Somali Greetings and Introductions

As the clock ticks down on my departure for Somaliland, it’s about time I learned the basics of conversation (some of them, at least). My goal for today is to learn a handful of basic questions and basic answers (and to break down the grammar/vocabulary), which would be useful when meeting and greeting someone new.

As a beginner, I’m working on understanding the mechanics of these phrases, but don’t completely understand how the grammar works on each one. If you can fill in the gaps on one that I don’t seem to fully understand, please leave a comment!

I’ve collected and adapted my “phrasebook” from Hawa Abdillahi Ali’s website, Omniglot, and Joy Carter’s book.

Greetings
Ma nabad baa? = Is it peace? Nabad means “peace.”
Ma shows us that this sentence is a question.
Baa is technically a “focus marker,” but in this context effectively just means “is.”
Nabad miyaa? = Is it peace? Using miyaa is another way to phrase this question.
Miyaa means “is it?”
Waa nabad. = It is peace. Waa means “is.”
Iska waraan? = How’s life? Tell me your news!War means “news.”
Waa la fiicanyahay. = I’m fine.This literally translates to the third person (ie. actually means “it is fine.”)
Ficaan means “fine.”
Yahay is the ending added to an adjective, also effectively meaning “is.”
Introductions
Magacagu waa maxay? = What’s your name?Magaca means “name.”
Magacaga means “your name.”
Magacaga changes to magacagu when it is the subject of the sentence (like it is here).
Waa maxay means “what?”
Magacaygu waa… = My name is…Magacayga (“my name”) changes to magacaygu when it’s the subject.
Shaqadaadu waa maxay? = What is your work?Shaqo means “work.”
Shaqadaada means “your work,” and it changes to shaqadaadu when it’s the subject.
[Macalin] baan ahay. = I am a teacher.Macalin means “teacher” (for example).
Baan ahay means “I am.”
Xagee ka timid? = Where are you from?Xagee means “where?”
… waxaan ka imid = I am from…Waxaan means “I am”
Appreciation
Barasho wanaagsan = Pleased to meet you.Baro means “learn.” Barasho is derived from that, and means “meet/acquaint.”
Wanaagsan means “good.”
Waan ku faraxsanahay inaan halkan joogo. = I’m happy to be here.Joog means “stay” (or be in a place).
Faraxsa means “happy.”
Waan means “I am.”
Halkan means “here.”
Mahadsanid. = Thank you.

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