Monday, May 30, 2011

A liitle Amharic goes a long way

Tabb and I have been hitting the books hard since our first meeting with our Amharic tutor last week. We have memorized about 100 words. Last night we decide it's time to have a conversation. We take the dogs for a walk and we begin.
Unfortunately, we know only nouns and adjectives. This limits our conversation potential. All we can do is point at things and name them. We sound something like this:
Me: "Dog."
Tabb: "Two dog. Two dogS!" He is excited to pluralize.
Me: "Dog pee."
Tabb: "Dog pee. Leaf."
Me: "Leaf?" I don't know this word. Tabb points. "Ah. Green leaf."
Tabb: "House."
Me: "House. Window."
Tabb: "Bird."
Me: "Flower." I point to a magnolia.
Tabb: "White flower."
Me: "White BIG flower. Big WHITE flower. Rabbit."
Tabb: "Rabbit?" He looks at the squirrel I am pointing at. He is incapable of contradicting me.
Me: "Small animal. Small animal fast tree."
We go on like this all evening. We ride our bikes down to a restaurant at the end of the bike path, pointing out trees, houses, men, women, children, cars and dogs along the way. We comment on our bikes - black bicycle, black and red bicycle, fast bicycles. We pass another rider and gossip about her - big woman, slow bicycle. We name colors and count things. At the restaurant, we name foods - potato, tomato, greens, beer, water. Tabb makes faces at the baby at the next table, and I call him "Face Bad." After dinner the ride home is slow, and we lament, "Two beers. Stomach full. Tired. House."
It's a fun evening.


  1. I found your blog by googling: "how do you say tomato in Amharic" - having lived in Addis for a while a few years ago, I'm amazed at how my memory has gone! Am none the wiser, but I enjoyed reading about your journey.

    My Ethiopia journey is here: if you're interested.

    Best of luck on your path.

  2. Kyra & Tabb,
    Holy moly -- I didn't know you had a blog! I'm reading the whole thing this morning and it's wonderful. Just read this post outloud to Paul, laughing. Off to read the rest! Great work. Thanks so much, guys. Greetings from Berlin!