Harari language

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Not to be confused with Harar language.
Native to Ethiopia
Region Harari Region
Native speakers
120,000 (2007 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 har
Glottolog hara1271[2]

Harari is the language of the Harari people of Ethiopia. According to the 1998 Ethiopian census, it is spoken by 21,283 people. Most of its speakers are multilingual in Amharic and/or Oromo. Harari is closely related to the East Gurage languages, Zay and Silt'e. Locals or natives of this city also refer to it as "Gey sinan" (Language of the City). Originally written in the Arabic script, it has recently converted to the Ge'ez script.[when?]


/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.
wandag, a servant; wandagách, 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.
qabri, a grave; qabrách (for qabriách), graves.

/s/ alternates with /z/:

farez, a horse; farazásh, 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-":

faraz, a stallion; inisti faraz, a mare.
aboch baghl, a he mule; inisti baghl, a she mule.


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. Yíásh, or yí'ach, these.
Yá'ásh, or 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 halko. 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 ikánálú.


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.


  • Abdurahman Garad and Ewald Wagner. 1998. Harari-Studien : Texte mit Übersetzung, grammatischen Skizzen und Glossar. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-03937-X. [1]
  • 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. 1938. Contributions a l’etude du Harari (Abyssinie meridionale). Paris: P. Geuthner.
  • Leslau, Wolf. 1958. The verb in Harari : (South Ethiopic). Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Leslau, Wolf. 1965. Ethiopians speak. Studies in cultural background. Part I: Harari. Near Eastern Studies, no. 7. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • 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]


  1. ^ Ethiopia 2007 Census
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Harari". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.