FOREIGN SERVICE INSTITUTE

AMHARIC
BASIC COURSE
Units 1 - 50
o EPA R T MEN T 0 F S TAT E
AMHARIC
BASIC COURSE
Units 1 - 50
SERGE OBOLENSKY
DEBEBOW ZELELIE MULUGETA ANDUALEM
FOREIGN SERVICE INSTITUTE
WASHINGTON, D.C.
1964
D EPA R T MEN T 0 F S TAT E
AMHARIC
FOREIGN SERVICE INSTITUTE
BASIC COURSE SERIES
Edited by
CARLETON ~ HODGE
ii
BASIC COURSE
PREFACE
This volume is the first of a two-volume Basic Course in Amharic, and contains
Units 1-50 of the course. The second volume includes Units 51.<JO, an introduction to
the writing system, a Reader, and a Glossary.
Amharic, the official language of the Ethiopian Empire, is spoken natively by per-
haps six million people in a small but populous area of the country which includes the
capital, Addis Ababa. A member of the Southem Semitic branch of the
family of languages, Amharic is steadily gaining importance as it picks up additional
speakers through the spread of communications and education within Ethiopw.
The linguist in charge of the entire project has been Serge Obolensky, with the
assistance of Mr. Debebow Selelie and Mr. Mulugeta Andualem. The Amharic script in
the second volume is the work of Mr. Zelelie. Valuable suggestions received from Pro-
fessor Wolf Leslau during the beginning stages of the work are gratefully acknowkdged.
Howard E. Sollenberger, Dean
School of Language and Area Studies
Foreign Service Institute
Department of State
iii
AMHARIC
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface ...................................................... iii
Introduction ................................................ xvi
Unit 1
Symbols used . . • • . • . • • • . . . . . • • • • • • • • • • • . . • • • • . • . • . • • • • • • • • 1
Basic Sentences . . .. . . . . ... . . . . .... .. .. . .. . ... .. . . . .. . . ..• 2
Note 1.1 Transcription used • • • • • • . • • • . • • . • • • • • . • • • • • • • • 3
1.2 Vowels 4
1.3 Consonants . • • .• •. ••• •••• • •• • •• . • • . . • •• • .•• • • . • 7
1.3.1 Plain Consonants •••••••••.•.•.•.•••.•••••••••• 7
1.3.2 Glottalized Consonants • • • . •• • . . . • •• •• .•. •• • • • • 9
Drills 9
Unit 2
Ba.sic Sentences .
2.2 'and' /-(i)nna/ •••••••••••.•••••••••••••••••••
Note 2.1 Masculine Definite Suffix /-u--w/ •••••••••••••
Drills ...................................................
12
13
14
15
Unit 3
19
22
23
23
24
24
25
25
26
27
Transitional Vowel li/ .
Forma tion of Plural •.••••••••.•••••.••••••••••
/w/ and /y/ glides ••••••••••••••••.•••.•.••••.
Verb 'be r •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
...................................................
Ba.s ic Sentence s .
No te 3.1 Independent Pronouns ••.•.•••.•.•.•••••.•.•••..
3.2 Suffix Pronouns ••••••••••••.••..••••••••••••.•
3.2.1 Verb Suffix Pronouns ••••••••••••••••••••••••••
3.3 Loss of Vowels ••••••••••••.•••••••••••••.•.•••
3.4
3.5
3.6
3.7
Drills
Amharic equivalents of 'have' and 'have not' •••
Feminine Definite Suffix
Definite Suffix on Modifier •.•••••.•••••••••••
Suffix /-(i)n/-Specific Direct Object •••••••••
Noun Suffix Pronouns
Unit 4
Basic Sentences
Note 4.1
4.2
4.3
4·4
4.5
..........................................
..........................
29
31
32
33
34
35
iv
BASIC COURSE
Prep0 sition .... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Preposition /b(e)-/ and /best(e)-/ •••••••
Drills
35
35
36
Unit 5
Basic Sentences
Note 5.1
5.2
5.3
5.4
5.5
5.5.1
5.5.2
Drills
Narrative
Unit 6
Verb. Perfective
'have' and 'have not' with feminine object.
