Amharic adj : related to or characteristic of or written in Amharic; "the Amharic language" n : the dominant and official language of Ethiopia; a semitic language much influenced by the Cushitic language with which Amhara people have been in close contact [syn: Ethiopian language]
- Afrikaans: Amharies
- Amharic: አማርኛ (’amarəñña)
- Chinese: 阿比西尼亚官语 (ābǐxīníyà-yǔ)
- Czech: amharský
- Dutch: Amhaars , Amharisch
- Faroese: Amhariskt
- Finnish: amhara, amharan kieli
- French: amharique
- German: Amharisch
- Gujarati: આમ્હારિક ^
- Hebrew: אַמְהָרִית (ama'harit)
- Hindi: आम्हारिक ^
- Hungarian: amhara
- Icelandic: amharíska
- Irish: Ámáiris
- Italian: amarico
- Japanese: アムハラ語 (amuhara-go)
- Korean: 암하라어 (amhara-eo)
- Maltese: Amħariku
- Marathi: आम्हारिक
- Moksha: амкарань (amkaranʹ)
- Nepali: अम्हारिक
- Polish: amharski
- Portuguese: amárico, amharico
- Russian: амхарский (amxárskij)
- Sindhi: (amhari)
- Spanish: amárico
- Swedish: amhariska
- Thai: (paasăa amhaarík)
- Urdu: (amhari)
Amharic (አማርኛ āmariññā) is a Semitic language spoken in North Central Ethiopia by the Amhara. It is the second most spoken Semitic language in the world, after Arabic, and the "official working" language of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. It thus has official status and is used nationwide. Amharic is also the official or working language of several of the states within the federal system, including Amhara Region and the multi-ethnic Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region, among others. It has been the working language of government, the military, and of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church throughout modern times. Outside Ethiopia, Amharic is the language of some 2.7 million emigrants (notably in Egypt, Israel and Sweden), and is spoken in Eritrea by some Eritreans of the pre-independence generation and younger deportees from Ethiopia. It is written, with some adaptations, with the Ge'ez alphabet (first used for the language of the same name)—called, in Ethiopian Semitic languages, ፊደል fidel ("alphabet", "letter", or "character") and አቡጊዳ abugida (from the first four letters in Greek order, also giving rise to the modern linguistic term abugida).
Sounds and orthography
Consonant and vowel phonemesThere is no agreed way of transliterating Amharic into Roman characters. The Amharic examples in the sections below use one system that is common, though not universal, among linguists specializing in Ethiopian Semitic languages. The Amharic ejectives correspond to the Proto-Semitic "emphatic consonants", usually transcribed with a dot below the letter. The consonant and vowel charts give these symbols in parentheses where they differ from the standard IPA symbols.
Fidel signsThe following chart represents the basic forms of the consonants, ignoring the so-called "bastard" (Amh. ዲቃላ ) labiovelarized forms of each consonant (represented by the addition of a superscripted "w," i.e. ) and not including the wholly labiovelarized consonants (Ge'ez ), , and . Some phonemes can be represented by more than one series of symbols: /'/, /s'/, and /h/ (the last has four distinct letter forms). The citation form for each series is the consonant+/ä/ form, i.e. the first column of fidel. You will need a font that supports Ethiopic, such as [ftp://ftp.ethiopic.org/pub/fonts/TrueType/gfzemenu.ttf GF Zemen Unicode], in order to view the fidel.
Non-speakers are often disconcerted or astonished by the remarkable similarity of many of the symbols. This is mitigated somewhat because, like many Semitic languages, Amharic uses triconsonantal roots in its verb morphology. The result of this is that a fluent speaker of Amharic can often decipher written text by observing the consonants, with the vowel variants being supplemental detail.
GeminationAs in most other Ethiopian Semitic languages, gemination is contrastive in Amharic. That is, consonant length can distinguish words from one another; for example, alä 'he said', allä 'there is'; yǝmätall 'he hits', yǝmmättall 'he is hit'. Gemination is not indicated in Amharic orthography, but since there are relatively few minimal pairs such as these, Amharic readers seem not to find this to be a problem. This property of the writing system is analogous to the vowels of Arabic and Hebrew or the tones of many Bantu languages, which are not normally indicated in writing. The noted Ethiopian novelist Haddis Alemayehu, who was an advocate of Amharic orthography reform, indicated gemination in his novel Fǝqǝr Ǝskä Mäqabǝr by placing a dot above the characters whose consonants were geminated, but this practice has not caught on.
