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Sometimes people ask me how do I write certain Amharic word in Latin characters, and it’s hard to explain that there is no “right” way to do it. The process of converting Amharic characters to Latin characters is called transliteration. Transliteration is also applied to other languages like Chinese, or Japanese for example. I haven’t found an established rule to do it, and since certain sounds of the Amharic language don’t exist in English, or Spanish for that matter, sometimes it depends on the person who does the transliteration how certain sounds are mapped to certain letters. People who don’t know the Amharic language usually get confused when they see the same word written differently and they wonder if it’s even the same one. Usually the difference in the transliterations is more notable in vowels.
For example my son’s name, can be transliterated as Feromsa or Fromsa, but it’s still the same name in Amharic: ፈሮምሳ. Since in the adoption papers it was written as Feromsa, that’s the form we kept, but strangely enough, in some other papers his name was written in latin characters as Fermosa, probably a typo. 
To make matters more complicated, certain words in Amharic can be written with different symbols, so when they are transliterated, they can also have different forms too. 
Other people of Ethiopia like the Oromo, have developed a language using Latin characters to transliterate from their original Ge’ez script.

The problem in Amharic is that a Latin form of the language based in phonetics has not been developed, and the transliterated forms are left to each individual. For example I’ve seen አመሰግናለሁ or “thank you” in Amharic transliterated in Latin letters as:


And what about the other way around? What if you have Latin characters, and you want to write them in Amharic symbols? That’s tricky too.
I wrote a post about how and why I write my name in Amharic as alicia (AH-LEE-SEE-AH), but as you can see from that post, I could have chosen other symbols. Besides, I wrote my name following the pronunciation of my name as they say it in Argentina, where I come from, but people form Spain would use a different pronunciation guide, and in the US the name is pronounced differently, more like AH-LEE-SHA. So, pronunciation varies not only from language to language, but from country to country speaking the same tongue, and even from region to region inside a same country and in consequence the Amharic characters you will use can be different.

It’s true that the more you learn Amharic, the better you can “read” transliterations in Latin letters even when they differ one from the other. If you find written ameseguenalo or omesegonalo, you’ll know that both of them mean “thank you”.