If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have noticed that I’m behind. Today is Day 18 (or it should be, rather), and I haven’t posted vocabulary since Day 14. This isn’t a fluke of blogging — I haven’t learned any vocabulary in those four days, either. Life has (strangely enough) been busy, with a trip into Hargeisa, lots of work meetings, and seemingly not enough hours to sit and study.
But beyond a busy schedule, I’ve realized that 22 words per day is simply too much for me. I’ve genuinely committed most of the words to memory, but the constant barrage of so many words every day means that I am oftentimes catching up and reviewing words a few days later, because I just can’t seem to remember 22 new words per day, every single day. Perhaps that’s because I’m not picking the best words, or it’s because I haven’t yet found the greatest study method, but 22 words per day (every day!) has proven to be a LOT.
So, here’s the new game plan: this will remain the 22 WPD Challenge, but I won’t be doing it every day. Whatever that means for the semantics of the exercise… well, just forgive the inaccuracy in titling. I’m still studying Somali, still learning new vocabulary, but maintaining this pace has proven a bit too much. Perhaps I’ll work up to it.
In any case, the new challenge is going to be seeing how many days I can complete within 180 days. If I learn 25 days’ worth of vocabulary? Great. If I learn 100 days’ worth of vocabulary? Even better. Regardless, the standard I’m setting for myself in this challenge is no longer perfection. The goal is not to do every day without fail, but rather to just do my best.
Always good to end a blog post with a cliché, right?
In a previous post, I learned vocabulary for foods, mostly fruits and vegetables. Today, I’ll be expanding my repertoire to include other words related to food, such as kitchen items, flavours, and dishes.
cup = bakeeri/koob
fork = farogeeto
spoon = malqacad
knife = mindi
plate = bilaydh/saxan
spicy = besbaas
bad = xun
sweet = macaan
bland = bilaa-dhadhan
egg (from a chicken) = beed/ukun (plural = ukumo)
egg (generally) = ugax (plural = ugxan)
flour = daqiiq
honey = malab
oil = saliid
salt = cusbo
loows = peanuts
cinnamon = qorfe
spices = xawaash
ice = baraf
juice = casiir
wheat = sarreen
stew = sanuunad
Voila — 22 more words! See you again here tomorrow!
Today was the first day I could actually use my Somali to express something for a given situation, which was quite exciting for me! Granted, it was simply to ask whether the juice had milk in it, but it still counts!
That being said, the word I wanted to use but didn’t know was for “daughter,” so today’s vocabulary is going to address that gap: family words!
Gendered Family Words
mother = hooyo
father = aabbe
grandmother = ayeeyo
grandfather = awoowe
daughter = gabadh
son = wiil
woman/wife = naag
man/husband = nin
aunt = eeddo
uncle = adeer
More Family Words
person = qof (people = dad)
child = ilmo (children = carruur)
brother/sister = walaal
cousin = ina-abti
twins = mataano
immediate family = qoys extended family = reer
family ties = xiddid qabiil = clan tol = geneology
In this post, we’re going to go through the present tense conjugation, and then do some practice with it.
Conjugating the Present Tense
The present tense in Somali is quite straightforward. You’re just going to take the verb and add suffixes, depending on who the subject is.
verb ends in consonant
verb ends in I or EE
verb ends in “consonant-consonant-O”(drop the O)
verb ends in “vowel-consonant-O”(drop the O)
This table shows the suffixes added in the present tense, depending on the subject.
Overall, we can notice the following patterns:
When the subject is either “you” (waad) or “she” (way), the suffix starts with /t/.
When the subject is plural, the suffix includes /n/. The /n/ comes at the beginning of the “we” (waannu/weynu) suffix, and at the end of the “you all” (waad) and “they” (wey) suffixes.
The first two columns are very similar, with the following differences:
The /+aa/ suffix changes to /+yaa/ when the verb ends in I or EE. This is already how we pronounce that “i+aa” sound, so just remember to actually write in that /y/.
The /+taa/ suffix changes to /+saan/ when the verb ends in I or EE.
The last two columns get a bit more complicated, but the general idea (especially with /n/ in plural suffixes) remains. That being said, there are some exceptions and irregularities, so consider the above table as a general rule.
Work, work, work, work, work! It’s a constant topic, in any language. Knowing the words to describe different careers is incredibly useful, whether during introductions or discussions.
Vocabulary words to describe different careers in Af-Soomaali
As a language learner, it’s a good idea to think about how to use vocabulary words in a sentence (eventually, if not yet). For example, career vocabulary is great for a beginning language-learner, because it can be used in grammatically simple sentences such as “I am a _____” or “she is a _____.” In that vein, here are two useful/related phrases.
What do you do for work? (literally “what is your job?”)
