Selected Annotated Bibliography on Amharic
Grover Hudson
Michigan State University

(Revised 2 December 2011)

The 1994 Constitution of Ethiopia (article 5) says that 'all Ethiopian languages shall enjoy equal state recognition', but makes Amharic 'the working language of the federal government'.
Following is an annotated bibliography of publications useful for learning the Amharic language and about the Amharic language.

Anbessa Teferra and Grover Hudson. 2007. Essentials of Amharic. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag. 254 pp. [Introduction to Amharic language and the Ethiopian linguistic setting, with chapters on the grammar (sounds, words, and sentences), including the writing system and how to learn it, and Amharic-English and English-Amharic wordlists; examples in phonetic writing and Amharic writing.]

Appleyard, David. 1995. Colloquial Amharic, A Complete Language Course. New York:  Routledge. 374 pp. [A 14-lesson beginner's coursebook with an Amharic-English glossary and two cassette tapes.  Presumes command of the Amharic writing system from lesson 6.]

Baye Yimam. 1993-4  [1986 Eth. calendar]. YäAmareñña Säwasew [Grammar of Amharic] Addis Ababa: EMPDA. 341 pp. [The best modern grammar of Amharic in Amharic, with superior coverage of syntax, and the important advantage of authorship by a native speaker of the language.]

Bezza Tesfa Ayalew. 2005. Let's Speak Amharic (A Multidimensional Approach to the Teaching and Learning of Amharic as a Foreign language). Madison, WI: NALRC Press. 264 pp. Www:  [One of the series of 'communicatively oriented' African language textbooks of the National African Language Resource Center. Amharic writing is briefly introduced and lessons employ Amharic writing from the beginning.]

Dawkins, C.H. 1969. The Fundamentals of Amharic. Addis Ababa: Sudan Interior  Mission. 140 pp. [A concise and clear descriptive grammar of Amharic, though lacking a good index. Presumes command of the Amharic writing system.]

Eadie, J. I. 1924. An Amharic Reader. London: Cambridge at the University Press. 278 pp. [Amharic texts for advanced students: stories, essays, proclamations, advertisements, poetry, recipes, and letters collected in Addis Ababa in 1914, all translated. Some of the language is, now, a bit archaic.]

Getatchew Haile. 1996. 'Ethiopic Writing', chapter 51 of The World’s Writing Systems, edited by Peter T. Daniels and William Bright, pp. 569-576. New York: Oxford University Press. [Compact authoritative discussion of the history and structure of the Ethiopic writing system, including its use for Amharic.]

Hudson, Grover. 1997. Amharic and Argobba, in The Semitic Languages, edited by Robert Hetzron, pp. 457-485. New York: Routledge. [Chapter-length sketch of Amharic grammar, examples written phonetically, with comparisons to the closely related Ethiopian Semitic language Argobba.]

Kane, Thomas L. 1990. Amharic-English Dictionary, 2 volumes. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. Vol. I 1088 pp., Vol. II 2351 pp. [The most complete Amharic-English dictionary --80,000 entries, including, for most words, examples in sentences. Includes idioms and colloquial forms. To look up Amharic words, one must know the Amharic writing system.]

Leslau, Wolf. 1967. Amharic Textbook. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. 675 pp. [A beginning and intermediate course in 50 lessons. Presumes command of the Amharic writing system from lesson 25. English-Amharic and Amharic-English glossaries, and a thorough appendix of grammar tables.]

Leslau, Wolf. 1976. Concise Amharic Dictionary. Berkeley: University of California  Press. 535 pp. [A practical dictionary for students, with very adequate coverage of the vocabulary. Both English-Amharic and Amharic-English sections. Phonetic  transcription of all words. To look up Amharic words, one must know the Amharic writing system.]

Leslau, Wolf. 1978. English-Amharic Context Dictionary. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. 1503 pp. [The most complete English-Amharic dictionary, with about 25,000 entries and a thorough introduction. Presumes command of the Amharic writing system.]

Leslau, Wolf. 1995. Reference Grammar of Amharic. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. 1044 pp. [The most thorough and complete grammar of Amharic: pronunciation, word  structure, and sentence structure, with grammar tables, a thorough index, and a complete bibliography of works on the language. All examples in both phonetics and Amharic writing.]

Leslau, Wolf. 2000. Introductory Grammar of Amharic. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. 232 pp. [Concise and simplified adaptation of Leslau's Reference Grammar of Amharic. Examples are given in Amharic writing and phonetically.]

Leslau, Wolf and Thomas L. Kane. 2001. Amharic Cultural Reader. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. 319 pp. [Short texts on topics such as marriage, landholding, with English translations; glossary, and topic indexes in English and Amharic.]

Mulugeta Kebede and John D. Murphy. 1984. Amharic Newspaper Reader. Kensington, MD: Dunwoody Press. 372 pp. [Fifty 1-3 paragraph selections from the Addis Ababa Amharic newspaper Addis Zemen for 1980, each with an English translation, and a glossary. The Amharic is typewritten, so less readable than print.]

Obolensky, Serge, Debebow Zelelie, and Mulugeta Andualem. 1964. Spoken Amharic. Urbana, IL: Spoken Language Services. [Still the most complete course, with lessons based on dialogues, everything in phonetic writing, and dialogues and texts in Amharic writing after lesson 50; Amharic-English glossary. Cassette tapes of dialogues and texts.]

Ullendorff, Edward. 1965. An Amharic Chrestomathy. London: Oxford University Press. 141 pp. [Amharic texts for advanced students, including chronicles of Ethiopian kings, newspaper articles from the 30s to the 50s, fiction, letters, and crossword puzzle. Only one item translated. Includes a 14-page introduction, grammatical tables, and a short Amharic-English glossary.]

Walker, C.H. 1933. The Abyssinian at Home. London: Sheldon Press. [Descriptions of traditional life in the Amhara highlands of Ethiopia, translated from oral accounts collected after about 1900. Entertaining cultural background for the Amharic language.]

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