SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa

Amharic 2 (PG)

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  1. knowledge and understanding of intermediate Amharic grammar
  2. knowledge and understanding of a wide range of Amharic vocabulary
  3. knowledge and understanding of the appropriateness of a wide range of Amharic structures and expressions in a given context
  4. the ability to understand passages in written Amharic of medium length on everyday and some specialised topics
  5. the ability to produce passages in written Amharic of medium length on everyday and some specialised topics
  6. the ability to understand spoken Amharic and to engage in spoken discourse of medium complexity on everyday and some specialised topics
  7. knowledge and understanding of the role of language in general, and Amharic in particular, in language-based scholarship and research (specific learning outcome for PG students)


Total of 22 weeks teaching with 4 hours language classes per week. 10 research seminars to be taken within SOAS.  Attendance to be proven by signature from chair and to be submitted to the Associate Dean for Masters by the last day of term 2.

Scope and syllabus

The course provides teaching and learning of intermediate level Amharic language with emphasis on practical written and spoken Amharic. The course covers complex points of morphology, particularly verb derivations and sentence structure particularly subordinating prefixes. Communicative practice and structural knowledge is established through reading and discussing a variety of Amharic texts dealing with different topics and of different length and complexity.

The course provides students with intermediate knowledge of Amharic and practice of using Amharic in a variety of everyday and more specialised situations, including the understanding and expression of opinions and different points of view. It allows students to interact with Amharic speakers in Amharic and to use original Amharic language sources within the level covered in the course. This provides students with a basis to approach research topics relating to Amharic language as well as the culture, history and society of Amharic speakers in Ethiopia.

A series of special PG lectures with associated seminars structured around the six themes Structure, Texts, Identity, Society, Translation and Transformation (provided for PG students studying different languages) introduces students to general questions of the role of language in language-based scholarship and research and provides them with the critical and methodological skills to relate their language acquisition to the thematic aspects of the studies.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination (50%); a translation project to be completed over the academic year of a suitable length to be submitted on the last day of term 2 (30%); an oral examination taken in May/June(15%); coursework (5%).

Suggested reading

1) The course will be based on
  • The final four chapters of Appleyard, David. 1995. Colloquial Amharic.  London: Routledge 

and additional materials which will be made available throughout the course.

2) Additional Amharic References
Amharic Learning Resources
  • Leslau, W.  1967.  Amharic Textbook.  Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
  • Kane, T.L.  1990.  Amharic-English Dictionary.  Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
  • Leslau, W.  1976.  Concise Amharic Dictionary: Amharic-English, English-Amharic.  Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
  • Ricter, R.  1987.  Lehrbuch der amharischen Sprache.  Leipzig: VEB Verlag Enzyklopädie.
  • Leslau, W.  1965.  An Amharic Conversation Book.  Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
Linguistic Studies
  • Cohen, M.  1936.  Traité de langue amharique (Abyssinie).  Paris: Institut d'Ethnologie.
  • Leslau, W.  1995.  Reference Grammar of Amharic.  Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
  • Leslau, W.  2000.  Introductory Grammar of Amharic.  Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
  • Dawkins, C.H.  1969.  The Fundamentals of Amharic (Second Edition).  Addis Ababa: Sudan Interior Mission
  • Kebede, M. & J.D. Murphy.  1984.  An Amharic Newspaper Reader.  Kensington, Maryland: Dunwoody Press.
    Ullendorff, E.  1978.  An Amharic Chrestomathy.  London: SOAS.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules