A couple of weeks ago we started working with new Amharic tutors. Our old tutor moved away at the end of July. Our new tutors are Ato A from the Ethiopian church, and his wife, Weizero W. They are wonderful. A is good about breaking words down and explaining them, and W pronounces everything very clearly so that we are actually starting to comprehend a little of what we hear. They are both very patient and encouraging. Also they always get in little arguments that are pretty hilarious. If you've ever studied a foreign language, you'll know that even a mildly humorous remark seems much funnier when you realize you understood it in the new language. When W said in Amharic, and we understood, "He cooks, but it doesn't taste good," we about burst in laughter and pride in our listening comprehension.
Still, our progress is painfully slow. It's those dang verbs. Here's an example: The verb "to do" is "madreg," but "Will you let me do it?" is "Ladrigalleh?." Do you see what those two words have in common? The "dr" and the "g." That's it. Everything else changes. It's taking a long time to train our ears to what is a prefix, what is a suffix, what is an infix - that's right, an infix - and what is the stem.