words?

73. Words with vowel of eat h.A ct11 h.T 't.C

74. Words with vowel of ate h.V" 't.h ,._.,;. 't.1"
75. Words with vowel of oat 1-11 I'~ 1-h I' fl.
76. Various words "~ 't.fP 1-11 't.h

N. Words with two final consonants. The following words end in lwo consonants written
with sixth-order fidel, for example ni'l:r bust, and :q:A11 Jules. Recall that a sixth-order
fidel may be pronounced with or without the vowel i. What are these words?

77. Words rhyming with bust ooh:r hilt' l.hlf- ~h"r

78. Words, rhyming with Jules h-1.\11 .,.A11 ~A11 "FA11

79. Words rhyming with peeled ~A~ f.. A~ tA~ ""LA~

80. Words rhyming with bard ;1-C~ "'fc~ t)C~ '\C~

81. Words rhyming with tamed h.,.~ itS""~ BIL9'"~ ~,..~

82. Words rhyming withjold 1A~ ITA~ ,.1.\1!: r::A~

83. Words rhyming with leans ,..,_ ~11 .11.~11 I'L~11 )[~11

14. Match woi:ds in groups ofS
Match English words 1-5 written in Amharic with a-e the words written in English
Match 6-10 with f-j, etc. The first answer is given.

_c_ 1. 'i1C a.E 6. att f. room

2.a~ b. bud 7. ll'i: g. tail
3.fn c. shore 8. ')") h. beef
4. lllf d.Z's 9. ?,. i. none
5. h. e. loan 10. i:t\ j. bus

11. ,,,..,. k.putt 16. t\.h p.lake

12. l.") I. run 17. ?'T q.eye
13." 18. tc r. soap
14. II,. n. date 19. h.,.. s.lot
15. T,. o.fee 20. "'" t. bore

21. tt'C u.fudge 26. '~ a. y

22. ,...,. v.bone 27. t.:r b. wade
23. r:~ w.odd 28 . .,,.. c. rut
24. 4.J!: x. road 29. 1111 d. key
25. h~: y. more 30. h. e. bees

31. '1.,. f. noon 36. ,.,11

32. t g. knee 37. ,h I. lean
33. ,..., h. cup 38. I\'} m.jail
34. hT i. gate 39. fa":'} n. woke
35. ;r.,. j. sheet 40. :(t.\ o. days/daze
41. hJe- p. moat 46.... ~ u. weed
42. ,..,. 47.1~ v. tape
43. M' r.cage 48. , w.rouge
44. "[{t s. quiche 49. ?'fr x. noose
45. 'i"C& t.peace 50.1:T y. code

15. Match words in groups oflO
Match English words 1-10 written in Amharic with a-j the words written in English
Match 11-20 with k-t, etc.

I.&. a. ease 11. t k. rut

2.Vt- b. bud 12. c~ I. wade
3.T+ c. shore 13. 1.'t m.odd
4. /\-") d.Z's 14. "'~ n. road
5.a~ e. loan 15. 'lt+ o. more
6. ,_..,.. f. putt 16. l.+ p. bees
7. "frc. g. run 17.ll1f' q.knee
8. 11.11 h. hot 18. 'I'"C. r. me
9. l.") i. date 19. 1111. s. gate
10. h.11 j.fee 20. ce~ t. sheet

21. d.): a. y 31. -t,") k. deep

22. )'-") b. noon 32. ILA 1. eye
23. 'Pt. c. cup 33 ....,. m. shake
24. ,...,. d. bone 34. ~(JJ< n.jade
25. h1" e. judge 35. fl1' o.doll
26. ;r:,. f. cake
36. "'" p.ft-w
27. +tJ: g. deer 37.~~ q.soap
28. h.h h. cane 38. h-IJ r. cub
29. h.") i.pot 39. 'lth s.leen
30. 4.C. j. tough 40. h~ t. zeal

16. Match to word clues in groups of 5
Match 1-5 clues to English words with a-e the words written in Amharic. Match 6-10
with f-j, etc.

1. _ andevery a. h.:P
2. body t;J[ water b. lH"
3. waterbird c. fl")
4. what very solar system has d. ~h

5. clothing e. 1\.h

6. two per head f. 4./t

7. nice boat g. ,.
8. home to animals h. h.C
9. bright at night i. OIV)

10. front ofthe head j. Y+

11. bird at the beach k. fl.'tl

12. honking sound l. ll1"
13. shoe for a cowboy m. 1A
14. not shallow n. ,.,.
15. and believes o. Jt.T

16. for telling time p. ~~

17. 2ndperson (grammar) q. 1-C

18. givefoodto r. 'P2f
19. for rowing s. ~

20. don't stay t. ")

21. shed u. ;r~

22. for .fun v. Ttl

23. milk source w. l)(l)o

24. for dessert X. 'J.VO

25. and carrots y. 11+

26. strange a. C9'1
27. look at a target b hY:
28. city in Italy c. ce
29. ~ as subject ofsentence d. h.~

- - 30. not tight e. lrh

17. Match to word clues in groups of 10

Match 1-10 with a-j, 11-20 with k-t, and 21-30 with u-d.

I. Drink made from leaves a. {I

2. Father b. CPJ..
3. Throw seeds c. h.
4. Opposite ofstay d. '
5. One on each leg e. '\
6. First letter f. );
7. Instrument for opening g. 1::
8. Note qfter so h. 1b
9. Same as 'I' i. 1
10. Female sheep j. ;J"

__ 11. Body ofwater k. ll.

12. did it? 1. t::
13. Manner m. ~

14. Leiter after 'C' n. 4..

15. Last letter 0. ~

16. Line p. It
17. Lookand q. n.
__ -18. Night and_ r. C
__ 19. Enemy s. f}-

20. Common male name t.'

21. Cow sound u. fl-
22. Mother v. 7t'
23. Female deer w. (JD<

24. and tell x.IC

25. Susan y. OIJ
_ _ 26. Opposite ofyes z. .IJ.
27. Use needle and thread a. a.
_ _ 28. Affirmative of don't b.~

29. To be or not to c. ll
__ 30. Not high d. 'i"

18. Miscellaneous English words with the same first letter

What are these English one-syllable words written in Amharic? Each row is labelled with
the first letter of the English words of that row. But recall that English has so-called
'silent' letters, like the kin knight. Answers to the first word of the first two rows are
given. Word-initial :;} as in English up is written with the special and little-used fidel 1i.

A h.h ache h.,., h.:r- h.~ h. A

B nil bus n.r:r n-~P:r 11 1a:r- n.1a:r
c l'l~ I'JC h-T hT l'lA.f:
D .e.:If .IJ.,., . . . :r II-A .l.T
E h.C h. A h.:r- h.11
F C:.l\~ 4-l\ 4-C,.,
G "1.,., 11!\.e.- ?C.e.- 19" "'.Til
H 1/'A.e.- f.T9" l)oTit v:r- ,..,
I ht. ht.!P h.1'h ht.l\ ht.C
J )(T ~h :P:.t\ )(-a ~

K n") fl h. A 'i" 'i""r

L I\.~ tl-.f: hlP,. '\h"r 1\.9"
M OIJ.'r flll.h ,-II+ ,.l\1!: ODT
N ,....) ~.e. A
),.,., .e.- r.-:r- 'i":r-il
0 J.l\.f: J.h 1>11 J.Ttl

p "[tl .;rn ..Ten T7 "FA
R ~-~ C!!: t.-11 C-1111 l.ll.,.
s li.IJD ..,_.,. I"T ,..,. fl')

T -ttl -1:'1' :1-T 1:11 T-tl

u lie~ ~., ~11.J': ~~~ 'liT

v If"' lL') ;-r.(J)o lth li+
w 'h , ceP"+ 'eh 'e.J':11
y r-h
z ,.,., .

If. A

19. Miscellaneous words

Following are sixty English one-syllable words written in Amharic. What are these

11. at- 21. tlCD

l. "''"'
2. 1\.ll 12. )(T 22. ,.~

3. "1/) 13. ,...,. 23. "L"lf

4. fl') 14. cp~ 24. ala
S. h.C 15. ~ 25. 4-A
6. Y'r 16.~~ 26. I"T
7. ,.., 17. 1-e 27. "[ il
S.aa-ll 18. ll.11 28. ll'i:
9. 1A 19. 'H:If 29. 4,/)
10. a.., 20. 1.1JD 30. n.n

31. 1:") 41. TT 51.&~

32. ll1f 42. n.:n 52.:,:.,.~

33. '1'":,0 43. h.'ll' 53. ,_A~

34. h.11 44. )') 54. A..h

35 . .''If- 45.1') 55. '/eiJP
36. .1(.,. 46. fl') 56. (tt\

37. +t;: 47. lth 57. n11
38.~ 48. re:t~ 58.?~

39. R.lf: 49.1: 59. 119"

40. JLC 50. 19" 60. ,.,.-':

20. Words in subject groups

Following, grouped by subject areas, are some English two and three-syllable words
written in Amharic. The sounds of English consonants and vowels which are absent in
Amharic are written with the fidel of the nearest Amharic sound. English this, for
example, is written, and thing is written ll. i''?. What are these words?

A. Days
lli',.. 011"),_ 'i:t..e,_ 'fi'll,_ ll.,_C,_

B. School subjects
d.If. hit hC'r h. 0 !. It "r l. 'l/tf-l, l},.e."){t

C. Sports
4-.:'fl)" VtL i:tlt fll\")'1 ILitiJ"

D. Body parts
h.ell C:.C'Lse. lfh(l")

E. Languages
~CoPi' l.'lri' t;:t.")2f +ctt'lr l).'lh
F. Foods
Itt;: ;f.htVI 1-l. i':t~ h.e.P"hi,9" h.h

G. Drinks
'lf.JP Dfi.Ah l'I'Jfl'\ 1:Til. 'P+C
H. Places
rTi:A n.i'h u:tM :rch -{ll,~

I. Parts of a house
'f")~ :e 9"t oo.,..,. ;Jt,.~ tL~i'

J. Planets
n. )'it "''C'II 'li C7 T/\--f ~l.)ia

Amharic has some of the above words, but not with the same pronunciations as English.
French, for example, is A.l.7"t.e in Amharic; chocolate is :Y:fl'\"r, and bank is IJi'h. For
some ofthese words, see exercise 23, on 'International words'.

21. Word sequences
A. The following words 1-25 are a sequence. What is missing in the sequence? Write it
using Amharic fidel. Recall that vis spelled R in Amharic (a of b with a line over).

I. .ct. 6. h.h,.. 11. h.~ 16.1- 21. h,llJc

2. h. 7.~ 17. h. 22.h~

3. h.,. 8. h.t;: 13.ll 18. ~c 23. cp~

4. .f.dAf. 9. )( 19. "'-,.. 24. h.

14. """
5. h.") 10. T 15. n: 20. 11. 25. i:

B. What are words 26-44? Some of the words have Amharic fidel of the set of ll as
substitutes for English th, the first consonant of thin, a sound absent in Amharic. Again
one word is missing in the sequence. Write it as number 45.

26. t;'~") 31. fl.n") 36. CD") 41. "rtgl\-11

27. flCf:") 32. t;' .e ')(:") 37. f:") 42. oiL'i:i.:")
28. h.l:") 33. lth,.. 38. ll.h,.."'.? 43. &:C
29. h.An"> 34. t::Ci.:") 39. ,..& 44.11-"r
30.11 35. tl.ihi:") 40. 4-.e:n 45. ?

22. Cities and towns of Ethiopia

Following, as 1-20 in English spelling and a-t in Amharic, are the names of twenty cities
and towns ofEthiopia. Match 1-10 with a-j and 11-20 with k-t.

1. DireDawa a. '\t\ll'\
2. Meqele b. CDt\,{1

3. Gonder c. hhflofD
4. Adwa d. 'I"YIL
5. Lalibela e .,..., Je. C

6. Wolisso f. dtl.C
7. Moyale g. OD.,./L
8. Aksum h.,.~.,

9. Addis Ababa i. R;~JI'f'

10. Harer j. 1.11.,.. hniJ

11. Arba Minch k. $t-Ill. 1111 c+II

- - 12. Awasa l.h.tL'"It...,..

13. Gore m. )["''
__ 14. Adigrat n.11J
15. Debre Berhan o. 'i"'lft.+
16. Jimrna p. h1'1lflC
__ 17. Debre Marqos q.1t.
18. Goba r. hCIJ ,.,.. .
19. Nazareth s. $t-Ill. -IICY")
20. Ankober t. h'PI'I

23. International words

Amharic has many 'international words', words heard similarly in languages ofthe world
because they are borrowed from the same language. Even so, their pronunciation may be
quite different from that of English or other languages. For example, in Amharic France
is l..l."'il'l~ [firnnsay] and Italy is IIIA~t [t'alyan]. Below, grouped in subjects areas, are
a sample of international words as written in Amharic. What are these words in English?

A. Electronics

B. Sports
Y~ :(rT rTh.
lil\.tA 1A

C. Occupations

D. Places
t.hof~7+ :rcn
11C rTi:A

IJ")h i!tli.Cil.1: h.SJBIJ(L hit'l'h IJC
'b'\+"t it~.,..,. h.II:J-~5!,.. "[ .f'i)

E. Countries
tt.n.r h.?.f' h"l"lf\11 trJfL.f'"}'
4-l..?i)t. lr;J"l.CS ~Cdll'l (ltllfA1
"ll..h ,....,. 1\0IJ.&tl h/1;1''1
of:.Ch h.ilt.h.A DIJ.hf\.11 "'t7"'i

F. Brand names
ttlf'\ fit 'i"if'i"t.\ 'i".e.h.
~A1"it fth ~"t"li\C 1\IVIit
ll.r."'i"l 1111h "''Ct.\111: 'E?lt+?
;I'ChC 't1"tl. :(i'tll. ).')")

G. Government
(I 'if1\.11,. t) "[;1-{\. ., , . ?"1\tt'l &rnf\.n
h.l1qt01J.. I\. t t 1f,., ltC'h~tl. h..')JI.ft+&
11,.,. t 11,. h..')ifta?lt 4-?t11fD II. 'r"h ~tl.

H. Food and drink

hlt71.t h&9" "[tf th1:t.\
'Ell h. "\tf"'l' t'I"F :r: q' tl"\trJ
fl.&. 7/t:J- lf~t) t t) 11"\

I. Cars
.P.f';l- liAhlt'P1? tllf1f II 'tl"
t:=C-': lit.\li IIIICT.II.It "\.,. ~ C' lfc
~.r+ "\II f-q' ).')')

J. Persons
'i"TI\.f'"l ":11.1\ ~'\{L ;J')JL ~1A

=Fe'FA .,. t -alb.e.c "Ft.,. ''[ c

K. Miscellaneous
tt-+6 t\+c 1'114. :1"7h
h111"l.,') n.,.._,.+c d.A+C h CIJcf-,.,.
"r&.d..h hl)of.Ai'- ll.Oil..,..,. ~+
11+6 11.'}11.") h,_C'T'\'l ;1-hll.
t::f- t\f!i'- DIJ.+c ,..,..,,.
24. Cities of the world
What are these sixty cities, as written in Amharic? The Amharic pronunciation of a city
name may differ from that of English.
1. ;r t,i) 6. ll..r+A 11. ~LIIIf

2. 6~ 7. hi)-fhii'A,- 12. :a[ IJoi:

3. C9" 8. f-h.f" 13 . .CS.If'\
4. ,.,.,.. 9. .,.c.,..,. 14. ,._,,,_
5. ll'}f! &. '}ll.i) fl 10. 'Pif'}., .,..,. 4.. ll. 15. 'i:&.7hLC"r

16. :().lJ' 21. IJflllfl 26. 1\o'P")JI

17. 1-111\- 22. tt.?7fll 27. ,., .r"''.
18. )(IJ 23. ft.1i) 28. Oil.'\'}
19. -llt.lfiT.A 24. ft-') ~.,. 29. IJD'l'cn.r
20. tJC~SfD 25. l\-i)h7lt:ll i) 30. lf"")"rt,.rA

31. .,.,hfl 36. tiCt\? 41. hh&.

32. 'i' ,.t: ll 37. f1Jio9" 11,. 42. h9Bh+CII9" .
33. tCIJc f"Ch 38. tth+") 43. hJPoot.
34. t.rDt 39. l}o)l: 9" n-t. 44. h+'\?;1-
35. IJ.:f.'l"' 40 . .V..'tRC 45 . .V..t\'1.

46. t)9'".,.,. 51. 'ILil'\,- 56. hl)oiJil

47. hi:?h 52. IJ'\i) 57. hJLh htl'l
48. ,.,.c: 53. h.;Jt\ 58. V&.L
49. :etJ'l 54. flllt'\ 59.1l.~t

50. II'IC 55. hti.:Ch 60. 6f".P.lf).C:

25. Tlze Little Prince
Following, in English written in Amharic fidel, are the first few lines of The Little Prince,
by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. English soWids not in Amharic are written with the fidel of
their nearest Amharic equivalents. 'The little', for example, is written If 1\+l\. The title
and author's name are written phonetically.

H A+A T~7h q~ h7~~7 ~ ~7~ ~~~T~

[m litQl prins, bay ontwan cb sont egzupari]

l. CP.'l ""' .,.., tllth P-elf J.A~ h~ ~m- h. ,.,.,t.i.;n~ "'O=Fc h.7 h.
a-n ttA~ "~"" ~n.Y.t.1f ~~,., ~=Fe" 1 h'lm-~ n T t-~,..h.lfA r::l.h..,. ::
h.,. m11 n. 'Dl=Fc h-li n. ,..,. tth..,.~h+c h.7 11 hh,. Mi ncr/\-C7.,
h. '\C~ h tout\ u

2. , 11-ll IL~ .,..,.. "ftcp J'l7h:r-t.h+C1f h'PI\'" lf.C T l. VA I 'E1fhCD<..,.

:ri'e7~! h'i!+C ,,..,.. H. ll'i',. oo-:0 h7~ IL fu\T il"" II ll.hh Dll7h 'I!T'
11. t.~ r::c "'.e:t.:n=F7 :: ''

3. h.e ;1"71/..C~ lL 7 4. T 1\ J.ifC If h~il. 7~ C11 h:n If Jt:71A n h~.,.C

afD men cen h. 1:7flA h.e flhll..t"...ct" h.7 ,.,_h.'l., Dll~,.
.ct"t.'l!'l., :: tllf.e .ct"t-'1!7., .,,.ac m") :: h..,. 1\<h"r '\~h ll.h ==

4. h.e "fl.ct" tllf.e "''h+cl: h "" ~c:'l-7iTn h'l.ct" hilh'r rt.fD rene ll
~t.'e7., ~t..e+7~ 11.,.::

Answers to the Exercises

1. Patterns ofvowel marking

I.u 11. a 21. e 31. a 41.:;) 51. u

2.i 12.e 22.o 32.:;) 42.o 52.u
3.a 13.:;) 23.a 33.:;) 43.i 53. i
4.e 14.e 24.:;) 34.u 44. e 54.u
5. j 15. i 25.u 35.e 45.:;) 55. a
6.o 16.o 26.u 36.e 46. i 56.0
7. u 11.a 27.u 37.:;) 41.e 51.0
8.a 18. u 28. i 38.u 48.u 58.e
9.0 l9.a 29.i 39. i 49.o 59.u
IO.u 20.e 30.a 40.i 50. a 60.a
2. Words written with two~legged fidel

A. 1. d B. 6. d c. 11. c
2. a 7. e 12. e
3. c 8. b 13. d
4. e 9. c 14. b
5. b 10. a 15. a

D. 16. d E. 21. d F. 26. b

17. e 22. c 27. e
18. c 23. e 28. c
19. b 24. b 29. d
20. a 25. a 30. a

3. More words written with two-legged fidel

A. 1. but cut hut shut jut

2. hoot coot lute/loot suit shoot
3. eat beat heat seat sheet jot cot lot shot
5. ate bait date Kate late
6. boat dote coat shoat oat

B. 1.bun done son/sun shun

8.boon dune June loon soon
9.bean dean Jean lean seen
10. don John con Lon
11. Dane Jane cane lane sane
12. own Joan cone loan shown

c. 13. bud dud Jud cud
14. dude lewd sued shoed booed
IS. bead deed heed lead seed
16.odd cod sod shod
17. aid jade laid shade bade
18. owed code hoed load showed

D. 19.bee owe key doe low Joe

20. due/do bay shoe show he see
21. Lee say be/bee Joe who lay
22. zoo day say she hay Kay

4; Words written with one-legged fidel

A. 1. e B. 6. c c. 11. c
2. c 7. d 12. e
3. d 8. b 13. a
4. a 9. e 14. b
5. b 10. a 15. d

D. 16. c E. 21. c F. 26. e

17. b 22. e 27. c
18. e 23. b 28. d
19. d 24. a 29. b
20. a 25. d 30. a

5. More words written with one-legged fidel

A. I. purr her cur burr sir

2.your poor tour lure sewer
3.gear near pier dear beer
4.par tar char bar jar
S.pear tear chair care Bayer
6. chore pour tore yore gore
B. ?.gull null hull dull lull
8.pull tool yule ghoul cool
9. peal/peel teal neal seal keel
10.nail pail gale hail/hale tail
11. toll goal pole noll hole/whole
c. 12.gun pun nun ton son/sun
13.noon tune goon soon June
14. teen lean bean sheen keen
15.non yon Don/don John con
16. pane/pain chain gain sane lane
17. tone hone zone loan cone

D. 18. knee tea pay go hoe sea/see gay bay chew he hay/hey
20. new you to/too/two toe goo so/sew
21./ay ohlowe zoo nay who show

6. Words written with three-legged and legless fidel

A. 1. d B. 6. c c. 11. a
2. a 7. d 12. c
3. e 8. a 13. d
4. c 9. e 14. b
5. b 10. b 15. e

D. 16. d E. 21. d F. 26. a

17. a 22. a 27. e
18. c 23. e 28. b
19. e 24. b 29. c
20. b 25. c 30. a

7. More words written in tbree-Jegged and legless fidel

A. l.fur sir were purr burr

2. sewer your poor tour lure
3.foar rear ear gear dear
4.mar far are/R war jar
5. mare lair chair care share
6. sore wore four/fore roar more

B. ?.rum mum numb dumb sum

8. room womb whom tomb doom
9. seem/seam ream ream/teem deem beam
10.Mom bomb Tom calm
ll.fame same aim maim game
12. roam/Rome home foam dome loam

c. I3.fuzz was does buzz

14. moos sues/Sue's ooze lose choose
15.foes seas ease bees keys
16. Oz Ma's Pa's
17. raysllraze A's maze/May's faze ways/weighs
18. hoes/hose mows rows/rose woes toes

D. we row moo who say

20. so/sew/sow see/sea sue/Sue ray way/weigh woe
2l.foe pay tea/tee Ma hay/hey may

22. nollcnow fee oh he see/sea she
23.go knee low bow hay/hey mow

8. Recognizing patterns

1. ~ h 11. 1\-ll 21. 'rJP 31. 'L t

2. 'l (Jo
3. n. n
)( )1:
IL tt
22. 71 7i
23. ;1- .,.
.., 33. ,....,.
32. -r m

4. ~ :r: 14. A 1\. 24. CD

5. 1!: .q.
6. ~ 4.
') li' 26. ., ,.
25. ~ f.

7. 1 .,. 17. .., "'t' 27. Q;L'"' Q.1r

8. , y, 18. T 1: 28. ,.. A.
9. "' dt 19. ~ l, 29, + 7
10. .q-.-, 20. h tl 30. S1, A

9. Recognizing members of the fidel sets

1. h ( should be h. ) 11. ,. ( 11 ) 21. II) ( Uf ) 31. It ( '1. )

2. a (ct. ) 12. p. (:-t' ) 22. if (~) 32. Q;L (m.)
3. tl. ( lL )
4.+ ('f)
<n >
("" )
24. ,
") ( 'l )
( 8)
33. '11 (1f)

5. )!' ("f.) 15. (,..) 25. f

(f. )
6. &. ( cf. ) 16. ). ( 'i' ) 26. 1f (., )
7.~ (.,. )
8. u. ( , )
(..,... )
28. ,.
dt (
(,. )

9.m- (,.. ) 19. 4. (C) 29. 'e ( 1: )

10. ;:J (;) ) 20. 1\. (,... ) 30. ~ (, )

10. Fidel flash cards

11. Writing the fidel

12. Mnemonics for the fidel

13. Various words for practice

A. 1. but nut rut shut

2. rum gum bum dumb
3.mud bud cud dud
4.budge fudge nudge judge ton won/one gun
6. touch much such Dutch

B 7./oop soup coop hoop
8. route suit shoot boot
9./ood sued chewed rude
10. doom room boom zoom
11. soon moon tune noon
12. moose noose use juice

c 13. heap leap reap weep

14. heat meet seat sheet
15.need reed seed bead
16. ream seem beam team
17.lean mean seen/scene sheen
18./ease geese peace niece

D. 19.hop mop chop shop

20. hot lot rot got
21. rod sod nod Todd
22. mob Bob lob sob
23.con Don John Ron
24./ock knock rock shock

E. 25.shape tape ape cape

26. hate late wait mate
27.jade made/maid raid shade
28. name same shame tame
29.cane main/mane rain chain
30.face base pace case

F. 31. hope rope soap cope

" 32. moat goat note boat
33.load rode/road sowed/sew ed showed
34. home comb foam dome
35. moan shone loan zone
36. core pour door more

G. 37.cub sub pub tub

38.rush mush lush gush
39.gull dull null hull
40. Chuck buck suck luck
41. Russ bus muss cuss
42.purr her sir were

H. 43. who chew sue shoe

44.fool rule cool pool
45. 2's use whose lose
46./oom boom room whom

41.rude sued food mood
48. moor your lure poor

I. 49.he me see she

50. heal seal real meal
51. fear ear year rear
52. peace cease lease geese
53./ead weed deed feed
54. knees seize fees cheese

J. 55 .far tar jar war

56. mock jock sock dock
57. cod God pod wad
58. rob Bob job nob
59. lot not hot pot
60.bop pop top cop

K. 61. hay/hey lay ray say

62. shake take rake make
63. gate fate rate date
64./aid wade paid fade
65.pail sail/sale shale nail
66./ays maze faze/phase daze

L. 67. row so/sow show low

68. show foe woe dough/doe
69. more tore sore chore
70. bowl mole coal foal
71. soak woke poke choke
72. hose rows/rose nose/knows goes

M. 73. eel ease each ear

74. aim ache age ape
75. owes own oak oaf
76. odd aim owes ace

N. 77. must cussed rust dust

78. cools fools rules pools
19. .field yield kneeled healed
80. tarred jarred card lard
81. aimed shamed maimed named
82. gold hold mold fold
83. means deans scenes jeans

14. Match words in groups of 5

l.c 6.j 11. n 16.p 21. y

2. b 7.h 12. 1 17.r 22.v
3.e 8. i 13.0 18. t 23.x
4.d 9.f 14.m 19.q 24.u
S.a 10.g 15.k 20.s 25.w

26. b 31. i 36.0 41. r 46.y

27.c 32.g 37.n 42.p 47.n
28.a 33.f 38.1 43.s 48.x
29.e 34.h 39.k 44. t 49.w
30.d 35.j 40.m 45.q SO.v

15. Match words in groups of 10

l.j 11. q 21. e 31. s

2.h 12.n 22. b 32. t
3.f 13. s 23.a 33.k
4.e 14. m 24.d 34.p
5. b 15. t 25.c 35.q
6. i 16.k 26. i 36.0
7.c 17.p 27.j 37.n
8.d 18.0 28.f 38. r
9.g 19.r 29.h 39.m
lO.a 20.1 30.g 40.1

16. Match to word dues in groups of 5

1. a, each 6. h,ear 11. m, gull

2. e, lake 7. j,yacht 12.1, beep
3. d, duck 8.g,zoo 13. n, boot
4.c,sun 9. i, moon 14. o, deep
5. b, suit 10. f,jace 15. k, sees

16. r, watch 21. y, hut 26.b,odd

17. s,you 22. x,game 27. d, aim
18. p,Jeed 23. w, cow 28. a, Rome
19.q,oar 24. u,pie 29. c, we
20. t, go 25.v,peas 30. e, loose

17. Match to word clues in groups of 10

1. g, ted 6. h,A 11. q, bay

2.j,Pa 7. c, key 12. s, who
3. a, sow 8. e, Ia 13. t, way

4. i,go 9. b, me 14. n, D
5. f, knee 10. d, ewe 15. p,Z

16. r, row 21. w,moo 26.d,no

17. k, see 22. y,Ma 27. b, sew
18. o, day 23. x, doe 28. z, do
19.1./oe 24; v, show 29. a, be
20. m.Joe 25. c,Sue 30. u, low

18. MiseeUaneous English words with the same first letter

A: ache aim ate age ale

B: bus based/baste boost boast beast
C: code car coop cup cold
D: Dutch doom date dole deep
E: ear eel eat ease/E's east
F: fame .fold feast fool farm
G: game gold guard gum gates
H: hold home hoops hot whose
1: eye// ice ink aisle!I'll ire
J: jeep joke jail job judge
K: keen key keel know knot
L: late. load least locked lame
M: meat/meet make most mold much
N: noon nail named not notes
0: old oak owes/O's owns oaf
P: peak poke park pun pool
R: raid road rob robes rust
S: seem/seam scene/seen soap soup son/sun
T: take tune top tease tub
U: urge use used use (noun) up
V: vague vain/vane vase vote view
W:wake woe waste/waist week/weak weeds
Y: yoke yacht yard yarn yield
Z: zoom zone zoo zinc zeal

19. Miscellaneous words

1. each 6.yacht 11. boot l6.feed

2.lake ?.zone !?.oar
3.goose 8. moose 13. suit 18. sees/seize/seas
4. sun/son 9.gull 14. watch 19. hutch
5.ear lO.bug

21. cow 26. soap 31. teen 36. deep

22.pie 27. peace/piece 32. bees 37. tough

23.peas 28. cUff 33. moat 38.judge
24.bus 29.face 34. ease/E's 39. beef
25.fool 30. cake 35.pot 40. deer/dear

41.pup 46.bean 51. read/reed 56. bowl

42. cave 47. seek 52. change 57. buzz
43. quiche 48. wage 53. yield 58. rouge
44. none/nun 54.fake 59. some/sum
45.gun 50. gum 55. harm 60 .. wand

20. Words in subject groups

A. Days: Sunday Monday Friday Wednesday Saturday

B. School subjects: physics art chemistry history science
C. Sports: football hockey tennis bowling baseball
D. Body parts: eyes elbow shoulder forehead backbone
E. Languages: German Russian Swedish Turkish Swahili
F. Foods: beef chocolate orange ice cream cake
G. Drinks: juice milk Coca Cola Pepsi water
H. Places: hotel bank grocery park bridge
I. Parts of a hc;mse: window chimney basement garage kitchen
J. Planets: Venus Mars Saturn Pluto Uranus

21. Word sequences

A. 25 words
l.D 6.X 11. H 16.0 21. Q
2.K 7.J 12. B 17. E 22.1
3.M 8.F 13. z 18.R 23. y
4.W 9.G 14.L 19.S 24.A
5.N 10.P 15. v 20.C 25. T

Missing in the sequence is U, ~ .

B. 20 words
26. nine
27. thirteen 37. ten
28. eighteen 38. sixteen
29. eleven 39. three
30.two 40.five
31. seven 41. twelve
32. nineteen 42.fifteen
33. six 43.four
34.four/een 44. eight
35. seventeen 45. ,.'e.,.t

22. Cities and towns of Ethiopia

l.i 11. r
2.g 12.t
3.e 13. q
4.h 14. 1
5. a 15. s
6. b 16.m
7.d 17.k
8.c 18.n
9.j 19.0
10. f 20.p

23. International words

A. Electronics: electric television computer radio

telephone photocopy tape internet

B. Sports: high jump football hockey basketball

volleyball golf goal tennis

C. Occupations: police ambassador chauffeur doctor

general nurse professor diplomat

D. Places: restaurant park pharmacy hospital

bar hotel supermarket cinema
bank university embassy snack bar
Hilton Sheraton stadium piazza

E. Countries: Libya Kenya England Italy

France Uganda Germany Somalia
Greece Sudan America Spain
Turkey Israel Mexico Japan

F. Brand names: Coca Cola Sony National Nike

Phillips Bic Wrangler Adidas
Boeing .Kbdak Marlboro Winston
Parker Pepsi JVC Nissan

G. Government: socialism capitalism politics republic

economy Leninism bureaucracy industry
communism insurance fascism democracy

H. Food & drink: spaghetti ice cream pizza cocktail

whiskey lasagna capucino salad
beer paSta vodka Coca Cola

I. Cars: Toyota Volkswagen Mazda Peugeot
Ford Volvo Mercedes Land Rover
Fiat Lada Renault Nissan

J. Persons: Napoleon Haile Sellassie Gandhi DeGaulle

Churchill Tony Blair Putin Shakespeare

K. Miscellaneous: lottery liter sofa tank

aspirin kilometer filter autobus
traffic asphalt cement jet
battery benzine airplane taxi
photo lift meter science

24. Cities of the world

1. Paris 6. Seattle 11. Dire Dawa (Ethiopia)

2. Riad (Saudi Arabia) 7. Stockholm 12. Jibouti
3.Rome 8. Tokyo 13. Douala (Cameroon)
4. Sana (Yemen) 9. Toronto 14. Dubai (UAE)
5. San Francisco 10. Washington D.C. 15. Frankfort

16. Geneva 21. Bamako (Mali) 26. Luanda (Zambia)

17. Oslo 22. Kinshasha (Zaire) 27. Miami
18. .Jedda (Saudi Arabia) 23.Lagos 28. Milan
19. Brazzaville (Congo) 24.London 29. Monrovia
20. Khartoum 25. Los Angeles 30. Montreal

31. Moscow 36. Berlin 41. Accra (Ghana)

32. Nairobi 37. Mumbai 42. Amsterdam
33."New York 38. Boston 43.Asmara
34. Niamey (Niger) 39. Bujumbura (Burundi) 44.Atlanta
35. Beijing 40. Denver 45. Delhi

46. Kampala (Uganda) 51. Dar es Salaam 56. Abu Dhabi (UA.E.)
41.Athens 52. Dallas 57. Addis Ababa
48. Cairo 53. Kigali (Rwanda) 58. Harare (Zimbabwe)
49. Chicago 54. Manila 59. Sydney
SO. Dakar (Senegal) 55. Abidjan (Ivory Coast) 60. Rio de Janeiro

25. First lines of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-E:mpery

1. When I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book called ''True Stories
from Nature" about the primeval forest. It was a picture of a boa constrictor in the
act ofswallowing a large animal.

2. The book said that "Boa constrictors swallow their prey whole without chewing!
After that they cannot move and they sleep through the six months which they need
for digestion. "

3. I pondered then deeply over the adventures of the jungle. After some work with a
pencil I succeeded in making my first drawing. My drawing number one. It looked
like this.

4. I showed my masterpiece to grownups and asked them whether the drawing

.frightened them.

5. But they answered, "Frightened? Why should we be frightened by a hat?"

Amharic-English & English-Amharic

Introduction to the wordlists. Following are Amharic-to-English and English-to-

Amharic wordlists. Amharic words are given in both Amharic fidel and phonetic writing.
The Amharic-to-English wordlist has 1166 entries, including the most frequent words,
which would be taught in a first-year college course.
Th~ English-to-Amharic wordlist consists of the English translation-equivalents of
the 1166 Amharic words. This list is longer, because English translations of Amharic
words often include synonyms and near synonyms, which have separate entries in the
English-to-Amharic list.

CAUTION! Words rarely if ever have perfect equivalents in other languages, and many
words have special, idiomatic, or atypical meanings or usage which cannot be presented
even in lengthy dictionaries or, especially, in wordHsts like these. All the variants and
irregular forms of words cannot be shown. For more complete dictionaries of Amharic,
see the list of books provided on pp. 25-27.

EXPANDED ENGLISH ALPHABETICAL ORDER. Amharic words of the Amharic-English

list are ordered according to their phonetic spellings, in a basically English alphabetical
order expanded by use of the phonetic symbols needed for Amharic. The glottal stop
(which appears only in a few words, between vowels) is first in the list, before a.
Amharic cis alphabeticized like c and] like j. Other phonetic symbols are inserted after
the letter most similar to them. The glottalized consonants follow their plain consonant
equivalents, soc' foJiows ~ p' follows p, s' follows s, and t' follows t. Glottalized k is
spelled and alphabetized as q, and I follows s'. Of the vowels, "follows e and i follows i.
The labiovelar consonants /(", g", qw, and h1v are alphabetized as k+w, etc. .
The complete 35-letter expanded English alphabetical order employing the necessary
phonetic symbols is as follows.

~--,---_1-~------_;,- I 'q-l- -a
I ; -!'-j_j_
1---P---r- p'I
_U q I r s I
s' - 1 1 t I - t ' -;,-l
---v--+t--.,_w y _T_z_____ -i--l

CITATION FORMS of regular Amharic verbs in the Amharic-English wordlist are
Sg.3m. past forms, as in most other dictionaries, and their English translations in the
Amharic-English wordlist are past-tense verbs. Citation fonns of regular English verbs in
the English-Amharic wordlist are, however, infmitive forms (those used with to, for
example be of to be), as in other dictionaries, and their Amharic translations are Sg.3m.
past forms.

PREFIXES. AND SUFFIXES of Amharic words are often marked in the English-Amharic
list, by hyphens, for example: a-m:Jtt 'a 'brought', fw-:M-:~iiiia 'horseman', and y:~-t:~
l:mzm:x/:1 'accustomed, customary'.

Amharic - English
h"''C~- ~")'1 t\ 11~

abba.rr.lm h 1U .. l. chased (vt)

abbat h'l-'r father (n)
a boom hfll. was united I together (vi)
lent money (vt)
fed (vt)
aoorro hUt. lighted, turned on (light) (vt) (at. was lighted (vi))
abiyot h-tlf'+ revolution (n)
abro h1tC together (ha<. were together I united (vi))
abzalhlaw h-tiJf~(l)o majority {n) (Rtf was much (vi))
abzaiblol! lt-tl., "q>t;: most (n)
a~~'ir h. .se-c short (adj)
a~l!'~d~ 0Q;L~ cut gras~ I hay, scythed (vt)
a~~s:;) I at'e~ ha;Lf11 hm.ll smoked (cigarette) (vt)
addarlrl ,.,...,
hlfoPtn paid attention (vt)
hunter (n) (h~)' hunted (vt))
addara~ hlft.'ll' assembly hall or building (n)
add~g~ h~'l grew (vi)
add~l~{B-type) Oll.ft distributed, handed out (vt)
addana (B-type) hll.)' hunted (vt)
add~ra h.1.l. passed the night (vi)
ad<bbabay h.~IJIJ~ traffic circle, (town) square (n)
ada go hll.,:J danger(n)
0~11'3g~ hll.l.1 did, put on (belt, hat, gloves) (vQ
ad~IT3sa h.1.l.ll delivered (vt) (""l.ll arrived (vi))
of ht;: mouth (n)
of~ tarik 11.4. :1-&h legend, oral history (n)
af~llo h4.'\ boiled (vt) (4.'\ boiled (vi))
afaqq~m h4.1"l. loved, adored (vt)
af~r h.LC soil, dirt, ground (n)
afin~'o h,t;:")Q;J. nose (n)
afrika I afriqa ht;:&tll h."i:&~ Africa (n)
ag~bba. h11f married (vt)
ag~i!' h1-e- chin (n)
og~bgg~l~ h1f\1{\ served (vi}
Og.llgil h1A'1t\ type ofcovered basket (n)
Og.lJUl~ h11 got, found (vi}
aggot I aggw~t h 1"r I h.,_...,. uncle (n)
ahiyya hUY donkey (n)
ahun hV'l now

aJJa h'lf oats (n)
akafa hi'Jof. shovel (n) h I'JA body, body part (n)
oGb}x}:m hhUl. respected, honored (vt)
akist hhl)i- aunt (nj)
akkababi hi'J'Ja. surroundings, su"ounding area (n)
akk~l~ hh/\ equaled (vt)
afuma (B-type) hhoo treated (vt)
alammat'a h'\tJIItn chewed thoroughly (vt)
ala ht\ said (vt)
alam -t /\,., world (n)
alam aqq~f -tt\9'" h.,.IJ: international (aqj)
alaqq~~ ht\.,.ll cried, wept (vi)
alga lal\;J bed (n)
alga waro~ hl\;J CDt,.'ir crown prince (n)
alla~~~w h'\=Fm- they have (ht\- + obj. pron. -h=Fm-)
al1-a~~ihu hoi\'FtJ< you (PI) have- (ht\ + obj. pron. -h'f'll-)
allot h'\:r she has (hi\- + obj. pron. -ht-)
alia hi\ present, he I it is- (vi)
allaN h 1\4. passed (vi)
all~h ht\'IJ you (Sg.m) have (hi\- + obj. pron. -'IJ)
oll~mQ h 1\011 dreamed (vi)
allan hi\? we have (hi\-+ obj. pron. -?)
oll~M ht\"1 Ihave(ht\- +obj.pron.-'1)
all~qa hi\.,. ended, finished (vi)
alia~ ht\'lr you (Sgj) have (hi\- + obj. pron. -7r)
allaw ht\CD- he I it has (hi\- + obj. pron. -CD-)
ollawot hl\sP:r you (Sg.pol) have (hi\- + obj. pron. -.JP:r)
amariilda htiiJC~ Amharic (language) (n)
ambo h9'"1J flat-topped mountain (n)
amallat'a hDIII\m escaped (from) (vi)
om~n;;,-t~ h Dill.+ harvest (vt)
omab mihi:mt -t011+ ,..ut.:r A.D., Christian era (lit. Year ofGrace)
amatt'a ht111111 brought (vt) (lit. caused to come; 011111 came)
ammassala hOIJilt\ stirred (vt)
amm~ma- (+ obj. pron) hoooo- was sick (impers. v)
a:mrnan~ hOD,. believed (vt)
ammist h,.l)'f- five (YJ)
amoro htfD&. large bird such as vulture, hawk (n)
anot'i h'i"m. carpenter (n)
anbassa h'ldtl. lion (n)
onci h't= you (Sgj)
~ h'l~ 0~
anooiliio h?~": first

andand h7JI')~ afew, some (lit. one-one)
andand ~wocc h7J17~ llPI':If some people (n)
andinn~t h'J~)',. unity, oneness (n)
amboob~ h)'aa read (vt)
an~ffa~ h)'4.fl winnowed by throwing grain into air (vi)
an~gga~ h )1W made king, crowned (vt) ()1UJ was king)
a~ssa h)'"' picked up (vt)
.angat h'l1'1- neck(n)
ano~ h'l'l. put away (vt)
anta h'J.,. you(Sg.m)
antu h7il you (Sg.pol)
ailmka (B-type) h"fh chewed (vt)
aqatt'~l~ h,.ml\. burned (vt)
aq3rmoo h"Pt.a .served; brought near (vt) ('tl.n approach (vlj)
aqom~ h.fotJD stood (up) (vt), caused to stand, parked (car) (vt)
aqo~~a~ h+i'fi'f dirtied, made dirty (vt)
aqqafQ h't4. embraced, hugged (vt)
aqqot'at'~r h+tfJmC way qf counting (n) (.,.ml. counted (vt))
aqqwa~t~ h,t:l.m crossed, cut across (vt)
aro~ g~oore ht.'fi 1a1. plowman, farmer (n) (hl.ll plowed (vt))
a rot ht.:r four (n)
arb ~ca Friday (n)
arba hC11 forty (n)
orbal'hla hen~ patriot (n)
a~bba bred, raised (animals) (vt)
amt\Q~g~r sentence (of language) (n)
arnm weeds (n)
am~ma hl.IIOO lengthened, caused to be long (vt)
aroge ht:L old (of things, not people) (adj)
arragg~oo ht.1n fanned (vt)
arrnfa hl.d. rested, (airplane) landed (vlj
arrnma hl.llfl weeded (vt)
arm~ hl.ll plowed (vt)
asa ~"I fish (n)
asama h'lDII pig(n)
asayya h'lV showed (vt) (lit. caused to see: hh+h r)
asdannaqa hh~)''P surprised, amazed (vt)
aslfuoo ggat'a hh~nm startled, surprised (vt)
asdassac hh~'l~ interesting (adj)
aS<bssata hh~ll.,. pleased (vt)
asallim hllnt. intoxicated, made drunk (vt)
asfaffa hlt'f.'f. widened (vi)
asfurro hh4.t. frightened (vt) (d.t. was afraid (vi))

