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Learn Somali Language: Mugabe Article

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, focus was placed on correcting the major mistakes which may seriously hamper understanding. 

Student submitted text and questions are in red coloured font.

Level: Elementary to Intermediate

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Student-submitted text:

Todobad ka hor, waxaan akhriyay waran BBC Somalia ku saabsan Robert Mugabe, iyo waxaan qabaa sualo kala duwan.

Teacher’s Translation of student-submitted text:

A week ago, I read news from BBC Somali regarding Robert Mugabe and (some) of the different questions I have [regarding this article] 

Excellent sentence! There are a few points I’d like to add:  

Have a look at this:

Todobad ka hor, waxaan akhristay war ka soo baxay BBC-da Soomaaliga ku saabsan Robert Mugabe, iyo su’aalo kala duwan oo aan ka qabaa maqaalkan.

1. Todobad ka hor, waxaan akhristay war ka soo baxay BBC-da Soomaaliga ku saabsan Robert Mugabe, iyo su’aalo kala duwan oo aan ka qabaa maqaalkan.

2. ‘Akhriyay’ is correct. You can also say, ‘akhristay‘ which means  I read [for myself] whereas akhriyay means ‘I read’ but doesn’t say who you read it for.

3. war means news, and  warar is the plural of news. Note that ‘waran’ means spear. Maybe you made a typing error.

4. ka qabaa. Ka is a preposition meaning ‘about’, …what I think about it. E.g., ‘Maxaad ka qabtaa dagaalka Suuriya?” What do you think about the Syrian war?’

Student-submitted text:

There were a few questions about specific quotes:

1.) Inkastoo xilka laga tuuray, weli dhaqaalaha muusan soo hagaagin, welina waxaa jiro kacdoonno ka dhan ah dhaqaale xumada oo shacabka ay sameynayaan.

Does the second part mean something like “there are still demonstrations that the citizens are doing to protest the bad economy?”

1. Yes. It means that there are demonstrations against the recession/failing economy.

Does the phrase “ka dhan” mean something against or opposed to?

Yes. ‘ka dhan ah’ it’s important to add ‘ah’ – a form of the verb ‘to be’ (yahay).

For example,

‘Nin dheer ah’ means ‘A tall man’ (literal meaning is ‘A man who is tall’.

Similarly, ‘Koob shaah ah’ means ‘A cup of tea’ (literal meaning is ‘A cup which is tea.’).

And, ‘kiilo sonkor ah’ meaning ‘A kilo of sugar’ (lit. meaning ‘A kilo which is sugar’. Does that make sense?

Note that a relative clause is being used in all of these examples.

Secondly, note that the ‘ah’ is derived from the verb ‘to be’ ‘yahay’.

Now, ‘yahay’ consists of 5 letters y-a-h-a-y.

If you delete the first letter and the fourth and fifth letters all that remains is ‘ah’.

And, so we get for example ‘Koob shaah ah’, etc.

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