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Somali phrasebook

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Somali is the official language of the Eastern African country Somalia.

Pronunciation Guide[edit]


as in pat if short (a) but as in father if long (aa)
as in pet if short (e) but as in paid if long (ee)
as in sit if short (i) but as in seat if long (ii)
as in cot if short (o) but as in coat if long (oo)
as in put if short (u) but as in shoot if long (uu)

Note that the general difference in length of vowels is important because otherwise words could get mixed up and it could end up in great confusion.


as in box
as in dog
as in get
as in hat
as in jet
as in kick
as in let
as in mat
as in net
rolled as in the Spanish rojas
as in sit
as in shut
as in ten
as in well
as in yet

Note that the 'doubling' of consonants is also very important not to get confused. A doubled consonant is pronounced in both syllables whereas a single consonant is pronounced in one syllable.

Also note the following complicated pronunciations.

Can be viewed as flapped d or r depending on the speaker - either way you'll get it right. Set your mouth to pronounce as normal d or r, but then curl your tongue right up so that the bottom touches the top part of your mouth. As you try you'll fell your tongue flapping forward.
It's more of an emphantic version of h. Take the exhaling sound you make when you've just burnt your mouth after taking a sip of boiling hot soup, push it right back into the very back of your mouth, making sure your tongue also goes back and that should be a good approximation.
If you follow the same pronunciation rules for x, with the tongue and back of the mouth all pressed up against the back of the throat then simply change the hiss of the h to a sound using your vocal cords. If you're then sounding if you being choked then that's it. Hint: Think of c as a vowel modifier and if listening to a natie speaker, note how it changes thevowel in its vicinity 'pharyngealized' the vowel, sending half the sound up the nose.
It's pronounced like a k but right back in the mouth at the throat end, in the same area as c and x. Imagine you've got a marble in the back of the throat and that you're bouncing it using only the glottis and make a k sound at the same time.
It's the rasping ch in Scottish loch and German ach. It's also pronounced like the Spanish jota.
It's what's called the glottal stop. You simply close the glottis at the very back of the mouth/top of throat, and then release the built-up air. The result is a light uh sound with a very slight grunt just before it. Althought it's not written, it occurs in the conversational speech of nearly all English speakers, being most noticeable in the pronunciation of words like bottle as 'bo'el' by many Londoners

Phrase List[edit]


salaam alaykum
How are you? 
sidee tahay?
Fine, thanks, and you? 
waan wanaagsanahay, mahadsanid, adiguna?
What is your name? 
magacaa? (maga'aa)
My name is _______ . 
magacaygu waa _____
Nice to meet you. 
Kulanti wanaagsan / Barasho wanagsan.
fadlan (FAD-lan)
Thank you. 
mahadsanid (maHAD SaNid)
You're welcome. 
adaa mudan ( )
haa (HAAH)
maya (maYa)
Excuse me. (getting attention
iga raali ahow ( )
I beg you. (begging pardon
. (waan-kuu bar'ee yaa )
I'm sorry. 
. raali ahow / qaan ku xumahay.
nabad galyo (nabad GELyo)
Goodbye (informal
Macasalaama. ( )
I can't speak name of language [well]. 
"Af Soomaali" kuma hadli kari. ["Af Soomali" si fiican uguma hadli kari]. ( [ ])
Do you speak English? 
(Ingiriis ma ku hadasha?
Is there someone here who can speak English? 
Qof Ingiriis ku hadlikara halkan ma jooga?
i caawi !
Look out! 
iska jir
Good morning. 
subax wanaagsan (subax wanagsen)
Good afternoon 
Galab wanaagsan
Good evening. 
Fiid wanaagsan
Good night. 
habeen wanaagsan (ha-BEN wanaagsen)
Good night, I am going to sleep 
habeyn wanagsan, waan seexanaya.
I don't understand. 
ma ku fahmin / kuma fahmin
Where is the toilet? 
musqusha / suuliga aawey?



0 - eber

1 - hal/kow/mid/xabbad - you can watch this video to help you with understanding their proper usage "Baro tirada Afsoomaali: Introduction to Somali Numbers - Hooyo Somali"

2 - labo/laba (they have the same meaning)

3 - saddex

4 - afar

5 - shan

6 - lix

7 - toddobo

8 - sideed

9 - sagaal

10 - toban

(In the word form of numbers from 11 to 99 can be said by saying the tens unit first or the ones unit. For example, "kow iyo toban" or "toban iyo kow" both mean "eleven". In the same vein, "afar iyo labaatan" and "labaatan iyo afar" both mean 24. But beware, while both are used the "TENS and ONES" format is much more common in numbers about 20.)

11- kow iyo toban

12- labo iyo toban

20 - labaatan

30 - soddon

40 - afartan

50 - konton

60 - lixdan

70 - toddobaatan

80 - siddeetan

90 - sagaashan

100 - boqol

200 - labo-boqol

1000 - kun

9000 - sagialo-kun

10000 - toban-kun

100000 - boqol-kun

1000000 - milyoon


Morning- Subax 10-11AM- Barqo Afternoon- Duhur Evening- Casar Sunset- Maqrib Evening: fiid Night- Habeen 8-10PM- Cisha Midnight- Saqdadhaxe Early Morning (5-6 AM)- Anoor


Monday- Isnin Tuesday- Talado Wednesday- Arbaco Thursday- Qamis Friday- Jamco Saturday- Sabti Sunday- Axad


January - Bisha Koobad, February- Bisha Labaad, March- Bisha Saddexaad, April- Bisha Afraad, May- Bisha Shanaad, June- Bisha Lixaad, July- Bisha Todobaad, August- Bisha Sideedaad, September- Bisha Sagaalaad, October- Bisha Tobnaad, November- Bisha Kow iyo Tobnaad, December- Bisha Laba iyo Tobnaad

Writing time and date[edit]

AM- SN (Subaax Nimo), PM- GN (Galab Nimo)


White- Cad (Aad) Black- Madow Green- Cagar (Agar) Red- Casaan/Guduud Yellow- Jale/Jalo Blue- Baluug Pink- Basali

===Transportation=== Gaadiid

====Bus and train==== Gaadiid Dadweyne iyo Tareen


Bidix [Bidih] - Left Midig - Right




Lacag (La'ag)

===Eating‏ ‏CUN <CUNID>





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