Personal pronounsIn most languages, there is a small number of basic distinctions of person, number, and often gender that play a role within the grammar of the language. We see these distinctions within the basic set of independent personal pronouns, for example, English I, Amharic እኔ ǝne; English she, Amharic እሷ ǝsswa. In Amharic, as in other Semitic languages, the same distinctions appear in three other places within the grammar of the languages.: All Amharic verbs agree with their subjects; that is, the person, number, and (2nd and 3rd person singular) gender of the subject of the verb are marked by suffixes or prefixes on the verb. Because the affixes that signal subject agreement vary greatly with the particular verb tense/aspect/mood, they are normally not considered to be pronouns and are discussed elsewhere in this article under verb conjugation.: Amharic verbs often have additional morphology that indicates the person, number, and (2nd and 3rd person singular) gender of the object of the verb.
- While morphemes such as -at in this example are sometimes
described as signaling object
agreement, analogous to subject agreement, they are more often
thought of as object pronoun suffixes because, unlike the
markers of subject agreement, they do not vary significantly with
the tense/aspect/mood of the verb. For arguments
of the verb other than the subject or the object, there are two
separate sets of related suffixes, one with a benefactive meaning
('to', 'for'), the other with an adversative or locative meaning
('against', 'to the detriment of', 'on', 'at').
- Morphemes such as -llat and -bbat in these example will be referred to in this article as prepositional object pronoun suffixes because they correspond to prepositional phrases such as 'for her' and 'on her', to distinguish them from the direct object pronoun suffixes such as -at 'her'.: Amharic has a further set of morphemes which are suffixed to nouns, signalling possession: ቤት bet 'house', ቤቴ bete 'my house', ቤቷ betwa 'her house'.
In each of these four aspects of the grammar, independent pronouns, subject-verb agreement, object pronoun suffixes, and possessive suffixes, Amharic distinguishes eight combinations of person, number, and gender. For first person, there is a two-way distinction between singular ('I') and plural ('we'), whereas for second and third persons, there is a distinction between singular and plural and within the singular a further distinction between masculine and feminine ('you m. sg.', 'you f. sg.', 'you pl.', 'he', 'she', 'they').
Like other Semitic languages, Amharic is a pro-drop language. That is, neutral sentences in which no element is emphasized normally do not have independent pronouns: ኢትዮጵያዊ ነው ityop'p'ǝyawi näw 'he's Ethiopian,' ጋበዝኳት ‘gabbäzkwat 'I invited her'. The Amharic words that translate 'he', 'I', and 'her' do not appear in these sentences as independent words. However, in such cases, the person, number, and (2nd or 3rd person singular) gender of the subject and object are marked on the verb. When the subject or object in such sentences is emphasized, an independent pronoun is used: እሱ ኢትዮጵያዊ ነው ǝssu ityop'p'ǝyawi näw hes Ethiopian', እኔ ጋበዝኳት ǝne gabbäzkwat I invited her', እሷን ጋበዝኳት ǝsswan gabbäzkwat 'I invited her.
The table below shows alternatives for many of the forms. The choice depends on what precedes the form in question, usually whether this is a vowel or a consonant, for example, for the 1st person singular possessive suffix, አገሬ agär-e 'my country', ገላዬ gäla-ye 'my body'.
Within second and third person singular, there are two additional "polite" independent pronouns, for reference to people that the speaker wishes to show respect towards. This usage is an example of the so-called T-V distinction that is made in many languages. The polite pronouns in Amharic are እርስዎ ǝrswo 'you sg. pol.' and እሳቸው ǝssaččäw 'he/she pol.'. Although these forms are singular semantically — they refer to one person — they correspond to 3rd person plural elsewhere in the grammar, as is common in other T-V systems. For the possessive pronouns, however, the polite 2nd person has the special suffix -wo 'your sg. pol.'.
