Essentials of Amharic
Author: Anbessa Teferra, Grover Hudson. Series edited by: Wilhelm J.G. Möhlig, Bernd Heine.
Series: Study Books of African Languages Volume 182007
2 maps, 3 diagrams, numerous tables and charts, appendix: Amharic-English / English-Amharic wordlists and writing exercises
Text language(s): Amharic, English
Format: 180 x 240 mm
Amharic is one of the fifty most important languages in the world, in terms of number of speakers, and political, historical, and cultural importance. Its eighteen million or so speakers live mainly in Ethiopia, but as the result of emigration since the 1970s, hundreds of thousands in Amharic speakers now reside in Europe, the U.S., and Israel. Because of its importance as a Semitic, African, and Ethiopian language, Amharic more than other African languages has benefitted from the interest of linguists, who have written much on the language.
This book satisfies the need for a thorough book-length introduction to Amharic which includes an introduction to Amharic history and society (Part 1), a basic survey of the grammar including the writing system (Part 2), and lengthy Amharic-English and English-Amharic wordlists (Part 4). Amharic examples are fully presented in phonetic writing so knowledge of the Amharic writing system is not required, while much of the grammar and vocabulary are also presented in Amharic writing for those who want and expect it. For those who want to learn to read Amharic a thorough presentation of the Amharic writing system is provided, and as Part 3 a set of graded lessons to learn it, as a way to write English.
This is a book for adult learners of Amharic, for linguists, and students of Ethiopian history, society, phonetics, grammar, vocabulary, and writing system of this major language of Ethiopia.
Laura Lykowska in Studies of the Department of African Languages and Cultures, 42/2008, pp. 90-91
Marlene Guss-Kosicka in Aethiopica, 12/2009, pp. 278-279
Grover Hudson (Yirgalem 63-65) who for many years taught linguistics at Michigan State university where he wrote enough scholarly articles about Semitic languages to give those of us who struggled with Amharic a headache just reading the titles, has written a wonderful non-headache-inducing book called Essentials of Amharic.
As Grover tells it “the book was written for the National Defense Foreign Language fellows, basically graduate students with research plans in Ethiopia, whom I taught at Michigan State, in intensive programs, for many summers. They were much like PCVs; at least those of the ’60s.”
Essentials of Amharic was the companion volume of an unpublished textbook and served as a grammar/reference text with some basic exercises that – if the spirit and mind are willing – will bring back some Amharic from the deep recesses of our memories.
Hudson has devised entertaining exercises to raise one’s Amharic script reading skill by reading English words transliterated into Amharic script. These are more fun than the morning crossword puzzle. Also entertaining and highly educational are a set of essays about the origins of the language, the history of scripts, and, yes, the secrets of verb stems. The book written with Anbessa Teferra and published in Germany in a handsome volume by Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Cologne. You can find more information about the book and where to buy it from the rather clumsy and slightly unfriendly web site http://www.koeppe.de [that has completely been reshaped in 2010, the Publisher]. Go to “English,” then pull down “shortcut” and go to Grover's name.
To order a copy, at about € 58, or about $ 75, go to the “order” and send a fax or email. It’s worth the trouble and expense.
Another ex-Peace Corps Volunteer in Herald, 36/2009, pp. (online)
This textbook is targeted for learners who want to learn to understand and speak Amharic without necessarily bother to struggle with the cumbersome fidel writing system. To summarize my conclusion at first, I find the book in general pedagogical and uncontroversial. A diligent student can learn the essentials of Amharic from this book. [...] I am particularly impressed with the comparative completeness and accuracy of the grammatical description within such a short space.
Kjell Magne Yri in Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 161/1, 2011, pp. 158-160
The book “Essentials of Amharic” presents a unique mixture of different categories and with regard to the heterogeneity of the targeted users certainly serves its purpose as a broad overview of different aspects of Amharic.
Andreas Wetter in Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, 31/1, 2010, pp. 145-148
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