as get'a hi.,'l.m decorated, adorned (vt)
osgobiiin hA11f1 tourguide (n) (1a"f visited (vlj)
osnassa hA., PI started, waked up (vt) (lit. caused to rise)
oscp~t';J hll.,.oam put away, set, placed (vt)
osro and "'!Pt. h")~ eleven (n)
osro hul;Jtt "'!Pt. rJ-1\T twelve
OSS;JOO ht'la thought (vt)
OSS;JOOddo hll'i"JI prepared, got ready (vlj
OSS;JJ.":.) hill. tied, imprisoned (vlj
assir "'JP C ten (n)
ostoW\\QS;J hll;lma reminded (vt)
Ost;JmOI";J hh+"7l. taught (vt)
astamori hh,."'' t, teacher (n)
asbwaW\\Qqo hh+'PlD1" introducedTvt) (hm1" knew (vlj)
os'e h'J. emperor (n)
os'oodo MVI cleaned, made clean (vi)
okar hi'l'hc servant (n)
otld It I atak.Ht hTht\'l-/l,:l1lt\'l- vegetables, -&fruits (n)
ato h.Y. Mr.
ot'arro h111t. filtered, purified (vt)
at';Jg;;lb hm1a adjacent to, next to (lf~j: hm"HI next to a tree)
at'omm;Jd;J hmoo~ snared, trapped (vt)
at'aqqa hm:l" attacked (vt)
at'ir h1'C fence (n)
att;Jm;J (B-type) ,...,.,.. printed, published (vt)
att'a hill lacked, lost, missed (vt)
att';Jb;J hma washed (vt) (:lma wa.~hed .~e/f)
ott'gfo hmd. folded, turned down (vt)
att'om hml. was short (vi) (h~C short (adj))
awosg h'Pil lent (not money) (vt)
owarro hmt. gossiped (about) (vi)
owarrncb hmt.SJ. brought down (vi} (tDl.SJ. .descended (vi,))
owasso hQJil reminded (vi) (QJ'l remembered (vt) (B-type))
a won hfP1' yes
owrodoro hCD-t. J(C rooster (n)
owro t'ot hlD-t. 111'1- thumb (n)
owre hlD-l. wild, undomesticated animal (n)
owropp(')a J,m-c~ I hlD-C: :r Europe (n)
owropp(')awi hlD-C~#f I hm-c:;J'#f European (n)
owropp(')owiyon hm-c~#f.r") I htJJoC;F#f,f") Europeans (n)
owmqg OQJ1" knew (vt)
OWWc)sa (B-type) hCDil remembered (vi)
oyot h.f+ grandparent, grandfather, grandmother (n)
oydgllgm ht,SJ,I\tpt he I it is not {vi)

ayn 't.e'l eye (n)
ayn::)t 't .e)'+ kind, type (n)
ayt' h.e~ rat, mouse (n)
ayy~ hf saw (vt)
ayy~r hfC air (n)
ayy~r hayl hfC "\ air force (n) (;).et\ power (n))
ayy::)r marrag::)biya hfC "'1&.1U.Y fan (n)(h&-1n fanned (vt))
ayy:,)Tffi::)n~d hVC OD"/1?: airline (n)
OZffi::)fQ h11ou&. harvest (n)
ayzoh h.eflu Cheer up! (cry of encouragement)
azzaz hlf1r director, boss (n) (hllll ordered (vt))
azmgaJJ~ hlf;J:( prepared, got ready (vt)
azml~ hill\ carried on the back (e.g. a child} (vt)
azmn::) hll )' mourned, grieved (vi)
azmz;> hlflf ordered (vi)
azzo hi' crocodile (n)
a~~ (B-type) h1f oozed (vi)

babur I) 11-C train, railroad (n)

babur t'abiya I) 11-C ti'J a.Y
train station (n)
bado IJA empty (adj)
bahir 11t'hC sea (n)
bahir zaf 'I\IC It;: Eucalyptus tree (n)
bal IJ A husband (n)
baldi I) tVI. bucket (n)
balinJ::)ra IJt\'):(&. friend (n)
bona IJ'i" woolen cloth (n)
baqela 1)1:'\ bean(s) (n)
barnet' a 11Ctlfl hat with brim (n)
barrnk~ IJ ~ h blessed (vt)
bassag~r tflf'IC across (+7f1~ crossed (e.g. a river} (vt))
batri 1 1+~ battery (n)
bet a.:r- house (n)
bet;t kristiyan ILI hCIH:J'') church (n)
hem m::)ngi:st tt.+ on')"J/"'t palace (n) (ou')'11"1t government (n))
bet;t m~s'ahift IL+ ou~il,t;:lf library (n) ( oo~iht;:} books (n))
betas:}b IL+tHI family (n)
oo- (prep) n- with (tool, instrument) (IJoPtl.'i" by car)
~- ... ookul n - ... IJ fleA beside, on the part of
b~- ... bota n- ... {I ;I in ... place (of)
~?al IJ'tA festival day, holiday (n)
b~dda n.II had sex I intercourse, ofmale (vt)
b~dd~l~ (B-type) 11,_1\ mistreated, wronged (vt)
b~g IJ"l sheep (n)

b~gimmit 11'7,.+ approximately
b~hwala II ">a'\ later (lit. at back)
haJJ~ (B-type) n'J! was suitable for (vt)
oolla n"\ ate (vt)
oomolla 11,..'\ fully, completely
ooqatt'ita n.,.-r:l- directly (lit. with directness)
ooqi 111! enough (n)
baqlo lllf>l'\- mule (n)
ooqqa n:J" was enough (vi)
1Jar}Jgrre neat. hot pepper, ground hot pepper (n)
b;,re at. ox(n)
~rado Ill.~ ice, hail, snow (n) (Ill,_ was cold (vi))
IJQI'Qha nt..Y desert (n)
OOI'Qra lilt. flight (ofairline schedule) (n) (lll.l. flew (vi))
ooi'Qt nt..:r pen, animal pen (n)
ooi'Qtta Ill.:#' was strong (vi)
oomos IIC'l'lt hooded woolen cape (n)
b~rr nc doorway, door (n)
b~rra nt- lighted I glowed, was -; was on (light) (vi)
bam~ Ill., was cold (offood, etc.) (vi)
lrclmi'Q lll.l. flew (vi)
lrcltai!'anunari n.,. Q;J,t''"' additionally (+"LOll/.. was added (vi))
b~t:;;layyimm n+l\~,.. especially (1\f separated (vt))
b~~n~ (B-type) n+t scattered (vt)
oot'am lllfl,.. very
ooyy~- ar- each, in each, in every
ooyyaqanu a,.,.,..
llfh"lt.TaJo each in their country (h1C country (n))
(on) every day(.,.? day (n))
oozza nr was (too) much, was excessive (vi)
bira n.t. beer (n)
biro n.c office (n)
billawa n."\,. knife (n)
bii!oo -n?J! only, just
bii!oowin ll?f!aJo") alone
biherawi 11th.t.' national (adj)
bilhat 11AY:r cleverness (n)
billo 111'\- he, saying (Sg.3rn. converb of hi\ said)
bire'iqo 1JC1!-+ glass (n)
bird -tiCS': cold (temperature) (n)
birat lll.'r metal (n)
birle -tiC I\. glass vessel for drinking t'aJJ (n)
birr -tiC Ethiopian dollar, silver (n)
birr ant'ari -ac h?~r~t. silversmith (n)
birtu -ac.,. strong (adj) (Ill.:#" was strong (vi))

birtukon -ac-~stn orange (fruit) (n)
biskilet -11/lhf\.+ bicycle (n)
bizot -fllf:'J- amount (n)
bizu 6,. many, much
bole PI\. Bole (Airport, Addis Ababa)
boto P;I- place (n)
bmma IK" coffee (n)
bmmo bet n-~ a+ bar, coffee bar (n) (lt~ coffee (n))

rob ~I\ was able, could (vi)

car 'Tc generous (aqj)
earrori 'TC?f=l. vendor (n)
eak~ 'Th was stubborn (vi)
cam Tl. was generous (vi)
ctggor 'f;JC famine (n)
ciggir 'F"1C problem, difficulty (n)

c'oc'oto fl&l.o1151.;1- noise, disturbance, chirping (n)

c'oc'ut .s&&al:i" chick, baby chicken (n)
c'of .s&&'i: edge, tip (n)
c'okko .s&& tt forest (n)
c'ommo -.."'7 shoe(s) (n)
c'ana .s&& t loaded (vt)
c'~ffg~ (B-type) AL4.l. danced (in group) (vt)
c'amm~rn (B-type) QtJDl. added (vt)
~ammam (B-type) tADD.,. was calm (vi)
c'arrns~ (B-type) .Q;Ll.fl finished (vt)
c'~SQ I t'eSQ tAll/ m.ll smoked (vi)
c'~woto aa.'P:I" game (n) (.,..s&&lDT played (vt))
c'is I c'is I t'is a~..h IIIJ:>h /mil smoke (n)
cik'a '9:1" mud (n)
c'in~t '9),. carrying (loads) (.s&&t loaded (vt))
c'oh~ Uil''n shouted, barked (dog), roared (lion) (vi)
c'uh~t A'1:lH shouting, commotion, noise (n) (1Ji"l1 shouted (vi))

dobbarn IWl. thrived (business) (vi)

dobbo Jffl bread (n)
dobbo cbffa Jffl .Je. ... baked bread (vt) ("-of. turned over (vt))
dogmawi If"'"""- second (1.1DD repeated (vi))
don~ If) got well (vi)
doilll~ (B-type) lf"f judged (vt)
dar JfC edge, bank (n)
<bbdobbe ~-a 'Ia letter (correspondence) (n)
<bbad<b~"-11 beat (vt)

d~btar ,_-a+c notebook (n)
dabub ,,..-a south (n)
d~go ,;J highland (n)
daggafu (B-type) P.'ld. supported (vi)
dapma P. '1111' repeated. did again (vt)
daggasa (B-type) P-1{) gave a foast (vi)
d~hino P.U'i" well, fine (adj)
d~JJ P.~ doorway, threshhold (n)
d~kk~m~ ,h,.. tired. got tired (vi)
dakkam~ (+ obj. pron) R.hoo- tired, got tired (impers. v)
dam R.,.. blood (n)
damb rule, regularity (n)
regular (R.91'-ll rule, regularity (n))
d~mmo ,_ diJ bled (vi)
d~~IQ (B-type) R.tiDl. added up (vt)
damoz ,_ q-11 salary (n)
danaffo ~t-s. boasted (oj) (vi, vt)
d~naggat'~ ~t'lm was startled I scared (vi)
d~nnaqa t.,.
P. surprised, amazed (vi)
daqiqo P.1"..:1 minute (n)
d~rg P.C"' committee, 'Derg' Ethiopian gov't. 1974-91 (n)
dar.raqa ~l..,. dried out, was dry (vi)
d~UIQSQ ~/../) arrived (vi)
daset P.tVr island (n)
d~ss ol~- (+ obj. pron) P-11 hi\- was pleasing I charming to (impers. v)
qassito ~ll~ happiness (n)
dgssitgndo R.ll+" happy(adj)
dgwwgla (B-type) ~lDI\ rang (bell), telephone (someone) (vt)
diqolo .cL:Jt"\ bastard (n)
digof ~ ;Jti: support, assistance (n)
diggis ~"'ll feast (n)
diho ~'11 poor (adj)
dihinngt ~"ft ,...,. poverty (n)
dil ~~ victory (n)
dil odgrrggg ~~ hP.l.'l defoated (vt) (~~ victory (n))
dildiy ~~~~ bridge (n)
dilot ~1\-:r luxury (n)
dimlrnl)t ~011..,. cat(n)
dingoy ~"'';J~ stone, rock (n)
dinggt P.""'''lt- surprise, unexpectedness (n) (n~"'''l:r suddenly)
dinni~ ~"'''f potato (n)
dirq ~Clp drought (n)
dist ~~~..,. plate, platter (n)
domo /(dl} hoe (n)

doro chicken, hen (n.j)
dulla club, stick (n)
duro past, earlier times (n)

elektrik electricity (n)

eli turtle, tortoise (n)

fanos 4.1i"'h lamp, lantern (n)

f~cc~ (B-type) ;tm ground up, grinded (vt)
r~n~ ;C.'R:, used up (vt)
fulla ;C.'\ boiled (vi)
f3ll3~ (B-type) ;C.{\1 wanted, sought, looked for (vt)
fun~dda ;l)'JI burst (vi)
f3qad ;l:JtR, permission (vt) ( no")')f ;C.:Jt 1!: driver's license (n))
fuqq3d3 ;C..,.,. permitted, allowed (vt)
f3!3S ;lt.f) horse (n)
f~rn~rbla ;C.t.l)~ horseman (n)
r~rra 4.~ foared, was afraid of (vi)
f~rmm~ (B-type) 4./..0fj signed (vi)
f~ss'~m~ &.Rna completed, finished (vt)
f3ttO 4.;1- untied, divorced (vt)
f3tt~l3 ;C.+I\ spun (thread) (vt)
finna ,f,c:Dfl signature (n) (4./..0D signed (vt))
fit ,f.+ face(n)
fit l~fit ,f.+ "4.+ infront qf(lit.face to .face)
ftll3ga t;!I\;J search (n) (4.1\1 sought (vt))
fi.rafire lj:t.,t;!~ fruits & berries (n)
fire t;!~ fruit, seed (n)
fiyy3l 'i:fA goat (n)
foq f:lp floor, storey ofbuilding (n)
foq bet .::;p a.,. multi-storied building (n)
fot'a f:lf) towel (n)

gag~rn - :nt. baked (vt)

gabba~ ,?fill invited (vt)
gall3ba ;JI\a galloped (vt)
gamma ,?Dfl mane (ofhorse, mule, etc.) (n)
gar I gara ;JC/;J~ with (PI~ ;JC with me)
gara ;Jt. mountain (n)
gasa ;J'lf shield (n)
gazet'a ;Jfl.lf) newspaper (n)
gazet'3Ilika ;JII.m~ journalist (n) (;Jff.nt newspaper (n))
geta 1.:1- lord, master (n)
.,_..,.,.,. good fortune (n)

get' '&."I' ornament, decoration (n)
get'aget' "&.IIJ't"l' jewelry (n)
get'~ "l.m decorated, adorned (vt)
g~bba 1'1 entered (vt)
gQb]r.)ra 1fU. paid tribute, paid tax (vt)
g.J]r.)re "lUI.. farmer(n)
gQ]r.)te m-t wooden platter (n)
gQ]r.)ya my market (n)
gQbi "Ill income (n)
g~bs 1-11/t barley (n)
g~dd~l~ .,~" killed (vi)
g~d~l 1~t\ cliff, precipice (n)
g~ll~s~ I g;)ll~t~ 1"~ I 1"m explained, revealed (vt)
~mQd 10DY: rope (n)
g.Jmm;)t~ (B-type) "loo+ estimated, guessed (vt)
gQilO 11i' yet, already
g~nbo 171 type ofpot (n)
g~n~bba 1)'1J built in stone (vt)
g~mna "IIi' Christmas holiday, Christmas hockey game (n)
g~~b nlf-n money (n)
g~rnd u. Y: servant girl (n.j)
ggzza .,,
11 ruler (n)
bought, ruled (vt)
gize 1.11. time (n)
gibbi -.a. compound, enclosed area (n)
gibir ..,.,.c
.,.,.,.. tax, banquet, foast (n)
gibs' Egypt(n)
gidgidda .,Y:.,It wall (n)
gilg~l .,t\1t\ baby domestic animal (n)
gimgl .,oPt\ camel (n)
gimbar -.9'" 11C I "17 11C forehead, front, political front (n)
gimma! -.tiiJ7r half(n)
gin .,7 but
ginb "17-fl stone (n)
ginbot -.?P+ monthfrom May 9/10 (n)
ginbar I gimbar -.?IJC I -.9DIJC forehead, political front (n)
gind -.?Y: log, stump, tree-trunk (n)
git'o "'tn7r pasture, grazing (n)
gizot .,,.rr- domain, area (of rule) (n) (11J ruled (vt))
go]r.)ffif~ 1U"1 visited (vt)
go dona 141i' highway, wide road (n)
goddo .., ... harmed, injured (vt)
goJJo ..,~ hut (n)
gon 1') side (n)

gonh;,gon ')') t\1') side by side
go~~ 1l.O fed a bite (vt)
goso 1~ ethnicity, ethnic group (n)
go~ro granary(n}
gro(gira) .,t. left (side} (n)
.,...,...,. cheek(n)
gunfon .,..,..,..,. cold (illness) (n)
.,.,.,.cr; mouthful, tip I bribe (metaphoric) (n)
travel (n) (+Prlf traveled, journeyed (vi,))
gwodd so,~ comrade, team (n)
gwodo Pr.ll back section ofhouse, alcove (n)
gwodooildo SO.Jt 'li' friend, companion (n)
gw~bbam (B-type) 1-an was brave (vi)

hobt '1-R+ I va+ wealth (n)

hobtom '1-RrtJD rich (adj)
hakim th h.S'" doctor (n)
homle th 9" t\. month from July 8/9 (n)
hamsa .... ,.1 fifty (n)
ham us .... 00<~ Thursday (n)
hasab th~.a idea (n) (hila thought (vt))
hawlt thlD-t.\"r monument, statue (n)
haya 'IY twenty
hoyI 'J~A power, strength (n)
hayl~ sillose .... ~t\ !P'\fL Haile Se/lassie 1 (!P'\(L trinity)
hayl~Ma P,t\~ powerful (adj)
haymanot 'f,tJif'l"tr faith, religion (n)
hayq V,'P lake (n)
hamn .... ,.,. mourning, grief(n) (hfl) mourned, grieved (vi))
he<b ' he went, he left (vi)
hisob dL~-IJ math(ematics) (n)
hibm timhirt ""1-tJl. +9"uc+ social studies (n)
hi dar ..... c monlhjrom November 10111 (n)
hibmt ""1-tJl.+ cooperation (n)
higg ih"' law, rule (n)
hilm ihAv- dream (n) (h"OD dreamed (vQ)
him~m UOfllJD illness (n)
hind U7~ India (n)
hins'o ih7~ building (n)
his'on ih ~") baby (n)
hizb ih1HI people (n)
hona IF) became (vi)
hospital fT.ItT.:I-A hospital (n)
hul~tt 11-"+ two

hulatt gize lJoh+ 1.11. twice (lit. two times)
hulatte lJoh-t twice
hulatanna second
hulatanna da~Ja ~l."'f secondary (lit. second step I stage)
hullu all
hwala back, area behind (n)

ityopp'ya h.+Y"~Y Ethiopia (n)

ibab 'h 1HI snake (n)
tbd 'h-11~ crazy (n)
idgat 'h1:1T growth, development (n) (h~ 1 grew (vi})
idme ~1:011. age (n)
igir 'h..,C fool, leg (n)
igzi?obher 'hllf.h-llth.C God (n)
ihil 'hVt\ grain, crop (n)
illit 'h"'''l sister (n.f)
ihud 'htf.. ~ Sunday (n)
iJJ 'h~ hand, arm (n)
ikak 'hhll itch, rash (n)
ikkul MN.\ half, equal (n)
ikkula lelit 'h h-1\ 1\.t\ to midnight (n)
ikkula qan Mll\ .,.") midday, noon (n)
imbi h?"n. I refuse! No! (opposite of 'hit Okay)
imbiala 'h?"n. hi\ refused (vi) (lit. said 'imbi')
in<!'at h'1'aJ.t' wood (n)
inda (prep) 'h'1'~ like (as in 'h'1'~ hll- like him)
indagano 'h'1'~ 1'i' again (lit. like before)
indamin 'h'1'~9"'1' how? (lit. like what)
indet h'1''-+ how? (lit. like where <h'1'~ r:r)
indih I indazzih 'h'1'.ct.V I h'1'~11.V thus, like this
indihwnm 'h'1'.ct.fJ-9" likewise
ine h~ I
ingliz h'1'.., 1\.11 English(man) (n)
inglizinna 'h'1'..,1\11~ English language (n)
injara h'1'Ji:l. injera, Ethiopian unleavened bread (n)
innonta ht;o'1'+ you (Pl)
innot 'ht;<"t mother (n.j)
inna- h)' - plural prefix, cohort prefix with names
innassu I innarsu h)' 1)- I 'h )'C ll- they
innazzih h )'ltV these
innazziyo h )'lf.,f those
inqwilol h'1'-ll.'\t\ egg (n)
insat h'1'1li'" ensete, 'false banana' plant (n)
insiro h'1'ltl. type oflarge pot (n)

insisa animal (n)
inna we
iqa IJ:I" item, article (n)
irot ht'.-'r evening meal (n)
irrniiiia hl.~ shepherd (n)
irsas hC'lil pencil (n)
ida hC)f field, farm (n) (1\l.n plowed (vt))
isa.t lVl'r fire (n)
isat adaga t'abiya hll:r hJl.;J lflllJ' fire station (n)
isb hllh until (J.hh )'f until tomorrow)
iska ... dirns hllh ... until, up to, as far as (a time or place)
isso<!~aw I irso~~:.lw hllT'DJo I hCil=t=DJo he I she pol.
issu I irsu ha- I hea- he
isswa I irswa h'), I hC'), she
isswo I irswo hllfP I hChfP you (Sg. pol)
i~~i hit Okay (opposite of h,-tt No, I refuse.)
issi al:.l Jilt ~I\ agreed (vi) (lit said 'issi')
it'if h'r~ doubling, fold (n) (hm4. folded (vt)) l.DJo ,.,. truth (n)
iyyandandu l.J''l.IJ')JI. each one(~,.~ one)
iyy:.l- l.r- each, every (f'lf1"'l every day)
izzih hrlU here
izziya Ml..f' there

Jont'ila I umt'ila :f'l-r'\ I "Jf''l"l"'\ umbrella (n)

Jab:.lna ;,:ali' coffee pot (n)
Jalba ~A q small boat (n)
j:.lla IJela ~t\ I ;(t\ was foolish, (vi)
jamm:.lrn ):oo(. .Ytarted, began (vi & vt)
Jenerol 1.: ~&'.-A general (military title) (n)
Jarba l!CIJ back (of body) (n)
Jibuti :f.ttt Jibouti, Djibouti (n)
Jib ~-a hyena (n)
Jigralugra ~"' t. I fr"l &. guinea-hen (n)
Jil I Jil ~A I )[A fool (n)
Joro ~C" ear (n)

karta I'JC;I- map(n)

kawiyya I')m-.f' iron (for clothing) (n)
kenya Kenya (n)
k:.l- (prep) h- from (hlf.U from here)
b-... oofit ll - ... 1'14-'r before .. .
k:.l-... bahwala h- ... 1'1'>.'\ after .. .
ka-... b:.llay h- ... ""~ above I over ...

