Week 17 of Loving Somali: And…or…and…

I had no idea that conjunctions could be complicated.

Before that, though, I need to relate my big accomplishment this week…

Studying Somali means learning grammar and vocabulary while eating Sambuas
Studying Somali means learning grammar and vocabulary while eating Sambuas

My big accomplishment was on New Year’s Day. I went for tea and sambusas at the Somali restaurant in my my area. I spoke nearly the whole time in Somali. The cook/cashier was wonderful! He accommodated me so kindly. When he counted out my change, he enumerated the denominations slowly: toban “ten”, shan “five”, laba “two.” (Yes, a sambusa and a tea cost under three dollars!) I asked if they had meat or fish, and when I forgot “fish” (kalluun), both he and the man behind me in line refreshed my memory.

Later, I had to buy some flat bread, and sure enough, the guys working at the halal market were Somali. I got to have a short chat with them, too.

I’m so happy I had the chance to speak some real Somali, even if it’s only some counting and restaurant-ordering.

Now, back to grammar…

In last week’s correspondence with my Somali teacher, he wrote, “Sanad cusub oo farxad-badan!” which means, “Very happy New Year.” Word-for-word I read, “Year new ?? happy-very”; I didn’t know what oo meant. My teacher explained that oo means “and” for adjectives. It ends up, one uses it for verbs, too. I already had learned that iyo means “and,” but now I see that iyo is only used to join nouns. So the greeting literally means, “Very happy and new year!”

I noticed in my other book, Colloquial Somali, that another conjunction exists for joining clauses: the suffix -na. So Laybrerrigase waan tegey buugna waan ka keenay means “I went to the library and I brought a book from there.” While the above conjunctions work for adjectives and verbs vs. nouns, this one works for clauses.

(NB: Suffixed conjunctions are not isolated to Somali. Latin used the suffix -que as a conjunction for nouns.)

This phenomenon intrigued me; are there any more surprises lying with Somali conjunctions? I looked at the best grammar summary I own for Somali, Somali Grammar Revision.

While this looks like the extent of conjunctional complications, I found that disjunctions (“or”) can be just as tough. There are two words for “or.” The word ama is for indicative clauses, both positive or negative; the word mise is for interrogative clauses, positive and negative, for example, Ma hilib baad cuntay mise kalluun? “Have you eaten meat or fish?”

Thus Somali has more than one “and” and more than one “or,” but they differ on different points. One depends on part of speech; the other depends on sentential mood.

Regarding my progress in Somali written work this week, unfortunately with the holidays, I only finished one chapter of homework over the past couple weeks. I didn’t catch up this weekend, either. While I did Anki flash cards nearly every day, I didn’t do many exercises. I hope to do more this upcoming week.

What did you find out about the grammar of your language this week?How does your language express conjunctions?

Were you able to get much done on your language over the holidays?

Photo credit: Bill.Roehl / IWoman / CC BY-NC-ND


7 thoughts on “Week 17 of Loving Somali: And…or…and…

  1. Love your restaurant story : ) You’re such an inspiration, seeking out all these little ways to bring the exotic into regular daily life. I’d imagine it takes a lot of courage and intent, but the reward is worth it!

    I haven’t been studying much lately but I have been speaking my languages at work. On NYE we watched half of the traditional movie of the season- The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! Did your Russian studies ever lead you to that film? I’d been wanting to watch it for years, but everyone around was like “Oh, I can’t, I’ve seen it twenty bajillion times!” until finally there were enough newbies in the crowd to merit a viewing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think compulsion overcomes any fear I might have. “Oh look! I could speak Somali over there…” I once took an extra lap around the grocery store, just to see if there were any Somalis around. It occurred to me that that was creepy, so I just went home.

      Regarding, “Ирония судьбы,” I first saw it in a film class in college. My Russian instructor took it upon herself to teach us Soviet/Russian pop culture. So we watched several must-see films and had to learn the lyrics of the famous singer Okudzhava. That was one of the films, in addition to “Oblomov” and “Unfinished Piece for Mechanical Piano” and others.

      The fact that I could speak about these films was a huge plus in Ukraine. I’m glad you could finally see it!

      Liked by 1 person

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