Somali Food Vocabulary

While nobody likes cramming vocabulary, it’s rather essential in the early phases of language learning. Learning a language is like being a panicked alligator, intent on eating as many fish as possible. Any vocabulary word you see — grab it, chomp it, learn it, keep it. 

This post has two parts. First, today’s vocabulary list. Second (and this is the fun part), we’re going to review the vocabulary today with GAMES!

The Vocabulary

Let’s learn some vocab! Here’s the list of the Somali and English words, plus some comparisons with other languages. I find that identifying cognates and similar words across languages I’ve already studied helps make a foreign language immediately less “foreign.” For Somali, that means a lot of comparisons with Arabic.

tufaaxappleSimilar to the Arabic word for apple, تفاح
muusbananaSimilar to the Amharic word for banana, ሙዝ (or the Arabic موز)
qarre/xabxabwatermelonXabxab is very similar to the Amharic word for watermelon, ሐብሐብ.
basalonionSimilar to the Arabic word for onion, بصلة
baradhopotatoNot completely similar, but you can see the connection to the sounds of “potato” or البطاطس (Arabic), knowing that Somali (and Arabic) replace /p/ with /b/ sounds.
yaanyo/nyaanyotomatoSimilar to the Swahili word for tomato, nyanya.
cananaaspineappleSimilar to “pineapple” in many languages, such as አናናስ (Amharic), أناناس (Arabic), ananas (French/German), nanasi (Swahili), etc.
kaabashcabbageSimilar to the English word for cabbage… you know, cabbage.
rootibreadSimilar to the Indian bread, commonly written in English as “roti.”
caanomilkDon’t get confused with Arabic on this one — the Arabic word for milk is حليب (“halib”), but hilib in Somali means meat.
subagbutterCan see some connection with the Arabic word for butter, زبدة.
qaxwo/buncoffeeSimilar to قهوة (Arabic) or bun/buna (various Ethiopian languages).
hilibmeatDon’t get confused (see the note by caano/milk).
digaagchickenSimilar to the Arabic word for chicken, دجاج (pronounced with the Egyptian /G/).

For pronunciation, here’s a great video which pronounces a lot of food vocabulary (fruits and vegetables) very clearly (with even more words than I’ve included here)!

As promised… vocabulary review games!

Now, I want to take a moment to warn you: the games aren’t going to exactly match my vocabulary list — and that’s not a bad thing. I think it’s good, when learning a language, to be open to additional vocabulary words (even if they’re not your target words for the day). Sometimes, when you’re studying a list of words a little too closely, you get wrapped up in them, and almost learn them as though they’re just one big word. Throwing in a few random words here and there helps break up the words in your mind. Or my mind, rather (I’m not sure what happens in your mind).

Okay, I may have over-hyped this: there are only two games that I found… but they’re great! If you find any more, let me know! These were great practice, in any case.

  1. Digital Dialects: Fruit and Vegetable Review (has both flashcards, and a game where the word appears, and you click on the food which matches)
  2. Sporcle: Find Somali Food (given the word, click on the image of the food)

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