We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

Amharic play group (11/11)

My friend Cindy recently had the brilliant idea of starting a play group in Amharic for some Ethiopian kids in Cairo. (Amharic is one of the main languages of Ethiopia. There is no language known as “Ethiopian.”) My boys went last week. You can read Cindy’s take on it here.

My take on it? It was fantastic. Most importantly, the boys had fun. A close second in importance: they are both jazzed about Amharic! They have been using some words in Amharic with our nanny/housekeeper, who is using more and more Amharic with them. Giggle appears to remember much more than we ever suspected, including some songs he was thrilled to hear and sing. Bug is picking it up quickly, too.

A big part of this was Cindy: she did a great job of planning some interesting activities.

When Mr. Four and I decided to move here, one motivation was for the boys to have better access to their Ethiopian culture and language. It’s taken a while, but I’m thrilled they’re actually (re)learning their language. They go for their second Amharic play group this week.


11 November 2008 - Posted by | bug, ethiopia, giggle


  1. I was astounded how difficult Amharic was to learn! When I went to Addis i wanted to pick up some polite phrases and was agog at how complicated it was to simply say “thank you.” LOL So i’m really impressed that you and your kids are learning it.

    Comment by Typ0 | 11 November 2008

  2. Amharic must have the hardest “thank you” of any language! Their “hello” is nice and simple, though: Selam.

    Comment by Ms. Four | 11 November 2008

  3. Oh, colour me jealous. My son has just started to be willing to re-learn Amharic (which was his second language anyway) but we are just using software at this point. This is a great idea… I may co-opt it. 🙂

    Comment by june | 12 November 2008

  4. The play group sounds amazing. What a cool idea. I am so jealous. And I think it also took me pretty much my whole week in Ethiopia to get the hang of saying “thank you.”

    Comment by Leslie | 12 November 2008

  5. My (six week college team) group got “amsegenalo” ok, but were told it was rude to tell people like taxi drivers thank you–it implied they needed to be thanked to do their jobs correctly. But the only real Amharic I remember is not very useful: “Ahaya lenka?” (May I pet your donkey?)–we had an animal enthusiast on the trip!

    Comment by Libby | 12 November 2008

  6. Libby, how funny! I may use that phrase when we next visit.

    The words I know best in Amharic are ishi (okay), shinte (pee), shinte bet (toilet), and caca (caca). So, it’s a pretty limited kid vocabulary.

    Comment by Ms. Four | 12 November 2008

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