Documentation & Description of Amharic Dialects

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This study attempts to describe and document phonological, morphological and lexical variation of Amharic regional dialects spoken in rural parts of Gojjam, Wollo, Gonder and North Shewa. These research areas were selected by purposive sampling. The preselected criterion for participant selection in this study is the criteria known by the acronyms ―NORMFS‖ (Non- mobile Older Rural Males and Females). The researcher has taken cues from generative and structural linguistic theories under the description methodology and procedure. Elicitation and audio-video recording were used as major data collection instruments to make good documentation and description of Amharic dialects. In phonetic inventory of Amharic dialects, seventy six possible consonant segments including three implosives [], [], [ɗ] and one velar fricative [ɣ] have been identified. Lenition and fortition, palatalization of non-palatal phones, geminating ungeminated segments, vowel harmony and metathesis that involve reordering of sounds within different Amharic dialect areas also have been attested. Regarding morphology, the numbers and verbal clauses can take the plural marker [-oʧʧ] instead of taking definite marker /-u-t/ and few nouns can be pluralized through partial and total reduplication features in the Gojjam dialect. In addition, there are many words which are unique to different Amharic dialect areas, and some of the lexical items that the current researcher has obtained from Gonder and Wollo dialects can be used as a resource for the enrichments of Amharic. It is observed that without any geographical barrier or distance, there would be great phonological, morphological and lexical variations. The case of Debark and Dembiya of Gonder is an example for such incident. On the other hand, areas like Amanuel, Denbecha and Feresbet areas of Gojjam, Debark and its neighboring areas of Gondar and some areas of south Wollo, despite the geographical barriers and inaccessible distance, mostly speak similar varieties. Therefore, the classification of Amharic dialects is not as such simple without marking and drawing dialect continuum and isoglosses of phonological, morphological and lexical varieties. This is a task which awaits further research.



Amharic regional dialects spoken