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Amharic

Amharic - African Languages

Amharic (/æmˈhærɪkor /ɑːmˈhɑːrɪk/; Amharic: Amarəñña, IPA) is a Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia. 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. Amharic is also the official or working language of several of the states within the federal system.It has been the working language of government, the military, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church throughout medieval and modern times. The 2007 census counted nearly 25 million native speakers in Ethiopia. Outside Ethiopia, Amharic is the language of some 2.7 million emigrants.The Amharic ejective consonants correspond to the Proto-Semitic "emphatic consonants", usually transcribed with a dot below the letter. The consonant and vowel tables give these symbols in parentheses where they differ from the standard IPA symbols. The Amharic script is an abugida, and the graphs of the Amharic writing system are called Fidel. Each character represents a consonant+vowel sequence, but the basic shape of each character is determined by the consonant, which is modified for the vowel. Some consonant phonemes are written by more than one series of characters. As 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'.One may construct simple Amharic sentences by using a subject and a predicate. In 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. All Amharic verbs agree with their subjects; that is, the person, number, and (second- and third-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 nouns can be primary or derived. A noun like ǝgǝr 'foot, leg' is primary, and a noun like ǝgr-äñña 'pedestrian' is a derived noun. Amharic nouns can have a masculine or feminine gender. There are several ways to express gender. An example is an old suffix -t for femininity. This suffix is no longer productive and is limited to certain patterns and some isolated nouns There has not been much published about Amharic dialect differences. All dialects are mutually intelligible, but certain minor variations are noted. There is a growing body of literature in Amharic in many genres.

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