Somali Calendar Vocabulary

Today’s post is going to be words related to the calendar. We’ll start with the days of the week, and then do the months of the year, and then do some miscellaneous (related) words.

Part 1: Days of the Week

Days of the week (maalmaha, literally “the days” in Somali) are incredibly useful when learning a new language. Even if you know very little else, you can communicate scheduling something with someone by simply saying, “Thursday, we, here, lunch” — but if you don’t know the word for Thursday, good luck!

Days of the Week in Somali

  1. Axad — Sunday
  2. Isniin — Monday
  3. Talaada — Tuesday
  4. Arbaca — Wednesday
  5. Khamiis — Thursday
  6. Jimce — Friday
  7. Sabti — Saturday

How To Pronounce These Words?

Never fear, I’ve found an exciting way to learn to pronounce these words! Check out this children’s music video, in Somali!

Sidebar: Why I like this video as a language-learning tool?

  1. It’s very visual, and has the days of the week (our target vocabulary words) both written in the video itself and in the subtitles. That makes it really easy to follow, and gives us the “double review” of both seeing and hearing the vocabulary word at the same time.
  2. I also really like that it’s more than just a list of the vocabulary words. Hearing the vocabulary words mixed into other sentences helps my brain get used to hearing Somali and picking out words I can understand from a full sentence.

Memory Tricks To Remember These Words

Finally, to cement these words into my brain, I’m going to think about each word, connect it with things I already know (oftentimes Arabic words), and add in some (weird) memory tricks for myself. Feel free to ignore my memory tricks and make your own — going through this process of thinking about the word and inventing such tricks is a GREAT study method.

Axad (Sunday)

  • Derived from the Arabic for “one” (واحد), as Sunday (الأحد, in Arabic) is generally considered to be the first day in the Islamic week.
  • I’ll remember it because Sunday is the first day of the work week in the Muslim world, and “Axad” sounds like the groan someone might make while getting out of bed to go to work.

Isniin (Monday)

  • Derived from the Arabic words for “two” (اثنين) and “Monday” (الاثنين).
  • I’ll remember it by thinking of the song “Manic Monday,” and changing the lyrics — “just another isniin, whoa-oa…”

Talaada (Tuesday)

  • Derived from Arabic words for “three” (ثلاثة) and “Tuesday” (الثلاثاء).
  • I’ll remember it because it has the same syllable structure as the Arabic, with different consonant sounds. So, I’ll think in my head, “I told you, it’s talaada!” (because the consonants are T-L-D, just like in “TOLD”).

Arbaca (Wednesday)

  • Derived from Arabic words for “four” (أربعة) and “Wednesday” (الأربعاء).
  • I’ll remember it because this is the sound I associate with the idea of 2pm on “humpday” — “arrrrrr-baaaa3333aaa!” Furthermore, humpday reminds me of camels, and Bactrian is a type of camel, and “Bactrian” and “Arbaca” have several of the same letters? My brain is strange.

Khamiis (Thursday)

  • Derived from Arabic words for “five” (خمسة) and “Thursday” (الخميس).
  • I’ve also seen this word spelled as “qamiis” (Somali spelling isn’t completely standardized), both of which spellings also mean “robe.” Because similar words for “robe” are common in several languages, I’ll remember this word because Thursday is the end of the workweek, and then you can go get dressed up for dinner on Thursday night!

Jimce (Friday)

  • Derived from the Arabic word for “Friday” (الجمعة).
  • I’ll remember this one because of the idea of “Friday prayers,” which I’ve known as “صلاة الجمعة” since my time in Jordan, so the association of this word/sound with Friday is already strong in my head. 

Sabti (Saturday)

  • Derived from the Arabic words for “seven” (سبعة) and “Saturday” (السبت). 
  • I’ll remember this one because it’s so similar to English — they both start with SA, unlike any other days.

Ta-da, there we go! Now, I’ve got all these words glued into my brain: Axad, Isniin, Talaada, Arbaca, Khamiis, Jimce, Sabti! Whoo-hoo! Happy studying!

Part 2: Months of the Year

From what I’ve seen, Somali months of the year are expressed with words adapted from English, so this should be fairly straightforward.

  1. January = Jeenawery/Janaayo
  2. February = Feebarwery/Febraayo
  3. March = Maarij/Maarso
  4. April = Abriil
  5. May = Meey/Maajo
  6. June = Juun
  7. July = Juulaay/Luulyo
  8. August = Ogos/Agoosto
  9. September = Sibtambar/Sebtember
  10. October = Oktoobar
  11. November = Noofembar
  12. December = Diisembar

Now, I know it seems a little strange to “learn” words which are cognates, but I think it’s still important to know them. I want to be able to recognize these words, and not have them catch me off guard when pronounced differently (and I want to be able to pronounce them in a way that others will also understand).

That being said, my “study method” for words like this is pretty much to just look them over. I don’t need a huge study session to nail these down.

Part 3: Miscellaneous “Calendar” Vocabulary

Finally, let’s wrap it up with a few “miscellaneous” words related to calendars and days. Since we’ve got the days of the week (7 words) and the months of the year (12 words), we really only need 3 more words to hit our 22 words for the day. But, since the months of the year are so straightforward, I’m going to include seven more words, bringing our total for today to (gasp) 26 words.

Look at us, doing extra credit! Anyways…

  1. day = maalin
  2. week = toddobaad
  3. month = bil
  4. year = sano
  5. today = maanta
  6. tomorrow = berri
  7. yesterday = shalay

To learn these words, we’re going to do a few more quick memory tricks, like we did for the days of the week. Forgive me for the strange ways that my brain works…

  1. maalin (day): Easy to remember because the word for teacher is “macalin,” and these are strangely similar
  2. toddobaad (week): Very similar to toddoba, the word for “seven” (because, you know, seven days in a week)
  3. bil (month): My trick to remember this one: “I used to pay my bills on a monthly basis.”
  4. sano (year): quite similar to the Spanish word for year, año
  5. maanta (today): My memory trick: “I’m going to see my aunt maanta.”
  6. berri (tomorrow): I used to always think that the mulberry tree would be ready “soon,” so that’s a good way for me to remember that it’s tomorrow… we’ll eat berries tomorrow!
  7. shalay (yesterday): I think of the phrase “sashay away,” and that makes me think of the past tense, like shalay is just sashaying away.

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