Verb Suffix Pronouns with Perfective •.••••
Verb Suffix Pronouns used in apposition ..•
Prepositions /k(e)-/, /isk(e)-/ and /l(e)-/
/k(e ) - / 'fram ' .••••••.••.•••.•.•••.••••••
/isk(e)-/ and /isk(e)- •.. dires/ 'up to',
'to'
/l(e)-/ 'for', 'to' •.•.••..•••.•..••••••
Postpositions /wisT/ and /lay/ combined
with prefixes /b(e)-/ or /i-/ .•.••••••••
Suffixes /-iyye/ and /-iyyo/ to nouns •••••
Definite Suffixes /-iyyew/ and /iyyewa/ •••
Numerals; Ordinals •••••.•••••••••••.••••
43
46
49
49
51
51
52
52
52
52
53
53
53
54
55
Basic Sentences .
Note 6.1 Relational Prefix /y(e)-/ .•••••••••••••••
6.2 Verb. Infinitive •..•••••..••.•••.•••••••
6.3 Verb. Imperfective •..•••.••••.•.•••.•.••
6.4 Verb Classification .....•••..••••.•.•••.•
6.4.1 Regular Three-Radical Verbs ..•••..••••.••
6.4.2 Regular Two-Radical Verbs •.•...•••••••.••
6.5 Verb. Notation .•••••...••••.•.•.•••••.••
6.6 Postpositlon /garHgara/ combined with pre-
f ix /k( e ) - / • • • • • . • • • . • • . • • • • • . . . • • • • • • •
6.7 Use of /k(e)- ••• befit/ and /k(e)-/ •••
behwBla/ .
Drills
Narrative
57
59
60
61
63
63
65
65
65
66
66
69
Unlt 7
Basic Sentences
Note 7.1
7.2
Verb Suffix Pronouns with Imperfective ••••
Equivalents of 'had' and 'had not' •••••••
v
71
73
77
AMHARIC
•••••••••••••••••••.•••••••••••.••••• • •••••••••••.•
Narra tl.ve •••••••.•.•.••••.••••••••.••••••••••••••••••••.•
77
80
8
Sentences
Note 8.1
8.2 SuffLK
8.3 Suff1X
Dr 1.118 •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
••••. • .1 • •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
81
82
84
84
84
88
9
BaS:LC Sentences •••.•••••••••••.•••••••••••.•.•••••••••.••
Note 9.1 forms connected by •
9.2 .•..•...•...••..••••.•
9.3 Short •.•.•••••.•.•.••.•.•••••••
9.4 •.•...••...••..•••..•••
9.5 •••.•.•....•..•.••••••.•.
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••.••.••••
Narra tl.va • •• • • • •• • • • • •• • •• • • • • • • • ••• • • .•. • • • • • ••• • • • • t • • •
89
92
92
93
95
99
100
103
10
Ba S 1C Sentence s ••••••••••••••••••••••••••.•••••••••••.••.
107
110
110
III
III
III
112
118
105
107
10.2
10.2.1
10.2.2
10.2.3
10.2.4
Drl11s •••.•••••••••••••.••.•••••••.•••••.••••••••••••••.•
Narratlve ••••••••••••••••••••••••.•••.•..••••••••••••••••
Note 10.1 AffLKes to Verbs .••.•..••.•.•.•.•
10.1.1 Aff1X /y(e)--

Aff1X
etc. • ..•••.....••••••••..•
.•• yalle/ 'such as', etc. • .•.•••.••.
'as soon as' ..••..•..•.•••••••••..
'that' •.
11
Sentenues 120
121
122
126
127
128
129
132
Regular Two-Radlcal Verbs I-e/ .....
Gerund •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Present Perfect ............•.........
Past Perfect ...•....................•
Imperfect (Past) •...•......•.•...•.••
Verb:
Verb.
Verb:
Verb:
Verb.
