How to Read Gəʿəz (Ethiopic) Script

Pronunciation

Below is a simplified guide to pronouncing Ethiopic characters that uses words familiar to anglophones.

Vowels

There are seven vowels (shown here with the consonant አ):

Vowel Transliteration Pronunciation
aas in ago
uas in boot
ias in beet
āas in ball
eas in day
ǝas in let
oas in note

Consonants Familiar to Anglophones

Below are consonants in Gəʿəz (Amharic and Tigrinya are listed below) which make a sound found also in English.

Note the following differences in accent:

  • ኪ (ki) and ቂ (qi) are pronounced like ቺ (či) and ጪ (č̣i) respectively in some accents
  • ጌ (ge) is often pronounced like ጄ (ǧe) in some accents.

Consonant Transliteration Pronunciation
las in lid
mas in man
śas in sap
ras in rod
sas in sap
bas in bat
tas in tar
nas in nod
kas in kit
was in was
zas in zoo
yas in yes
das in dog
gas in get
fas in far
pas in pat

Guttural Consonants

Note the following differences in accent:

  • ሀ/ሐ/ኀ (h/ḥ/ḫ) are all pronounced like ሀ (h) in many accents
  • አ/ዐ (ʾ/ʿ) are both pronounced like አ (ʾ) in some accents
  • a is often pronounced as ā following a guttural in some accents
Consonant Transliteration Pronunciation
has in hat
between ሀ (h) and ኀ (ḫ)
as in German Buch
ʾrepresents a glottal stop
ʿsimilar to አ (ʾ), but with the throat closed slightly

Ejective Consonants

Consonant Transliteration Pronunciation
qlike ከ (k), but with a click
like ተ (t), but with a click
like ፐ (p), but with a pop
as in cats, but with a sharper sound

Additional Consonants

These consonants are additions found in Amharic, Tigrinya, and other languages. They do not occur in Gəʿəz except in proper names and loanwords.

Consonant Transliteration Pronunciation
šas in shed
like ኸ (k̲), but ejective
vas in vat
čas in chat
ñas in any
as in German Buch
žas in vision
ǧas in jar
č̣like ቸ (č), but ejective

Augustine Dickinson

How to cite this page:

Augustine Dickinson, "How to Read Gəʿəz (Ethiopic) Script." https://ethiopicist.com/articles/how-to-read/. Published . Accessed on.