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Somali phrasebook

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Somali (Af Soomaali) 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 French rouge
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 native speaker, note how it changes the vowel 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. Although 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]


iska warran
How are you? 
sidee tahay?
Fine, thanks, and you? 
waan wanaagsanahay, mahadsanid, adiguna?
What is your name? 
magacaa (maga'aa)
My name is ______ . 
magacay waa ___ (MAHGA-ay waa _____ .)
Nice to meet you. 
kulanti wanaagsan
fadlan (FAHD-lahn)
Thank you. 
mahadsanid (me-HAD SEN-eed)
You're welcome. 
adaa mudan ( )
haa (HAAH)
maya (m-AY-ah)
Excuse me. (getting attention
iga raali ahow ( )
Excuse me. (begging pardon
. ( )
I'm sorry. 
. (Raali ahow/noqo )
nabad galyo (na-bad GEHL-you)
Goodbye (informal
. ( )
I can't speak Somali [well]. 
[ ]. ( [])
Do you speak English? 
Ingiriis ma ku hadasha?
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
Qof ingiriiska kuhadla majooga halkan ?
Help me! 
I caawi ! ( !)
Look out! 
iska jir
Good morning. 
subax wanaagsan (sohb-AH wan-ax-sen)
Good afternoon 
Galab wanaagsan
Good evening. 
Fiidnimo wanaagsan
Good night. 
habeen wanaagsan (ha-BEAN wan-ax-sen)
Good night (to sleep
. (Habeen wanaagsan )
I don't understand you!. 
Kuma fahmin adiga !
Where is the toilet? 
musqusha/Suuliga aawey?



0 - eber

1 - hal/kow

2 - labo

3 - saddex

4 - afar

5 - shan

6 - lix

7 - toddobo

8 - sideed

9 - sagaal

10 - toban

11- kow iyo toban

12- labo iyo toban

20 - labaatan

21 - kow iyo labaatan

30 - soddon

40 - afarton

50 - konton

60 - lixdan

70 - toddobaatan

80 - siddeetan

90 - sagaashan

100 - boqol

200 - labo-boqol

1000 - kun

5000 - Shan- kun

10000 - toban-kun

100000 - boqol-kun

500000 - Shan boqolo - kun

1000000 - milyen

1000000000 - bilyan


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 =Bilkowaad/Toddob/janaayo

February =Xigto/Fuushane/febraayo

March =saddexa/Gu'soor/maarso

Abril =Abraar/Samuulad/Abriil

May = Riyaale/Dirir/meey

Jun =Idaale/Diracgood/juun

July =carfoon/luuliyo/laxadhaqe/julaayo

August = kutuba/samalaho/Agoosto

Septembar =dhaafa/kalahaan/sebteenbar

OCtobar = nasteexo/Dambarsame/oktoober

November =Asli/Balqaad/nofeenbar

December =Cifadda/lixkor/Diseenbar.

Writing time and date[edit]


White- Cadaan (A-daan) Black- Madow Green- Cagar (Agar) Red- Gadud Yellow- Jale Blue- Baluug Pink- Basali

===Transportation=== Gaadiid

====Bus and train==== Gaadiid Dadweyne iyo Tareenka


North = Waqooyi          
South = Koonfur 
West  = Galbeed
East  = Bari




Money = Lacag / beeso Dollar = Doolar Euro = Yuuro/Yuurow Frank = Farank


Eat /Cun --Wash/Dhaq your hands/gacmahaaga-- Breakfast = Quraac/Qureec === Lunch = Qado === Dinner = Casho ===





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