Ethiopian Languages – Ethio Language Box

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Ethiopian Greetings

Handshaking finalll
Shaking Hands
Shoulder Hitting final
Hitting Shoulder
Huggingjpg
Hugging
Kissing Greetings
Kissing

In the Ethiopian Culture, greetings are very important, unique, somewhat lengthy ritual, expressed with body language (smile or showing a sign of happiness), show respect and touch the hearts of people. Ethiopians greet by shaking hand, hitting shoulder, hugging, kissing.  The kind of greeting indicates their intimacy, degree of affection and attachment with each other. 

ˈTena yɪsˈtɪlɪgn/ጤና ይስጥልኝ: The first & foremost and universal aspect of the Ethiopian greeting is (ˈtena yɪsˈtɪlɪgn/ጤና ይስጥልኝ) an initial inquiry of the health of one’s counterpart whether the person is family, friend, or stranger, and is not dependent on relative social status. ˈTena/ጤና = Health.  yɪsˈtɪlɪgn/ጤና ይስጥልኝ = Let him give for me.

Not only they inquiry of the health of each other, but also after their family members, animals, harvest, business, and any elements of each other’s personal life with which they might be familiar.

ደህና፣ እግዚአብሔር ይመስገን/Dehna, igizɪābiḥēr yimesɪgen = Fine. Thanks to God : All answers are always prefaced with “thanks to God,” and they are always positive; any bad news must be saved for later in the conversation. Not to greet people and not to respond to greetings is impolite.

Kissing : It is common to see women kissing women, women kissing men, and men kissing men on the check in public including in the office. After a close personal relationship has been established, kissing 3 times on the cheeks is common.  As well, If people meet each other after a long period of time, they greet each other by hugging and kissing repeatedly till they both get contained.

While greeting, Ethiopians

  • Bow head, and raise one’s hat. 
  • Address with the title  like Ato for man, Weziro for married woman, or Woizrit for an unmarried woman.  For instance, Woizero (Mrs.) Senedu; Ato (Mr.) Eyasu; Doctor Tsedeke; Engineer Dagela, etc.
  • Address the too elderly person with “Gash”. For instance,Gash. Tesfaye W/Meskel.
  • Follow the hierarchy with respect age, wealth, education and social contribution.

Ethiopian Injera

The staple food of the Ethiopian home is injera, a pancake usually made from a locally grown cereal called teff which is found only in Ethiopia.  The teff batter is fermented for three days before being cooked over a large open wood fire. A typical meal will consist of a large injera, the size of a round coffee table, on which other dishes are placed such as boiled vegetables, spicy sauces, milk curds and on special days, chicken, beef, lamb or fish.

Feeding somebody else with hand is common in the Ethiopia. It is sign of love and respect , hence you have to take care not to refuse when it is offered.

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony