n Africa Insight - Divergent federal language discourses in Ethiopia - conflict over the use of ‘Amharic only’

Volume 49 Number 2
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


The use of Amharic as a sole federal language has been a debatable issue from the start. The main objective of this study is thus to reveal divergent views of federal language use in Ethiopia. To this end, qualitative data was gathered through interviews from 28 purposefully selected key informants and analysed through thematic analysis. Results indicate that the use of Amharic as a single federal language encompasses divergent discourses. It has become a source of conflict, in which the proponents of ‘Amharic only’ are seeking to preserve its status, whereas its opponents are pressing for change. Controversies over the use of one federal language in Ethiopia might, therefore, lead to fierce conflict if a well-designed solution is not provided.

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