k~- ... ooto<!c h- ... ll:l"':fbelow I under ...
k~h .. gar h- ... .?C with ... (h). ;JC with me)
k~- ... gon h - ... 11' at the side of...
k~- ... J~rbo h- ... :trcq at the back ofI behind ...
k~bb~d~ hll~ grew heavy, got heavy (vi)
k~boorn hll~ was honored I respected, was rich (vi)
kgbt h.,.,..,. domestic animals, farm animals (n)
bdd~n~ h~)' closed with lid, roofed (house) (vt)
k~ffolg h~ ht\ was high (vi)
kgffal~ h&/\ paid, divided (vt)
k~ff~b h&+ opened (vt)
k~ffi.ta h~:J height (n)
k~l~kk~l~ h/\h/\ forbade (vt)
k~n~dda h)'lf measured by forearm (vt)
kgt~mo h+OIJ town, city (n)
kgtt~b h++ stored grain, pocketed (vt)
kgzziyo oohwalo hllJ' n->.'\ after that, then
kibd~t hn~:r weight (n) (hfl~ was heavy (vi))
kibir ti.,.,C honor, respect (n) (hll~ was honored (vi))
kidon hll1' roof, lid (n)
kifil h~A room (n)
kiflg ho~r h'i:/\ 'I'IC province (n) (lit. section of country)
kifl~ z~m~n h~t\ . tfOD') century (n)
kift h~i::,O open (adj) (h&+ opened (vt))
kilinik ht\th clinic (n)
kind h1'~ forearm (n)
kinf h1''i! wing (n)
koleJ flt\.~ college (n)
korW~o ttc;.: saddle (n)
kubboyo 11-'IJ' mug, big cup (n)
kuraz 11-l-11 small kerosene lamp (n)
kwos '>all ball (n)

lace'~ shaved (vt) (+"\"" shaved oneself (vi))

sent (vt)
cow (n.j)
los~ '\ll licked (vt)
loy "\.e. on, top (n) (as in m~A.'I "\.e. on a table)
lebo t\.fJ thief(n)
lela t\."\ other, another
lelit t\. t\:,. night (n)
}g- (prep) 1\- for, to (1\0IJC:I- for Marta)
I~ boo~ 1\(1{1 put on (clothing) (vt)
}Qggo (B-type) t\;J kicked I batled a ball, hit (vt)

l~kko (B-type) {\II measured (vt)
l~m~ll~m~ {\OP{\OD was fortile (land) (vi) 1\tJDI\9" fertile (adj)
l~mmann lt417'1 beggar (n)
la~da 1\0DII. got used to, was acc:ustomed to (vt)
lammaoo (B-type) 1\0D)- begged (vt)
l~qqQIDQ 1\"I"OD collected, picked (vt)
laww.)t'Q (B-type) 1\mm changed, exchanged (vt)
layyQ (B-type) separated, differentiated (vt)
shoeshine boy (n)
heart (n)
libb WQ(~d A-ll aJ/'11!: fiction (n)
libs A-trh clothing (n)
ltj l\Y: boy, child (n)
likk An right, correct (n)
limad A"''I!: custom, habit (n) (1\oo~ got used to (vt))
li:yyu A f.. different (adj) (t\f separated, differentiated (vt))
liyyu liyyu Af.. Af. various (t\f separated, differentiated (vt))
lomi t\-011. lemon, lime (n)

ma~'id "''..iu-1!: scythe, sickle (n) (0'"~ cut grass I hay (vt))
mahibm "''U.,.,.. seal (n)
maksal'hlo "''hilV' Tuesday (n)
mal~da "7 1'111 daybreak, early morning (n)
mallQd~ "'11\11. was early, was daybreak (vi)
mann/rna Oll'l I "7 who?
mannimm Oll'l,.. nobody (with neg. verb)
monkiya Oll'lh.J' spoon (n)
maqomiya diJ+"''.J' parking place, parking lot (n) (h-r-OD stopped (vt))
mar ""'C honey(n)
mom~a 0111.."/f p~ow (n) (hl.ll plowed (vt))
maiNb 011 1.. h captured (vt)
maSSQn~ "''ll t weakened, was weak (vi)
mcita "7 :1- late afternoon, evening (n)
mat'oriyo diJ"'~J' filter (h"'t. filtered (vt))
mawi!'a ODaJodlil. exit (n) (m,. exited, went out (vi))
ma.mgaJJo bet 01111;~)1' n.:r city hall, municipality buiiding (n)
meda ,.,_,~~ field, meadow, plain (n)
100brat oo-at.+ light (nt. was lighted (vi))
moce/mac tJP=E I OD:If' when?
mai:!c'aw.;,ca boto ODIIAilaJ!F fi:Jo playground, children's playground (n)
mabbbtr 01111..-IIC stall, selling booth in market (n)
m~df OD!!:~ cannon, artillery (n)
madhonit IJO!!:"! )-~+ medicine (n)

m~dow oop."f'i hammer (n)
m~goz oo:nl saw (n)
m~ggobit oo;JfL:r month from March 10111 (n)
m~gl~~o OO"l 1\Q;J. explanation, revelation (n) ( 1 t\m explained (vt))
m~hol I m~hokk~l ooY t\ I ooYhA center, middle (n)
m~k~ro ooht. trouble (n)
m~kino auns car, automobile (n)
m~kk~rn oohl. advised (vt)
m~kwonint OO\Ja")'")'T nobility, officials (n)
m~l~kkiyo oot\n.r measuring instrument (n) (t\tl measured (vt))
m~lk ooAh appearance (n)
m~ll~s~ (B-type) oot\ll answered (vt)
m~ng~d 00")'11: way, road (n)
m~ng~d~ndo 00")"11..~ traveler (n)
m~ngist OO")'"'JP+ government, kingdom (n)
m~nJo f~qod oo")')f 4..:1-1: driver's license (n) ()'.tf drove; ~.,. 1.. permUted)
m~noriyo bet aoq>(,J' n.+ residence (n) (Cfl. lived (vi))
m~nto oo")';l- twins (n)
m~niiito oo"1:1 sleep, sleeping (n)
m~qob;;,r tomb, grave (n) (.,.nt. buried (vt))
in;;,q;;,nn3t oo.,. ):r belt for women (n)
m3q~s ou.,.la scissors (n)
m;;,ret oo~+ land, field (n)
m;;,rk3b ouch-a ship, large boat (n)
m~rFclq~ (B-type) oot..,. blessed, gave benediction (vt)
m~rmt'~ ool.m chose (vt)
ffi;;)fmZQ oot.ll poisoned (vt)
m~rz ODC1f poison (n) (OOl.fl poisoned (vt))
m~s;;,kk~m oollhl. testified (vt)
m;;,~lol ooll"\A ladder (n)
me&>r~t oowt.+ foundation (n) (oowt.+ established (vt))
m3s~rmt~ Ollwl.+ founded, established (vt)
m~sfin ooJPt;.""/ prince (n) (ooUft;:"):;- princes (PI))
m~sk~ram ooiahl.9" month/rom September 11112 (n)
m~skot ootall:r- window (n)
m~sno oohll' irrigation (n)
m~sob ODf\11 table-like basket (n)
m~sq~l oolt1'A cross (n)
m~s&;;)l~ oollt\ resembled, seemed, appeared (vt)
m~s'ihof ODR'tht;: book (n) (oo~iht;:+ books (PI))
m~~~~ oo7f was evening (vi)
m~to oo.Y. hundred
m~tto oo;l- hit (vt)
m~t'~t oom"l' drink (n) (m~ drank (vt))

mat'fo 0111'1:: bad (adj)
mat'rnbiya 011~/..R..f ax, adze (n) (mt..n carved (wood) (vlj)
mat'rngiya OII'TI..'l.Y broom (n) (ml."l swept (vt))
matt' a 011111 came (vi) (lmper. Sg.m I Sg.fI PI 'i" I )' ~ I )'-)
mawc'a OlllD-.&~. exit (n) (lD111 exited, went out (vt))
mayaza I mayazya oPY'lf I oP.ffr .f handle, holder (Yif held, took (vt))
mazaggaba oPH10 registered, listed (vt)
mazgiya oo'll'l.1 door (n) (II.? closed (vt))
mazzana OIIH )' weighed (vt)
midaqqo IJ'f..t~+ type ofsmall antelope (n)
mizan Dfl.lfi' scales (for weighing) (n)
mist Dfl.ll+ wife (n.j)
miyazya Dll.Y'IIY month from Apri/9110 (n)
migib bet ,._..,.,, n.+ restaurant (n)
mi?irab ,.-il&.ofl west (n)
mikir 91'hC advice (n)
milas 9"'\il tongue (n) ('\fl licked (vt))
milikkit tJDt:\h+ insignia, indication, sign (n}
min 9"'l what?
minimm 9"'")9" nothing (with neg. verb)
min min 9"'") 9"'") what sorts? what kinds?
min~' 9l'i'"V' source, spring (n)
minister '"1. tlli:C ministry (n)
ministi:r 011. )'.. h:,. c minister (n)
misa 9"'1 lunch (n)
misale 9"'11'\. example, proverb (n)
misil IJDht:\ likeness, image (n) (ooll" seemed, resembled (vi))
misroq ,..JP&.Ifo east (n)
missir 9"hC lentils (n)
missit IJD'li+ evening (n) ( oPiT was evening (vi))
mit'od 9"111~ griddle for making injera (n)
-mm also, too, topicalizing suffix(~ ~tJD me too)
mokk.ara (B-type) 1'"hl.. tried (vt)
molla 1'"'\ .filled (vt, vi)
moqa tpt.,. heated, was hot I warm (vi)
mob ,...,. death (n)
died (vi)
mulu 011-/r full (aq;} (tJ"''\ filled (vt, vij)
mulu bamulu oo-tr .noo-tr entirely, totally
muq ou-o!p hot, warm (food) (tJD.,. was hot I warm (vi))
musirro oo-'lft. bride, bridegroom (n)
muz 011-'ll banana (n)
muzeyem oo-ti.V-9" museum (n)

no CJ' Come! (lmper. Sg. m. vi)
na~~w 'i"=Fm- they are (P/.3 I Sg.3pol. be-verb)
naUihu CJ"'f'u- you are (Pl.2 be-verb)
naq~ CJ'1" belittled (vt)
nat CJ'i" she is (Sg.3f be-verb; also t'f)
ooboom tnt. he I it was (be-verb, past tense)
DQbir )-tiC leopard (n)
llQ~~ )"11' white (n)
DQ~~ fT she is (Sg.Jf be-verb; also"'")
ooddo )II drove (car, animals) (vt)
ooffa )of. inflated, sifted {vt)
flQ:f{Qrg )d.t. cooked, boiled (vi)
n~g~r )'IC matter, abstract thing (n)
nQgQr gin )'IC .,.,. however, but
n~~ )'I tomorrow (n)
mgga ),.? dawned, rose (sun) (vi)
ooggade ) _,,_ merchant (n)
n~gg~d~ )1~ traded, dealt (in) (vt)
nQgg~m )1t. told (vt)
nQgg~~ )?IJ.I was king (vi)
n~gg~SQ~~ )1IJ.I'f' was queen (vi)
OQb )'ll you are (Sg.2m. be-verb)
nQbase )dlfl. month from August 718 (n)
n~Ji ):a[ driver (n) () Jl drove (vt,))
nQkka )tl touched (vi)
n3ru1 ,..,,..,. we are (Pl. I be-verb)
1 am (Sg.J be-verb)
n3qqo ):J- awoke, woke up (n)
oos'o )~ free, free of charge (adj) (a)'~ at no cost, free)
DQS 1 0DDQt )~):,. freedom (n)
03 ')'ll' you are (Sg.2f be-verb)
oowot ,.,,.
)aJo he I it is (Sg.3m. be-verb)
you are (Sg. 2pol be-verb, present tense)
03Y Come! (Imper. Sgj vi)
niddet .,.,.,,.
anger (n) (+CJ' ~se. wasangry {vi))
nigot '),::.t't dawn (n)
nigd .,...,Y: trade, business (n) (t11e. did business, traded (vt))
nigiggir .,...,.,c speech (n) (t1t. told (vt))
nigist .,...,JP+ queen (n.j)
nigus .,..,.JP king (n)
nigusQ n~gQSt .,..,.IJI )1JU't- king ofkings (n)
nom crt. lived, resided, was (vi)
nu ,.. Come! (lmper. Pl.2. vi)
nuro ,..C' life (n)

nuzoze will, last will (n)

parlorna .TC"\OIJ parliament (n)

paybt .T~I\'rl fhlD-CT"\'t ~)[
pilot, airplane pilot (n)
polis TAll police (n)
polis t'abiya Tlllt .qa.Y police station (n)
posto bet Tlt:l- IL'r post office (n)

5-6 day month from Sept. 6

qal :J"A word (n) (:J""\+ words (PI))

qal kidan :J"A h.'I t promise (n)
qal s~tt~ :J"A llm promised (vt) (lit. gave word (vt))
qas~b :Jta+ moaned (vi)
q~ ~It priest (n)
q~dada 1" 4 4 hole (n)
q~domawi 1"-'IDIJ' first, as royal title (1" !/.OD preceded (vt))
q~da 1""1 poured (vi)
q~dd~d~ .,. Jl.Jl. tore, ripped, slit (vt)
q~dd~m~ 1 !/.OO preceded (vt)
qadd~~ (B-type) 1" Jl.ll sanctified, celebrated Mass {vt)
q~lQbQt .,.1\ ring (finger rinr:J (n)
q~llal 1""\A easy (adj) (1"f\l\ was easy (vlj)
q~llQb .,. 1\-11 supply, ra#on (n)
qQIIQlQ 1"1\f\ was easy (vi)
qQmis 1"011.11 dress (ofwoman) (n)
q~mma (B-type) .,.DIJ snatched (vi)
qQmmQmQ (B-type) 1"011011 concocted (vt) (lf"011r spice(s) (n))
,qQD .,..,. day (n)
qQnd .,..,.~ horn (n)
qQM .,.'1 right (side) (n)
qQI'I'Q 1"l. remained (vi)
qQmoo ,..t..n approached (vt), was served (food) (vi)
qQt'~qqQt'Q t'm1"m pounded, worked metal (vt)
qQt'qac' .,."r:1-4111:" blacksmith, metal-worker (n)
qQtt' al~ .,.'T hi\ was straight (vi)
qQtt'QlQ (B-type) 1"mf\ continued (vt)
q~tt'Qro .,.ml. hired, gave an appointment (vV
qat'Qro , appointment (n)
qQyy .,.~ red (n)
qQyy bahlr .,.~ 'JihC Red Sea (n) (1"~ red, 'JihC sea)
q~~ro (B-type) .,.,l.
.,.,.,., switched, changed (vt)
qidame ,..,. ,., cooled, was cool (of drink) (vi)
Saturday (n)

qiddase 'PJIIL Mass (of Ethiopian Orthodox Church) (n)
qiddus saint (n)
qim~m lpQD,. spice (n)
qirb 'PC-IJ near (1"l.IJ approached (vt))
qirs' 'Pelt form, shape (n)
qoff~rn 1/>4-l. dug(vt)
qolla of.I\ roasted, parched (grain, coffee) (vt)
qom~ +ou stood (up), stopped (vi}
qonJo .,..,.;.t pretty (adj)
qomt'~ .,.l.ID cut (ojj) (VI)
qolaw cf.ipf dirty (adj), trash (n)
qoyy~ (B-type) .,.,
.,.1m got dirty (vi)
waited (for) (vt)
qu<!<!' al~ ~11- hi\ sat (down) (vi}
qulf "~!Ali: lock (n) ("lt-1\4. locked (vt))
qulqwal 1?-A:I:A Euphorbia cactus, candelabra tree (n)
qurs "f?.Ch brealrfast (n)
qusil ~I) A wound (n) (~tal\ was wounded (vi))
qut'ir 1!1"C number (n) (~m~ counted (vt))
qwanqwo :li"t:l: language (n)
qw~u~r~ (B-type) ~1\4. locked (vt)
qw~mt'~ ~l.ID cutoff(vt)
qw~s~l~ ~1)1\ was wounded (vi}
qw~tt'~rg ~ml. counted (vt)

ra~- (+ obj. pron) ~~~- was hungry (impers. v)

roq~ ~.,. went far, was far (vi)
ras ~~~ head, noble title below king (n)
ras- (+poss. pron) t-11- self, in reflexive pron (&.a. myself)
ra~ &all was wet I soaked (vi)
rase &all. myself
reso L~ corpse (n)
rnbu1, rob l.IJ-il/ CIJ Wednesday (n)
rn~~~ l.Q,J, sprinkled (vt)
1'3dda l.JI helped (vt)
rnff~d~ l.4.!!. it was late in the morning (vi)
rnhab l."''-IJ hunger, famine (n) (&an - was hungry (vi))
rnJJim l."P:'r long, tall (a4i) (l.non was long (vi))
rnsso l,l) forgot (vt)
mzzam~ l.ffoP was long (vi)
rizmQt C"JIDP:r length (n)
rob c-a Wednesday (n)
rot'Q Cm ran (vi)

rub quarter, fourth (n)
ruq far (vi) (t-.,. went far (vi))

sab~ qa pulled (vt)

sal~ "'I\ drew, painted (picture) (vt)
sal~ I}/\ sharpened (vt)
soma 1}00 kissed (vt)
sammint tl5JD'l1- week(n)
sammintawi tlSJDi'!#"l weekly (I} SJDi'IJ- week)
samuna I}OD-'1' soap (n)
tli'tSJD cent (n)
laughed (vt)
sar "'C lllC grass (n)
sayins tlt.i'h science (n)
set ll."r woman, female (n.j)
set ayat ll.T hY+ grandmother (n.j) (hJ'+ grandparent (n))
set liJ ll.lf- f.\l!- girl, daughter (n.j)
s~?ot att+ time, hour, watch, clock (n)
sabot aiJ+ seven
sabb~ra ant.. broke (vt)
sa~ssa~ aatla gathered, collected (vt)
safar tl&..C neighborhood, area (n)
saffa tl4. was wide (vi}, sewed (vt)
saffara a&..t.. measured grain (vt)
saffi Ilk wide, broad (llof. was wide (vi))
sak.kara tlht.. got drunk (vt)
salasa JP"\1} thirty
s;;,leda Ill\. II board (n) ('1"-I!C tll\.s; blackboard (n))
samay tliii'Jt. sky (n)
samanya aiiiJ'lY eighty
samayawi tliiiJJ'tJ! blue (n)
s~men llDII.'l north (n)
sam rna aDIJ heard (vt)
samon ll"'"'l a few days (n) (nn.v a"l"'1' in these days)
sanbate tl'lU1: Sunday get-together (n)
sane a~ month from June 8/9 (n)
sanabbat~ tl)'a.,. stayed a few days (vi)
sant'i tl)m. pocket-knife (n)
saiiiio ll"l/' Monday(n)
sarawit at--e+ army (n)
sarra IPt- 'made, worked (vt)
sarrataiiiio JPt-1'~ worker (n)
sarr.;)qa at.. 'f- stole (vt)
satt'a aro gave (vt)

~w t)QJ< man. person {n)
sawil:lru)t t)tiJo)'.:r body (n) (t)tiJo man, person)
~w~ t).P''f persons, men. people (n)
~wwa (B~type) UJCf sacrificed (vt)
sayt'an t)~IIJ') satan (n)
sisay fl. I) .e. good luck
sibsabo 1Hh1'1 meeting, gathering (n)
siddist h~il'r six
sifat hoJ.+ 'width, (surface) area (n)
sifet h4..+ basket, basketwork (n)
siga JP;J meat (n)
si?il JP(Jt. picture (n) ("'It drew, painted (vt,))
sikor ht"!C drunkenness (n)
sikkwor h~C sugar (n)
siJ~ (prep) hi\ because, about, concerning
silk ht.h telephone (n)
silli~oo hA"?- bag ofleather (n)
silso hAll sixty
silt'on JPA111'l power, authority (n)
sim h9" name (n)
simuni htJDct~ quarter dollar (coin) (n)
sinde h'l~ wheal (n)
sofa 1\4- sofa (n)
sost ?'h+ three
sosbdila ?'iliT.' third
sudan 1)-,11') Sudan (n)
sum.aliya 1)-tiiJ{LJ.' Somalia (n)
suq IH shop (n)
surri 1)-~ pants (n)

s'afa P.d. wrote (vt)

s'~gur IJ.,.C lm.,.c hair (n)
s'ahafi Ath4. writer, secretary (n)
s'~llaya (B-type) sl\r prayed (vi)
s'~lot AI\+ prayer (n)
s'ihuf sd.. ~ writing (n)
s'Hlot A""\,. ark (as in Ark ofthe Covenant) (n)
s'im/t'im 'l.r-1 m.9" beard (n)
s'omQ JltJD fasted (from eating) (vt)

~mbal 7ffDaA captain (n)

