My daughter is from Lalo.  A rural area in the Hadero Tunto area in the Kembata Tembaro Zone.  The language spoken is called “Kembatigna.”  (ALERT: this will be a post that other Ethiopian adoptive families will probably care about more than the average Joe – especially those who have a child from Kembata.)

There are 84 known languages in Ethiopia and Amharic is the official language.  I made an effort to learn Amharic before adopting Misgana so we would be able to communicate a bit before she picked up English.  I love learning Amharic, but I really wanted to know more about Misgana’s first language.  The problem has always been that it is not a written down language.  There isn’t a book, computer program, or Rosetta Stone for Kembatigna.

Anyways – one of my greatest joys was traveling in the region near where Misgana was from and learning some of the words of Kembatigna.

First of all, I learned that people in the region call their language: “Kembatisa” and the Amharic influence added the “igna” influence at the end.

Here are some words that I learned: (I tried to write it how it sounds.)

  • Ee – tam – I love
  • Ee – tank – a – I love you  (long “a” on the end)
  • Ana – Father
  • Ama – Mother
  • Heezoh – Sister/Brother
  • Too – Ma – Hello
  • Too Ma Hey Ee – Goodbye
  • Fie-ya – Doing well?
  • Min – ee – House
  • Gelatome – Thank you.
  • Roshsha – Min – ee – School

(The picture above was taken in the Kembata Tembaro Region by Dave Deur)