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Morphology is the study of the way words are built up from smaller meaning
bearing units i.e., morphemes. A morpheme is often defined as the minimal
meaning-bearing unit in language. So, for example, the word fox consists
of a single morpheme (the morpheme fox) while the word cats consists of
the morpheme cat and the morpheme –s. As this example suggests,
it is often useful to distinguish two broad classes of morphemes: stems
and affixes. The exact details of the distinction vary from language to
language, but intuitively, the stem is the “main” morpheme
of the word, supplying the main meaning, while the affixes add “additional”
meanings of various kinds.
Amharic, like other Semitic
languages such as Arabic, exhibits the root-pattern morphological phenomenon.
This is especially true of Amharic verbs. Amharic verbs consist of stems
and affixes. A stem again consists of root consonants (typically three)
and vowel patterns.
The Amharic vocabulary is very large mainly as a result of the large number
of morphological forms each words have. In Amharic morphology, each word
can be expanded into a large number of forms. If we consider the case
of verbs we notice that it has more than one thousand different forms
(compare this with English which has just four derived forms for most
of its verbs (e.g. smoke, smoking, smokes, smoked). Verbs, in Amharic
can take many forms to indicate time (past, present, future, etc), gender
(male, female), action (command, statement, invitation etc). The verbs
also change forms depending on the gender of the subject and object. As
a result of the Amharic morphological structure each word has a large
number of derived forms, resulting in a very large vocabulary.
The analysis of the morphology of words is thus a difficult task, but
if performed, will result in great leap in the advancement of Amharic
Eruxelf Amamorph is a program
that is able to analyze and generate all the morphological forms of Amharic
words. It can be used in the development of an Amharic text corpus, allow
the development of speech synthesis and recognition and furthermore serves
as a research environment for further studies.
The following file is a
sample output of the words generated using Amamorph.
Download a copy of the Amamorph
Word Expander Sample pdf.