Amharic Lesson 1: Personal Pronouns and Gemination
Reading Demon-Kiyomi's posts has inspired me to create my own Amharic course. For anyone that is interested, I will make sure I carry on uploading lessons as the days go by.
Due to the nature of the Amharic language, I thought I’d start off with something not usually covered in the “Basics” lessons of most trees, independent personal pronouns and gemination. What each transliterated letter means will be explained right at the bottom of the lesson.
Independent Personal Pronouns:
In the Amharic language, there are 10 independent personal pronouns. The reason that there are this many is because: the 2nd personal singular is dependent on gender and also, there are formal pronouns used too. On top of these, some of these have one extra way of saying them, although they are rarely used.
This table below shows the personal pronouns in Amharic:
Each character in the Amharic script shows a consonant-vowel pair, hence why the corresponding spelling in the Latin alphabet does not have the same number of letters as it. In this case, you can see that sometimes, two n’s and s’s such as in “ïnnässu” have been written. This is infact a long consonant and it is referred to as being geminated. Gemination is not shown in our writing so it is something you pick up as you get familiar with words. Some words in Amharic can be spelt the exact same way, but have a different meaning due to the gemination of a consonant. A common example is:
ገና gäna (still) vs. gänna (Christmas) The best way to imagine the consonant length is to think of both the first syllable ending with ’n’, but also the second syllable of the word starting with ’n’ for the example above. An example in English would be “midday”, said as, “mid-day”.
The letter č in the transliterated text refers to the sound 'ch' (e.g. church) in the English language. The letter ñ is a palatal nasal, like the gn sound in the Italian 'bagno'. It can be heard here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palatal_nasal
For the vowels, I suggest watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDoKd4zECOI
A link to Demon-Kiyomi's Japanese course: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/7963862
Thanks, up for any suggestions and any questions on the Amharic language :).
You're welcome! Actually, a few months ago we (and another girl) had a long conversation about the similiarities betweeen Arabic, Amharic and Hebrew. There were quite a lot!
I understand! I guess I feel the same way about many languages too ..
hey, thanks for the post! i have the following question: Do the personal pronouns change through different cases? (like he-him- to him in english) Generally how many cases are there in the language? Could you also put some thematic tasks after the lessons, i think it will be great. For example some words im amharic, which we have to transcribe in english at the beginning, and more complicated exercises in amharic after the first few lessons. Regards ( :
By cases do you mean like, e.g. I/my,mine/me and we/our,ours/us etc? Essentially they don't really differ but it's almost impossible to have a case where they don't. We have an accusative marker. For example, I like her is እኔ እስዋን እወዳለሁ/ïne ïsswan ïwädallähu. Here I is simply እኔ/ïne as explained in the lesson, but her becomes እስዋን, which is just 'she' with the accusative marker ን at the end, to mark definiteness. Strictly speaking, different scenarios give rise to different suffixes and prefixes being attached.
(Extra: The 'I' does not need to be included in the sentence as the verb changes depending on person. It's also a language in which subject pronouns can be dropped and indicated in the verb itself. That entire sentence can be said as እወዳታለሁ/ïwädatallähu which simply means "I like her". This is a far more common way of saying the sentence itself.)
I will keep that suggestion in my mind. I was thinking of doing something like that however, because I was concentrating more on the grammar of the language, I thought it would be quite a while before I teach a lot of nouns. :)
Thanks for the explanations : ) It is very interesting. So, as far, as i understood, there are two sets of pronouns in amharic. They can be either a separate word or a suffix (like -ta in iwadatallahu). I hope that you will elaborate later more on this. Keep doing the great job! : )
No problem. Note in እወዳታለሁ/ïwädatallähu, ta is not really a suffix, it's just how the verb is modified for the particular person. The suffix here indicates it's conjugated for 'I'. I'll probably go more in depth on this topic later on... I'll try and post more frequently too, as I do take time trying to think of a logical order :).
Hi AmharicYohan! I really, really appreciate your efforts to help Amharic language learners. I have been studying out of David Appleyard's "Colloquial Amharic" book for about four months. The language is complex, so it is very slow going. One question I have that the book is not clear about is, can ïrswo/ïsswo be used to address both individuals (singular) and groups (plural)? Or only to address individuals? Thank you/አመሰግናለው!
Hi Adam. Sorry for the late replies, my notifications seem to be bugging out. Sorry if I keep replying in English, I'm on my phone and I've deleted the keyboard app because it was making my Viber work slow. That is good to hear, betam tiru new, getsihin iyetemeleku neber. ine betam dehna negn, siraye gin iyeaqatalegn new lol