~y 7f.e tea (n)
~ffaoo (B-type) ifd.) covered (with cloth), shrouded (vt)
akla ifh"\ pottery (n)

sakla sari i'fh'\ rP6 potter (n)
sallama (B-type) iTt\tJD awarded (vt)
samiz 7fdlf.11 shirt (n)
sammo 7t"7 shemma-cloth, worn as toga (n)
sammane iTD'I~ weaver (n)
sankoro 1i71ll. sugar cane (n)
sanna (B-type) iT'I' urinated (vt)
saiiiia (B-type) 'if1 escorted, saw off. accompanied (vt)
sassa i1i1 fled (vi)
sas~ga iTiT'l hid (vt)
sat' a i'fm sold (vt)
sifta 7ft;; :I" bandit (n)
siggut' 7f'1-1' pistol (n)
sint 7f7"r urine (n)
sitto ii'i- perfume (n)
sola 'l"t\ was sharp (vi)
sukko ift"t fork(n)

ta~C! :1-':f under, below (h- ... fl:l"':f under I below ... )
tohsos :J-""JUIJP monthjrom December 10111 (n)
tollaq :J-'\:P great, very big (adj)
torik :J-6h history (n)
tott'aba :Jmn washed oneself (vt)
tott'afa :JmA. was folded I turned (down) (vi)
tott'aqa :Jm.,. belted, girded, armed oneself (vt)
towwaqa ;J-QJ ... was known (vi) (haJ.,. knew (vt))
towwasa ;IQJ() was remembered (vi)
tembir 1:,.--fiC postage stamp (n)
tabula 11)1\ was called, was said (vi) (hi\ said (vt))
tabalT.}ra .,.IJl.l. fled, was chased (vi)
tabaddacc .,.IJ.ctf had sex I intercourse, C?ffemale (vt)
tab3ddarn .,.a,_t. borrowed money (vt)
ta~'ona .,._,)' was loaded (vi)
tac'awwata .,. _,m+ played (vi)
tadannaqa .,.,_)'.,. amazed I surprised, be ~ (vi)
tafass'ama (B-type) IA.~ao ended (vi) (A.~ao finished, achieved (vt))
tagbar .,...,,,c activity, deed (n)
taganannu .,..,r;r they met one another (vi}
tagwoza .,.Pfn journeyed (vi)
taJammarn (B-type) +~aol. began (vi) ('l:aol. began (vt, vi))
takil .,.hA plant (n) (+h t\ planted (vt))
takko (B-type) .,.,.. replaced (vt)
takkala .,.hi\ planted (vt)
talocc'a T'\QJ, shaved oneself(vi)

t;;~mara 1-0IJ l. learned (vt)
bmari bet

student (n)
TOfJt. a.,. school (n) (also ,.9"vc+
fit, suited (vt)
It,. school (n))

bm;;~l;;~kk;;~w .,. tJD "h.,. looked at (vt)

t;;~mall;;~S;;~ TDDI\B returned, came back (vi)
t;;~naddad;;~ +'i"~~ was angry (vi)
t;;~nagg;;~rn T'i"1l. spoke (vi)
!Qnaffa .,. )of. swelled (vi)
.,.,.., breathed (vi}
arose, got up (vi)
tant'abatt'aoo .,..,.m1lmll dripped (vi)
t~nlifa (B-type) .,."li' slept (vi)
taqowwama +?moo opposed (vt)
taqabbala- .,..,.,"
accepted, received (vt)
mqammat'a sat (down) (vi)
t;;~qwott'a .,..,.nJ was angry (vi)
taro T&. section (ofmarket), tur~ (n); typical, ordinary (adj)
mrara +&.&. mountain (n)
tamdaddu i/..11,11. they helped each other (vt)
t;;~fi'Qfa +I. d. survived (vi)
taS;;~ooSS;;~ba +ttnttn gathered, assembled (vi)
t;;~sanadda .,.tt'i"-'1 got ready, prepared (vi)
tasarra +~Pt. was established, was made (vi)
t;;~-smama Nl"'' tiiJ agreed (vi)
tas';;~ss'aw +RR+ regretted (vi}
t~OggQI'Q .,.'1f1l. crossed (road, river) (vi)
t~kk;;~mg +ifhoo carried (vt)
t;;~~oma T'fi'IID was appointed (vi)
t;;~wasa .,..,.a borrowed something (not money) (vi)
bwawal;;~ .,..,..,."
negotiated, contracted (vi)
bWOWW;;~qa was acquainted (vi) (haJ.,. knew (vt))
t;;IW;;l +m abandoned, left (vt)
t;;~W;;~llada .,.CDft~ was born (mf\~ gave birth to)
tawassa +m~ was remembered (vi) (m~ remembered (vt))
tazaggo lli;J was closed (vi)
tazagaJJa +n:J-,: got ready, prepared (vi)
ti kikkilaiiiio i'-hhl\"li' accurate (adj) (hhft equaled (vi))
tilliq ,.,.",. big(adj)
'"",. nm- important person (n) ("rt\"P big)
.,. 9" t1 c,. education (n) (+Dill. learn (vi))
timhirtbet i9"'11C+ 11.+ school (house) (n)
tinniil +771' little, small (adj)
tiros ,.t-il pillow (n)

toto quickly, fast
trafik traffic (n)
turist tourist (n)

t'abiya ~qfi.J' station (n), in e.g. ht)~ h"-;J ntn.Y fire station
t'affoc' "~"-1:" sweet (thing) (n) (111Lm was sweet (vi))
t'affut'3 "ld.m was sweet (in taste) (vi)
t'ala nJI\ threw (down) (vt)
t'ariya tq(,J' roof(n)
t'at ,..,. finger, toe (n)
t'enalt'eni11D.3t m.'i" I m.'lt,. health (n)
t'enammo lt'en3nna m.'i",.., /m.t"'i' healthy (person, climate) (adv)
t'enayist'illiiid m.'i"~liTA"f Hello! Greetings! (lit. May he give healthfor me)
t'eS31 c'QSOJ m.l') I ml) smoked (vi)
t'3bbab m'I"'J narrow (adj)
t'abbQbQ maa was narrow (vi)
t'3bbQQ3 (B-type) mn1" kept, watched, waited (vt)
t'3gg3oo tn'JR was full, satiated (vi)
t'Qgur m'IC IO',.C hair (n)
t'aJJ m:P: fermented honey drink (n)
t'3lla m'\ talla beer (n)
t'alla m'\ hated (vt)
t'am3nJo moo'))f rifle (n)
t'Qmma- {+ obj. pron) mD'I- was thirsty (impers. v)
t'3oobba mt'l stank (as rotten) (vi)
t'an3kk3m mth~ was strong (vi)
t'ank.arro m'J'I'tt. strong, hard (adj)
t'3qami m:J"Dil.. usefol (adj)
t'aqqQmQ- (+ obj. pron) m"f-oo use (impers. v)
t'3rabi mt.n. carver (n)
t'ampp'ezo ml.t..lf table (n)
t'3rra mt. cleared, was clear I pure, sky cleared (vi)
t'QITQOO ml.a carved (vt)
t'aiT3g3 ml.1 swept (vi)
t'att'a (B-type) fflnJ drank (vt)
t'3YY3Q3 (B-type) mf'"f- asked (vt)
t'is I c'is I c'is I lifl'li I a;J.Ii smoke (n)
t'id 'f'~ cedar tree (n)
t'ilo T'\ shade, shadow (n)
t'im I s'im '1.9'"1 m.,., beard (n)
t'inat T'i"+ studies (n) (Vh.IJf"t." .f' "r'i"+ Ethiopian Studies)
t'imal "r'J'TA rabbit (n)
t'ind bQre 'f''J'~ nt. yoke ofoxen (n)
t'int gize ~.,.,. '1.11 ancient time(s) (n)

t'iqimt -r'PP+ monthfrom October 11/12 (n)
t'iqit -r't.:r few (adj)
t'iqur -r~c b/ack(n)
t'iqur !r.))edc:i -r~c M\.11 blackboard (n)
t'ire .,.~ raw (adj)
t'irr -rc month from January 9/10 (n)
t'irs -rciJ tooth (n)
t'iyyaqe '1".11: question (n) (mf1" asked (vt))
t'or tnC spear, army (n)
t' OrtllD.Qt tnC)lf- battle, war (n)
t'ut m-+ breast, teat (n)
t'wot t~J.+ morning(n)

viza "dlf visa (n)

volt l't\lf- volt (n)

wo)Q 'PI\ passed the day (vi)

wona 'P'i' swimming (n)
wanna 'P'i' main, important
wannob~ma 'P'i" h+flll capital city (n)
waliiiQ 'P'Y swam (vi)
wana 'P7f cave (n)
was~ (B-type) 'P'lr lied, spoke falsely (vi)
w.:KlaJ CD II~~ friend, companion (n)
wodd3d3 CDI/.1/. liked, loved (vi)
wodd3q3 CD I/..,. fell, fell down (vi)
Wcld3 (prep) CD I/. to, toward
W3cbb CDI/.ofl seaport (n)
W3f CDtj! bird, small bird (n)
W3gga CD;J speared, stabbed, wounded (vt)
Wclkkil CDht\ representative (n)
Wclll3cb CDM he begat, fathered (vt)
\Wlbcbt!t! CDM'F' she gave birth to (vt)
wol13q3 CD I\.,. came off, came loose (vi)
wgmbar m91'nc chair (n)
Wclnd CD'}I!: male (n)
W3nd IiJ CD'} 11. A"': boy (n) (lit male child)
W3ndimm CD"!/!:,.. brother (n)
W3DZ CD")1f river (n)
WQCJt CDlp+ season (n)
WQCJtowi CDlp;l-1 seasonal (n)
Wclr CDC month (n)
Wclre CD~ gossip, casual talk (n)
WQr.lWWQN CDl.CDl. threw (vt)

warq CDCip gold (n)
W31T.}cb lDl.~ descended (vi)
warmrn lDl.l. invaded (vt,)
wasso (B-type) remembered (vt)
wassada took(vt,)
wassana (B-type) decided (vt)
wamt milk(n)
wat' wat', stew (n)
watt'a went out, exited (vt)
wattoddar soldier (n)
way Question word, at end of sentence
wayimm or
wayiss or, in alternative questions
wayzarit Miss, Ms.
wayzaro Mrs., Ms.
wi~~ CD-~ outside (n)
widd CD-J!: expensive (ad}) (m~~ loved, liked (vt))
wiha CD-'/ water (n)
wist' OJlt"l' inside (n) (lVr CD-/'t"l' in a house)
wi~at m-'lf:r lie, falsehood (n)
wi~~a (J)o'jf dog(n)

ya I ya~~(i) Y I Y'T that (mlf)

yaroplan mar;;)fiya J"CT'\'l IPil.t;:.J" airport (n)
ya~ Yll held, grabbed, seized (vt)
ya- (prep) f- of(fh. 'lJ' of Kenya)
yababur mangad fiJflC OD'l'l~ railroad /rack (n)
yabenzin modaya fll. 'lll') "''~Y gas station (n)
yagidgidda SQ'at f'7 ~ ..,.II tl'H wall clock (n)
yQgit' o~ meda f"lfll'lf IIIJ..IJ pasture, meadow (n)
yahizb bizat fih'lHI -fltf+ population (n) (ih'll-fl people (n))
yakkatit fi'JI::r month .from February 8/9 (n)
y3llafifiim f f\"'19" I don 't have
y3l13wim f {\CD- 9" he I it doesn 't have
y3llam f f\9" there is not, no!
y~qososa m~t'aya fcF?fif ouaa.r wastebasket (n)
y~t fit where?
y~timm f'r9'" nowhere (with neg. verb)
y~taww~q~ f;f-lD<f> famous (adj) (lit. which is known)
y3t~l~m3cb fN\011~ accustomed, customary (f\ou~ got used to (vt))
samuna f"l'Clt tlDD-t;o toothpaste (n)
yawicc' guddoy flD-"'1]- '~'~~"' foreign affairs (n)
yawicc' nigd flD-"'1]- ..,..., ~ external trade, export(s) (n)
yih 1yihicc "'"' I "'"' f this (mlf)

zof tffl! tree (n)
zore tft. today (n)
zeginDQt II. '1 )"'- nationality (n)
zeno rl.'i" news (n)
mfonn ,......,
II.C zero
singer (n)
ZQfuD IlL'} song(n)
ZQff~ fld.) sang (vi)
ZQg;Jyy;J lf1f he I it was late in day (vi)
ZQggo II;J closed (vt)
ZQllon fl'\'} nomad (n)
ZQmad """
relative, related person (n)
mm;Jn floP'} era, time-period (n)
ZQmanowi fiDfl'i"'f! modern (adj)
ZQmm;JN Hoal. sang hymn, chanted, sang (birds) (vt)
mnaggo ,,.,
lf'}JC python (n)
was forgetful (vi), forgot (vij
mnn~oo ntn rained (vi)
mr IIC seed (n)
mNggo ffl.;J stretched (vi)
mrro If&. sowed (seeds) (vt)
mrrafa Ill. d. robbed (vt)
ZQt'~no llm'i" ninety
zat'arUl llm"'f nine
mwd Ill&~ crown (n)
myt oil (n)
zihon 11rT'l elephant (n)
zinob 1l'i"U rain (n) (lf)U rained (vlj)
zimm ala
"" was quiet (vi)
turned (around), roamed (vQ
zuriyo ,.~,,
su"oundings (n)

mnt'ila I Jont'ila 'lf'l'l''\ I:(-).,.'\ umbrella (n)

zigra I Jigra Dfr'1&./~..,&. guinea-hen (n)
wroiJoro 1" c I "!(c ear (n)

English - Amharic
h"'' c-r:-
~..,.., t\ 11~-

A.D., Christian era, Eth. calendar 'fill.,. ,..

tJ l...,. am~t) mihi~t
t)w.) (infinitive oo-tm-)
abandon, leave (vlj
able, be '""' (vi) ~" ooi~
about, concerning hi\ sil~(prep)
above, over h- ... U'\~ b-... 00-loy
accept, receive (vt) +'tal\ b-q~bbQI~
accompany, escort, see off (vt) 7ff saihla (B-type)
accurate (adj) +hh/\"IJ' tikikkil-~nno
accustomed to, be(come) -- (vt)
accustomed, customary ,.,./\,.,_
I\OD1. l~mm~
acquainted, be(come)- (vi) i'PlD1" t~-wo~q~ (hell.,. knew (vlj)
across 'l?f1C bas8ogar
activity(n) +'"IIIC bgbar
add (vt) &A-l. ~'~mm~~ (B-type)
add up (vi) l!.ool. d~mm~r~ (B-type)
additionally a.,.Q.1.., " oo-b-~'amrnori
a~acentto, nexito htn1-fl at'~g~b (see next to)
adorn, decorate (vt) as-get'a
advice (n) 9"hC mikir
advise (vt) tJDhl. m~kka~
afraid, be - (vi) ~~ farro
Africa (n) hfi:&'l/ hfi:&:J- afrika I afriqa
after h- ... a->.'\ k~- ... ~-hwolo
after that hi!J' a->.'\ ka-zziya oo-hwala
afternoon, evening (n) OIJ~ mota
again h.,.l!.'l'i" inda-~na
age (n) ~1!."1111. idme
agree (vi) Mt hi\ tssi al~ (lit. said 'i~si')
agree (vi) .,.iltl'ft.IIJ t~-smama
air (n) hfC ayy~r
air force (n) hfC ~~A ayy~r hayl
airline (n) hfC OD.,.1.'t" oyyar J.IlQDg~d
airport (n) .PC"1"'\.,. "''l.~J' y-aroplon m-o~f-iya
all v-tr hullu
allow, permit (vlj L '1"1!. faqqada
alone -a;J=m-7 bi~oo-w--in ( -a?F only)
already, yet
also, too, Topicalizer
'It;" gana
-rom (h ~9" me too)

. am, I- (Sg.l be-verb) ,.., n~-Dii
amazed, surprised (vt) hit,_)'.,. as-tbnnaqa
amazed I surprised, be - (vi) +~t.,.
Amharic (language) (n) hOIJC~ amar-iiiiio
amount (n) -tJJft' bizat
ancient time(s) (n) ~"):,0 IJI. t'int gize
anger(n) 'l.P.t' niddet
angry, be(come) (vi) +'i""-"- t~-no~da
angry, be(come) (vi) .,..,11) ta-qwott'a
animal (n) ).")'{tt} insisa
animal, wild-; undomesticated .... (n) haJ-1.. awre
answer (vt) ODI\ll nr..llla~ (B-type)
antelope, type ofsmall .... (n) Dtll+ midaqqo
appear, resemble, seem (vi) Ifill ill\ m~s~la
appearance (n) oot\h m~lk
appointed, be .... (vi) +iftiD ta-~~
appointment (n) 1"mC' cpt'aro
appointment, give -; hire (vt) 1"ml. q~tt'ara
approach, served, be - (food) (vi) .,.l.a q~m~~
approximately a.,,-:,. ~-gimmit
April, approximate month of.... (n) "''.J''tl J' miyozya (from Apr. 9/10)
arable,' plowable (land) (n) :1-t.'lr tara!
are, they .... (PI.i be-verbf r.-=FaJ- n-o~aw
are, we .... (P/.1 be-verb) )'")' n~-n

are, you .... (Pl.2 be-verb) 'i"'f'rJ- n-at!t!ihu

are, you .... (Sg.2j be-verb) )'if na-il
are, you .... (Sg.2m. be-verb)
)'U na-b
are, you .... (Sg.2pol. be-verb)
area (ofrule}, domain (n) .,,:,. n~-wot
arise, get up (vi) +t"' ta-n~ssa
ark (as in Ark ofCovenant) (n) A''\ to s'illot
arm oneself, gird the loins (vt) ::l-m1" t-ott'aqa
arm, hand (n) h~ iJJ
army(n) llt.Cf'r ~rawit
army, spear (n) tnC t'or
arrive (vi) SU.. ll d~rra~
article, item (n) (J:J iqo
artillery, cannon (n) 00/l:lf. madf
ask (vt) mr.,. t'ayyaqa (B-type)
assemble (vi) +aaaa ta-~IJQSSQ~
assembly hall or building (n) h.tlt.lf oddaroil
assign (vt) ~)'I danabba
at ... side of beside a- ... ah-A ~- ... ookul
ate (vt) a'\ mllo

attack (vt) hm:l" a-~qqa
attention, pay -; listen (vt) h#IDDm addammat'a
August, approximate month of- (n) )'dul. llQbase (fromAug. 7/8}
aunt (n.f) hhh.:r akist
authority, power (n) !PAaa'"l silt'an
automobile, car (n) oPh.'i" makina
award (vt) 'lf/lDD ~all~m~ (B-type)
ax, adze (n} OB6f'l.fL.f ma-t'

baby (n} ih~.., his'an

baby domestic animal (n) -.A1A gilg~l
back (of body) (n) ~CIJ Jarba
back section ofhouse, alcove (n) '\-II gwada
back, in -of; behind h-... ~CIJ ka-... Jarba
bad (adj) 0116f'fo: mat'fo
bag ofleather (n) hA?F sillit!t!a
bake (vt) :nt. gagg~r.l

bake bread (vi) Jfl) ~of. dabbo daffa

ball (n) \\h kwas
banana (n) Ofl41f muz
bandit (n) 7ill-:l- ~ifta
banquet, lax, feast (n) -.-ac gibir
bark (dog), roar (lion) t;a-11 ~'oha
barley (n} '1-llh g;;,bs
basket type, type ofcovered basket (n) h'll\"'l\ agalgil
basket, basketwork (n) hd..+ sifet
bastard (child) (n) II.:J"'\ diqala
battery (n) 'l.:rt. batri
battle, war (n) tnC)'.:r t'or-inn~t
bean(s) (n) '11:'\ baqela
beard (n) "1. 9"" I m.9" s'im I t'im
beat (vt) ~a~a d~b~ddaoo
because, about, concerning hll stla (prep)
become (vi) I}") bona
bed (n) hl\;J alga
beer (n) at- biro-
before h- ... fid.'r k~-... 00-fit
beg(vt) t\tJO)' lamm~na (B-type)
beget, father (vt) OJitJ!. w.lllada
beggar (n) I\Dif'1 lammaibl
begin, start (vi & vt) ~DDl. jaiJI111Qr.l (B-type)
begin, start (vi) +Jr,.at. ta-JallliilQI'Q
behfnd, in back of h-... :f:CIJ b-... jarba
belittle (vt) 'i''l- naqa

below I under ... h- ... 11:1-'T k~- ... ba-ta~~
belt (for women) (n) 6111" ) ..... maq~nn~t
belt, gird loins, arm oneself (vt) :1-m.,. t-att'aqa
benediction, give -; bless (vt) 611.,. marrnqa (B-type)
beside .. . h- ... ')")' k~- ... gon
beside .. . 11- ... 11h-A ba-... bakul
bicycle (n) -fill hi\. .... bislcilet
big(adj) ..,.Alp tilliq
bird, large ~ (vulure, hawk) (n) ,.,..~
bird, small - (n) lD~ waf
birth, give - to (vt) ml\.e.'T w~ll~d-~cc (Sg.3f)
black(n) -p~t t'iqur
blackboard (n) 'P~C lli\..11 t'iqur saledo
blacksmith, metal worker (n) .,.-p:t"6\" qat'qoc'
bleed (vi) , till dammo
bless (vt) IJh borrnk~
bless, give benediction (vt)
blood (n) ,,.
OD1" m~rrnq~

blue (adj) llD'IYil! s~moy-owi

board, blackboard (n) ll/L.II /'P~C llt\..-'1 saledo I t'iqur s~ledo
boast (of) (vi, vt) .e,)cf,. d~n~ffo
boat; large -; ship (n) oncn-n m~rkab
boat, small - (n) :P:AIJ Jalbo
body (n) llaJ- )'lfo s~w-tnn~t (llaJ- man, person)
body (ofperson}, part of body (n) htt/.\ aka I
boil (vi) 4."\ f~llo
boil (vt) h.-f."\ a-fallo
boil, cook (vi) )4. ngffgrn
Bole (Airport, Addis Ababa) fit\. bole
book (n) 611R"tht;; mas'ihof
books (n.Pl} 611~ilt~lfo m~s'ahift
booth, stall for selling (n) ao.e.-nc madbir
born, be - (vi) +tDI\.e. t~-WQll~d~
borrow (money) (vt) +11.e. t~-ooddgrn
borrow something (not money) (vi) +crll t~-wos~

boss, director (n) htfff' ozzoz

hoy, son (n) lD")'~ /.\~ w~nd liJ (/.\~ child (n))
boy, child, son (n) /.\'I: liJ
brave, be - (vi) 1-fllf gwabbaza (B-type)
bread (n) .llfl dabbo
break (vt) 11111. sab~ra
breakfast (n) ~ell qurs
breast, teat (n) m+ t'ut

breathe (vi) +td.ll b-nQffQsa
breed, raise (animals) (vt) hl.IJ 0-l'Qbba
bride, bridegroom (n) OD-"/it. musirra
bridge (n) fl:Afl:~ dildiy
bring(vt) hoPIIJ o-lllQtt'o
bring down (vt) o-~INdQ ( descended)
bring, serve (vt) ,...,.l.a o-cpiNbQ
broom (n) tJD'f' l.1.F mQ-t'rQg-iya (ml.1 swept (vt))
brother(n) CD")fl:9'1 WQndimm
bucket (n) IJA.fl. baldi
build in stone (vt) 1)'1 gQnQbbo
building (n) ih")t\ hins'a
building, multi-storied- (n) G:'P 11..,.. foq bet
burn (vi) +:1-mt\ tQ-qatt':;,l:;,
burn (vt) I:J>mt\ a-qott'QlQ
burst (vi) d.)Jl funQdda
business, trade (n) .,.,~
business, do -; trade, deal (vt)
but .,.,
'11'st m~gg:;,dQ (B-type)
buy, rule (vt) 1'1 gQzza

called I named, be - (vi) +IJt\ ta-balQ

calm, be(come) (vi) Q;l.OD+ (!'QmmQtQ (B-type)
camel (n) .,_A gimQl
can, be able (vi) ?I\ (!alQ
candelabra tree (n)
cannon, artillery (n) ODfl:li: MQdf
cape, hooded woolen cape (n) acrth oomos
capital city (n) 'P'i' hIOIJ wanna k.QtQma
captain (n) 'if,.aA ~mool
capture (vi) Olll.h marrokQ
car, automobile (n) DDhS mQkina
carpenter (n) h'i"m. anat'i
carry (vt) +'lrhtJD tQ-~g.loonm
carry on the back (vt) hill\ azzglg
carve (vt) ml.n t'gngbQ
carver (n) mt.IL t'arabi
cat (n) ~-,. dimmgt
cave (n) cp7f wo~sa
cedar tree (n) 1'~ t'id
celebrate Mass, sanctify (vt) .,.stll qaddQsg (B-type)
cent (n) l}')t9'1 santim
center, middle (n) OD'/ A I Oll'lht\ mghal I mQhakbl
century (n) tlt;::l\ lftJD') kiflQ ~lllQn

chair (n) m?Bac w~mb:;Jr
change, exchange (vt) t\UJm ~~~t~ (B-type)
change, switch (vt) Tf q~yy~rn {B-type)
chant, sing hymn, sing (birds) (vt) Hoo z;)mm~rn

chase (vt) hlJl. abbo.rrnrn

chased, be-; flee (vi} +lJl. t~-barr.J~
cheek (n) n-"e' gun~'
chew (vt) h 'fh ann~k~ (B-type)
chew thoroughly (vt) h"\oom a-lamm~t~
chick, baby chicken (n) QiJ.QJr"f c'ac'ut
chicken, hen (n.j) ~C' doro
child, boy, son (n) A'f: lij
chin (n) lt'l-"e' ag~~
choose (vt) oot.m m~rr~t~
Christmas holiday, Christmas hockey game (n) 'Iii' g~nna