For possessive pronouns ('mine', 'yours', etc.), Amharic adds the independent pronouns to the preposition yä- 'of': የኔ yäne 'mine', ያንተ yantä 'yours m. sg.', ያንቺ yanči 'yours f. sg.', የሷ yässwa 'hers', etc.
Reflexive pronounsFor reflexive pronouns ('myself', 'yourself', etc.), Amharic adds the possessive suffixes to the noun ራስ ras 'head': ራሴ rase 'myself', ራሷ raswa 'herself', etc.
Demonstrative pronounsLike English, Amharic makes a two-way distinction between near ('this, these') and far ('that, those') demonstrative expressions (pronouns, adjectives, adverbs). Besides number, as in English, Amharic also distinguishes masculine and feminine gender in the singular. There are also separate demonstratives for formal reference, comparable to the formal personal pronouns: እኚህ ǝññih 'this, these (formal)' and እኒያ ǝnniya 'that, those (formal)'.
The singular pronouns have combining forms beginning with zz instead of y when they follow a preposition: ስለዚህ sǝläzzih 'because of this; therefore', እንደዚያ ǝndäzziya 'like that'. Note that the plural demonstratives, like the second and third person plural personal pronouns, are formed by adding the plural prefix እነ ǝnnä- to the singular masculine forms.
NounsAmharic nouns can be primary or derived. A noun like əgər 'foot, leg' is primary, and a noun like əgr-äñña 'pedestrian' is a derived noun.
GenderAmharic nouns can have a masculine or feminine gender. There are several ways to express gender. An example is the old suffix -t for feminity. This suffix is no longer productive and is limited to certain patterns and some isolated nouns. Nouns and adjectives ending in -awi usually take the suffix -t to form the feminine form, e.g. ityop':ya-(a)wi 'Ethiopian (m.)' vs. ityop':ya-wi-t 'Ethiopian (f.)'; sämay-awi 'heavenly (m.)' vs. sämay-awi-t 'heavenly (f.)'. This suffix also occurs in nouns and adjective based on the pattern qət(t)ul, e.g. nəgus 'king' vs. nəgəs-t 'queen' and qəddus 'holy (m.)' vs. qəddəs-t 'holy (f.)'.
'''When someone is talking to a male or female, different endings are usually used for masculine and feminine. If you are talking to a male, the word simply ends in an 'h' sound. When you are talking to a female, the word ends in 'sh'. Additionally, when you are talking to a group of people, the word ends in 'achu'. For example: Izoh-Be strong, to male. Izosh-Be strong, to female. And Izachu-Be strong, to all. This is also a common word used frequently by many Ethiopians, or Amharic speakers. It is important to keep in mind that there are irregulars, for example when you are telling someone to COME. NA(Male) Nei (Female) Nu (Everyone).
Some nouns and adjectives take a feminine marker -it: ləǧ 'child, boy' vs. ləǧ-it 'girl'; bäg 'sheep, ram' vs. bäg-it 'ewe'; šəmagəlle 'senior, elder (m.)' vs. šəmagəll-it 'old woman'; t'ot'a 'monkey' vs. t'ot'-it 'monkey (f.)'. Some nouns have this feminine marker without having a masculine opposite, e.g. šärär-it 'spider', azur-it 'whirlpool, eddy'. There are, however, also nouns having this -it suffix that are treated as masculine: säraw-it 'army', nägar-it 'big drum'.
The feminine gender is not only used to indicate biological gender, but may also be used to express smallness, e.g. bet-it-u 'the little house' (lit. house-FEM-DEF). The feminine marker can also serve to express tenderness or sympathy.
SpecifiersAmharic has special words that can be used to indicate the gender of people and animals. For people, wänd is used for masculinity and set for feminity, e.g. wänd ləǧ 'boy', set ləǧ 'girl'; wänd hakim 'physician, doctor (m.)', set hakim 'physician, doctor (f.)'. For animals, the words täbat, awra, or wänd (less usual) can be used to indicate masculine gender, and anəst or set to indicate feminine gender. Examples: täbat t'əǧa 'calf (m.)'; awra doro 'cock (rooster)'; set doro 'hen'.
