Amharic has been a written language for as long as 500 years, and there is a substantial body of literature. This literature includes government proclamations and records, educational books, religious materials, novels, poetry, and proverb collections. It also includes dictionaries (monolingual and bilingual), technical manuals, and medical topics.
It is an Afro-Asiatic language and the official language of Ethiopia. It is also widely spoken by emigrants in the United States and other countries. In addition to its national significance, it is the lingua franca among the Amhara people and other ethnic groups in Ethiopia and beyond.
Amharic is a member of the Hemeto-Semitic language family and is classified as a Semitic language. It is the southern branch of Hemeto-Semitic, which also includes North and Central Ethiopic, as well as Cushitic languages such as Tigrinya, Gurage, and Agew.
The vocabulary of Amharic reflects its long history of contact with Arabic and other Afro-Asiatic languages, especially Cushitic languages. It is a diglossic language, meaning that its sounds are pronounced slightly differently by different speakers. This difference is due largely to dialects that have developed within the Amharic language, with the three biggest being Showa, Gondar, and Gojjami. These dialects are mutually intelligible, but they have differences in pronunciation and vocabulary.
Amharic has a complex verbal morphology that makes use of prefixes, suffixes and changes in vowel pattern on the verb stem. It is inflected for voice, tense-aspect-mood, and person. In addition, it distinguishes three numbers and two genders in the singular.