Volume 17 Language Research in the 21st Century
Graduate Working Papers

Case Marking Systems in Two Ethiopian Semitic Languages

Weldu M. Weldeyesus
University of Colorado Boulder


  • morphology, syntax, semantics, tigrinya, amharic, semitic

How to Cite

Weldeyesus, W. M. (2004). Case Marking Systems in Two Ethiopian Semitic Languages. Colorado Research in Linguistics, 17. https://doi.org/10.25810/aq41-pj57


This paper presents a description of the case marking systems in Amharic and Tigrinya. The case system is fully retained in the pronominal and determiner systems of both languages. Nominal case markings are, however, observed only in definite objects. The languages are nominative-accusative in their case system as can be seen from the pronouns, the definite article, and pronominal affixes which are attached to the verb to show agreement with subjects and definite objects. There is also interaction between the semantic notion of definiteness and object marking, which takes two forms: an object marker attached to the nominal object and an object marking verbal affix. In both cases, it is only if the object is definite that these object markings appear. This is an instance of split P. The two related object-marking phenomena always coexist in both languages.