PluralThe plural suffix -očč is used to express plurality of nouns. Some morphophonological alternations occur depending on the final consonant or vowel. For nouns ending in a consonant, plain -očč is used: bet 'house' becomes bet-očč 'houses'. For nouns ending in a back vowel (-a, -o, -u), the suffix takes the form -wočč, e.g. wəšša 'dog', wəšša-wočč 'dogs'; käbäro 'drum', käbäro-wočč 'drums'. Nouns that end in a front vowel pluralize using -wočč or -yočč, e.g. s'ähafi 'scholar', s'ähafi-wočč or s'ähafi-yočč 'scholars'. Another possibility for nouns ending in a vowel is to delete the vowel and use plain očč, as in wəšš-očč 'dogs'.
Besides using the normal external plural (-očč), nouns and adjectives can be pluralized by way of reduplicating one of the radicals. For example, wäyzäro 'lady' can take the normal plural, yielding wäyzär-očč, but wäyzazər 'ladies' is also found.
Some kinship-terms have two plural forms with a slightly different meaning. For example, wändəmm 'brother' can be pluralized as wändəmm-očč 'brothers' but also as wändəmmam-ač 'brothers of each other'. Likewise, əhət 'sister' can be pluralized as əhət-očč ('sisters'), but also as ətəmm-am-ač 'sisters of each other'.
In compound words, the plural marker is suffixed to the second noun: betä krəstiyan 'church' (lit. house of Christian) becomes betä krəstiyan-očč'' 'churches'.
Archaic formsAmsalu Aklilu has pointed out that Amharic has inherited a large number of old plural forms directly from Classical Ethiopic (Ge'ez). There are two archaic pluralizing strategies, called external and internal plural. The external plural consists of adding the suffix -an (usually masculine) or -at (usually feminine) to the singular form. The internal plural employs vowel quality or apophony to pluralize words, similar to English man vs. men and goose vs. geese. Sometimes combinations of the two systems are found. The archaic plural forms are not productive anymore, which means that they can not be used to form new plurals.
- Examples of the external plural: mämhər 'teacher', mämhər-an; t'äbib 'wise person', t'äbib-an; kahən 'priest', kahən-at; qal 'word', qal-at.
- Examples of the internal plural: dəngəl 'virgin', dänagəl; hagär 'land', ahəgur.
- Examples of combined systems: nəgus 'king', nägäs-t; kokäb 'star', käwakəb-t; mäs'əhaf 'book', mäs'ahəf-t.
DefinitenessIf a noun is definite or specified, this is expressed by a suffix, the article. In singular forms, this article distinguishes between the male and female gender; in plural forms this distinction is absent. As in the plural, morphophonological alternations occur depending on the final consonant or vowel.
NominalizationAmharic has various ways to derive nouns from other words or other nouns. One way of nominalizing consists of a form of vowel agreement (similar vowels on similar places) inside the three-radical structures typical of Semitic languages. For example:
- CəCäC: — t'əbäb 'wisdom'; həmäm 'sickness'
- CəCCaC-e: — wəffar-e 'obesity'; č'əkkan-e 'cruelty'
- CəC-ät: — rət'b-ät 'moistness'; 'əwq-ät 'knowledge'; wəfr-ät 'fatness'.
- -ənna: — 'relation'; krəst-ənna 'Christianity'; sənf-ənna 'laziness'; qes-ənna 'priesthood'.
- -e, suffixed to place name X, yields 'a person from X': goǧǧam-e 'someone from Gojjam'.
- -äñña and -täñña serve to express profession, or some relationship with the base noun: əgr-äñña 'pedestrian' (from əgər 'foot'); bärr-äñña 'gate-keeper' (from bärr 'gate').
- -ənnät and -nnät — '-ness'; ityop'yawi-nnät 'Ethiopianness'; qərb-ənnät 'nearness' (from qərb 'near').
GerundAlong with the infinitive and the present participle, the gerund is one of three non-finite verb forms. The infinitive is a nominalized verb, the present participle expresses incomplete action, and the gerund expresses completed action, e.g. ali məsa bälto wädä gäbäya hedä 'Ali, having eaten lunch, went to the market'. There are several usages of the gerund depending on its morpho-syntactic features.
