Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Two Cool Amharic expressions –Ϊnen and nwor




Falling down the stairs is perhaps not pretty high on your anxiety list at the moment. However, the March, 2009 report of CDC on morbidity and mortality rate stated that “every day about 240 people go to emergency rooms nationwide for injuries from falls involving dogs and cats ” http://blogs.usatoday.com/betterlife/2009/03/see-spot-trip-y.html .This sank in to my mind and generated ideas that could be used for today’s consumption.
It is not my intention to bring to your notice something awful, but it seems inevitable to bump into some of these situations at one time or another, according to the info. Or at least, it’s sometimes unavoidable to be right on the spot when they actually occur. Imagine the scene of falling down the stairs holding books or cups. Or more seriously, skidding and falling with one of the kids or losing balance while carrying them near a banister on a 1st floor (let’s hope, nothing serious happens). Or just imagine a huge robust shelf fall and crash on (oh -----on nobody, for Christ sake, where the….do I bring such terrible examples, what has gotten in to me?). Anyway, if or when you happen to be around such scenarios you articulate something instinctively, even it’s a yell or scream without a meaning. That’s where we often use the cool Amharic word, Ϊnen / let it be me, (instead of you)/. Isn’t it such a beautiful expression, I mean, to wish the accident happens on you rather than that someone else, even if that someone else is an individual you don’t know. (At least, the thought is) ! In moments such as this, you may be next to a victim but can’t offer any help (perhaps, because it takes place so abruptly, or for some other reason,) except just being a bystander with your arms fold, of course, until seconds or a minute later. This is where the Amharic word Ϊnen oozes naturally out of your mouth. Sometimes even two, three times -Ϊnen, Ϊnen, Ϊnen! Did I hear someone dive the stairs? Ϊnen !


The second expression is nwor (Don’t worry this one is not used for something horrible). Just like some Asian countries, Ethiopians have bowing expressions, in greetings. However, nwor is a little different from the former. You say nwor /accompanied by bowing your head and standing for a second or so/ when someone often enters a room, say, after a brief excuse in a rest room, or taking a minute leave to speak to a friend on a mobile, or apologizing for a minute to tell a message to someone on the corridor, etc. The usual response for nwor is aygəbam /which means “you shouldn’t have” (stood up) / or sometimes bəlijochachΪn / literally, “in the name of our children, you shouldn’t have”/.


To wrap up, language expressions are mostly interwoven with culture and when applied appropriately to the occasion they give more sense and clarity to the intended meanings. Although some words, or expressions would change overtime (due to so many reasons), Ϊnen and nwor are two of our cool Amharic expressions that have still adhered to the cultural heritages.

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