Note 11.1
11.2
11.3
11.4
11.5
Dr:Llls •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Narratlve •••••.••..•••.•••••.•••.••••••••••.••••••••..•••
vi
BASIC COURSE
Unl.t 12
BaSl.C Sentences
Note 12.1
12.2
12.3
12.4
12.5
12.6
12.7
Drl.lls
Narratl.ve
Telll.ng Tl.me
Verba Jussl.ve
Verb. Imperat1.ve •••.••••••••••••••••••••••••
Relat1.onal AfflX /1.yy(e)-/ W1.th nouns ••••••••
Relatl.onal AfflX /1.yy(e)-/ w1.th verbs ••••••••
Relatl.onal AfflX /s(1.)-/ •••••••••••••••••.•••
/abro/ 'both', Itogether' ••••••••••••••••••••
133
136·
136
140
144
144
145
147
148
153
Unl.t 13
BaSl.C Sentences 155
Narratl.ve
Unl.t 14
BaSl.C Sentences
...................................................
Note 13.1
13.1.1
13.1.2
13.1.3
13.2
13.2.1
Drl.lls
Narratl.ve
Note 14.1
14.2
14.3.1
14.3.2
14.4
14·5
14.5.1
14.5.2
'14.6
14.7
Drl.lls
Relat1.onal Aff1.xes /1(1.)-/ and /-(1.)ll(l.)-N-
(1.)11e-/ .
/1(1.)-/ w1.th Short Imperfect1.ve •••••••••••••
/1(1.)-/ wl.th Short Imperfect1.ve plus /new/ or
/nebber/ ••.••••.•.•.•.•.•...•.............
/-(1.)ll(1.)--(1.)lle-/ ••••.••••••••••••••••••
Relat1.onal AfflXes /1.sk(1.)-/ and /1.sk(e)-/ •••
/1.sk(e)-/ w1.th Relat1.ve Construct1.ons •••••••
Demonstrat1.ve Pronouns
Noun: Gender .....•.......•..•...........•..
Relat1.onal AfflX /b(1.)-/ 'l.f' •••••••••••••••
Relatl.onal AfflX /b(1.)-/ 'because' ••••••••••
SufflX /-(1.)bb(1.)-/ •••••••••••••••••••••••••
PreflX /b(e)-/ w1.th Relat1.ve Clauses •••.•••••
/b (e) - ••• g ize / ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
/b(e)- ••• KuTl.r/ •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
/b ( e )- ••• ml.kn1.ya t/ ••••••••••••••••••.•••••••
Relat1.onal AfflX /s1.1(e)-- s1.1emm(1.)-/ ••••••••
158
159
159
159
159
160
161
161
163
165
168
169
172
175
176
178
178
178
179
179
180
186
Verb. /a-/ verbs
Unl.t 15
BaSl.C Sentences
Note 15.1
..........................................
vii
188
189
AMHARIC
15.2 Verb: /a-/ and /as-/ ••.•.••••• 190
15.2.1 Verbs /a-/ •..•.....••••.•.•••. 191
15.2.2 CausatJ.ve Verbs /as-/ ••...•..•••..•••••• 191
15.3 PassJ.ve-ReflexJ.ve Verbs ••.••.•••••...•.•... 191
15.4 and NotatJ.on •.•••..••••••.•. 195
15.5 RelatJ.onal AffJ.x /k(e)-/ PerfectJ.ve •.•• 197
15.5.1 /k(e)-/ ••••••••.••..•....•••••••.••.•• 197
15.5.2 /k( e ) - / 's J.nce ' • • • • • • • • . . • • • . • • • • • • • . . • • . • • 198
Drllls 198
Narra tilve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . • . . . . 205
16
BaS1C Sentences .
Note 16.1 ........•.•.•.•••
16.2 Pronoun /1"as-/ 'self' ........•..•..•...•.•.
16.3 Regular Verbs •......••..•..••.
16.4 Three-and Verbs /-0-/ .
16.5 Verb: Noun of Agent .•....•........•.•...•.
16.6 Verb: Noun of Instrument ..••...•.....•.••.
16.7 Use of and /weyJ.ss/ 'or' .....•.•....

NarratJ.ve
UnJ.t 17
Sentences
206
208
208
209
210
210
212
213
214
215
..................................................
...............................................
