Gore Vidal's Name
In Amharic and Tigrinya

As far as I know, Vidal's work has not been translated into Amharic (or Amharinya), which is the official language of Ethiopia, spoken there by nearly 30 million people as either a first or second language. Tigrinya - a cousin language to Amharic - is spoken by about 6 million people in Eritrea and parts of Ethiopia. Vidal's name would look the same in each language because both use the Ethiopic alphabet.

Here is how Vidal's name would look in Amharic and Tigrinya:



Amharic is a syllabic language, thus every letter represents a consonant/vowel combination. His first name is easy to transliterate: The first letter represents the sound "go" in Amharic, and the second letter represents an "r" sound with a virtually silent vowel, much like the silent "e" of Vidal's first name in English.

His last name presents a small challenge. There is no "v" sound in Amharic, but the language does use an extra-alphabetic letter to represent the "v" sound in foreign words. That's the first letter above in Vidal's last name. The form of the letter here has a virtually silent vowel, which represents the most common pronunciation of Vidal's last name in English. This Amharic rendering would be pronounced "V-dal" - with a flat or silent vowel after the "v" - rather than "Vee-dal." The last two sounds of his surname are easy: the letter for "da," and the letter for "l" with no vowel sound after it.

If anyone knows of a Vidal work translated into these languages - or if a translator would like to discuss works that might be translated into Amharic or Tigrinya - please contact me. My thanks to Nini Gezachew of Nini's Market in Falls Church, Va., for her help in translating the name.

Go to The Gore Vidal Index

ęCopyright 2006 by
Harry Kloman
University of Pittsburgh