Somaliland: Arabic Loan Verbs Have Enriched the Somali language

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By Liban Ahmad200 Arabic loan verbs in somali

Somalilandsun – Like many languages the Somali language has borrowed words from the Arabic language.

Although Somali is not in the same language group as Arabic language’s, geographic proximity and Islam have made borrowing from Arabic possible for Somalis.

Arabic loan verbs in Somali have followed three of the patterns identified by linguists:

1-Verbs have been imported from Arabic and adapted to the conjugation groups for spelling and pronunciation.

2- There are composite Arabic loan verbs made up of an Arabic noun and a Somali verb. Since it is the Arabic noun that made the use of the Somali verb possible ( i.e. partial substation), this book calls this type of verb an Arabic loan verb.

3- Somalis have coined Arabic loan verbs such as bismillee (to taste something –from bismillah, meaning ‘in the name of Allah’).

200 Arabic loan verbs in somaliAll Arabic loan verbs in Somali are regular verbs. Since Arabic loan verbs in Somali are from Arabic nouns and verbs Arabic language speakers may be able to figure out the meaning of many loan verbs. Somali Arabic loan verbs such as feker translated into English as ‘to think’, does not mean the same as malee ‘to think’ as in waxaan u malaynayaa in…”( I think that…) Somalis use the verb feker in a more abstract sense e.g. Waan fekerayaa ( I am worrying/ contemplating ) or Waan ka fekeri doonaa ( I will think about it).

Some of the Arabic loan verbs Somalis have coined:

Allayso : to die

Bunayso: to have fried coffee bean with cooked beans.

Dowladee: ( Of clans) to act like or pretend to be a government.

Macasalaamee: to bid farewell

Some of the composite Arabic loan verbs:

Raalli-geli: to apologise to someone.

Towbad-keen: to repent.

Xaqdhowr: to respect rights of someone.

Many Arabic loan verbs have Somali variants. There is little doubt that Arabic loan verbs have enriched the Somali language. Words such as dayax-gacmeed ( a satellite ) and codee ( to vote) are not Arabic loan verbs but the Arabic language has influenced the translation of ‘satellite’ and ‘to vote’ into Somali.

The Writer Liban Ahmad is author of the ebook 200 Arabic Loan Verbs in Somali

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