Oophorectomy is the surgical removal of the ovaries of a female animal. In the case of non-human animals, this is also called spaying. It is a form of sterilization.

The removal of the ovaries together with the Fallopian tubes is called salpingo-oophorectomy. Oophorectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy are not common forms of birth control in humans; more usual is tubal ligation, in which the Fallopian tubes are blocked but the ovaries remain intact.

In humans, oophorectomy is most usually performed together with a hysterectomy - the removal of the uterus. Its use in a hysterectomy when there are no other health problems is somewhat controversial.

In animals, spaying involves an invasive removal of the ovaries, but rarely has major complications; the superstition that it causes weight gain is not based on fact. Spaying is especially important for certain animals that require the ovum to be released at a certain interval (called estrus or "heat"), such as cats and dogs. If the cell is not released during these animal's heat, it can cause severe medical problems that can be averted by spaying or partnering the animal with a male.

Oophorectomy is sometimes referred to as castration, but that term is most often used to mean the removal of a male animal's testicles.

See also

Amharic language

Amharic ( )
Spoken in: Ethiopia
Region: East Africa
Total speakers: 21 million (17.4 million native)
Ranking: Not in top 100
Genetic classification: Afro-Asiatic


Official status
Official language of: Ethiopia
Regulated by: --
Language codes
ISO 639-1 am
ISO 639-2 amh

Amharic (አማርኛ) is a Semitic language spoken in Northern Central Ethiopia, where it is the official language. Outside Ethiopia, Amharic is the language of some 2.7 million emigrants (notably in Egypt, Israel and Sweden). It is written using a writing system called fidel or abugida, adapted from the one used for the now-extinct Ge'ez language.


Sounds and orthographies

The chart below uses SAMPA symbols where feasible, with the exception that ejectives are marked by '’' (apostrophe/right-single-quote).

  bilabial dental palatal velar glottal
stops voiceless p t c k ʔ
voiced b d J g  
ejective p’ t’ c’ k’  
affricate   ts’      
fricatives voiceless f s š   h
voiced   z ž    
nasals m n ñ    
liquids w l j    
flap/trill   r      
  front central back
high i   u
mid e ə o
low ä a  

Amharic Abugida Symbols ("Fidels" ፊደል)

Please note that this chart is incomplete. Some phonemes have more than one series of possible symbols; only illustrative examples for /k/ and /h/ are shown (the latter has four series!). While the consonants have been grouped by manner of articulation (refer to the phoneme chart above), the vowels are listed in citation order. The citation form for each series is the consonant+/E/ form, i.e. the first column of fidels. You will need a font that supports Ethiopic, such as GF Zemen Unicode (available at ftp://ftp.ethiopic.org/pub/fonts/TrueType/gfzemenu.ttf ), in order to view the fidels.

Non-speakers are often disconcerted or astonished by the remarkable similarity of many of the symbols. This is mitigated somewhat because like many Semitic languages, Amharic uses triconsonantal roots in its verb morphology. The upshot of this is that a fluent speaker of Amharic can decipher written text by observing which consonants are noted, with the vowel variants being supplemental detail. (T dmnstrt, "nglsh spkrs cn rd vwllss txt, t!)

Chart of Amharic Fidels
  ä u i a e ə o




Amharic nouns can be primary or derived. A noun like əgər 'foot, leg' is primary, and a noun like əgr-aɲɲa 'pedestrian' is a derived noun.


Amharic nouns can have a masculine or feminine gender. There are several ways to express gender. An example is the old suffix -t for feminity. This suffix is no longer productive and is limited to certain patterns and some isolated nouns. Nouns and adjectives ending in -awi usually take the suffix -t to form the feminine form, e.g. ityop':eya-(a)wi 'Ethiopian (m.)' vs. ityop':eya-wi-t 'Ethiopian (f.)'; sämay-awi 'heavenly (m.) vs. sämay-awi-t 'heavenly (f.)'. This suffix also occurs in nouns and adjective based on the pattern k'et(t)ul, e.g. nəgus 'king' vs. nəgəs-t 'queen' and k'əddus 'holy (m.)' vs. k'əddus-t 'holy (f.)'.

Some nouns and adjectives take a feminine marker -it: lək 'child, boy' vs. lək'-it 'girl'; bäg 'sheep, ram' vs. bäg-it 'ewe'; s'əmagəlle 'senior, elder (m.)' vs. s'əmagəll-it 'old woman'; t'ot'a 'monkey' vs. t'ot'-it 'monkey (f.)'. Some nouns have this feminine marker without having a masculine opposite, e.g. s'ärar-it 'spider', azur-it 'whirlpool, eddy'. There are, however, also nouns having this -it suffix that are treated as masculine: säraw-it 'army', nägar-it 'big drum'.

The feminine gender is not only used to indicate biological gender, but may also be used to express smallness, e.g. bet-it-u 'the little house' (lit. house-FEM-DEF). The feminine marker can also serve to express tenderness or sympathy.

Gender specifiers

Amharic has special words that can be used to indicate the gender of people and animals. For people, wänd is used for masculinity and set for feminity, e.g. wänd lək' 'boy', set lək' 'girl'; wänd hakim 'physician, doctor (m.)', set hakim 'physician, doctor (m.)'. For animals, the words täbat, awra, or wänd (less usual) can be used to indicate masculine gender, and anəst or set to indicate feminine gender. Examples: täbat tə'k'a 'calf (f.)'; awra doro 'cock (rooster)'; set doro 'hen'.


