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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Chapter 05 - The Definite Nouns of Somali

Ethiopian Argument | Saturday, April 05, 2014


 Inventory on the Nouns : 

There are two grammatical genders in Somali : masculine and feminine gender.
All nouns belong to either gender. Yet, a plural noun may differ in gender from its singular counterpart : this is "gender polarity".
Gender is not marked on undefinite nouns : definite nouns only show grammatical gender.
An undefinite noun becomes definite by adding a definite marker whose role is somehow equivalent to that of the English definite article.
 ◊ Unlike in English, the definite article in Somali is not a separate word but a suffix added to the end of the noun :
  • -ka, -ga and -ha are masculine definite suffixes.
  • -ta, -sha and -da are feminine definite suffixes.
 ◊ On plural nouns, the definite suffix is always placed after the plural suffix :
        Noun + plural suffix + definite suffix.


 Masculine Nouns : 

 ◊ Masculine definite suffixes are : -ka, -ga, -ha

Example :nin (a man)ninka (the man)
 niman (men)nimanka (the men)
 
Example :guri (a house)guriga (the house)
 guriyo (houses)guriyaha (the houses)


 ◊ Nouns ending in -g do not take -ga but -a :
Example :buug (a book)buuga (the book)
 buugag (books)buugaga (the books)


 ◊ Some typically masculin nouns can take a feminin definite suffix in plural :
Example :abti (maternal uncle)abtiga (the maternal uncle)
 abtiyo (maternal uncles)abtiyada (the maternal uncles)
 
Example :adeer (paternal uncle)adeerka (the paternal uncle)
 adeero (paternal uncles)adeerada (the paternal uncles)


 Feminine Nouns : 

 ◊ Feminine definite suffixes are : -ta, -sha, -da, -dha

Example :cunto (food)cuntada (the food)
 cuntooyin (foods)cuntooyinka (the foods)
 
Example :gabadh (girl)gabdha (the girl)
 gab(a)dho (girls)gab(a)dhaha (the girls)
 
Example :hal (she-camel)halsha (the she-camel)
 halo (she-camels)halaha (the she-camels)
 
Example :náag (woman)naagta (the woman)
 naago (women)naagaha (the women)


 ◊ Some typically feminine nouns can take a masculin definite suffix in plural :
Example :hooyo (mother)hooyada (the mother)
 hooyooyin (mothers)hooyooyinka (the mothers)
 
Example :edo (paternal aunt)edada (the paternal aunt)
 edooyin (paternal aunts)edooyinka (the paternal aunts)


 Other examples : 

Type SINGULAR PLURAL
undefinite definite undefinite definite
1 midí
a knife
midída
the knife
midiyo
knives
midiyada
the knives
2 dáwo
a medicine
dawóoda
the medicine
dawóooyin
medicines
dawóooyinka
the medicines
3 muftax
a key
muftaxha
the key
muftaxyo
keys
muftaxyada
the keys
4 waraabe
a hyena
waraabaha
the hyena
waraabayaal
the hyenas
waarabayaalka
the hyenas
5 hilib
a meat
hilibka
the meat
hilbo
meats
hilbaha
the meats
6 áf
a mouth
afka
the mouth
afaf
mouths
afafka
the mouths
7 Soomáali
a Somali
Soomáaliga
the Somali
Soomaalí
Somalis
Soomaaliyada
the Somalis
8 ugax
an egg
agaxha
the egg
ugaxáan
eggs
agaxaada
the eggs


 An ordered chaos : 
Some of the legitimate questions you may ask yourself at this stage :
How can I know if a noun is masculine or feminine ?
Even if I know a noun is masculine, should it take the suffix -ka, -ga or -ha ?
Even if I know a noun is feminine, should it take the suffix -ta, -sha or -da ?
This is because we are taking the problem in reverse : Somali is not spoken according to a set of explicit grammatical rules, but according to implicit phonetic rules. As a matter of fact, phonetics is more relevent than gender.
In the absence of rules, the following may serve as a rough guide :
Singular nouns ending in...
/b/are usually masculineand take -kae.g. hilibka= the meat
/d/are usually feminineand take -dae.g. bisadda= the cat
/e/are usually masculineand take -(e)ahae.g. aabaya= the father
       waraabaha= the hyena
/i/are usually masculineand take -gae.g. dibiga= the bull
/g/are usually masculineand take -(g)ae.g. buuga= the book
       tuuga= the thief
/l/are usually feminineand take -shae.g. diilsha= the wooden pot
       weelsha= the calf
/r/are usually masculineand take -kae.g. dameerka= the donkey
       giirka= the mouse
/o/are usually feminineand take -(o)adae.g. hoyada= the mother
 
Plural nouns ending in...
/g/are usually feminineand take -tae.g. tuugagta= the thieves
       buugagta= the books
/oyin/are usually masculineand take -kae.g. hoyooyinka= the mothers
/yaal/are usually masculineand take -kae.g. aabayaalka= the fathers

                Source: http://hooyo.web.free.fr

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