church (n) . a.+ hCiltJ''1' bet~kristiyan

city hall, municipality building (n) "''II;J"Jf a.+ maz~gaJJa bet
city, town (n) h+OIJ k~t~ma
clean, make clean (vt) MVI a-s'~dda
clear (sky), be clear I pure (vi) mt. t'~rra
cleverness (n) flA'I+ bilhat
cliff, precipice (n) 1.R.A g~d~l
clinic (n) hl\)'~h klinik
cloak ofwool, woolen cloth (n) 'Iii' bona
clock, time, hour, watch (n) l)'tT s~?at
close (vt) II;J ~gga

close with lid, cover (vt) h.R. )' k~dd~n~

closed, be- (vi} +II;J m-~gga
clothing (n) Aall Jibs
club, stick (n) 11-"\ dulla
coffee (n) ll-11 bunna
coffee pot (n) l!ac;- J~b~na
cold (illness) (n) 1''}of.') gunfan
cold (n) UCJ': bird
cold, be(come)- (vi} U.R. oormd~
collect, gather (vt) t'IRt'IU ~b~s~b~
collect, pick (vt) l\1>oo l~qq~m~
college (n) llt\.~ koleJ
come (vi) oPnt m~tt'a
come off, come loose (vi) CDt\1> w~ll~q~
committee (n) l'.C"'l d~rg
commotion, noise (n) Q-hT euh~t
complete, finish (vt) L~oo f~ss'~m~
compound, enclosed area (n) "''fl. gibbi

comrade, team (n) .,. __
P,~ gwadd
concoct, mix ingredients (vt) qamm~m~ (B-type)
continue (vt) .,.ml\ q~tt'~l~ (B-type)
cook, boil (vi)
cool, be cool (of drink) (vi) .,.,.,.,
)d.~ n~:ffilm

cooperation (n) hibmt
corpse (n) ~, resa
correct, right (n) All likk
count (vt) ~m~ qw~tt~m
counting, way of- (n) hcf.111mc a-qqot'at'~r
cover (with cloth), shroud (vt) 71'4..) ~ff~n~ (8-type)
cow (n:f) 1\SJD lam
crazy (n) 'h-11~ ibd
crocodile (n) ,..,. QZZO
crop (n) Mn!\ ihil
cross (n) OD/11'A m~-.s<pl (ll.,.l\ hung (vt))
cross, cut short I across (vt) hs'l~m aqqwarmt'~
cross (road, river) (vt) .,.'it.,~
crown (n) II CD-~ ~wd
crown prince (n) hl\;J CD~.'lf alga mra~
crown, make king (vt) ht11P a-nggg~~

cry, weep (vi) hl\1'11 a-l~qq~sg

cup, big-; mug (n) ttIJY kubbaya
custom, habit (n) AflfJ~ limad (1\0D~ got used to (vt))
customary, accustomed ,.,./\tiD,. y~-~-l~mm~d~
cut I wounded, be - (vi) ~Ill\ qw~s~la
cut short (vt) h='l~m aqqwarmt'~
cut grass/ hay (vt) 0Q;J.'" a~~'ada
cut off(vt) .... ~m qormt'a

danger (n) h~;J ada go

daughter, girl (n.j)
dawn (n) ..,,,.
ll.+ l\Jr: set liJ
(A~ child, boy (n))

dawn, rise (sun) (vi) );J nagga

day (n) ... .., qan
daybreak, be -; be early (vi) CJift\~ mallada
daybreak, early morning (n) malada
death (n) .,..,.
December, approximate month of- (n) ;~-.-,, JP tahsas (from Dec. /0111)
decide (vt) CDI)) wassana
decorate, adorn (vt) hil"l.m as-get'a
decoration, ornament (n) '1.'1' get'
deed (n) .,...,qc wgbor
defeat (vt) ~A h'-~1 dil a-dmrnga (~A victory (n))

deliver (vt) Mtl.l1 a-dorrg~
descend (vi) lDl.J?. WOIT.}dO
desert (n) lll.Y oomho
development (n) ~Jt"1"i" idgot (hJ?..1 grew (vi))
die (vi) ,...,. moto
different (adj) Af.. liyyu (flf separated{vt))
differentiate, separate (vt) t\f lo~ (B-type)
difficulty (n) 'F"'C ciggir
dig (vt) +4.l. qofforo
dinner, supper, evening meal (n) ~~,.. irot
directly (lit with directness) 111"T;I- oo-qott'ito
director, boss (n) hrffr ozzo:l (hrlfl ordered (vt))
dirt, ground, soil (n) h4.C afor
dirty (adj), trash (n) +7f'if qo~a~
dirty, be - (vi) +mr qo~~~o
dirty, make dirty (vt) h+7m a-q~~
distribute, hand out (vt) OJ?. I\ addolo (B-type)
divide, pay (vt) h4.fl koffolo
divorce, untie (vt) 4.~ fotto
do again, repeat (vt) 1!.'100 doggQmo
do, put on (belt, hat, gloves) (vt) h!!.l.1 o-dorrggo
doctor (n) thh.r hokim
dog(n) m-?F wi~~
dollar, Ethiopian -, silver (n)
domain, area (ofrule) (n) ..,,,..
IJC birr
gizat {1rf ruled (vt))
domestic animals (n) h-tl"i" kobt
done, be -, be made (vi) tQ-sarra
donkey(n) htJJ' ahiyya
door (n) t1D1l1.1 mo-zg-iya (lf;:J closed (vt))
doorway, door (n) IIC borr
doorway, threshhold (n) J?."': doJJ
double, fold (vt) hmd. att'ofo
doubling, fold (n) ~ ....~ it'if
draw, paint (as- a picture) (vt)
dream (n)
dream (vi)
dress (n) 1" cpmis
drink(n) onmT mot'ot' (mnJ drank (vt))
drink (vi) /0"1 t'3tt'a {B-type)
drip (vi) ..,.'lm'lmll ton-t'obatt'ooo
drive (animals, car) (vt) )'JI n3dda
driver (n) )')( n3Ji
driver's license (n) OD '})I' d.:J" Jt" mo-nJa foqod ()'.tl drove (vi))

drought (n) ~c+ di
drunk. get ~ (vi) flhl. S<lkbrn
drunk, make-; intoxicate (vt) hllhl. a-~kk~r.;,
drunkard {n) 11'1~9'" S<lkkor-am
drunkenness {n) llttc sikar
dry out, be(come) dry (vi) JU.... <brrnq~

each one h.f'lo'l'l.CS. iyy-and-and-u (h'l~ one)

each, in -; in every ar- b~-yya-
ear (n) "lfr: Joro
early morning, daybreak (n) IJIII\JI mal~a
early, be - (be daybreak) (vi) OIJI'\.ct mall~d~
east (n) misroq
.,."" qgllal
easy, be ~ (vi)
edge (n) .....,,."" q~IIQI~
edge, bank ofriver I lake (n) o'IC dar
education (n) :,.,-uc:r- timhirt (.,..,., l. learned (vi))
egg(n) h'l""-"" inqwilal
Egypt(n) -,-asr gibs'
eight l)fP')IJ simmint
eighty OIIJII'l.P s~manya

electricity (n) h.t\. n:r "n elektrik

elephant (n) 11fT'} zihon
eleven 'tJP~ h'l.ct asraand
embrace, hug (vt) h.,.L aqqgf~
emperor (n) h'l. as'e
empty (adj) 'IJt bado
end, finish (vi) hl'\1 allQCIQ
English(man) (n) h'l.lf\'tl ingliz
English language (n) h'l"' I\11'li' ingliziMa
enough (n) a~ b~qi
enough, be - {vi) a~ b~qqa
ensete, false banana tree (n) h'lO+ inS<lt
enter (vt) 'II) g~bba
entirely, totally liD'I\- ntJD-1\- mulu b~-mulu
equal, be equal (vi) hhl'\ akbl~
era, time-period (n) ,,.'} 2"atti.QD
erect, stand up (vt) hfooo a-qomQ
escape (vi) hool'\m o-m~UQt'Q
escort, see off, accompany (vt) 7f"i s~Illi~ (B-type)
especially ai'l'\t.'l" ~-t~lQyy-imm
establish, found (vt)
estimate, guess (vt) .,,...,. IllQS<lirnta
gQmmQ"b (B-type)

Ethiopia (n) h.+r-~Y ityopp'yo
ethnicity, ethnic group (n) 1-'l goso
Eucalyptus tree (n) IJtJC tft;: bohir zof
Euphorbia cactus, candelabra tree (n) 'l!.l\*A qulqwol
Europe (n) haJcC9.! haJcC :r owropp(')o
European (n) I hllJcC:;T'l! owropp(')owi
Europeans (n) haJct:'f.'f!Y")'/ hm-c: 7'f!Y")' owropp(')owiyon
evening (n) Sf07t+ mi~~tt
evening, afternoon (n) "7 ;#' mota
evening, be(come) ~ (vi) ODil' mOJ~OJ
every, in -; in each nv - b;J-yyOJ-
example, proverb (n) JIB-'ll\. misale
excessive I too much, be ~ (vi) al bOJzzo
exit (n) oumllliJil. mOJ-w~'o
exit, go out (vt) m~r~ WOJtt'o
expensive (ad}) m-~t: widd
explain, reveal (vt) 11\R 111\m gOJIIOJs'OJ I gOJllOJt!OJ
explanation (n) OD"lt\-r. mOJ-gl~~o
export(s), external trade (n) f(l)o~ .,...,,_. yOJ-wi(!(!' nigd
eye (n) 't..'1' ayn

