As the official language of Ethiopia, Amharic (also known as Abyssinian, Amarigna, Amarinya, Amhara, and Ethiopian) is spoken by more than 25 million people in Ethiopia and an additional 4 million emigrants abroad.
Amharic is the day-to-day language of the courts, business, and daily life throughout the country; and has been since the 12th century.
In addition to its use in Ethiopia, Amharic is widely used by the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel and is one of 7 languages offered by government services in Washington D.C. (more Ethiopians are living in Washington D.C. than in any city outside of Addis Ababa! 🙂).
Additionally, Amharic is considered to be a Holy Language of the Rastafari faith and is used by its followers around the world.
Amharic is an Ethio-Semitic language with its roots in the Semitic language group.
This means that it is similar to languages such as Arabic and Hebrew, but only loosely as it has continued to evolve on its own over the last several centuries. Still, any experience with a Semitic language will make learning Amharic much easier.
As such, there are still at least three primary dialects of Amharic: Gondar, Gojjami, and Showa. These three differ in pronunciation, minor grammatical forms, and some vocabulary, however, all three are mutually intelligible.
The standard spoken dialect is that which is spoken in the capital city of Addis Ababa.
Amharic writing system (Ge’ez)
When you start to learn Amharic, you’ll very quickly realize that the writing system bears little resemblance to anything else you’ve seen.
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