Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Lesson in Amharic

I thought I'd interrupt my trip posts to give you a little glimpse into living with a child who doesn't speak English.  The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic.  However, this was not Kenen's first language. He was from the southern region of the country and spoke one of the indigenous languages there.  So when he was transferred to Addis Ababa from the orphanage where he was relinquished, he had to begin learning Amharic.  As a result, he is actually quite good at figuring out how to make it clear what he wants, either through hand motions or facial expressions. 

We have been with him (counting our time in Ethiopia) a little over 4 weeks now.  He has really only said a handful of words in English in that time.  Instead, he seems to be getting quite good at teaching us his language (which truthfully, we assume is Amharic, but could be his original language).  Here are some of the words that we have learned ... (spelled phonetically)

ma-kee'-nah             car (or in Kenen's case, any sort of vehicle).  He says this word more than any other.

oo-ka-lah'-luh          egg ... we may keep this one.  Way too much fun to say.

shint                         going to the bathroom. An unfortunate word choice -we'll be trying phasing that one out

koh'-fee-uh               hat  (also fun to say)
wuh- huh                  water
wuh-teht                   milk
kwas                        ball
kahls                        socks   (very amusing to him when we mix these two up and tell him to kick the kahls)

chah-ma                   shoes

He also counts and describes the colors of things in Amharic.  The two words that he says most frequently in English are monkey and bananas.   Curious George is his favorite thing to watch, and this past week he's added "Jolly Holiday" (from Mary Poppins).  We're just waiting for him to start saying Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious .....

1 comment:

  1. Great list. Unfortunately the only 2 words that Eyasu refuses to lose are shint and caca. Nice huh?? Especially when in public, with people we don't know. Because you know the N doesn't get much emphasis in shint! :)