The plural suffix -oc': is used to express plurality of nouns. Some morphophonological alternations occur depending on the final consonant or vowel. For nouns ending in a consonant, plain -oc': is used: bet 'house' becomes bet-oc': 'houses'. For nouns ending in a back vowel (-a, -o, -u), the suffix takes the form -woc':, e.g. wəssa 'dog', wəssa-woc': 'dogs'; käbäro 'drum', käbäro-woc': 'drums'. Nouns that end in a front vowel pluralize using -woc': or -yoc':, e.g. s'ähafi 'scholar', s'ähafi-woc': or s'ähafi-yoc': 'scholars'. Another possibility for nouns ending in a vowel is to delete the vowel and use plain oc':, as in wəss-oc': 'dogs'.

Besides using the normal external plural (-oc':), nouns and adjectives can be pluralized by way of reduplicating one of the radicals. For example, wäyzäro 'lady' can take the normal plural, yielding wäyzär-oc':, but wäyzazər 'ladies' is also found.

Some kinship-terms have two plural forms with a slightly different meaning. For example, wändəmm 'brother' can be pluralized as wändəmm-oc': 'brothers' but also as wändəmamm-ac': 'brothers of each other'. Likewise, əhət 'sister' can be pluralized as əhət-oc': ('sisters'), but also as ətəmm-am-ac': 'sisters of each other'.

In compound words, the plural marker is suffixed to the second noun: betä krəstiyan 'church' (lit. house christians) becomes betä krəstiyan-oc': 'churches'.

Archaic plural forms

Some nouns have preserved old plural forms from Classical Ethiopic (Ge'ez). There are two archaic pluralizing strategies, called external and internal plural. The external plural consists of adding the suffix -an (usually masculine) or -at (usually feminine) to the singular form. The internal plural employs vowel quality or apophony to pluralize words, similar to English man vs. men and goose vs. geese. Sometimes combinations of the two systems are found. The archaic plural forms are not productive anymore, which means that they can not be used to form new plurals.


If a noun is definite or specified, this is expressed by a suffix, the article. In singular forms, this article distinguishes between the male and female gender; in plural forms this distinction is absent. As in the plural, morphophonological alternations occur depending on the final consonant or vowel.


Amharic has various ways to derive nouns from other words or other nouns. One way of nominalizing consists of a form of vowel agreement (similar vowels on similar places) inside the three-radical structures typical of Semitic languages. For example:

There are also several nominalizing suffixes.



Adjectives are words or constructions used to qualify nouns. Adjectives in Amharic can be formed in several ways: they can be based on nominal patterns, or derived from nouns, verbs and other parts of speech. Adjectives can be nominalised by way of suffixing the nominal article (see Nouns above). Amharic has few primary adjectives. Some examples are dägg 'kind, generous', dəda 'mute, dumb, silent', bəc'a 'yellow'.

Formed from nominal patterns

CäCCaC — käbbad 'heavy'; läggas 'generous'
CäC(C)iC — räk'iq 'fine, subtle'; märir 'bitter'; addis 'new'
CäC(C)aCa — säbara 'broken'; tämama 'bent, wrinkled'
CəC(C)əC — bələh 'intelligent, smart'; dəbbək' 'hidden'
CəC(C)uC — kəbur 'worthy, dignified'; t'ək'ur 'black'; k'əddus 'holy'

Formed by denominalizing suffixes

-äɲɲa — hayl-äɲɲa 'powerful' (from hayl 'power'); &x#259;wnät-äɲɲa 'true' (from &x259;wnät 'truth')
-täɲɲa — aläm-täɲɲa 'secular' (from aläm 'world'
-awi — ləb-awi 'intelligent' (from ləb 'heart'); mədr-awi 'earthly' (from mədr 'earth'); haymanot-awi 'religious' (from haymanot 'religion')

With prefix 'from'

yä-kätäma 'urban' (lit. 'from the city'); yä-krəstənna 'christian' (lit. 'of christianity'); yä-wəcät 'wrong' (lit. 'of falsehood')

In the same way, a relative perfectum or imperfectum can be used as an adjective by prefixing :

yä-bässälä 'ripe, done' (lit. 'what has been cooked/prepared'); yä-k'oyyä 'old' (lit. 'what remained'); yä-mmikkättäl 'following' ('that what is following', from tä-kättälä 'to follow'); yä-mmittay 'visible' (let. 'what is seen')

Adjective+Noun complex

The adjective and the noun together are called the 'adjective+noun complex'. In Amharic, the adjective precedes the noun, e.g. kəfu geta (lit. bad master) 'a bad master'; təllək' bet särra (lit. big house he-built) 'he built a big house'. If the adjective+noun complex is definite , the definite article is affixed to the adjective and not to the noun, e.g. təllək'-u bet (lit. big-def house) 'the big house'. In a possessive construction, the adjective takes the definite article and the noun takes the pronominal possessive suffix, e.g. təllək'-u bet-e (lit. big-def house-mine) 'my big house'.

When enumerating adjectives using -nna 'and', both adjectives take the definite article: k'ongo-wa-nna astäway-wa ləg mät':ac: (lit. pleasant-def-and intelligent-def girl came) 'the pleasant and intelligent girl came'. In the case of an indefinite plural adjective+noun complex, the noun is plural and the adjective may be used in singular or in plural from. Thus, 'diligent students' can be rendered təgu tämariwoc: (lit. diligent student-PLUR) or təguwoc': tämariwoc: (lit. diligent-PLUR student-PLUR).


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Last updated: 02-10-2005 20:52:37