Verbal useThe gerund functions as the head of a subordinate clause (see the example above). There may be more than one gerund in one sentence. The gerund is used to form the following tense forms:
- present perfect nägro -all/näbbär 'He has said'.
- past perfect nägro näbbär 'He had said'.
- possible perfect nägro yəhonall 'He (probably) has said'.
Adverbial useThe gerund can be used as an adverb: alfo alfo yəsəqall 'Sometimes he laughs'. əne dägmo mämt'at əfälləgallähu 'I also want to come'.
AdjectivesAdjectives are words or constructions used to qualify nouns. Adjectives in Amharic can be formed in several ways: they can be based on nominal patterns, or derived from nouns, verbs and other parts of speech. Adjectives can be nominalized by way of suffixing the nominal article (see Nouns above). Amharic has few primary adjectives. Some examples are dägg 'kind, generous', dəda 'mute, dumb, silent', bič'a 'yellow'.
- CäCCaC — käbbad 'heavy'; läggas 'generous'
- CäC(C)iC — räqiq 'fine, subtle'; addis 'new'
- CäC(C)aCa — säbara 'broken'; t'ämama 'bent, wrinkled'
- CəC(C)əC — bələh 'intelligent, smart'; dəbbəq' 'hidden'
- CəC(C)uC — kəbur 'worthy, dignified'; t'əqur 'black'; qəddus 'holy'
- CäC(C)iC — räqiq 'fine, subtle'; addis 'new'
- -äñña — hayl-äñña 'powerful' (from hayl 'power');
əwnät-äñña 'true' (from əwnät 'truth')
- -täñña — aläm-täñña 'secular' (from aläm 'world')
- -awi — ləbb-awi 'intelligent' (from ləbb 'heart'); mədr-awi 'earthly' (from mədr 'earth'); haymanot-awi 'religious' (from haymanot 'religion')
- -täñña — aläm-täñña 'secular' (from aläm 'world')
- yä-kätäma 'urban' (lit. 'from the city'); yä-krəstənna 'Christian' (lit. 'of Christianity'); yä-wəšät 'wrong' (lit. 'of falsehood')
- yä-bässälä 'ripe, done' (lit. 'what has been cooked/prepared'); yä-qoyyä 'old' (lit. 'what remained'); yä-mm-ikkättäl 'following' ('that what is following', from tä-kättälä 'to follow'); yä-mm-ittay 'visible' (lit. 'what is seen')
Adjective noun complexThe adjective and the noun together are called the 'adjective noun complex'. In Amharic, the adjective precedes the noun, with the verb last; e.g. kəfu geta 'a bad master'; təlləq bet särra (lit. big house he-built) 'he built a big house'.
If the adjective noun complex is definite, the definite article is suffixed to the adjective and not to the noun, e.g. təlləq-u bet (lit. big-def house) 'the big house'. In a possessive construction, the adjective takes the definite article, and the noun takes the pronominal possessive suffix, e.g. təlləq-u bet-e (lit. big-def house-my) 'my big house'.
When enumerating adjectives using -nna 'and', both adjectives take the definite article: qonǧo-wa-nna astäway-wa ləǧ mät't'ačč (lit. pretty-def-and intelligent-def girl came) 'the pretty and intelligent girl came'. In the case of an indefinite plural adjective noun complex, the noun is plural and the adjective may be used in singular or in plural form. Thus, 'diligent students' can be rendered təgu tämariwočč (lit. diligent student-PLUR) or təguwočč tämariwočč (lit. diligent-PLUR student-PLUR).
Literature in AmharicThere is a growing body of literature in Amharic in many genres. This literature includes government proclamations and records, educational books, religious material, novels, poetry, proverb collections, technical manuals, medical topics, etc. The Holy Bible was first translated into Amharic by Abu Rumi in the early 19th century, but has been retranslated a number of times since. The most famous Amharic novel is Fiqir Iske Meqabir (transliterated various ways) by Haddis Alemayehu (1909-2003), recently translated into English by Sisay Ayenew with the title Love unto Crypt.
