|Chapter 05 - The Definite Nouns|
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 :
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 masculine||and take -ka||e.g. hilibka||= the meat|
|/d/||are usually feminine||and take -da||e.g. bisadda||= the cat|
|/e/||are usually masculine||and take -(e)aha||e.g. aabaya||= the father|
| || waraabaha||= the hyena|
|/i/||are usually masculine||and take -ga||e.g. dibiga||= the bull|
|/g/||are usually masculine||and take -(g)a||e.g. buuga||= the book|
| || tuuga||= the thief|
|/l/||are usually feminine||and take -sha||e.g. diilsha||= the wooden pot|
| || weelsha||= the calf|
|/r/||are usually masculine||and take -ka||e.g. dameerka||= the donkey|
| || giirka||= the mouse|
|/o/||are usually feminine||and take -(o)ada||e.g. hoyada||= the mother|
|Plural nouns ending in...|
|/g/||are usually feminine||and take -ta||e.g. tuugagta||= the thieves|
| || buugagta||= the books|
|/oyin/||are usually masculine||and take -ka||e.g. hoyooyinka||= the mothers|
|/yaal/||are usually masculine||and take -ka||e.g. aabayaalka||= the fathers|
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