CIa ss Note 17.1
Chart I
Chart II
Chart III
Chart IV
Chart V
DrJ.11s

Verba
Regular
Regular
Regular
Regular
Regular
Verbs .•...•.•.••....•
/a-/ Verbs .••••..••..
Verbs /-a/ •.••••••.•
Verbs /-e/ ..••...•..
Verbs ...•....••...•••.
222
223
224
225
226
227
230
18
Sentences
..................................................
Note 18.1
18.2


Verba Use of ......•.••....••.••.
Use of /gena/ ••••..•.•.....•........•.•....
...............................................
viii
232
233
234
235
239
BASIC COURSE
19
Ba S 1.C Sentence s .
Drllls .
Note 19.1 and Superlatlve •••••..••.•••.••
· . Narratlve
Unlt 20
Ba S lC Sentence s .
247
Note 20.1 Verb Classlflcatlon, Two-Radlcal Verbs, types
and •.•••••••.••
· .
me Ia2 ......•..........•.........•..•.....•.
me 102 .
253
255
256
248
250
251
251
252
252
......................................
......................................
Impersonal Cbnstructlons .•••••••••••
Verb: Present Perfect of verbs denotlng
'state' or 'condltlon' .••.•.•.•.•••..••.•
mele2
mele2
Verbl
· .
Chart VI/l
Chart VI/2
Chart VI/3
Chart VI/4
20.2
20.3
Narratlve

• ••••••••••••••• e •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Unlt 21
BaSlC Sentences
Drllls
Narratlve
· .
· .
258
260
261
Unlt 22
BaS1C Sentences
· . Drllls
Narratlve
· .
· .
263
265
267
· .
Unlt 23
Ba s lC Sentence s
.. .
268
270
271
271
273
274
274
275
275
276
277
278
.....................
· .
/ye t / .
/man/ .
Questlon Words .••••••.••••....•••••••.•••••
/mln/ or /mlndln/ •••••••••••••.•.••••••.•••
/yetu/, /yetlnnaw/ and /mannlnnaw/ ••.••••••
/manrunnawlm/ or /mannaccewlm/ ••.•••..•.•••
/mannEn/ and /mlnlmm/ •••..•..••..••..•••.••
/mlnlmm/ wlth •.••••••...•.•.•••••••
Note 23.1
23.2
23.2.1
23.2.2
23.2.3
23. 2 .4
23.3
23.4
23.5
Narratlve
Drllls
ix
••••••••••.••••••••.••••••••••••
.•••••.••..•.••••••••
Complete ..••...•.••••••.•••.
Use of /madregiya/ ..•••••••..••...•.••••.•
AMHARIC
24
BaS1C Sentences .
Note 24.1 Verb: Short form of /madreg/ .•.•••.••.•.•
24.2 Use of /allebb-/, /honebb-/
and /nebberebb-/
•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Narrat.1ve .
25
BaS1C Sentences .
Note 25.1 and .••..•••••••••
25.1.1
25.1.2
25.1.3
25.2
Drllls .
••••••.•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Unlt 26
Sentences
Note 26.1 SufflX /-(l)nnet/
26.2 Verb. The use of /meKnat/ .•......••••••..
Drl11s .
Narratlve ...................•..........................
Unlt 27
BaS1C Sentences
Note 27.1 SufflX /-e/ In compound words •••••••••••••
27.2 Plural after numerals •..••.••.••••••••••••
Drllls .
Narratlve .
Unlt 28
BaS1C Sentences .....................•..................
Note 28.1 Verb: Hypothetlcal Condltlonal .•..•..•.•••
28.2 AfflX /lnd(e)-/ wlth /alle-/ and /hone-/••••
28.3 Impersonal Verbs •••.•.•...•.•••••••••••...
Dr 1.118 •.•••••.•••.•..••.•...•••..............•....•...•
Narratlve .
Unlt 29
BaS1C Sentences .
