September 08, 2008

Where is the Letter P in the Ethiopic Languages ?

There are no words in the Ethiopic Languages that contain the letter P. Only loan words such as Police, Post Office, Pyramid, Peter and Paul etc exists in the Amharic Tigrigna, Tigre, Oromo, Afar, Somali and other Ethiopian languages. An Amharic dictionary may have no more than 20 loan words in the P category (example Kesate Birhan Amharic Dictionary).
The nearest alphabet used by rural Ethiopians unfamiliar with the "P" loan words is by pronouncing the "P" as a "B". Therefore these loan words are pronounced as: Bolice, Bost or Bosta, Byramid, Beter and Baul. This phenomenon also exists in Arabic speakers of the Middle East
The alphabet or Abugida or HaHuHi letter "P" is found in the Ethiopian Alphabetical Chart (See below) in the Ethiopic form and its origin is uncertain.

The Ethiopian Alphabets

There are two versions of the Letter "P" (click twice on Chart); A regular "P" and a tight "P.". Post is written out with the regular "P" and Peter is written using the tight "P."

The details, origins, philosophy, description and interpretation of the Ethiopic Alphabets (also called Geez, Giiz, Abugida and HaHuHi), refer to the excellent work of Dr. Ayele Bekerie of Cornell University. The author also describes how it is related to the ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics and other cultures. For even further details visit the sight at


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