Because of the rapid growth of Ethiopian communities in Europe, the United States and Canada, several public service organizations started to offer Amharic language translation and interpretation services.
RastafariansMany Rastafarians learn Amharic as a second language because they consider it to be a sacred language, and even the original language. Various roots reggae musicians including Lincoln Thompson and Misty-in-Roots have written songs in Amharic, thus bringing the sound of this relatively unknown language to a wider audience.
A notable early attempt to use Amharic in reggae was the anthem Satta Amassagana, mistakenly believed to mean "Give thanks". However, this "Amharic" phrase seems to have been derived from looking in a bilingual dictionary and finding the entries säţţä for "give" (actually "he gave") and 'amässägänä for "thank" or "praise" (actually "he thanked" or "he praised"), by those unaware of the correct inflections of these verbs, the convention of always listing verbs in the past tense third person, or the pronunciation of the diacritical marks. The actual way to say "give thanks" is a related word, misgana. Ironically, owing to the vast popularity of this song, "to satta" has even entered modern Rastafarian vocabulary as a verb meaning "to sit down and partake".
SoftwareAlmost all Amharic characters have a Unicode representation. Now people can post in forums and blogs, send e-mail, or publish Web sites in Amharic. The Amharic script is included in Unicode. There are several free software programs, and also some commercial ones, for writing in Amharic. Some such software packages are: Keyman, GeezEdit, Hewan Amharic Software, AbeshaSoft and PowerGe'ez.
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- Laura Lykowska (1998) Gramatyka jezyka Amharskiego Wydawnictwo Akademickie Dialog.
- Online Amharic-English-Amharic dictionary
- History of Amharic and its application
- Amharic Bible at St-Takla.org
- Amharic Language Sample
- (Also and )
- Creating "Zero" in the Amharic /Ge’ez Numeric System Zero in Amharic langage
- Voice of America Amharic news broadcasts in Voice of America website
- Christian recordings in Amharic in Global Recordings website
- Selected Annotated Bibliography on Amharic by Grover Hudson at the Michigan State University website.
amharic in Afrikaans: Amharies
amharic in Amharic: አማርኛ
amharic in Arabic: لغة أمهرية
amharic in Bengali: আমহারীয় ভাষা
amharic in Bosnian: Amharski jezik
amharic in Breton: Amhareg
amharic in Bulgarian: Амхарски език
amharic in Catalan: Amhàric
amharic in Czech: Amharština
amharic in Welsh: Amhareg
amharic in Danish: Amharisk
amharic in German: Amharische Sprache
amharic in Estonian: Amhari keel
amharic in Spanish: Idioma amhárico
amharic in Esperanto: Amhara lingvo
amharic in Basque: Amharera
amharic in Persian: زبان امهاری
amharic in French: Amharique
amharic in Irish: Amairis
amharic in Korean: 암하라어
amharic in Upper Sorbian: Amharšćina
amharic in Ido: Amhara linguo
amharic in Indonesian: Bahasa Amhar
amharic in Icelandic: Amharíska
amharic in Italian: Lingua amarica
amharic in Hebrew: אמהרית
amharic in Georgian: ამჰარული ენა
amharic in Latvian: Amharu valoda
amharic in Lithuanian: Amharų kalba
amharic in Ligurian: Lengua amharica
amharic in Malay (macrolanguage): Bahasa Amhara
amharic in Dutch: Amhaars
amharic in Newari: आम्हारिक भाषा
amharic in Japanese: アムハラ語
amharic in Norwegian: Amharisk
amharic in Norwegian Nynorsk: Amharisk
amharic in Low German: Amhaarsch
amharic in Polish: Język amharski
amharic in Portuguese: Língua amárica
amharic in Russian: Амхарский язык
amharic in Slovak: Amharčina
amharic in Church Slavic: Амхарьскъ ѩзыкъ
amharic in Slovenian: Amharščina
amharic in Finnish: Amharan kieli
amharic in Swedish: Amhariska
amharic in Tigrinya: ኣምሓረኛ ፊደል
amharic in Turkish: Amharca
amharic in Ukrainian: Амхарська мова
amharic in Yoruba: Amharic
amharic in Chinese: 阿姆哈拉语