Note 29.1 Verb C1asslflcatlon Three-Radlcal Verbs
/-a-/
x
280
283
283
284
288
291
292
293
293
294
295
295
297
300
301
302
303
307
310
311
312
313
315
317
318
319
320
324
327
328
Chart VII
29.2
Dr111s
Narrat1ve
BASIC COURSE
Use of /m1kn1yatu/ comblned w1th /s11e-/ and
/s11emm(1)-/ affLXes and the verb form /new/
/k(e)- ••. yetenessa/ •••••.••.•.•••••••••••••
329
329
330
330
332
BaS1.C Sentences . ~ .
Note 30.1 Compound Verbs w1th /ma1et/ and /madreg/ ••••
30.1.1 Verb: Inconclus1ve Aspect •••••••••••••••••
llil.lls .
Narrat1ve
334
335
338
340
342
UnlC 31
BaS1C Sentences
Un1t 32
BaS1C Sentences
Note 31.1
31.2
Dr111s
Narratlve
Note 32.1
32.2
32.3
Dr111s
Narrat1ve
/b(e)- ••• beklru1/ •••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Use of /b1cca/ w1th Noun SufflX Pronouns and
D1rect ObJect Suff1X /-(l)n/ ••.•••••••.••.
\
Suff l.X / - ge/ • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • . • • • • • • • • •••
Verb: /lndehon/ w1th re1at1ve construct10ns
/lndehon/ wlth Short Imperfect1ve and Gerund,
'whether or not' •••••••••••••.••••••••••
Verb: Inf1n1t1ve w1th Noun SufflX Pronouns
and Verb forms /new/ and /nebber/ •••••••
344
345
346
347
349
350
352
352
353
354
355
357
Un1t 33
B a S H ~ Sentences
358
..................................................
Note 33.1
Drl1ls
Narrat1ve
Verb, /s-/ negat1ve comb1ned w1th the forms
of the verb /Kerre-meKret/ •••.•••••••••••
...............................................
xi
AMHARIC
34
Ba s c Se ntence s • . • • • . • • . • • • • . • • • • • . • . . . . . . • . . • • . • . • • • . • .
Note 34.1 Verba Form ••.•••.••••.•••...
Chart VIII Frequenta ve Verbs •••••.••.•.•••.•••.•....
34.2 Verb: Form ..•••.••..•••••••••••
Chart IX Verbs ••••.•.••••••..•••••••••.•.
})r11.11s •••••••..••..•...•.•.•••.•......•..•....•...•...•.
· .
365
367
368
369
372
373
375
Ba S J.C Sentence s .
Note 35.1 Use of ••.••..•..••.••....•.•.•••.•
35.2 'let alone r,
377
379
· . Drllls

'even though' •••••••••.....••.....•••••••.•
· .
380
381
383
36
Bas Sentences · .
384
· .
Note 37.1 Verb. /maweK/ Gerund ••••..••••••••.••
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
37
BaSlC Sentences
Unlt 38
Sentences
· .
Note 36.1
Drllls



Narratlve
comblned lmperson-
al forms of the verb /memsel/ .•.•••••..•.
· .
· .
· .
· .
· .
387
387
391
392
395
396
398
400
401
403
Unl t 39
Sentences · .
· .
Note 39.1


Verba Use of /yel1em T/ Short Imper-
and Gerund •...•.•.•.•••.••....•••
· .
xii
407
408
410
BASIC COURSE
Unlt 40
Ba s lC Sentence s
Drllls
Narratlves
Unlt 41
BaS1C Sentences
Note 41.1
41.1.1
41.1.2
41.1.3
41.1.5
41.2
41.2.1
41.2.2
41.3
Drl11s
Postposltlons /zend/ and /ga/ ••.•.•.••••••
/ke- ••• zend - gal •••.••••••••••••••.••••••
/1- •.• zend-ga/ •••••••••.•••.•••••••••••.•.
/be- ••. z end/ •.•••••.•.•.•••••.••••••••••.•
/lziih zend-lzzih gal and /lzziya zend-lzziya
gal •••.•••.•.••.•••••....•.••••••••...•.
Verb: Use of /zend/ as postverb .••••.•••••
Verb: /zend/ wlth Short Imperfectlve ••••..
Verb. /ke .•• zend/ wlth Perfectlve •••••.•.•
Verb: Use of /kenoren/, /kenoreh/, etc. 'If
I do have' etc. . ••......•.•••.•.••••••••
Verb: /menor/ used lmpersonally, 'wlll
have', 'may have'
417
420
421
421
421
422
422
422
422
422
Narratlve
Unlt 42
BaS1C Sentences
Unl t 43
BaS1C Sentences
Note 41+.1 Verbal Nouns ••••••••..••.••..•.•••••.•••••
Drl11s e •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
Unlt 44
BaS1C Sentences
Note 42.1
42.2
42.3
Drllls
Narratlve
Note 43.1
Chart X
Drllls
Narratlve
Narratlve
Verb a Progre s s 1ve Form .•..••.•••.••••••••
Verba 'whether ••. (or not)' constructlons
Use of /mlnlmmal1l/, /mlnlmmattll/, e t ~ .
Benefactlve or Causatlve Reclprocal Verbs •.
Benefactlve Verbs •.•.••.••.•.....••.••••••
..............................................
xiii
429
432
433
434
435
439
442
444
447
448
449
451
453
455
457
AMHARIC
Adver1bla Is .
Narratl.ve
Adverbl.a1s l.n /b(e)-/
Adverbl.a1s of Tl.me l.n /-(l.)n/
Gerund Forms used Adverbl.a11y
Unl.t 45
B a s ~ c Sentences ..............•...........................
Note 45.1 Use of /bl.cca sayhon/ •.•••••.••••••••••••••
45.2
45.2.1
45.2.2
'45.2.3
Drl.11s
460
461
461
461
462
464
468
Basle Sentences . 467
Note 46.1 /k(e)-/ used l.n combl.natl.on wl.th
/wedih-wedezzih/ and /wediya-wedezzl.ya/
Dr 1.11s .
Narra t ~ v e ••••.•.•••.•.••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
470
471
472
Unl.t 47
BaS1.C Sentences ..................................•.•....
Drl.lls .
Narra tl.ve .
474
476
478
480
48.2
48.3
Drl.lls .
Narra t ~ v e •••••••••••••••.•.••••••••••••••••••.••••••••••
Unl.t 48
BaSl.C Sentences .
Note 48.1 Use of /1(l.)-/ form l.n combl.natl.on wl.th /sl.l/,
/sl.ttl.1/, etc. •.••••.••••.•••.••••••••••• 483
Verb. Intensl.ve Aspect •.•.•.•..••.•••••••••••• 483
Vel'b. Cona tl.ve Aspect . . • . • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 484
485
488
Unl.t 49
BaS1C Sentences .
Drllls .
Narratlve .
490
491
493
Unl.t 50
BaSl.C Sentences
Note 50.1 Emphatl.c Suffl.X /-a/
Drl.11s
Narratl.ve
495
497
498
500
xiv
BASIC COURSE
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ETHIOPIA
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_ .• - Inh:'lIlal,onJ' b.,undiHy
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@ NatlOflit! Ot
colonial ColD,tal
• PrO\',nce ca;> tal
RaIlroad
Roao Of lIack
111111111 '\l"har1c Speak-
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xv
Drllls:

INTRODUCTION
The Amharlc Language
Amharlc lS the offlclal language of the Ethloplan Emplre used ln
government, ln buslness, ln all lnstructlon ln government schools and ln
most newspapers. It lS, however, not the only language spoken ln Ethlopla.
As can be seen from the map on page xv the area where lS spoken
as a natlve tongue lS about one slXth of the whole terrltory of Ethlopla.
Amharlc belongs to the Southern Semltlc branch of the Afro-Aslatlc
(formerly called Hamlto-Semltlc) famlly of languages. The number of natlve
speakers of Amharlc together wlth the speakers of the other Semltlc languages
spoken ln Ethlopla (such as Tlgrlnlya, Tlgre, Hararl, Gurage and others) lS
less than one half the total populatlon of the Emplre. The greatest part of
Ethlopla lS lnhablted by speakers of CUShltlC languages (another branch of
the Afro-Aslatlc famlly) such as Galla, Agaw, Somall and many others. Slnce
no census has ever been taken ln Ethlopla the number of Ethloplans can only
be estlmated. Accordlng to the offlclal data of the Ethloplan government
the number of lnhabltants of Ethlopla lS between 20 and 22 mllllon. It lS
also dlfflcult to glve a rellable estlmate of the number of Amharlc speakers;
lt lS probably between 5 and 7 mllllon. There lS Ilttle doubt, however, that
due to the constantly growlng development of communlcatlons systems and the
spreadlng of educatlon Amharlc lS galnlng ground throughout the whole country.
