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Guide to Amharic pronunciation

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lesson you will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the Amharic consonant-vowel pronunciation using the phonetic representation.




The Amharic alphabet (Fidel) contains seven vowels and 31 consonant letters. The vowels are ä, u, i, a, e, ï and o. Each of the 31 consonant letters come with seven variants. These variants are created by appending a vowel to each consonant (consonant-vowel combinations), to make up the syllabary of around 500 Amharic letters. Each letter (rows) has 7 variations that can be grouped into 7 families (columns ). Each letter family has a particular vowel sound.

Key to Amharic vowel sounds


a as in Father, like the exclamation ah!
ä as in Againbigger, like the hesitation uh
e as in Gate, way
u as in Moon, soon
ï as in susceptible to letters around it, but typically short like player
I as in Feet, meet
O as in Shore, war; but often pronounced as if “wo”


the ሸ/ š is pronounced as the ‘sh’ sound in ‘shoe’
the ጰ/ p’ä in this sound is an exploding bilabial ‘p’
the ዠ/ žä is pronounced as the ‘s’ sound in ‘leisure’
the ጸ/ s’ä in this sounds are exploding glottalized ‘s’
the ጠ/ t’ä in this sound is an exploding glottalized ‘t’
the ጨ/ č’ä in this sound is an exploding glottalized ‘ch’
the ፀ/ s’ä in this sounds are exploding glottalized ‘s’











wa sounds: The wa sound can be considered as the eighth vowel sound.
ሏ-lwa ሟ-mwa




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