There are around 75 languages and many more dialects spoken in Ethiopia. Amharic, a Semitic language, is one of the most widely spoken and has its own script. English is spoken by most educated Ethiopians and is less common outside Addis Ababa. There are a few key Amharic phrases which will help you on your trip and will be much appreciated by the locals.
- Selam no: Used as a greeting, “Hello”
- Ishi: Literally translated as “OK”, ishi is also informally used to mean “yes” and “thank you”
- Amaseginalo: Thank you (more formal than ishi)
- Buna (be wetet): Coffee (with milk). "Makiato" is also commonly available but has more milk than an Italian macchiato.
- Shai: Tea – usually served with spices
- Yale sukar/spice: Without sugar/spice
- Wuha: Water
- Muk/Koach/Kazkazay: Hot/room temperature/cold (e.g. muk wuha = hot water)
- Yikirta: Excuse me
- Ferenj: You’re likely to hear this a lot from local kids – it refers to white foreigners!