Amharic

ታዳጊው ልዑል / Tadagiwe Leul — in Amharic language.

Amharic (አማርኛ)  is the official language of Ethiopia and the second-most spoken Semitic language in the world, after Arabic. It is a part of the Ethio-Semitic group, which falls under the larger Afro-Asiatic language family. Amharic is primarily spoken in Ethiopia, where it serves as the national working language and is used in government, media, and education. It has millions of speakers, both within Ethiopia and among diaspora communities around the world.

Amharic has its roots in the ancient language of Ge’ez. Over centuries, Amharic evolved from Ge’ez and gradually became the dominant language of the Ethiopian government and courts, particularly by the 14th century.

Amharic has a rich phonetic inventory, including ejective consonants that are common in Ethiopian Semitic languages. The vowel system includes seven basic vowels, which can be short or long, affecting the meaning of words. The language typically follows a consonant-vowel syllable structure, which contributes to its distinct sound.

Unlike many other Semitic languages, Amharic does not use case endings for nouns. However, it has a system of definite articles that are suffixed to the noun. Amharic verbs are highly inflected for various grammatical categories, including tense, aspect, mood, person, and number. The verb system is rooted in the Semitic triconsonantal root system, where words are formed around three consonant root letters to convey a basic concept.

Amharic is written in the Ge’ez script, also known as the Ethiopic script, which is an abugida. In this system, each character represents a consonant-vowel combination, with the basic character shape modified to represent different vowel sounds. The script is written from left to right.

Amharic’s vocabulary encompasses a wide range of terms, including many loanwords from languages such as Italian, French, and English, reflecting Ethiopia’s history of trade, warfare, and diplomacy. Nevertheless, the core lexicon remains Semitic, sharing roots with Arabic, Hebrew, and other languages of the family.

As the official language of Ethiopia, Amharic is used across all governmental levels. It is also the medium of instruction in primary schools and is used in secondary and tertiary education alongside English. There are several dialects of Amharic, reflecting the diverse regions of Ethiopia. However, the version spoken in Addis Ababa, the capital, serves as the standard form used in media and official communications.