face (n) ~+ fit

.faith, religion (n) '1..tlll'l'"'t hoymonot
fall,fa/1 down (vi) m,_.,. WOJddOJqOJ
false banana tree, ensete (n) ~'1'tFI" insOJt
falsehood, lie (n) m-n:r wi~OJt
family (n) ILitHI betOJ-SOJb
famine (n) T.?C ~iggar
famine, hunger (n) l."''-IJ rnhab (~n- was hungry (vi))
famous (lit. which is known) f:f'CD1' yOJ-taWWOJqOJ
fan (n) hfC "'1~1U.Y ayyOJr m-arrogOJb-iya
fan (vt) h~ 1R orraggOJbOJ
~~~i) ?~ ruq
far, go~; be .far (vi) ~.,. raqOJ
farm, field (n) ~c'lf irso ( plowed (vt))
farmer (n) 1(ft.. gOJbOJre
fast (from eating) (vt) P.OD s'omOJ
fast, quick, quickly .,.lr' tolo
father (n) h IJT abbot
fear, be afraid of (vt) 4./... fOJrra
feast (n) !!:"1 il diggis
feast, banquet, tax (n) "lUC gibir
feast, give a- (vi) '-1tl dOJggOJSQ (B-type)
February, approximate month of~ (n) ftti:'l yOJkkotit (from Feb. 8/9)

feed (vt) ha'\ a-oolla
feed a bite (vi) gomSQ
female (n) ta.+ set (set ayat grandmother (nj)
fence (n) h"I"C at'ir
fertile (adj) fl'rfl,. ~ml~m
fertile, be ~ (land) (vi) laODfltlll J.Qm~ll~m~
festival day, holiday (n) a-tl\ I?al
few days, a few days (n) tl,....,. ~~mon
few, a-; some ,h")#l")~ and-and (lit. one-one)
few, afew (adj) "1'-P..+ t'iqit
fiction (n) l\a CDM libb \Wl~d (l\U heart (n))
field (n) DII.JI meda
field, farm (n) ~c~ ir~o ( plowed (vt))
fifty .,'rl'f hamsa
~~h~~ " ~&
filter (n) OfiiJil.Y m-att'or-iya
filter (vt) h111t. att'arra
find, get (vt) h"l"1 a-g~ntl~
finger, foe (n) 111+ t'at
finish (vt)
finish, end (vi) hla.,. aH~q~
finish completely, complete (vt) 4.AOII f~ss'~m~
finished completely, be -(vi); end (vi) .,.d.Aoo b-f~ss'~m~
fire (n) hl'f+ isat
fire station (n) J.q,. h'-;J 111U.Y isat ad~ga t'abiya
first, as royal title .,.114117' (.,.JIOIJ preceded (vt))
.first h')'-"'-' and~Dtla (,h")~ one)
fish (n) ,.., asa
.fit, suit (vt) .,.oa:,: b-m~~~
jive hfDit'l- ammist
flee (vi) 7fif b~
flight (of airline schedule) (n) nt.t- oomro (Ul.l. flew (vi))
floor (of building) (n) r::lf- foq
fly (vi,) nt.t. bamm
fold, turn (down) (vt) hmd. att'~fa
folded I turned (down), be - (vi) :1-md. t-att'~f~
fool (n) :E-A I )(A Jil I Jil
foolish, be - (vl) :(fl I ;(.1\ j~la I jela
foot, leg (n) h"'C igir
for, to 1\- la- (flOIJC;f- for Marta)
forbid (vt) hflhla k~l~llil~
forearm (n) b')~ kind
forehead, political front (n) "'")'IC l"''r'IC ginbar I gimbar
foreign affairs (n) fCIJo"V" .,.JI,_ y~-wi~~ gudday

forest (n) ....... c'akka
forget (vt) i.'l mssa
forget (vt), be forgetful (vi) fi'),;J zam}ggo
fork(n) 1ft) sukko
form, shape (n) 'PCR' qirs'
forty (n) hC'I orba
found, establish (vt) oPrPl.+ m~sarmta
foundation (n) 011 pJ l.,. mgsamt
four (n) ht.i'- orot
fourth, quarter (n) ?-a rub
free, free ofcharge (a4i) )I\ oos'o (for free Uti\)
freedom (n) )1\)i'- n~s'o-nn~t
Friday (n) 'te-a orb
friend (n) P,~" gwodd~l'fna
friend (n) OJ ,II~ w~aJ
friend, companion (n) 11A1':f:t. bal-inJ~ro
frighten (vt) hlaLt. os-f~rro (Lt. was afraid (vi))
from h- k~- (hlf.tJ from here)
front, in ..... of (lit. face to face) d...,. t\d.:r fit 1~-fit (&.+ face)
front, political-; forehead (n) "',.- 11C /.,'l'lC gimbar I ginbar
fruit (n) ~~ fire
fruits & berries (n) ~t.~~ tiro fire
full (adj) oa-(to mulu
full, be -; be satiated (vi) mm t'ggggbg
full, be- (vi); fill (vt) IJD'\ mollo
fully, completely n'\ b~-mol1o

gallop (vt) ;Jt\n goll~bQ

game (n) IA'r;#" c'~woto (+-r.m+ played (vt))
gas station (n) fiL1'1f.1' "7~~ y~-benzin m-adQya
gather, assemble (vi) +a nan tg-sgoossgbg
gather, collect (vt) aaaa ~oossaoo
general (military title) (n) :f:~t-1.\ J~nerol
generous (adj) :r=c c:;;,r
generous, be - (vi) Ti. ~m (infinitive DIITC)
get up, arise (vi) +)PI t~-n~sso
get, find (vt) h1"i a-g~tlii~
girl, daughter (n) ,....... 1.\1!: set liJ (A~ child, boy (n))
give (vt) llm ~tt~
give a feast (vi) $'.1tl d~~sa (B-type)
give birth to, she ..... (vi) 0Jt\R.2f wall~d-gcc (Sg.3f)
glass (n) ., bir~'iqo
glass vessel for drinking t'~JJ (n) -acta. birle
glow, be lighted (vi) nt. oorra

go out, exit (vt) CD II) ~tt'a
go. leave (vi) 'L~ heda
goat(n) ~fA fiyyal
God(n) "., rl.h-tl th. c igzi?abher
gold (n) CDC'r ~rq

good fortune (n) .....,.,..,. get-innat

good luck (n) I'L'l.r. sisay
gossip (about) (vi) hDJt. a-w.:>rra
gossip, casual talk (n) CDt,
got up, arose (vi) .,.,..., ware
government, kingdom (n)
grab, seize, hold (vt) ,, ma-ngist
grain, crop (n)
granary (n)
grand-father /-mother /-parent (n)
grandmother (n.j) I'L'r hY+ set ayat (l'l.'r woman (n))
grass (n) PfC I I)C sar
great(adj) ;1-'\:P tallaq
griddle for making injera (n) IJDIIII!: mit'ad
grief(n) ... ,7 hamn
grieve, mourn (vt) hrl'i OZZQDQ
grind up (vi) d.QJ. fa~c!'a (B-type)
grow, grow up (vi) h~'l addaga
growth, development (n) hi!: 'I+ idgat
guess, estimate (vt) 'I liD+ gammata (B-type)
guinea-hen (n) ~.,to I ,-., t. Jigra/ugra

habit (n) AIBIS!: limad (1\oa~ got used to (vt))

hail, ice, snow (n) bamdo (Ul.~ was cold (vi))
Haile Sellassie I "'.r.l\ !P'ai'L hayla sillase
hair(n) fi'I-C I m1"C s'agur I t'agur
ha/j; equal (n)
"''ii' ikkul

hammer (n) 110/f."if madoa

hand, arm (n) h~ iJJ
hand out, distribute (vt) 0~1\ addala (B-type)
handle, holder (n) ODJ'VI_J',.J' mayom I mayo~o
happiness (n) ~ilr dassito
happy(adj) ~il+'li' dass-i taiblo
happy, make - (vt) hh~l'l+;)b
hard, strong (adj) m7ttt. t'ankorra
hard/ strong, be(come)- (vi) m)hl. t'anakkarn
harm, injure (vt) 111 goddo
harvest (n) h1loot. OZIIlQfQ

harvest reap (vt) hODl.+ a-m~nrnt~
has, he I it- ht\lD- all~-w (hi\+ -lD-)
has, he I she (pol)-; they have h'\=Fm- all-ac~w (hi\+ -hT'CJ)o)
has, she- h'\-l- all-at (hi\+ -h+)
hat with brim (n) IJC~nJ bamet'a
hate (vt) m'\ t'~llo
have, I- ht\"1 all~-nn (hi\+ -"1)
have, he I it doesn't- ft\aJo,- y~l1~-w-im
have, I don't- f 1\"'f,. y~ll~-ftii-im
have, they- h'\=Fm- all-oc~w (ht\ + -hT'lD-)
have, we- ht\? all~n (ht\ + -))
have, you (PI) - h'\=F'rJo all-accihu (hi\+ -h'frJo)
have, you (pol)- ht\Pii al1~-wot (ht\ + _,.,.)
have, you (Sg.j)- hl\'lt all~-s (hi\+ -7f)
have, you (Sg.m)- hi\U alla-h (hi\+ -U)
he hll-1 he& issu I irsu
he I she (pol) h'l=F'm-1 hC'lT'm- issaceaw I irsoccaw
head (n) ~n ras
health (n) m.'i" I m.?)'-l- t'ena I t'en-inn~t
healthy (person, climate) (adv) m.'i"DIII m. )'~ t'ena-mma I t'en-~lbla
hear (vt) ll"7 ~mm~
heart (n) A-ll libb
heat, be(come) hot I warm (vi) ,...,. moqg
heavy, grew I got heavy (vi) ha~ kabir.ldg
height (n) ht;:;l- kQffita
hold, grab, seize (vt) .flf yaza
Hello! Greetings! ('May he give health for me~ tlt.'i"~h~IX1 t'ena-yist'-ill-iibl
help (vt) l.4 ~dda
help each other, they- (vi} +t..Jtlf. tg-mdaddu
hen, chicken (n.j) Ar: doro
here hlf.U izzih
hide (vt) 'im1 ~UQga
high, be - (vQ ht;: hi\ kgff al~
highland (n) ~;J dgga
highway, wide road (n) 111'i" godona
hire, give appointment (vt) .,.ml. qgtt'~r~
history (n) :1-t.h tarik
hit (vi) tJD;I- mgtta
hit, kick I bat a ball (vi) 1\;J l~ggo (B-type)
hockey game at Christmas-time (n) 1'i" g~nna
hoe (n) JtdiJ doma
holder, handle (n) ODJ'"tf I ooJ'1f J' m~yam I mgya:lyo
holiday, festival day (n) a,_A oo1al
honey (n) 11117 c mar

honey drink, formented -; mead (n) m:E- t'aJJ
honor, respect (n) h-IJC kibar
honor, respect (vt) hhfll. a-bbbQro
honored I respected, be - (vi) nnl. k.abbam
horn (n) 't"J~ qand
horse (n) Ll.h f:.1ms
horseman (n)
hot /warm, be(come)"- (vi) ,..,.
hot, warm (offood) (adj) muq
hour, time, watch, clock (n) ll-t"r s:.1?at
house (n) n.:r bet
how? (lit. like what) J.)~,.,") in<b-min
how? h"J.r.,"r indet
however, but 'flc "'"J n:.1g:.1r gin
hundred ~~t~fo mato
hunger, famine (n) l.-'J-11 rihab
hungry, be .... (vi) &on- (+ obj. pron) raoo- (impers. v)
hunt (vt) h~) add:.loo (B-type)
hunter (n) hll"f addaDii
husband (n) Ill\ bal
hut(n) -l~ goJJo
hyena (n) ~~-~~ Jib

I (pron) 1.~ ine

ice, hail, snow (n) nl.~ oomdo (at.~ was cold (vi))
idea (n) tho!) -II hasob (htul thought (vt))
illness, sickness (n) I]Otl,., himam
image, likeness (n) 9"hA missil
important person (n) "rl\lfo llCD- tilltqggw
important, main (aqj) .,~ wanno
in ... place (of) n- ... P~ ba-... bota (P;I- place (n))
inside CD-/'1'1' wist' (II.+ CDh"'' in a house)
income (n) 'Ill. g:.1bi ('1'1 entered (vt))
India (n) I]")~ hind
inflate (vt) )of. naffa
injera (n) h'l~~ inj:.1ra
injure,. harm (vt) .,~
inside (n) CIJofl'r wist' (II.+ CD-/t'r in a house)
insignia, sign (n) 9'"Ah"'" milikkit
interesting (adj) hil~ot)'f as-dassa~
international (adj) -tl\9'" h't'i: al:.1maqq~f
intoxicate, make drunk (vt) hflhl. a-s;;,llim
intoxicated I drunk, be - (vi) llhl. ggfum
introduce (vt) hh+'PDJ't as-bwaWWQqa

invade (vl) tDl.l. warr.,)~

invite (vt) ;JUII gobhl~

iron (for clothing) (n) I')(J)oJ" kawiyya
i"igation (n) 011/l'l" m~sno

island (n) I. fl..,. d~set

is, he I it- (Sg.3m. be-verb) )tD- -n~-w

is, he I she- (Sg.3pol. be-verb) 'i"=fliJo n-ac~w

is, she- (Sg.3f. be-verb) 'i"'rl )'f n-at I ng-~
it, he hCill hll' irsu I issu
itch, rash (n) l'ahh i.bk
item, article (n) (J:J' iqo

January, approximate month of- (n) -rc t':i:rr (from Jan. 9110)
Jibouti, Djibouti (n) )(a-1:. Jibuti
journalist (n) ;Jlf.m"':'. gazet'~i'.bia (;Jif.nt newspaper)
journey, travel (vi) +so.ll t~-gwaza
July, approximate month of- (n) th'I"A. hamle (from July 819)
jump (vi) nflfl zall~l~
June, approximate month of- (n) ll ~ s~ne (from June 819)
just, only -a;r: hi coo

keep, watch, wait (vt) mn.,. t'~bb;,q~ (B-type)

Kenya (n) h.?Y kenya
kick I bat a ball, hit (vt) fi;J l~gga (B-type)
kill (vt) 11..1'1 gaddal~
kind, type (n) 't.e)+ aynat
king (n) .,.,.JP n:i:gus
king ofkings (n) .,.,.., ) .,JP.,. nigusa oogast
king, be - (vi) )1IJI oogg3SC)
kingdom, government (n) oo?-.JP+ m~-ngist
kiss (vt) 1)011 sam3
knife (n) a..t\'P billawo
know (vt) htD.,. OWW3Q3
known, be - (vi) ;I-CD.,. t-awwaqa

lack, lose, miss (vt) hnt ott' a

ladder (n) t.rall'\A nwsalal
lake (n) th.elf> hoyq
lamp, lantern (n) tf.'l"ll fanos
lamp, small kerosene - (n) h-t.-11 kuraz
land, field (n)
language (n) ,.,,
ODL,. IllQret
late afternoon, evening (n) IPI;I- rnato
late, he I it be - in day (vi) 111f .zag~yy~

late, he be - in morning (vi) hl.~'- 0-ldff;;)dQ
late, it be ~ in morning{vi) l.~'- ldffad;;)
laugh (vt) .,.,.
tJ?r'\ b;;)-hwala (lit. at back)
learn (vt) 1'11111. ta-mald
leave, abandon (vt) +m taWcJ (infinitive oo+OJ)
leave, go (vi) 'L'- hed;;)
left (side) (n) "'t. giro
leg, foot (n) 'h"IC igir
legend, oral history (n) hA. :1-l.h afQ tarik (h~ mouth (n))
lemon, lime (n) fl"Oil. lomi
lend money (vt) htl'-l. a-badd;;)ld
lend something (vt) h'Ptl 0-WOS;;)
length (n) C11oo+ rizmat
lengthen, cause to be long (vt) hl.IIOO 0-ldZZQffiQ
lentils (n) fJPIIC missir
leopard (n) )'1JC nabir
letter (correspondence) (n) '-11~(1. dabdobbe
library (n) tL+ on~m~+ beta ffi;;)S'ahift
lick (vt) .1\ll losa
lid (n) h~') kidon
lie, falsehood (n) lD'lrlf Wt~Qt
lie (speakfalsely) (vi) 'Pif wo~~a
life (n) ,..c nuro
light (n) oPtJt.'r ffi;;)-brat
light (fire), turn on (light) (vt) htJt. o-barro
lighted I lit, be -; glow (vi) nt. barro
like h">'- tnda (prep) ('h?'- hll like him)
like, love (vt) CD'-'- WQddada
likeness, image (n) ?PitA mistl
likewise )'!?.tL 11'9" indihumm
lime, lemon (n) fl"Oil. lomi
lion (n) h?tJt') onbasso
listen, pay attention (vt) h~oPm addammat'a
lit I lighted, be -; glow (vi) IJt. b:nra
live, reside (vi) 'l'l. DOld
load (vt) .dill) c'ana
load, haulage (n)
loaded, be - (vi) .,._,,.
"11')+ c'inat
lock (n) ~A~ qulf
lock (vt) ~I\~ qwallafa (B-type)
log, stump, tree-trunk (n) "'")!!: gind
long I tall, be - (vi) l.lfou ldZZQIDQ
long, tall (adj) l.'l:lJP ldJjim

look after, keep, watch, wait (vt) mn1" t'~b~q~ (B-type)
look at (vt) .,. 011 t\ h.,. ta-m~l~llib
lookfor, seek. want (vt) d.t\1 full~~ (B-type).
loosen, be loose (vi) lDt\1" ~u~cp
lord, master (n) 1.:1" geta
lose, lack. miss (vt) hnt ott' a
love, adore (vt) hL1"l. a-f~qcpm
love, like (vt) lD~~ ~dOOda
lunch, midday meal (n) 9'"11 misa
luxury (n) R:'h-+ dilot

main, important (ac(j) filii' wanna

majority (n) h -II lf~CJ>o a-bza-Ma-w
make, work (vt) IP~ sarra
male (n) lD")~ WQnd
man, person (n) llCJ>o saw
mane (ofhorse, mule, etc.) (n) ;J"'' gamma
many, much (adj) a,. bizu
map (n) 'lc:l karta
March, approximate month of- (n) IID;JIL+ maggabit (from Mar. 10111)
market (n) 1flY g~~ya
market-section, turn (time) (n) .,.~ tara
marry (vi) h11J a-gabba
Mass (of Ethiopian Orthodox Church) (n) -l"JIIl. qiddase
master, lord (n) '1.:1- geta
math(ematics) (n) th..'l-11 hisab
matter, abstract thing (n) )1C n~~r
May, approximate month of- (n) "1")(1:,0 ginbot (from May 9/10)
mead, fermented honey drink (n) mY: t'~JJ
meadow. pasture (n) V"'tn'li Olj.,IJ y~-git'o~ meda
measure (vt) t\'1 lakk.o (B-type)
measure by forearm (vt) h),IJ lmnadda
measure grain (vt) tld.l. saffam
measuring instrument (n) tJPt\lLf malakkiya
meat (n) JP;J siga
medicine (n) tiD R:',:) :t:r m~dhanit
meet one another, they- (Vi) +1'1'7- ta-ganaMu
meeting(n) i't-IJ(IIJ sibsaba
merchant. trader (n) );:11.. D.Qggade
metal (n) -Ill.+ bimt
metal worker, blacksmith, (n) 1""r:J"..... qat'qaf'
midday, noon (n) lth-t\ .,..,. i:kkula qan
middle, center (n) oo?A I tJD?hA m~hal/ IMhakkal
midnight (n) 11 h-t\ t\.1\.,. ikkulQ lelit

milk(n) m-t+ wabt
minister (n) fill. )"~~+c ministir
ministry (n) fill. t1~-tc minister
minute (n) ~1!:1- d~qiqa
miss, lose, lack (vt) hnJ ott' a
Miss, Ms. (J) ~If t..+ way~rit
mistreat, wrong (vt) n~f\ ooddal~ (B-type)
moan (vi) :1-fl+ q~b
modern (adj} lfOD'i""f ~m~m-awi
Monday(n) (J'qt sadilo
money (n) nn-a gallZQb
month (n) me war
monument, statue (n) thCD-At- howlt
morning (n) n;a.+ t'wat
most ofthem (n) h-RtiV>'f o-bza-nn-oc
mother (n.j) ,..,....,. innot
mountain (n) ;3&,, +&.&. goro, tarora
mountain, flat-topped- (n) h9"1J omba
mourn, grieve (vi)
... ,.,.
hilt Qzz:;)llQ

mourning, grief (n) hozan

mouth (n) h~ of
mouthful, tip I bribe (metaphoric) (n) '1-C'if gurio (1~1l .fed a bite (vt))
Mr. ,..,. ato
Mrs., Ms.
much (adj) .,.,.
co~lfc way~ro

much I too much, be- (vi) nlf oozzo
mud(n) 1!':J> ~ik'o
mug, big cup (n) h-IJJ' kubbaya
mule (n) n'Pw baqlo
museum (n) tJDol1f.9D muzeyum
my.~elf &,I). rose

name (n) ia9" sim

named, be -; be called (vi) tl)f\ t~-bola
na"ow (adj) m 1HI t'abbab
narrow, be - (vi) man t'abbQba
national (adj) n&&.re biher-awi
nationality (n) IL'1t+ zeg-illilQt
near lpC-fl qirb {'l"~n approached (vt))
neck(n) h'l1+ angQt
neighborhood, area (n) llA.C safar
news (n) 11'1' zeno
newspaper (n) ?11"1 gazet'o
next to, aqjacent to hm1-tl 3t'agab (as in a.+ hm'l-tl)

night(n) I\. I\+ lelit
nine Hm'1 ~t'aM
ninety Hm'i' ~t'ana
no!, there is not fltiJD yallam
nobility, officials (n) OD\\")'),. m_.,k"onint
nobody (with neg. verb) OIJ')IJD mann-imm
noise, disturbance, chirping (n) .-..-..:1- c'ac'ata
nomad(n) H'\'t milan
noon, midday (n) hh-1\ 1"') ikkula qan
north (n) ,f')IIIJ.") B:)men
nose (n) ht;;')-a, afinc'a
not, he I it is - (vi) "~~1\IJD aycbllam
not, there is-; no! (vi) f/\IJD yallam
notebook (n)
nothing(with neg. verb) ,....,,..
~-a.,.c dabt3r
November, approximate month of- (n) "''IIC hidar (from Nov. 10111)
nowhere (with neg. verb) ,,.,..
hiJ'") ohun
number(n) ~c qut'ir

oats (n) h'Jf oJJo

October, approximate month of- (n) "l'lJoiJDi'- t'iqimt (from Oct. 11112)
of r- ya- (prep) (fh.">J' ofKenya)
office (n) a.c biro
officials, officialdom, nobility (n) OD '\\ ")')i'- m3kwonint
oil (n) ,,~,.
Okay! hit i~~i
old (ofthings, not people) (adj) hC'I. oroge
on (top of), top (n) '\~ loy (ml.A.I '\~ on a table)
one ,..,~
only, just -II? hi ceo
ooze (vi) h1f ozm (B-type)
open (adj) h'i:i'- kift
open (vt) hd..,. kaff3~
oppose (vt) +:J"lDOD b-qoWW3ma
or CD~'/" way-imm
or in questions CD~h way-iss
orange (fruit) (n) -RC"f:'l') birtukon
ordinary, typical (adj) +t- bra
ornament, decoration (n) 1."1" get'
other (n) ft.'\ lela
outside (n) CD-"\'> wicc'
over h- ... a'\.r. b-... ba-loy
ox(n) at.. bare

paint, draw (a picture) (vt) sol~
palace (n) IL+ OD"'i"'JP+ beta tnQngist
pants (n) ,.~ suni
parch (grain, coffoe) (vt) of.'\ qolla
park (car), stop (vt) hofotJD a-qom~ (ofooo stood (up) (vi))
parking place, parking lot (n) OIJ+IIII.f m-a-qom-iya
parliament (n) ;J"C'\11111 parlama
pass (vt) hft~ all~f~
pass the day (vi) tf'of\ wal~
pass the night (vi) h"-l adcbrn
past, earlier times (n) 4-C duro
pasture, grazing (n) .,tn"li git'oS
pasture, meadow (n) ,.,tnlr "'111 y~-git'o~ meda
patriot (n) hcn"'i' orbaih'ia
pay, divide (vt) h~ft k~ff~l~
pay attention, listen (vt) h'loom addamm~t~
pay tax, pay tribute (vt) mt. g~bbam
pen, animal pen (n) nl.+ b~rnt
pencil (n) J'.Cilh irsas
people (n) il,11-a hizb
people, persons, men (n) ()sP'f s~w-o~~ (tlCD- person (n))
pepper, ground hot pepper (n) neat. barbarre
perfume (n) 7r+ ~itto
permission (n) ~:J"~ f~qad
permit, allow (vt) ~ ... ,. f~qq~d~
person, important - (n) ,. ".. ()CD- ti:lltqsaw
person, man (n) am- ~w
person, nameless person (n) J't "'i"rti' inti:na
pickup (vt) 'It "tUf a-n~ssa (+ "tUf got up (vi))
pick, collect (vt) t\1"- laqqg~m
picture (n) iJA
/ 11 si ?il (Uf t\ drew, painted (vi))
pig(n) hllOIJ asama
pillow (n) IJt.h tiras
pilot, airplane pilot (n) :r~t\'r I fhtD-C'1"'\"'i "t)[ paylot
pistol (n) 'lf'M' ~iggut'
place (n) PT bota
plain, field, meadow (n) 111111 medo
plant (n) +hA bkil (+ht\ planted (vt))
plant (vt) +ht\ bful~
platter ofwood (n) ?n-1: ggbate
play (vi) +-a.CDT b-~a~t~
playground (n) OD-..lD;J= P:l- m~-~C'aw~c-a bota
please (vt) 'lti)~()T as-d~ss~t:)

pleasing, was- to hfa- (+ obj. pron) d~ss al~- (impers. v)
plow (n) D'll.?f mar~sa
plow (vt) hl.l1 OIT';)S~
plowman, farmer (n) ht.-7'1" 1fll.. aras g~b~re
pocket, put in-; store grain (vt) h++ btbt~
pocket-knife (n) 111'm. ~nt'i
point qfinformation, explanation (n) OD"l/&11i5J, m~-gl~~-a (1/&m explained
poison (n)
poison (vt) ODl.lf m~~z~

police (n) ;r{\lt polis

police station (n) Tf\.lt polis t'obiyo
poor (adj) se.-'11 diho
port, seaport (n) w~d~b
post office (n) posto bet
postage stamp (n) tembir
pot, type of- (n) 1')(1 g~nbo
pot, type oflarge- (n) insiro
potato (n) dinnil:
potter (n) ~~klo ~ri (rPt,. made (vt))
pottery (n) s~klo
pound, work metal (vt} q~t'Qqq~t'Q
pour (vt) qQdda
poverty (n) dih-inn~t (~'1\ poor (adj))
power, strength (n) hayl
power, authority (n) silt' on
powerful (adj) hoyl-~nna
pray (vi) s'QllQyQ (B-type)
prayer (n) s'Qlot
precede (vt) qQdd~m~
preceding, first (as Iitle) (n) q~dam-owi
prepare, get I be ready (vi) t~-s~noddo
prepare, get I be ready (vi) t~-ZQgOjJQ

prepare, get ready (vt) as~nadda

prepare, get ready (vt) OZZQgaJJ~
present, be - (vi) all~
pretty (adj) qonJo
priest(n) qes
prince (n) mQsfin
princes (n.Pl) ffiQSOfint
print, publish (vt) hi' Oil att~m~ (B-type)
problem, difficulty (n) T"'C ~iggir
promise (n} :J>tt tvn qal kidan
promise (vt) :J>A 11m qal s~tt'~ (lit. gave word (vt))

replace (vt) +tJ bkko (B-type)
representative (n) miLA Wc)kkil
resemble, appear, seem (vi) 011111\ ~SSQla
reside, live, be (vi) 'l'l. nora
residence (n) OD'I'&Y tL:r ma-nor-iyo bet ('l'l. lived (vi))
respect, honor (n) h-IIC kibar
respect, honor (vt) hhat. o-bbbara
respected I honored, he - (vi) hUl. kabbara
rest, land (airplane) (vi)
restaurant (n) ,....,.,
migib bet
return (something) (VI) ODI\11 mallasa (B-type)
return (vi) .,. tiiJ 1\ll ta-mallasa
reveal, explain (vt) 11\& 111\m gallas'a I gallat'a
revolution (n) h-ar-:r obiyot
rich (adj) '1-fi:I-IJD hobt-am
rich, be - (vi) nat. kabbara
rifle (n)
right (side) (n) .,..,
moo? ':if t'amanJa
righ~ correct (n) Ah likk
ring (bell), telephone (someone) (vt) J!.CDI\ oow~l~ (8-type)
ring (finger ring) 1"1\a:r qalabat
river (n) QJ')1f wanz
road, way (n) tiD''i'l~ mangad
roam, turn (vi) Jfl. zora
roar, shout, bark (vi) , ...1\ (!'oha
roast, parch (grain, coffee) (vt) f.'t qolla
rob (vt) 111.4. zgmfa
rock, stone (n) ~?;J~ dingay
roof (house) (vt) hJ!.) kad<bt
roof(n) III&J' t'oriyo
roof. lid (n) hll") kidan (hJ!. )' clo~ed with lid (vt))
room (n) h'i:A kifil
rope (n) 'ltJB~ gamad
rooster (n) h. CD- to P.C:: awro doro
rule, regularity (n)
rule (vt) .,,,
J!.fP-fl <bmb
ruler (n) 11C. gaZi
run (vi) r:m rot'g

sacrifice (vt) .,..,. ggwwa (8-type)

saddle (n) J1c;J= korit!t!o
saint (n) lp.J.h qiddus
salary (n) sttfD1f <bmoz
sanctify, celebrate Mass (vt) 1"11.11 qad<bsa (B-type)

satan (n) n.r.111.,. ~yt'on
Saturday (n) OIL qidame
saw (n) ou ,;~" ~goz
say (vt) ht\ al~ (at& say! (Sg.m. lmper))
scales (for weighing) (n) Dll.lf") mizon ( ODII) weighed (vlj}
scared I startled, be - (vi) 11. t 1m dallQg~t'g
scatter (vi} a+) bgttm~
school (n) +"''t. n.:r tQmari bet (+"7t. student (n)}
