Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia, spoken by fourteen million native Amharas and by approximately eighteen million of the other ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Besides its national importance, it has also gained recognition in the US since 1985.

Amharic belongs to the southern branch of Hemeto-Semitic languages which is also referred to as Afrasian. From the five branches of the Afrasian group, Amharic belongs to the southern peripheral Semitic family of languages. It originated from Geez (or Ethiopic), which was extensively used in north Ethiopia since the first millennium A.D. Among the languages related to Geez that are spoken in the central and northern highlands of Ethiopia include: North Ethiopic (Tigre, Tigrinya); Central Ethiopic (Amharic, Gurage, Argoba, Gafat Harari...etc.). The other branch of Afrasian spoken in Ethiopia is the Cushitic, which includes, among others: Oromo, Somali, Agew, Sidama, Afar, and Kafa. Modern Amharic has a Cushitic substratum.

Source: African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania


Course Offerings

  • AMHR 0100 Elementary Amharic I
  • AMHR 0200 Elementary Amharic II
  • AMHR 0300 Intermediate Amharic I
  • AMHR 0400 Intermediate Amharic II

View course descriptions.


Yohannes Hailu

Course Schedule

Title Instructors Location Time Description Cross listings Fulfills Registration notes Syllabus Syllabus URL Term
AFRC 3999-680 Elementary Amharic II Yohannes Hailu A study, under faculty supervision, of a problem, area or topic not included in the formal curriculum. Penn Lang Center Perm needed 2024A