Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Some “invalids” in Amharic

You know that the English word ‘invalid’ conveys two meanings depending on whether the stress falls on the first syllable (vowel) ‘`invalid’ meaning ‘feeble or sickly’, or while the stress falls in the second syllable ‘in`valid’ ‘unacceptable or void’. Similarly, Amharic has a couple of “invalids”. Take a look at them:
‘wa`na’ means ‘main or major’ when the stress falls on ‘n’. So you can say ‘wa`na hasab nəw’, to mean ‘It’s a main idea’. Careful, ‘wana’ means ‘swimming’, pronounced without any stress. So you can say wana t’ïru sport nəw’ (Swimming is a good sport).
‘a`lə’ with a stress on ‘l’ means ‘there is’, as in ‘zinab a`lə’ (there’s rain). Without a stress, however, it means ‘he said ’, as ‘ïsu yïhïn alə’ (he said this).
‘`gəna’ with a stress on the 1st syllable `g refers to the traditional game usually played at Christmas or sometimes, the Christmas holiday itself. However, with no stress gəna means ‘yet’, as ‘gəna nəw’ (It’s not yet).
Amharic has a couple of them like these, but enough intake for today.
Let me give you a tongue twister I coined – give them a try!
‘`gəna gəna nəw’
‘wana wa`na sport nəw’
Got the meaning??

Məlkam samïnt !

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