Harari language

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Native toEthiopia
RegionHarari Region
Native speakers
25,810 (2007 census)[1]
Harari alphabet (Ge'ez script)
Language codes
ISO 639-3har

Harari is the language of the Harari people of Ethiopia. It is an Afro-Asiatic language of the Semitic branch and is a member of the Ethiosemitic group. According to the 2007 Ethiopian census, it is spoken by 25,810 people. Most of its speakers are multilingual in Amharic and/or Eastern Oromo.[citation needed] Harari is closely related to the Eastern Gurage languages, Zay, and Silt'e, all of whom are linked to the now extinct Semitic Harla language.[3][4] Locals or natives of Harar refer to it as Gēy Ritma or Gēy Sinan "language of the City" (Gēy is the word for how Harari speakers refer to Harar, whose name is an exonym).[5]

Harari was originally written with a version of the Arabic script, then the Ethiopic script was adopted to write the language. Some Harari speakers in diaspora write their language with the Latin alphabet.


/æ, a, e, ai, ɪ, i/




The noun has two numbers, Singular and Plural. The affix -ách changes singulars into plurals:

aboch, a man; abochách, men.
wandaq, a servant; wandaqách, servants.
gár, a house; gárách, houses.

Nouns ending in the long á or í become plural without reduplicating this letter:

gáfá, a slave; gáfách (for gáfáách), slaves.
gubná, a harlot; gubnách, harlots.
lijji, a son; lijjách (for lijjiách), sons.
Maqbarti, a grave; Maqbartách (for Maqbartách), graves.

/s/ alternates with /z/:

faraz, a horse; farazách, horses.
iráz, a cloth; irázách, cloths.


Masculine nouns may be converted into feminines by three processes. The first changes the terminal vowel into -it, or adds -it to the terminal consonant:

rágá, an old man; rágít, an old woman.
buchí, male dog; buchít, female dog
wasíf, a slave boy; wasífít, a slave girl.

Animals of different sexes have different names. and this forms the second process:

bárá, an ox; lám, a cow.

The third and the most common way of expressing sex is by means of aboch, "male or man," and inistí: woman, " female, corresponding to English " he-" and " she-":

aboch faraz, a stallion; inistí faraz, a mare.
aboch č̣abar a he mule; inistí č̣abar, a she mule.


English Independent Object pronoun suffixes Possessive suffixes
Direct Prepositional
Benefactive Locative/Adversative
I አን
you (m. sg.) አኻኽ
you (f. sg.) አኻሽ
you (polite) አኻኹ
he አዝዞ
she አዝዜ
s/he (polite) አዝዚዩ
we ኢኛች
you (pl.) አኻኻች
they አዝዚያች
Harari demonstrative pronouns
Number, Gender Near Far
Singular Masculine yi (i) ያእ yaǝ
Feminine የታ yeta, ኢትታ itta የታ
Plural ዪኣች yiach ያኣች yaach
Person Singular Plural
1 Án Innách or Inyách.
2 Akhákh Akhákhách
3 Azo (383)[clarification needed] Aziyách

The affixed pronouns or possessives attached to nouns are:--


1st Pers. - e, my or mine. : Gár-e, my house.
2nd Pers. - khá, thy or thine. Gár-khá, thy house.
3rd Pers. - zo, or - so, his. Gár-zo, his house.


1st Pers. - zinya or sinya, our. : Gár-zinya, our house.
2nd Pers. - kho, your. Gár-kho, your house.
3rd Pers. - zinyo or sinyo, their. Gár-zinyo, their house. (384)[clarification needed]

In the same way attached pronouns are affixed to verbs:

Sit-ayn: give (thou to) me.
Sit-ana: give (thou to) us.

The demonstrative pronouns are:

Sing. Yí, this.
Yá', that.
Plur. Yíách, these.
Yá'ách, those.

The interrogative pronouns are the following:

Mántá: who?
Mintá: what?
Án atte hárkho: I myself went.
Akhákh attekh hárkhí: thou thyself wentest.
Azo attezo háre: he himself went.


The following are the two auxiliary verbs:

'to be'
Past Present Imperative
Affirmative Negative Affirmative Negative
Person (s) 1 Án narkhú. Án alnárkhúm. Án halkho. Án elkhúm.
2 Akhákh nárkhí. Akhákh alnárkhím. Akhákh halkhí. Akhákh elkhím. Hal.
3 Azo nárá. Azo alnárum. Azo hal (<A>[clarification needed]). Azo elúm.
(pl) 1 Inyásh nárná. Inyásh alnárum. Inyásh halna. Inyásh elnám.
2 Akhákhásh narkhú. Akhákhásh alnárkhúm. Akhákhásh halkhú. Akhákhásh elkhúm. Halkhú.
3 Aziyásh nárú. Aziyásh alnárúm. Aziyásh halú Aziyásh elúm.

Past Tense.

