ethiopians speak about seventy! different languages according to the ethnic group you are part of. the language of the amhara people is supposed to be the lingua franca, taught in all schools to unify all ethiopan inhabitants. in vain, I am afraid. outside the relative limited amhara region amharic is not or hardly understood. the influence of the kingdom of sheba [nowadays yemen] has been great on the ethiopian language. ge’ez, the basis of nowadays amharic, is closely related to former sheba, but is only studied, read, spoken and understood by the clergy during liturgical celebrations.
studying amharic for a considerable length of time is rather difficult. you start by learning about 250/300 different characters by heart in order to be able to read and write. the orthography knows no capitals, for me a licence to do the same. next comes the grammer, even more complex. I can now translate simple sentences or texts on church walls. for speaking I would have to stay in the country for a year or so. untill now I didn’t.