It lS now the language of greatest prestlge and anyone who has had any educa-
tlon lS able to speak lt, even lf lt lS not hlS mother tongue. Stlll others
learn lt lnformally as a second language.
ThlS Course:
The followlng parts may be found ln a unlt:
Baslc Sentences
Classroom Expresslons
Structure Sentences
Useful Words
Grammatlcal Notes
Substltutlon
Correlatlon
Transformatlon
Model-Transform drllls
Questlons and Answers
Narratlve
xvi
BASIC COURSE
BaS1C Sentences and Questlons and Answers are found In each unlt. The
Narratlves begln wlth the unlt 5. The occurrence of other parts may vary.
The Course lS dlVlded lnto two volumes. Volume I - contalns unlts 1
through 50 In transcrlptl0n. Volume II - unlts 51-60 In transcrlptl0n,
Introductlon to the Amharlc Wrltlng System, The Reader (Unlts 1-60 ln Amharlc
scrlpt) and a Glossary (In transcrlptl0n).
The Reader lncludes: BaSlc Sentences
Questlons and Answers
Narratlves
Use of ThlS Course
1. 'Baslc Sentences', 'Structure Sentences I, 'Useful Words '.
The lnstructor reads the Amharlc ltem by ltem, repeatlng each ltem (a
bUl1d-up or a sentence) tWlce for each student. Each member of the class
repeats the ltem lmmedlately after the lnstructor trylng to lmltate hlS (or
her) pronunclatlon.
If In the lnstructor's 0plnlon the ltem lS mlspronounced by the student,
the lnstructor repeats lt at normal speed wlth the student repeatlng after
hlm (or her) as many tlmes as necessary. After the class hours each student
goes over the Baslc Sentences by llstenlng to the tape and repeatlng, dOlng
thlS untl1 he knows the dlalogue by heart.
After the BaS1C Sentences have been thoroughly memorlzed the students
take part and act out the dlalogues. The lnstructor may take one of the
parts the flrst tlme or two. ThlS drl11 lS to be contlnued untll any student
can take part and go through the dlalogue 11ke an actor.
2. Substltutlon, Correlatlon and Transformatl0n Drl11s are to be used
In accordance wlth the lnstructlons glven at the beglnnlng of
each drlll.
3. Model Transform Drll1s should be drllled ln the same way as other
Transformatlon Drllls.
4. Questl0ns and Answers.
The questlons and answers are to be drllled as speclfled below, but
they should not be consldered complete. Any questlon WhlCh lS wlthln the
11mlts of the students' grammar and vocabulary can be asked.
Some questlons requlre lnformatlonal answers some others slmply 'yes'
or 'no' answers.
xvii
AMHARIC
Quest10ns requ1r1ng 1nformat10nal answers are to be dr1lled as follows:
The 1nstructor asks each student a quest10n. The student repeats the
quest10n and g1ves an answer. Any answer g1ven by the student 1S cons1dered
correct 1f 1t 1S good Amhar1c. The answer 1S corrected by the 1nstructor,
1f necessary. The student repeats the corrected answer. The 1nstructor then
g1ves the student the answer wh1ch 1S wr1tten 1n the book and the student
repeats 1t as a further dr1l1.
Quest10ns requ1r1ng 'yes' or 'no' answers should be dr1lled 1n the same
way, 1.e. the student repeats the quest10n after the 1nstructor and g1ves h1m
e1ther an aff1rmat1ve or a negat1ve answer (or both 1f so requested by the
1nstructor).
