Education

What is the Amharic Language?

The Amharic language forms an integral part of human communication and connection across Ethiopia and its surroundings. 

There’s so much to learn about the Amharic language. This article will help you understand many things about the Amharic language, what language is closest to Amharic, and its social and economic viability.

What is the Amharic Language?

Amharic is a Semitic language widely spoken in Ethiopia. It is the official language, and many communities in the country use it as their first language. In contrast, others use it as a lingua franca and official language while doing business and discharging administrative duties across all towns and cities in Ethiopia. 

Reports indicate that about 22 million people in Ethiopia speak Amharic as the first language, while over four million people speak it as the second language in the country. Some three million people also use it as a second language worldwide.

The Origin of Amharic Language 

According to history, the origin of the Amharic language goes back to the 1st millennium B.C, the days of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Historians say that immigrants from southwestern Arabia crossed the Red Sea into present-day Eritrea into Ethiopia and co-existed with the Cushitic community in the region.

The two communities spoke different languages and could hardly understand each other. The situation led to the rise of the Amharic language to enhance communication and understanding among them.

 The Amharic language became a lingua franca in Ethiopia in the 9th Century. By the 12th Century, it was already a national language, with many people speaking it in various industries, including commerce, communications, legal fields, religion, and military. It became an instrument of the state language in the 14th Century.

The Amharic language relates to the Ge’ez script, which acts as an abugida for several languages in Ethiopia, including the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox church. The Amharic language is a syllabic language written from left to right.

The language depicts its vowels by interpreting consonants, and its pronunciation is quite different from other Semitic languages. Currently, it is still the most studied language in the country. 

Interestingly, the Rastafari religion considers the language as a holy language. As a result, the Washington D.C. Office of Human Rights offers government services and education in Amharic. It became one of the six native languages in the Columbia Language Access Act of 2004.

There could be more dialects to Amharic languages. However, some of the familiar dialects include Gondar, Gojiam, Wollo, and Shewa.

The language is the medium of instruction for primary level education in Ethiopia and is part of the curriculum in many elementary and secondary schools in the country. Besides being studied in many universities in the country, it also studied in several universities in Europe, the United States, and Australia as an optional course.

Why You May Need to Know the Amharic Language

The Amharic language is a crucial tool of communication in Ethiopia. So there are many reasons why you might need to know what language is Amharic. Some of the fundamental reasons why you need to know the language include the following:

Visiting Ethiopia

There are many things that can make you travel to Ethiopia. First, the country has some of the most beautiful scenic landscapes ranging from spectacular mountains, arid plains, great lakes to beautiful depressions like the Danakil Depression.

However, understanding the local language will help you move around comfortably and make your visit easier. Ethiopia has about 83 different languages with an estimated 200 different dialects. But Amharic is the official and common language in the country.

Therefore, while visiting Ethiopia, you might need to know some basics of Amharic to improve your experience. In addition, you might need to work with a professional translation service to help you translate to a language that you can understand.

While looking for Amharic language translation, ensure you engage certified professionals to ensure that you get everything right. For example, sometimes using digital devices might not be contextually correct and might lead to loss of the language’s meaning.

It is also essential to check the experience of the professionals you are engaging, especially if you are visiting for the first time. Professionals with decades of experience are likely to translate better than new professionals in the industry.

Learning the Ethiopian Culture

The Amharic language is an essential part of Ethiopian culture. It is how the majority of the population communicates, establishes relationships, and makes sense of community.

 Like any other country, Ethiopia has its cultural practices, and knowing the Amharic language is the best and easier way to understand its culture. In addition, it will help you to connect to people on the ground and understand their traditions and religion.

Understanding culture is crucial because it will help you know what society considers as morally right or wrong so that you don’t get into any trouble while in the country.

Working in Ethiopia 

Whether you plan to work for the Ethiopian government or start your own business, the Amharic language could be an excellent asset for your success. In addition, it is the working language in Ethiopia. 

Knowing a native language helps you learn and understand the culture of the community you want to serve and how you can do them better. Culture dictates the professional behaviour accepted in a particular regional market and how best you can enter the market.

Education and Research

Ethiopia has a great history and treasurers. So, if you are a History, Anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics scholar, and you are planning to survey the country, it would be better to know the Amharic language to enhance your communication with people on the ground.

However, the language might be a challenge to learn, but you can easily catch up depending on your commitment and interest to learn. In addition, the Amharic language relates to other dialects such as the South Arabic dialects and would be easier to understand among people of the dialect. 

Becoming Part of a Family

Getting married into a new family in Ethiopia could be another important reason to know the Amharic language and speak it confidently with the family members. Understanding and speaking the language of your spouse makes you feel part of the family conversations.

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