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Learn Somali Language: Introductions

Transforming access to Somali language education

This lesson is a presentation of one of my Somali grammar lessons. Learning grammar offers learners the means for potentially limitless linguistic creativity. And for this reason alone, I feel it’s important to learn as much one can.

The lesson was conducted via email between some of my students and myself (the teacher). Both the format and the content of each lesson was suggested by the students. The students would either submit a text they had written in Somali or they would submit texts from novels or news articles and ask questions regarding the grammatical structure.

Although, many aspects of Somali grammar, vocabulary, and culture are dealt with in each lesson, special emphasis is placed upon basic Somali grammar, i.e., the parts of speech. Furthermore, the focus of these lessons was not to correct every single mistake but only correcting the major mistakes which may seriously hamper understanding. 

Student submitted text and questions are in red coloured font.

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

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Student-submitted text:

Waxaan ku qorayaa warqad gaaban. Ugu horeya, waxaan rabaa inaan ku sheegaa wax yar ku saabsan nafteyda. Hadda waxaan ku noolaa Bristol , laakiin Faransiis waan ku dhaashay. Qoyskaaga Rushka iska tagnay 1993. Hadda magalladeyda waxaa jiraa qof badan oo Somalia ka timid. Sidaas darteed waxaan rabaa inaan ku barto wax yar af-somali. Hadda shaqeynayaa librariga. Adiguna? Wax yar ii qori kartaa naftaada?

Teacher’s Translation of student-submitted text:

I am writing a short letter to you. Firstly, I would like to tell you something (little) about myself. Now I live in Bristol, but I was born in France. My family left France in 1993. Right now, there are many Somalis living in the city. So for that (reason) I want to learn a little Somali. Now I work in a library. And you? Can you write a little about yourself?

1. Well done. Good attempt. I understood exactly what you meant and native Somali speakers would have no problem understanding your paragraph either.

2. Waxaan ku qorayaa warqad gaaban.

Add the word soo which indicates that the letter is coming from you. 

Note that there is a preposition ‘u – to’ added to the pronoun ‘ku – you’ I am writing to you… Adding the pronoun and  preposition together we get  ku + u = kuu.

So the correct form would be

‘Waxaan kuu soo qorayaa warqad gaaban..’

3. Ugu horeya is very close. You could say ugu horeynta (firstly) as it’s correct. But, the majority of Somalis prefer to use ‘marka hore‘ firstly, and then ‘marka xiga’ ‘next’

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