• english
  • spanish

qaf_table
This post is brought to you by the letter: 9-qaf1

The ninth symbol of the Amharic alphabet is called QAF or K’AF and there is no equivalent sound in English. The pronunciation is similar to a k but a little bit stronger and with a kind of explosion. There are some other letters like this one in Amharic, and they are called glottalized consonants and the only way to learn how to say them is by listening to a native speaker. It’s important to know the difference between glottalized and non glotallized consonants, because many pair of words can only be differentiated by them.  In transcriptions this symbol can be written in various ways, like a k with an apostrophe: k’, like a k with a tilde or a dot below: ḳ , or simply like a q to differentiate it from the seventeenth symbol which is transcribed  simply as a letter k since its sound is not explosive, but I’m going to talk about this letter later. I’m going to use the first method, k’, because is the one used by David Appleyard, but you may find this letter written in any of the other forms in dictionaries. The printed letter, same as the handwritten one, looks like a vertical line with two semicircles on the sides. 
Here is the table with the printed letter, handwritten letter and pronunciation, and a few examples. The animations were made according to the instructions in the book Writing and Reading Amharic and the sounds are from the site Amharic Online. Phonetic according to David Appleyard.

print
phonetics
how to write it
and say it
examples
9-qaf1
k’ä
 qay
(k’äy) red
9-qaf2
k’u
qura
(k’ura) crow
9-qaf3
k’i
  qim(k’im) resentment, vengeance
9-qaf4
k’a
qar   
(k’ar) heartburn
9-qaf5
k’e
  qes
(k’es ) priest
9-qaf6
k’ï
(just k’ at the end of a word)
qebe  
(k’ïbe) butter 
mabraq  (mäbräk’) lightening
9-qaf7
k’o
qoda
(k’oda) skin, leather

We have seen before that the sound of the consonant added to the sound "wa" forms another letter. Regarding the k’  sound, not only exists the symbol  k’wa qwa (k’+wa), but also another series of symbols formed by the union of the sound k’ with the sounds wä qwaa(k’wä) , wi qwi(k’wi), weqwe (k’we) y wï qwii(k’wï). I will only mention them now, but I will write about all the letters "w" in a future post.

Finally, the complete sequence in alphabetical order :
qaf
Here is the quiz for the ninth letter of the alphabet:

Quiz # 9

Next week, the letter B.

alicia
AliciA