April 30, 2012

20: Object Suffixes

In Gəʿəz, pronominal suffixes on transitive verbs typically denote a direct object, i.e. a noun in the accusative case. To review the direct object, have another look at the entry on the accusative case. [If have difficulty viewing the Gəʿəz script on your browser, you may view this blog entry by clicking here.] 

ሐነጸ፡ንጉሥ፡ሀገረ à ሐነ፡ንጉሥ።
ḥanaṣa nəguš hagara // à hanaṣo nəguš //
The king built a city. à The king built it.

ዴገነት፡ወለታ፡ሊቃነ፡ዘመድ à ዴገነቶሙ፡ወለታ።
deganat walattā liqāna zamad // à deganatomu walattā //
Her daughter pursued the tribe’s elders. à Her daughter pursued them.

These same suffixes however may also denote indirect objects, particularly when affixed to verbs of speaking (addressing, telling, asking etc), verbs of giving (surrendering, depriving etc) and verbs of motion (going, befalling etc), so:

መጠወ፡ጳጳስ፡ሀገረነለአፍርንጅà መጠዎሙ፡ጳጳስ፡ሀገረነ
maṭṭawa pāppās hagarana laʾafrənj // à maṭṭawomu pāppās hagarana //
The bishop surrendered our city to the Romans. à The bishop surrendered our city to them.

ነገረ፡ዘንተስመለካህንà ነገዘንተ
nagara zanta səma lakāhən// à nagaro zanta //
He told this name to the priest. à He told this to him.

Oftentimes, as in Aramaic / Syriac, these suffixes will anticipate an object which appears later in the sentence, prefixed with the la- preposition. Lambdin terms this the “qatalo la-nəguš construction.” This type of anticipatory-suffix infuses the object with greater specificity and definiteness. Note that, in this construction, the object affixed with the la- is not marked in the accusative case.

ሐነጸ፡ንጉሥ፡ሀገረ à ሐነ፡ንጉሥ፡ሀገር
ḥanaṣa nəguš hagara // à hanaṣo nəguš lahagar//
The king built a city. à The king built [it,] the city.

ተርጐሙ፡ዛተጻሕፍተ à ተርጐምዛቲመጻሕፍት
targʷamu zāta maṣāhəfta // à targʷaməwwā lazāti maṣāḥəft //
They translated these books. à They translated [them,] these books.

The pronominal suffixes are, for the most part, fairly easy to spot and decipher. Here’s a general overview of how they appear

3rd masc.
3rd fem.
2nd masc.
2nd fem.
1st com.

Some predictable phonetic changes occur to accommodate the 3rd person suffixes. Importantly, a helping “-h-” appears if they are affixed to stems ending in –ā. If they are affixed to stems ending in –u or -ə, they appear beginning with -əww and -əyy, respectively, so:

ቀተላ፡አነስት፡አርዌምድር à ቀተላ
qatalā ʾanast ʾarwe-mədr // à qatalāhu //
The women killed a snake. à They killed it.

ነጸሩ፡ዕብራዊያን፡መልእክተ à ነጸርዎሙ
naṣṣaru ʿəbrāwiyān malāʾəkta // à naṣṣarəwwomu //  
The Hebrews saw angels à They saw them.


  1. Just wanted to thank you for this fantastic blog. I hope you'll keep it up.

    You have to, because I'll be caught up pretty soon!

    1. This is just great! I'm really glad you're finding these resources useful, and that I'm not just talking to myself, in cyberspace ;D. I hope to have a few new entries up soon (passive voice, and then maybe another entry with select-texts.) Let me know if you see any glitch, or have any suggestions for improving stuff I have up already.

    2. Yeah, Ethiopia is a lonely passion.

      That's great—glad to hear you have more planned. I always like reading passages, too.

      I'll let you know if I have any thoughts, but I've been very pleased so far. I particularly liked the way you threw us in without first memorizing the script thoroughly.


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