Negation in Amharic Discourse

  • Baye Yimam


This paper provides a description of the functions of wh-elements, kinship terms,and pronouns of endearment at the level of discourse. The wh-elements which serve as question words in the syntax of the language function as expressions of negation at the level of discourse. The kinship terms which occur with any structural case form in the syntax, exhibit a first person genitive possessive affix which refers to a possessor in topic position. Among such terms ϊhϊte ‘my sister’ has a reduced form ϊte which functions as a pro-form of addressee and also serves as an expression of a higher (stronger) level of negation. Its use is gender sensitive as it selects only a male addresser in topic position. Among the other kinship terms is abbat, ‘father’, not innat “mother’, which, like ϊte, occurs as an expression of a higher level of negation. Its use suggests another instance of gender and/or power sensitivity. In all cases, the kinship terms or their pro-form ϊte refer to an addressee, while the pronouns of endearment refer to an addresser in topic position. The expressions suggest that there is a hierarchy of negation or denial at the level of discourse, which in the syntax is
expressed by a single verbal prefix al-.


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How to Cite
YIMAM, Baye. Negation in Amharic Discourse. Ethiopian Journal of Languages and Literature, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 1, p. 1 - 22, july 2012. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 06 june 2020.
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