school (n) lf-9"tJC+ II.+ timhirt bet
science (n) 'l.r.")/t sayins
scissors (n) oo.,.{) mgqgs
scythe, sickle (n) "'1-vo~ moc'id
scythe, cut grass I hay (vt) 0"""- a~~'gdg
sea (n) IJihC bahir
seal (e.g. ofwax) (n) "7tJ+9" mahitgm
search (n) t;:t\;J fill~ga (Lt\1 wanted (vt))
season (n) CDip"t wgqt
seasonal (n) tolfo;I-'C wgqt-owi
second (adj) v-t\+~ hul~t-gnna (rJ-N1 two)
second, as royal title (n) .. .,.,- dagm-awi (1!.1DD repeated (vt)}
secondary (lit. second step I stage) v-t\+"1;' !!.l.'Pr" hulgt.gnna d~~Ja
secretary, writer (n) Atf1d.. s'ghafi (~4. wrote (vt))
section (ofmarket), turn (time)(n) +t. t~ra
~~ hf ~~
see off, escort, accompany (vt) '1i'i t.nlng (B-type)
seed (n) If c mr
seed, fruit (n) 'i:t. fire
seek, want, look/or (vt) Lt\1 fgllgg~ (B-type)
seem, appear, resemble (vi) ODilt\ m~~~~
self, in reflexive pron t.h- (+poss. pron) ros- (t..IL myself)
sell (vt) 1fm ljgt'~
send (vt) '\ h lak:;;,
sentence (oflanguage) (n) ' arnftQ-~gar
separate, differentiate (vt) t\f l:;;,yyg (B-type}
September, approximate month of- (n) oo;')hl.9" mgskgrgm (from Sept. 11112)
servant (n) h1fhC ~br
servant girl (n.j) 1l.~ ggrnd
serve (vt) ,...,t\.11\ a-gglggggla
serve (food), bring near (vt) h.,.l.a a-qgrrnbg
set, place, put away (vt) hit1'llflm as-qgi.Tllll3t'g
seven lliJ't ggbat
s_eventy lliJ saba
sew (vt) i)-f. saffa

sex I intercourse, have ~; offtmale (vi) +RifT t~-IY.Jddacc
sex I intercourse, have~; ofmale (vt) Ulf b~dda
shade, shadow (n) "r'\ t'ila
sharp, be ~ (vi) it1\ ~ol~
sharpen (vt) J1 1\ sal~
shave oneself (vi) +'\Q;L t~-lacc'~
shave (another) (vt) '\Q lace'~
she t..t). I ~C.t). isswa I irswa
sheep (n) U"' IY.Jg
shemma cloth worn as toga (n) nOll ~~mma
shepherd (n) ~l."l;' ii'1.";1ih'l:a
shield (n) ;Jif ga~~a
ship, large boat (n) ouch-a m~rk~b
shirt (n) 71'"'1.11 ~~miz
shoe(s) (n) Q;J.CII/ c'amma
shoeshine boy (n) flit'lc listro
shop (n) (t-Ip suq
short (aqj) h"V'C acc'ir
short, be- (vi) hml. att'~rn
shout, bark, roar (vi) tall c'oh~
shouting, commotion, noise (n) aJ: 1\11 c'uh~t
shovel (n) h'lof. akofo
show (vt) hJ1f o-sayy~
sick, be(come) (vi) hoo011- (+ obj. pron) amm~m~- (impers. v)
sickle, sythe (n) CIII"J.l'~ mac':i:d {Oa~.~ cut grass (vt))
side (n) ')") gon
side by side 1') 1\1') gon 1~-gon
side, at the- of... , beside ... h- ... 1') k~- ... gon
sifl (grain) (n) )of. n~ffo
sign (vt) 4-l.oo f~ITQm~ (B-type)
sign, insignia (n) ,..AhT milikkit
signature (n) ~COli ftnna (A.l.oo signed (vt))
silver, Ethiopian dollar (n) ac birr
silversmith (n) UC h')'tJJ6 birr ont'ori
sing hymn, sing (birds), chant (vt) HoPl. z~mm~rn
sing (vi) HA. )' z~ff~n~
singer (n) H<f. '1 ~fm'in
sister (n.j) t.""".,. ihit
sit (down) (vi) "f!.6J.I' ht\ qucc' ol~
sit (down) (vi) +.,.oom ~-q~mrn~t~
six it~il.,. siddist
sixty ilt\J1 silsa
sky (n) nOll .e. s~may
sleep (vi) +-r:- bnno (B-type)

sleep (vi)
sleep, sleeping (n)
mihla (B-type)
smoke (n) I "' I "'l'lt t'is I ~'is I ~'is
smoke (cigarette) (vt) ha:Lil I hm.ll a-~ ~s:;> I a-t' es:;>
smoke (vi) "'ill I m.ll c~~ 1t'es'<}
snake (n)
snaJch (vt) .,.,
hlfa ibab
q~mma (B-type)
snow, ice, hail (n) at.~ OOr.}do (fll."- was cold (vi))
soaked I wet, be - (vi) t-tl ras~

soap (n) l)flllo'i" samuna

social studies (n) .-.-at. +rvc+ hibr.} timbirt
sofa (n) t\'1- sofa
soil, dirt, ground (n) h4.C of~r
soldier (n) CD;#-.J'..C w~ttodd~r
Somalia (n)
some people (n) .

and-and ~wocc
some, afew and-and (lit. one-one)
son, child, boy (n) A"': liJ
song(n) lid.') zafun
source, llpring (n) 9"')"11' mine'
south (n) Y..a-a d~bub
sow (seeds) (vt) 1ft. ZQrra
speak (vi) +'i"'ll. t~-nagg~r.}

spear, army (n) t"C t'or

spear, stab, wound (vt)
speech (n) .,..,.,c w~gga

nigiggir ()1l. told (vt))

spice(!!~ (n) lptJD,.. qi:OlQm
spin (thread) (vt) d. i-t\ f~ttal~
spoon (n) _,.,.h.Y mankiyo
spring(n) ,...,."11' mine'
sprinkle (vt) l.m. mcc~
square, town square, traffic circle (n) ""-'IIJ.e od~bobboy
stal~ selling booth in market (n) OO.J'..-IJC m~dabbi:r
stand (up), stop (vi) .foOD qoma
stand (up), stop (vt) h+tJD a-qo~

start, begin (vi & vV ~tlDl. J~mmara (B-type)

start, wake up, pick up (vV hh ,.., as--D.QSSO (+ 'iut arose (vi))
startle, surprise (vi) hh.J'..)1m as--~n~ggat'a
startled I surprised, be - (vi) ~)1m dan~gg:;,t'a
stay awhile, stay a week (vi) fl)'U+ ~n~boota
stink (as rotten) (vi) m)'IJ t'an~bbo
stir (vt) h"71lt\ ammossala
stole (vt) lll.1" sarmqa
stone (n) .,..,.., gi:nb

stool, three-legged stool (n) UCaJl"'' oort!'umma
stop, stand (up) (vQ fotJD qo100
stop, stand (up) (vt) hfaOD a-qom~

store grain, put in pocket (vt) h++ k~tt.1t~

storey, floor of building (n) G:'P foq
straight, be - (vi) .,..., hi\ qQtt' alQ
strength, power (n) ')If, A hayl
stretch (vi) rll.:J ~mgga

strong. be - (vi) Ul.:l' oo~tta

strong I hard, be - (vQ mthl. t'QilO)kkam
strong (adj) iiC~ birtu
strong, hard (adj) m'tiJl. t'ankarra
stubborn, be - (vQ :fh l!aka
student (n) +dill. ta-mari
studies, study (n) 'T'i't- t'inat
stump, tree-trunk, log (n) .,')~
Sudan (n) 11-JI") sudan
sugar (n) h~C sikkwar
sugar cane (n) it'tflt. ~nkora
suit, fit (vt) ..,.,.:,: m-ma<!~
suitable for, be - (vt) a'J! baJJQ (B-type)
Sunday (n) J'ath'~ thud
Sunday get-together (n) ~?U-1: sanbate
supply, ration (n) 1"1\ofJ qallab
support (vt) 1/.'14. daggafa (B-type)
support, assistance (n) P:;Jt;. digaf
surprise, amaze (vt) hhl/.)1" as-dannaqa
surprise, startle (vt) hA"-)'Im as-danaggot'a
surprised I amazed, be .... (vi) +.Rt1" m-d~nnaq~
surprised I startled, be - (vi) 11. )'lm danaggQt'a
surroundings (n) 11-t..F zuriya
surroundings, surrounding area (n) hiJlfR. akkababi
survive (vi) +l.l. mrmfa
sweep (vt) mt.l t'armga
sweet (thing) (n) Ill <f."\'" t'o.ffa~'
sweet, be - (in taste) (vi)
swim (vi) .,..,
1114-m t'affat'a
swimming (n) ...... wano
switch, change (vt) 1"fl. q~yyam (B-type)
scythe, cut grass I hay (vt) 0Q;J.Jt a~~'ada

table (n) mt.~lf t'arapp'ezo.

table-like basket (n) ODt\ofJ masob
take (vt) CD~,R w.:ssOO~

talk, gossip (vt) hCDt. a-w~rra

tall I long (adj) l-,;.'P' rajJim

tall I long, be - (vi) 1100 razz~m;)

talla beer (n) m'\ t'~lla

tax, .feast, banquet (n) '1-IIC gibir
tea (n) "'tt. ~ay
teach (vt) hhTIJifl. as-t;,mara
teacher (n) h h.,.,.,/,. as-t~mari
team (n) ~~ gwad
telephone (n) llt.\h silk
tell (vt) 'Ul. n~gg~ra

ten (n) "'I"C assir

testify (vt) . ODI)h m~s~kk~ra
that (m/j) YIY':f yo I ya-~c(i)
there hllY izziya
these h"lllV inn~-zzih
they h "I~ I h "IC~ inn~ssu I inn;,}rsu
thief(n) t\. 11 leba
thing (abstract), matter (n) "11C n3g;,}r
thing, nameless thing (n) h1'+1' intin
think (vt) hftfl OSS;,}b;,} (B-type)
third 'Ph+~ sost-Qnrla
thirsty, be - (vi} mlllf- (+ obj. pron) t';)mma- (impers. v)
thirty rP'\tl s~lasa
this (mlj) t.V I t.V:P yih I yihi~~
those h "IllY inn~zziya
three 'Ph+ sost
threshhold, doorway (n) ~~ d;,}JJ
thrive (business) (vi) lllll. dab~m
throw (down) (vt) IIJt\ t'al3
throw (vt) CDCD W~I'aWW3I'a

thumb (n) hCD-t. nJ+ awra t'at

Thursday (n) """an-h homus
thus, like this h'tii.V I h1'~llV indih I ind3zzih
tie (up) (vt) hill. oss~rn
time (n) 1.11. gize
time, hour, watch, clock (n) ll'tt- S3?at
tip, edge (n) Q:&'f; c' of
tire, be tired (vi) ~hOD d3kk~m~
tire, be tired (vi) ~hOD- (+obj. pron) d3kk3m3 (impers. v)
title, noble - below king; head (n) t-Il ras
to m~ w3d3 (prep)
to, for t\- 1~- (prep)
today (n) Jft. zare

today (n) tfl.. zare
together h-Ilt= obr-o (hftl. was together (vi))
together I united, be - (vi) hftl. oboom
tomb, grave (n) oo?..,c m~-qooor
too, also, Topicalizer
)"' oog~

tooth (n) "l'Cil t'irs
toothpaste (n) f"l' c il i) _.,.. y~-t'irs somuna
totally, entirely IIIJol\o ft,..h mulu~-mulu
top(n), on '\.e. lay (ml.&.lf '\.e. on a table)
touch (vi) )I') n~kko
tourguide (n) hil-1-11'1 os-gobirlrl (1ft"f visited (vt))
tourist (n) ~ t,illJ turist
towel (n) t::nr fot'o
town, city (n) h+OII k~~mo
trade, business (n)
trade, deal (in), do business (vt) .,..,,
n~gg~d~ (B-type)
traffic (n) .,.~d..h trofik
traffic circle, (town) square (n) h"-'IIJ.e. odd~boboy
train, railroad (n) ru,.c bobur
train station (n) 'lftC nrll.f bobur t'obiyo
trash (n), dirty (adj) ....~ qo!o~
travel (n) ..,.,. guzo
travel, journey (vi) +Prll t~-gwazg
traveler (n) (1111")1,_.~, mang~danrlo ( 1111'l'1~ road (n))
treat (vt) hh011 akk~m~
tree (n) tit;: zaf
tree-trunk, stump, log (n) .,..,.~
trouble (n) t~~tht. m~karo
truth (n) haJo"lt' iwn~t
try (vi) 'l"'hl. moklmrn (B-type)"
Tuesday (n) Ollhll"qo moksaiirlo
turn (around), roam (vi) rtl. zom
turn (time), section (ofmarket) (n) +t- taro
turn on (light, appliance) (vt) hftl- o-oorro
turtle, tortoise (n) h. I\ eli
twenty ,,
't JP t,. rN\'r osro hulatt
twins (n) tlll'l':l" manto
two "'"" hulQtt
twice v-Nr 1.11. I V'l\i: hulQtt gize I hul~tte
type, kind (n) 't.e.t+ oyoot
typical, ordinary (adj) +t. taro

umbrella (n) )f"'l"'P'\ I 'Jf'"'l'\''\ Jant'Ha I Z<mt'ila
uncle (n) hi'rl h.,..,. aggot I agg..~t
under I below .. . h - ... n:l"'lf k~h .. oo-ta~~
united I together, be- (vi) hat. aboorn
unity, oneness (n) h"'l~)..,. and-innat (h"'l~ one (n))
untie, divorce (vt) 4.7 futta
until (prep) J'alth isk~ (J'alth )1 until tomorrow)
until, up to... , as far as (a time or place) Mlh ... i:ska ... dims
urinate (vi) 7tt; ~nna (B-type)
urine (n) i'l'"'l'r tint
use up (vt) 4.:( r~n~
used to, get~ (vt) 1\llfll/.. lammad~
use (vt) m~tJD- (+obj. pron) t'aqqam~- (impers. v)
useful (adj) m:J-11'1. t'aqami

various AV. AV. liyyu liyyu (1\f separated (vt))

vegetables, fruits and~ (n) htrhAtr-1 h:l-hA"' atkilt I otaki It
vendor (n) =Fc:F.& ~ar~ori
very bat'am
victory (n) dil (~A hll.l..l defeated (vt))
visa (n) viza
visit (vt) golnl'b
volt (n) volt

wait (for) (vt) Y.f qoyya (B-type)

wait, watch, keep (vt) mn1" fabooqa (B-type)
wake up (vt) hit )'Uf as-nassa
wall (n) .,
~.,If I ., cIJJ gidgidda I gi:rgidda
wall clock (n) ,.,~.,~~
il't+ ya-gidgidda sa?at
want, seek, lookfor (vt) 4..1\1 fall~ga
war, battle (n)
warm, hot (food) ,.,.,.
tnC)tr- t'or-innat
muq ('fD1" heated (vi))
was, he I it- (be-verb I copula, past tense) )(fl. n~boom
wash one~elf (vt) :1-mn t-att'aba
wash (vt) hmn att'~oo
washing place (as in car wash) (n) D'lmn..r m-ot'Qb-iya
wastebasket (n) r+'fif IJIIIJ)Y ya-qoa!a IDQ-t'ay-a
wat, stew (n) lD"T wat'
watch, clock, time, hour (n) ll't'r ~?at
watch, wait, keep (vt) ma~ t'abooqa (B-type)
water (n) m-v wiha
way of counting (n) h+111mC oqqot'at'~r (+mi. counted (vt))
way, road (n) 111171~ DlQ-ngad
we J'aii" inno

weaken, be weak (vi,) 01J ll )' massan~

wealth (n) ?-II+ habt

weaver (n) 7ftlrf ~ ~mmane
Wednesday (n) c-a I l.f'M rob I r.;~bu?
weed (vt) hl.OD Qfr.;IM~

weeds (n) hl.9" Qr.;~m

week (n) 'l9Di'+ sammint

weekly (a4i) 'l,..i':l-'1! sammint-awi
weigh (vt) ODII ) malZ)oo
weight (n) n-a~+ kibdat
well, fine (adj) ~ tJ'i' <klhina
well, get- (vi) .II)' daoo
west (n) 9"flt.-ll mi?irob
wet I soaked, be (vi,) toll ra~

what? ,..., min

what sorts, what kinds? ,..., ,..., min min
wheat (n) ili'.r.. sinde
when? 011~ I OD:If m~<!e I Im~
where? r+ y~t
white )11" n~e~
who? OIJi' mann
wMe ll~ ~ffi
wide, be - (vi) 114- s~ffa
widen (vt) hil4-4- as,.faffa
width, (surface) area (n) 114-+ sifat
wife (n.j) Dtil+ mist
will, last will (n) >-tfll. nuzaze
window (n) ODittVr maskot
wing (of bird) (n) tli'ti: kinf
winnow by throwing grain into air (vt) h)' d.ll a-n~ffQSQ
with... h- ... .?C k~- ... gar (h ~ .?C. with me)
with (tool, instrument) a- oo- (liiJIIh.'i' by car)
woman (n.j) fl.+ set
wood (n) hi'Q'r ine'~t
word (n) :'J" A qal (:1"'\"r words (
wear, put on (vt) 1\(Jil I~boo~
work, make (vt) IJ.It. sarra
worker (n) IJit.-t.,._.. SQM-t-QMO
world (n) ct 1\,., al~m
wound (n) ~it A qusil
wound, spear, stab (vi) CD ;J wagga
wounded I cut, be - (vi) "'-Ill\ qw~ssal~
wounded I stabbed, be - (vi) +m;J ~-waggo

writer, secretary (n) Rth,&.. s'ahafi (~L wrote (vt))

writing (n) R"th-'i: s'ihuf
wrong, mistreat (vt) fl"-t\ b~dd~l~ (B-type)
write (vt) ~.&. s'of~

yes hP'i' a won

yet, already 1'i" g~na

yoke of oxen (n) "ri'~ a~ t'ind b~re

you (Pl) h'i"i'+ inn-ant~
you (pol) hi'i: ontu
you (Sg.f) hi'':f anci
you(Sg.m) ,..,..,. ant~
you (Sg.pol) heft~ 1 hit, irswo I isswo

zero ILC zero


A-type verbs, 53 causative, 68-69

Abbink, Jon, 24,27 census, Ethiopian, II
abbreviations, 10 Chadic, 19
abstract noun, 46 Champollion, Fran~ois, 90
Academy of Ethiopian Languages, 27 citation form ofverb, 53, 187
acrophony, 92 cities & towns of Ethiopia, 169
active verb, 55 cities of world, 172
Addis Ababa, 22 classification of Amharic, 14, 18,20
Addis Ababa University, 11 clause, adjective, 83
adjective, 47 clause. adverb, 85
adjective clause, 83 cleft sentence, 87
adjective, derived, 48 Cohen, Gideon P. E., 24,27
adjutative, 72 comparative, 48
adverb clause, 85 condition ('if) clause, 86
adverb, 78 conditional perfect, 67
Afewerq Gebre Iyesus, 24 conjugations of basic verb, 55
Afroasiatic, 18, 19 consonantphoneme,29
agentnoun,46 consonant variants, 30
Akkadian, 89-90 consonantal writing, 92
Aksum, 19, 89, 92-93 consonants in Amharic writing, 96-97
alphabetical order, 108-109, 187 consonants, 29
alphabet, 37 consonant, labialized, 1OS
Amharic-English wordlist, 189 consonant, labiovelar, 31, 1OS
Anbessa Teferra, 22, 27 consonant, long, 32
Anfray, Francis, 93, 95 Contenson, Henri de, 92, 95
answers to exercises, 174 contrast ('but'), 82
Appleyard, David, 25,27 contrast suffix, 44
Arabic, 11, 93 converb,60, 123,126
auxiliary verb, 41, 51-58, 60-62 converb, main-verb, 61-62, 126
converb, minor-verb, 60-61, 125
B-type verb, 53 converb, negative, 62
basic verb conjugation, 55 Cooper, Robert L., 24-25, 27
Baye Yimam, 25 coordination ('and'), 81
be about to do, 68 copula, 63
Be'alu Girma, 24 cuneiform, 89
because clause, 85 Cushitic, 11, 19
Bender, M. Lionel22-23, 25,27
Berber, 19 Daniels, Peter T. , 94-95
Bernand, Etienne, 93 Davies, W. V., 90-91, 95
Bezza Tesfa Ayalew, 25 Dawkins, C. H., 25
bilingual time telling, 115 days of week, 114
bilingualism in Ethiopia, 22 defective verb, 73
Bowen, J. D., 25, 27 definite noun, 43
Brahmi writing, 94 definite object suffix, 44
Brenzinger, Matthias, 24, 27 demonstrative, 49
Derg, 24, I03
C-type verb, 54 derived adjective, 48
cardinal numeral, 50 derived verb, 68, 73

derived verbs in dictionaries, 73 having, verb of, 65-66
diale~ts, 22 Hayward, Richard & Katrina, 38
dictionary order, I 08 help to do, 72
direct object pronoun, 41 Hetzron, Robert, 27
do verb, 75 hieroglyphic writing, 89
Drewes,.A J., 92-93, 95 historically later fidel, 106
history of Amharic writing, 89
Eadie, J. I., 25 History ofthe Ethiopian People, 141
Egyptian, 19, 89 homophonous fidel, I 02
ejective (glottalized) consonant, 30 Hudson, Grover, 28, 94-95
ernphaticpronoun, 42
Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, 37 " iconic writing, 89
English-Amharic wordlist, 217 ifclause 85
epenthesis, 35 imperative, 59, 124
Eritrea, 11, 19 impersonal verb, 76, 132
Ethiopian Constitution, 23 inchoative, 55
Ethiopian Language Academy, 103 indefinite article, 43
Ethiopian languages, 11, 14-17, 20 independentpronoun,39
Ethiopian national language policy, 23 indirect object, 47
Ethiopian Semitic, 19 Indo-European, 19
Ethiopic writing, 93 infinitive, 45, 63
Ethiopic, see Ge'ez Institute of Ethiopian Studies, 37
European alphabets, 37 instrument noun, 45
exercises, introduction to, 145 intend to do, 68
Ezana, King, 93 .International Phonetic Alphabet, 37-38
international word, 170
Faber, Alice, 14, 27 interrogative pronoun, 42
family tree, Afroasiatic, 18 intransitive verb, 53, 68
family tree, Ethiopian Semitic, 20 introduction to exercises, 145
family tree, Semitic, 18 introduction to wordlists, 187
Fattovich, Rodolfo, 19, 27, 92,95 IPA, 37,38
feminine noun, 42 Iyasu, Emperor, 24
Ferguson, Charles, 25, 27
fidel, 99 jussive, 59, l 24

Ge'ez (Ethiopic), 19, 40, 43, 54, 80, 89 Kane, Thomas L., 9, 24, 25-26, 28
104-105, 141, 143
Getahun Arilare, 25 labialization, 33
Getatchew Haile, 25, 94-95 labiovelar consonant, 31, 105
glottalized ejective consonant, 30 Ladefoged, Peter 30,38
graph, 89 language map, 13
Greek, 91-94, 107 language names, 46
Gurage, 19-20,23 learning Amharic, books for 25
Gutt, Ernst-August, 27 learning Amharic writing, exercises for, 145
legless fidel, l 02
habitual past, 67 Leslau, Wolf, 9, 26, 37-38
Habte Mariam Marcos, 22, 27 lingua franca, 9
Haddis Alemayehu, 24, 138 linguistic classification of Amharic, 14
Haile Sellassie I University, 11 literature, 24
Harer, 23 Little Prince, 173
Hausa, II logographic writing, 89

long consonant, 32, I 07 Oromo,11
Love unto the Crypt, 13 8
Ludolf, Hiob, 9 palatalization, 32-33
passive, 70
main verb converb, 61-62 past, 55, 120
main verb nonpast, 57 past, habitual, 67
maps, 12-13 past ofverb 'be hungry', 132
Marcus, Harold, 11-12, 28 past perfect, 67
masculine noun, 42 patterns of vowel modification, 99
McCall, Daniel F., 28 people & territory, 11
Meyer, Ronny, 22-24, 28 Phoenicians, 92
minor verb converb, 60-61 phoneme, 29, 34,96
minor verb nonpast, 122 phonetic writing, 37
mnemonics for fidel, 157 phonographic writing, 89
Molvaer, Reidulf, 25, 28 place noun, 45
months of year, 114 plural suffix, 43
Mulugeta Kebede, 26 political map of Ethiopia, 12
Murphy, John D., 26 Pope, Maurice, 90, 95
Population & Housing Census Commission
names, 156 17,25,28
National Language Academy, 24 Portuguese, 24
national language policy, 23 possession ('having'), 65-66
nationality, 46 possessive of noun, 43
negative imperative, 57, 60 possessive suffix pronoun, 40
negative jussive, 57, 60, 121 postposition, 80
negative nonpast, 57-58, 121 Praetorius, Franz 24, 28
negative past, 56-57, 121 Preface, 9
negative verb of being, 64, 66, 129, 130 preposition, 46, 80
negative verb ofhaving, 65-66, 129-130 Prodigal Son, 135
negative verb of presence, 65-66, 129-130 progressive aspect, 67
nonpast, 56, 122, 123 pronoun, 39
nonpast, main-verb, 57-58, 123 pronoun, emphatic, 42
nonpast, minor-verb, 56, 58, 122 pronoun, independent, 39, 112
nonverbal language, 50 pronoun, interrogative, 42
noun,42 pronoun, noun-possessive, 4.0, 112
noun, abstract, 46 pronoun, verb-object 41, 112
noun, agent, 46
noun, definite, 43 question particle, 79
noun, masculine & feminine, 42 question word, 78
noun clause, 84
noun plural suffix, 43 reciprocal ('each other'), 71
noun derived from verb, 45 reflexive emphatic pronoun, 42
noun phrase word order, 79 reflexive verb, 70
noun-possessive suffix pronoun, 40 repetitive verb, 72
numbers, 107, 113 replacement of native language, 22
numerals, 50, 113 resumptive pronoun, 44, 77
Ricci, Lanfranco, 96
object pronoun, 41 Richter, Renate, 22-24, 28
obligation, 67 root, 51
Omotic, 19 root-and-pattern morphology, 51
one-legged fidel, I 0 I

Saba~Sabaen,92 verb types in the past, 120
Saint-Exupery, Antoine de, 173, 185 verb types, 52
say verb,74, 131 verb types, examples, 117
Schneider, Roger, 94, 96 verbal noun, 45
second language speakers, 21 verb-object suffix pronouf!., 41
Semitic, 14, 18 voiceless vowel, 35
Senner, Wayne, 89-90, 96 vowel, 34
sentence, 77, 88 vowel, voiceless, 35
sentences, useful, 133 ...)
vowel elision, 35
sentence word order, 77 vowel insertion, 35
Sinaitic, 91 vowel replacement, 35
sounds,29 vowel variant, 34
South Arabian, 92 vowels in Amharic writing, 96-97, 99
stative verb, 55
stem, 51 w insertion, 31
stress, 35 Walker, C. H., 27
Sumerian, 89 when clause, 85
superlative, 48 while clause, 85
symbolic writing, 89 word, 39,51
Swahili, 11 word, structure of, 36
word order, 77
Taddesse Adera, 24, 28 word order differences, 78
Takacs, Gabor, 27 word order in noun-phrase, 79
Tayye Gebre Mariam, Aleqa, 141 word order in sentence, 77
telling time, 115 wordlists, introduction to, 187
territory & people, II Wright, Stephen, 37-38
Tewodros, Emperor, 24 writing, history, 89
three-legged fidel, 101-2 writing, consonants & vowels in, 95
time, times of day, 51, 115 writing Amharic in European alphabets, 37
topic suffix, 44 writing system, structure, 99
topic of sentence, 44
Tosco,Mauro, 14,28 y .insertion, 31
transitive verb, 53,68 y replacement, 32
two-legged fidel, 100 Yishaq, Emperor, 24

Uhlig, Seigbert, 37-38

Ullendor.ff, Edward, 27

verb, 51
verb, defective, 73
verb, derived, 68..
verb, twelve types, 52, 116, 117
verb conjugation, 55
verb derived from noun, 73
verb last, 77
verb ofbeing, 63, 127, 129
verb ofhaving, 128-129
verb of presence, 64, 128
verb root with initial a, 54
verb root with two consonants, 54
verb types in six forms, 116