Waa maxay shaqadaadu?
I am a….
… baan ahay.
Phrases to ask and answer about careers during introductions
Today, I’m going to focus on learning some basic animals and insects in Somali. I don’t usually bring up animals in conversations, but when you’re learning a language in a rural area, people often like to point to animals and quiz you on them. It’s already happened to me twice, so I figure it’s time I knuckle down and learn these.
faras = horse
ri = goat
dameer = donkey
libaax = lion
ido = sheep
ey = dog
yey = wild dog
jiir = mouse
geel = camel
qorrato = lizard
shimbir = bird
bisad = cat
qudhaanjo = ant
shinni = bee
kalluun = fish
mas = snake
kaneeco = mosquito
caaro = spider
maroodi = elephant
balanbaalis = butterfly
baranbaro = cockroach
aboor = termite
Once I went through all these words with a Somali speaker (what a gift!), I drew little pictures for each one to review. My artistic standards have fallen since Day 1, where I was creating these colorful home decor items, but these sketches worked just fine for today’s purposes (and I’m not planning on hanging them on the walls). In any case, sketches are still a great way to stop translating, and start associating a word with what it means directly.
Whelp, that’s Day 10 in the books, bringing my official grand total for this challenge to 220 words — wild! Plus, now that I’m here, there are so many words just thrown at me that haven’t made it into these pages yet… plenty of review to do!
In a previous post, I wrote about subject pronouns, in the “declarative” (sentence) sense. Of course, a conversation usually consists of both sentences (declarative) and questions (interrogative). So, today will be about the interrogative, so that we can start putting together small conversations.
Here’s a table showing pronouns, the declarative marker, and the interrogative marker for each person. Just like the declarative marker is formed as “waa+suffix,” the interrogative marker is formed as “ma+suffix.” That being said, it comes out looking like “miy+suffix.”
Forming the Interrogative
DECLARATIVE (with complement)
ma+aan = miyaan
ma+aad = miyaad
ma+uu = miyuu
ma+ay = miyay
ma+aannu = miyaannu
ma+aynu = miyaynu
ma+aydin = miyaydin
ma+ay = miyay
Using the Interrogative
Note: the rest of this post assumes you’re already familiar with the simple past tense (positive). If you need a refresher, click here for the post about the past tense.
Okay, let’s leave the jargon behind. These “ma” words are used similarly to the English question word “do.” Yes/no questions which would begin with “do” in English begin with these “ma+suffix” participles (words) in Somali.
Did you eat lunch? Qado miyaad cuntay?
Yes, I ate lunch. Haa, qado waxaan cunay.
Did you sleep? Miyaad seexatay?
Yes, I slept. Haa, waan seextay.
Did you (all) arrive? Miyaydin gaadhteen?
Yes, we arrived. Haa, waannu gadhnay.
Did they go to Somaliland? Somaliland miyay tageen?
Yes, they went to Somaliland. Haa, Somaliland waxay tageen.
Did you (all) drink tea? Shaah miyaydin cabteen?
Yes, we drank tea. Haa, shaah waxaannu cabteen.
Did he enter the house? Guriga miyuu galay?
Yes, he entered the house. Haa, guriga waxuu galay.
Did she bring breakfast? Quraac miyay keentay?
Yes, she brought breakfast. Haa, quraac waxay keentay.
Reminder: I am a language-learner, and am very open to any corrections! Please comment if you see any errors!
Obviously, there aren’t any “no” answers so far — I haven’t learned the negative version of the past tense yes, but I’ll be sure to share when I do!
I am in Somaliland! Travel went smoothly, and now I’m getting settled in. I’ve realised already that because my work context is in English (compared to Ethiopia, where it was in Amharic), I’m going to have to go out of my way to practice and use Somali on a daily basis. Of course, that’s my plan — I can’t imagine spending a year here and not continuing to study and learn Somali!
In any case, I think the next set of useful vocabulary will be about daily routines. I’ve learned how to conjugate the past tense for most verbs, so I’m going to try and learn vocabulary which can be useful (in connection with that).
eat (verb) = cun
breakfast (verb/noun) = quraac
lunch (noun) = qado
dinner (noun) = casho
clean (verb) = nadifiin
work (noun) = shaqo
work (verb) = shaq
make (verb) = samee
read (verb) = akhri
write (verb) = qor
tea (noun) = shaah
flatbread (noun) = laxoox
bring (verb) = keen
arrive/reach (verb) = gaadh
be quiet (verb) = aammus
then = dabadeedna
teach (verb) = bar
learn (verb) = baro
take (verb) = qaad
be sick (verb) = bug
now = imminka
talk = hadal
Ta-da! Hopefully those will help me communicate about my daily routine, and things that I did.