Linguistic and Social Aspects of the ʔAʃo (Azmari) Argot in Tigray

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Addis Ababa University


This research focused on the linguistic features and social aspects of the ʔaʃo argot. The objectives of this research are to describe the linguistic features of the ʔaʃo argot and the social aspects of the ʔaʃo argot and its speakers in order to explain why the ʔaʃo people use it as secret language. To achieve these objectives, the researcher used purposive method sampling to select the informants. Elicitation, interview and participatory observation method were used to collect the data. The data have been recorded by using audio-tape recorder and video-camera. Qualitative as well as quantitative methods are employed to analyze the collected data. The findings of this research are the following. There is underestimation between the ʔaʃo and non-ʔaʃo groups. This underestimation is a reason for the ʔaʃo group to be self-designated and to have secret language or argot. Second, the ʔaʃo argot is derived from Tigrinya and Amharic words through form, semantic, form and semantic changes, using different semantic aspects and direct used terms of Tigrinya. In form change, the ʔaʃo argot uses phonological deformations such as addition, metathesis, reduplication, substitution, deletion, vowel deformation and degemination as well as free variation and depalatalization of the sounds. In addition, suffixes and some prefixes of Tigrinya and Amharic, onomatopoeic words and changed terms from compound verbs to single words have been used in the formation of the argot. The ʔaʃo argot also uses semantic load, instrumental nouns, paraphrastic descriptions, connotative and denotative meanings and naming whole and parts in the same word to solve inadequate of expressions. ʔaʃo argot uses the phonological and syntactic structure as well as morphological expressions of Tigrinya.



linguistic features, and social aspects of the ʔaʃo argot