Sing. 1. I became: Án ikaní náarkho.
2. Thou becamest: Akhákh tikání nárkhí.
3. He became: Azo ikáni nárá.
Plur. 1. We became: Innásh nikání nárná.
2. Ye became: Akhákhásh tikání nárkhú.
3. They became: Aziyásh ikání nárú.

Present Tense.

Sing. 1. I become: Án ikánákh.
2. Thou becomest: Akhákh tikánákh.
3. He becomes: Azo ikánál.
Plur. 1. We become: Inyásh nikánáná.
2. Ye become: Akhákhásh tikánákhu.
3. They become: Aziyásh yikánálú.


Become thou, "Kanni". Become ye, "Kánnú".


Sing. 2. Become not, ikánnimekh.
Plur. 2. Become not ye, ikánnumekh.

Past Tense.

(Affirmative Form.)

Sing. 1. I went, Án letkho.
2. Thous wentest, Akhákh letkhí.
3. He went, Azo leta.
Plur. 1. We went, Inyásh letna.
2. Ye went, Akhákhásh letkhú.
3. They went, Aziyásh letú.

(Negative Form.)

Sing. 1. I went not, Án alletkhúm.
2. Thou wentest not, Akbákh alletkhím.
3. He went not, Azo alletám.
Plur. 1. We went not, Inyásh aletnám.
2. Ye went not, Akhákásh alletkhúm.
3. They went not, Aziyásh alletúm.

Present Tense.

(Affirmative Form.)

1. I go, Án iletákh 1. Inyásh niletáná.
2. Thou goest, Akhákh tiletínakh 2. Akhákhásh tiletákhú.
3. He goes, Azo yiletál 3. Aziyásh yiletálú.

(Negative Form.)

Sing. 1. I go not, Án iletumekh.
2. Thou goest not, Akhákh tiletumekh.
3. He goes not, Azo iletumel.
Plur. 1. We go not, Inyásh niletumens.
2. Ye go not, Akhákhash tiletumekhú.
3. They go not, Aziyásh iletuelú.
Sing. 1. I will go, Án iletle halkho.
2. Thou wilt go, Akháhk tiletle halkhí.
3. He will go, Azo iletle hal.
Plur. 1. We will go, Inyásh niletle halns.
2. Ye will go, Akhákhásh tiletle halkhú.
3. They will go, Aziyásh niletle halns.


  • 1. Ahad
  • 2. Ko'ot
  • 3. Shi'ishti
  • 4. Haret
  • 5. Ham'misti
  • 6. Sidisti
  • 7. Sa'ati
  • 8. Su'ut
  • 9. Zahtegn
  • 10. Asir
  • 11. Asra ahad
  • 12. Asra ko'ot
  • 13. Asra shi'ishti
  • 14. Asra haret
  • 15. Asra ham'misti
  • 16. Asra sidisti
  • 17. Asra sa'ati
  • 18. Asra su'ut
  • 19. Asra zahtegn
  • 20. Kuya
  • 30. Saasa
  • 40. Arbin
  • 50. Hamsein
  • 60. Sit'tin
  • 70. Sa'ati asir
  • 80. Su'ut asir
  • 90. Zahtana
  • 100. Baqla
  • 1,000. Kum


  1. ^ Ethiopia 2007 Census, p. 115
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Harari". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Gebissa, Eziekel. Leaf of Allah. Ohio State University. p. 36. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  4. ^ Braukhamper, Ulrich. Islamic History and Culture in Southern Ethiopia. LITverlag. p. 18. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  5. ^ Leslau 1959, p. 276.

Works cited[edit]

  • Abdurahman Garad and Ewald Wagner. 1998. Harari-Studien : Texte mit Übersetzung, grammatischen Skizzen und Glossar. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-03937-X. [1][permanent dead link]
  • Cerulli, Enrico. “La lingua e la storia di Harar” in Studi Etiopici, vol. I, 1936 (Roma).
  • Gardner, Simon and Ralph Siebert. 2001. "Sociolinguistic survey report of the Zay language area." SIL Electronic Survey Reports, 2002-024. PDF
  • Cohen, Marcel. 1931. Etudes d'éthiopien méridional. Paris. pp. 243–354.
  • Leslau, Wolf (1937). "Contributions a l'etude du harari (Abyssinie meridionale)". Journal Asiatique. 229.
  • Leslau, Wolf. 1958. The verb in Harari : (South Ethiopic). Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Leslau, Wolf (1965). Ethiopians speak: studies in cultural background. University of California Press.
  • Leslau, Wolf (1959). "An Analysis of the Harari Vocabulary". Annales d'Ethiopie. 3 (1): 275–298. doi:10.3406/ethio.1959.1310.
  • Mondon-Vidailhet, François Marie Casimir. 1902. La langue Harari et les dialectes Ethiopies du Gouraghe. Paris: Imprimerie nationale.
  • Wagner, Ewald. 1983. Harari-Texte in arabischer Schrift : mit Übersetzung und Kommentar. Wiesbaden: F. Steiner.

External links[edit]