So far I’ve kept to my goal of studying two chapters per week of La soco af soomaaliga and memorizing vocabulary daily with Anki. The book is not organized in a really clear way, and it doesn’t translate all the vocabulary. Fortunately, Google Translate manages Somali (barely) and I found an awesome Somali dictionary app.
I love grammar, by the way. Some polyglots talk about how you shouldn’t spend too much time on grammar. I agree, if you end up obsessing about saying everything correctly. However, when you find grammar a never-ending puzzle of joy, like I do, then it’s a beautiful obsession.
Somali grammar offers all kinds of cool words and grammar points.
- More vowels means longer vowels. In Somali, the length of vowels makes a big difference. For example, ku means “you”, and kuu means “to/for you.”
- There are two different words for “we”. Imagine you’re a teenager and you want to go to a movie with your good friend. You say to your younger sibling, “We’re going to a movie.” Your sibling says, “Yay! What movie are we going to?” You break the news to your sibling saying, “Sorry, WE are going to the movie,” as you point to yourself and your friend. Your sibling understood an “inclusive we“, namely, friend+me+you, but you intended an “exclusive we,” namely, friend+me. Somali has two words for this. The inclusive we is inagu, and the exclusive we is annagu.
- Hooddi. I don’t know another language that has a one-word translation of this word. I’m not sure what this word means literally means, but it’s what you say when you come to someone’s door, kind of like, “Is anyone there?” (If someone can explain the word literally, please do so in the comments.)
- Soo gal. If you know and like the person who said hooddi, then you would follow with this phrase, meaning, “Come in!” Gal means “enter,” and the soo requires a bit more explanation. It is an adverb that can have lots of meanings, but here indicates that the action moves towards the speaker. If anyone knows other verbs that can be used with soo in this way, please leave some more examples in the comments.
- You can use articles on pronouns. If you do so, it makes the pronoun more emphatic. So ani or anaa mean “I”, and anigu or aniga are literally, “the I” meaning an emphatic, “I myself.”
I’m going to be looking soon for a teacher. I got so many good suggestions on my last post; I’ll have to do the hard work to go and find one. I can’t wait to make some new Somali friends, so I’m sure the hard work will offer some great rewards.
How is your language study coming along? Are you keeping to your goals? Did you learn any cool, unique aspects of your language?