5. Narrat1ve
The 1nstructor goes through the sentences (1f any) 1llustrat1ng new
vocabulary 1tems, ln the same way as he d1d for BaS1C Sentences. After the
students have thus fam1l1ar1zed themselves w1th the new words the 1nstructor
reads through the whole Narrat1ve at a natural speed. The students l1sten
i ,...I J-,
for comprehens10n, books closed. The students summar1se 1n Eng11sh as much
as they understood of the Narrat1ve. The 1nstructor reads each sentence
aga1n for each student, each of whom repeats after h1m. Each student trans-
lates the sentence he repeated. Th1s drIll 1S cont1nued unt1l the students
are thoroughly fam1l1ar w1th the mater1al. The 1nstructor then asks ques-
t10ns l1sted at the end of each Narrat1ve and the students answer them as
completely as poss1ble uS1ng words conta1ned 1n the Narrat1ve. In add1t10n
to the quest10ns l1sted 1n the book the 1nstructor may ask any quest10n
pert1nent to the Narrat1ve w1th1n the llm1ts of the students' grammar and
vocabulary. The students the Narrat1ve by l1sten1ng to the tape
and relate the story to the the next day.
students must keep 1n m1nd that there 1S no one correct way of speak1ng
Amhar1c. Due to the poor system of commun1cat1ons 1n Eth1op1a Amhar1c has
developed var10US local d1alects. There 1S an espec1ally marked d1fference
1n pronunc1at10n, 1n vocabulary, and even 1n grammar between the northern
GOJJam1 and the southern Showa d1alects. The purpose of th1s Course 1S to
teach the language as 1t 1S spoken 1n the cap1tal of Eth10p1a, Add1S Ababa.
Add1s Ababa Amhar1c conta1ns elements of a var1ety of d1alects. The
student should have th1s 1n m1nd and should always follow the manner of
speech of h1S 1nstructor even 1f h1s (or her) speech var1es somewhat from
what 1S 1nd1cated 1n th1S book.
xviii
BASIC COURSE
Symbols Used In ThlS Course
UNIT 1
On the Engllsh slde, parentheses and quotatlon marks are used together
(t •••• t) when a more Ilteral translatlon 1S glven 1n add1t1on to the ordlnary
Engl1sh equ1valent.
Brackets [ ] are used to 1ndlcate words 1n the Engllsh equlvalent Wh1Ch
do not have an equlvalent 1n the Amharlc.
Parentheses ( ) 1nd1cate words WhlCh are In the Amhar1c but not In a
normal Engllsh equlvalent. The Engllsh slde lS not necessarlly a Ilteral
translatlon but what lS ordlnarlly sald 1n thlS sltuatlon. The use of
parentheses and brackets as explalned above should make the sltuatlon clear
In each case.
On the Amhar1c slde, parentheses are used to lndlcate sounds WhlCh are
somet1mes omltted. Brackets are used to lndlcate a more formal pronunclatlon
to be used In more del1berate speech or whlle readlng texts ~ r l t t e n 1n Amharlc
characters. Alternate pronunclatlons of the same word or alternate words are
glven after a slant llnel I.
The accent mark used lS I 'I. ThlS lndlcates the loudest syllable In a
word or phrase. Secondary stresses are not marked.
As Amharlc has an almost even d1strlbutlon of stress on each syllable,
1t 1S somet1mes extremely dlfflcult to detect where the prlnc1pal stress of
a part1cular word lles. In thlS Course phrase stress wlll be marked In the
BaS1C Sentences, but words In the bUlldups wlll be left unmarked unless the
stress 1S clearly dlstlnct1ve.
An arrow I t I lS used to 1ndlcate sharply rlslng pltch.
A perlod I . I lS used to 1ndlcate the end of a phrase accompanled by
fall1ng pltch. It mayor may not correspond to an Engllsh perlod.
A comma I ' I lnd1cates that the precedlng tone 1S carrled on evenly to
the comma and that a new pltch contour beglns followlng the comma. The
syllables lmmed1ately before I , I are Sllghtly lengthened. There mayor
may not be a break or pause after I ' I.
In the Notes slant llnes are used to set off Amharlc sounds or words
w1thln an EngllSh text. Engllsh letters and words are underllned when used
as examples.
1

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