Phonological Features of the Amharic Variety of South Wəllo

  • Baye Yimam


This paper examines the phonological features that characterize the Amharic variety spoken in South Wəllo, an area which has been influenced by the diffusion of linguistic and cultural features arising from longstanding contact situations between Semitic and non-Semitic linguistic groups. Data from eight districts of the zone have shown that the South Wəllo variety has 26 consonant and seven vowel phonemes. The consonants are four fewer than that reported of the standard variety. The co-occurrence restrictions of the consonants and the syllable structures are the same as those of the standard variety. However, the phonological rules that operate at morpheme internal, morpheme and word boundary levels are different in the degree of complexity and directionality. These include inter-vocalic lenition of velar stops, word-final weakening of alveo-palatals, coalescence of lowering diphthongs, centering, lowering and fronting of vowels, metathesis of coronals and anteriors, and lexeme specific alternations of homorganic consonants. The description of the facts provides more substantive arguments in favor of the long-held claim that Wəllo constitutes a distinct dialect area.

Author Biography

Baye Yimam
Researcher, Russian linguistics