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Useful Words and Phrases

Ethiopia has been called a rich cultural mosaic due to its eighty different languages and dialects and as many, if not more, cultural variations.

In the north and centre of the country different semitic langugages, namely Tigre, Tiginrya, Guraginya and the official language national language, Amharic, are spoken. The ancient forebear of these languages, Ge'ez, today only really survives in church liturgy and literature.

To the east and other parts of the south are the Oromos, the Afars and the Somalis, who are Cushitic-speaking peoples, while the associated Sidama languages are spoken to the south-east.

To the west and south-west are the Nilotic peoples, each with its own distinctive language and culture.

Elsewhere around the country there are a number of smaller communities who cultures, languages and traditions are related to different facets of Ethiopia's long history.

Here you will find some phrases and terms you might find useful while travelling around Ethiopia.


"Amharigna" - the official national language of Ethiopia

Temastlign How are you?
Dehna deru Good night
Sintnew How much is it ?
Alfeligim I don't want
Yikirta excuse
Ameseginalehu Thank you
Hid Go
Na Come
Leslasa Soft drink
Misa Lounch
Rat Dinner
Kurse Breakfast
Wiha Mineral water
Gas Wiha Gas Water
Eshi ok
Aydelem No
sigara cigarette
Buna Coffee
Shai Tea
Enjera Sour dough pancake
Wet Souce or stew
Tela Local Beer
Tej Local Honey Wine
Chigir Yelem No Problem


"Oromifaa" - the language of the Oromo, who live in central and southern Ethiopia and form the largest ethnic group in the country

Akkam Jirtuu How are you?
Negaa-ti Good bye
Nagaan-bulii Good night
Meeqa How much is it?
Dhiifama Excuse me
Galatoomi Thank you
Hin barbaadu I don’t want it
Lalaffaa Soft Drink
Bishaan Ambo Gas (Ambo) water
Biraa Beer
Bishaan water
Heye yes
Tole Ok
Miti No
Sijaraa Cigarette
Mana Fincaani Toilet
Buna coffee
Aydelem No
sigara cigarette
Buna Coffee
Shaayi Tea
Biddeena Sour dough pancake
Ittoo Souce or stew
Farsoo Local Beer
Daadhi Local Honey Wine
Kootu Come
Deemi Go
Rakoon Ingiruu No Problem


"Tigrigna" - the language of Tigray and Eritrea, and is related to Amharigna

Dehankunu? How are you?
Dehankunu Good bye
Dehan hider Good night
Kindey? How much is it?
Yekireta Excuse me
Galatoomi Thank you
Aydelin I don’t want it
Leslassa Soft Drink
Mai gaz Gas (Ambo) water
Birra Beer
Bishaan water
Oowe yes
Harrai Ok
Aykonnen No
Shigarra Cigarette
Shintibait Toilet
Buna coffee
Aydelem No
sigara cigarette
Bun Coffee
Shahi Tea
Injera Sour dough pancake
Tsebhi Souce or stew
Suwa Local Beer
Mes Local Honey Wine
Na’a Come
Kid Go
Tsegem yellen No Problem



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Last updated 23-01-07 11:30 CEF DST
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