Af Mexee

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Af Mexee is a Lowland East Cushitic language.

Introduction

Af Mexee dhehti (or Af Mexee for short) is a Somali condialect. The term Mexee dhehti means "What did you say?" and is used to differentiate Af Mexee from dialects such as Af Maxaa (tiri) (regular Somali) and Af Maay. However, since it is a Somali dialect, Af Mexee speakers refer to their language simply as Af Soomaali.

Phonology

Orthography

Consonants

' b p t j ch x kh d th r s sh dh c g gh f q k l m n ny w h y

Vowels

a e i o u

aa ee ii oo uu

Diphthongs

ay aw ey oy ow

aay aaw eey ooy oow

Consonants

Af Mexee consonant phonemes
Labial Dental/
Alveolar
Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
Nasal m n ny /ɲ/
Stop consonant voiceless (p) t /t̪/ k q ' /ʔ/
voiced b d /d̪/ dh /ɖ/ ɡ
Affricate voiceless ch /tʃ/
voiced j /dʒ/
Fricative voiceless f s sh /ʃ/ kh /x̠~χ/ x /ħ/ h
voiced p /β/ th /ð/ gh /ɣ/ (gh) /ɣ̠~ʁ/ c /ʕ/
Approximant l y /j/ w
Trill r /r~ɾ/

Vowels

Af Mexee has five vowel articulations that all contrast frontness/backness and vowel length. There is little change in vowel quality when the vowel is lengthened.

There are five diphthongs that also occur in front and back, long and short versions.

Af Mexee monophthongs
Front series Back series Orthography
short long short long short long
Close front unrounded /
Near-close near-front unrounded
i ɪ ɪː i ii
Close-mid front unrounded /
Open-mid front unrounded
e ɛ ɛː e ee
Near-open front unrounded /
Open back unrounded
æ æː ɑ ɑː a aa
Open-mid central rounded /
Open-mid back rounded
ɞ ɞː ɔ ɔː o oo
Close central rounded /
Close back rounded
ʉ ʉː u u uu
Af Mexee diphthongs
First element is front First element is back Orthography
short long short long short long
æi æːi ɑɪ ɑːɪ ay aay
æʉ æːʉ ɑu ɑːu aw aaw
ei eːi ɛɪ ɛːɪ ey eey
ɞi ɞːi ɔɪ ɔːɪ oy ooy
ɞʉ ɞːʉ ɔu ɔːu ow oow

(In this article I haven't indicated frontness/backness)

Prosody

Stress

Syllables containing a high tone tend to be stressed.

Intonation

Af Mexee has a pitch accent system. The tone-bearing unit is the mora. There are two tones: low and high. These are not normally indicated in writing, although this article mostly does. A high tone is indicated with an acute accent, while a circumflex denotes a vowel that has a high tone unless the following word has an high tone.

e.g. wâa + taghiwáa taghi

wâa + tághiwaa tághi

With long vowels and short diphthongs, there are three possibilities:

  • Falling: áa (low-high)
  • Rising (high-low)
  • Low: aa (low-low)

With long diphthongs, there are four possibilities:

  • Falling: áay (high-low-low)
  • Falling-Rising: aáy (low-high-low)
  • Rising: aaý (low-low-high)
  • Low: aay (low-low-low)

Phonotactics

Syllable structure is (C)V(C), where V is any vowel or polyphthong.

The consonants that can be geminated at syllable boundaries are: m, n, l, and r.

The consonants ', b, x, kh, d, r, s, sh, c, g, f, q, l, n, and h occur syllable-finally. The consonants p, ch, t, th, gh, k, m and ny cannot occur syllable-finally (although there are exceptions for t, k, and m). They undergo the following neutralizations:

  • pb, sometimes w
  • t, thd
  • k, ghg
  • nyyn, sometimes y
  • mn (except before m, b)
  • n, mm (before m, b)
  • any geminated consonant → degeminated

J and dh may occur in coda in a loanwords, although they are usually replaced with sh and r respectively. For example, xaj "Hajj", ogsaydh "oxide". Coda t, k, and m may also occur in non-native words, mostly of Arabic origin. In many cases, variants with the expected d, g, or n exist (but this applies less often for word-internal m). For example, xikmad "wisdom" (also xigmad), fitno "trial, temptation" (also fidno), muslim "Muslim" (also muslin), amni "safety, security" (NOT *anni).

The consonants p, th, gh, and ch do not occur word-initially in native words. They come from intervocalic -b/w-, -d/t-, -g/k-, and -lt- respectively (the modern intervocalic -b-, -d/t-, and -g/k- come from originally geminated consonants). In loanwords, initial p and gh are pronounced /p/ and /ɣ̠~ʁ/ (instead of the intervocalic /β/ and /ɣ/).

Vowels cannot occur in hiatus. Instead, epenthetic consonants such as ', y, and w are inserted.

Morphophonology

Sandhi

At morpheme boundaries, the following changes occur (for endings beginning in a consonant, these changes apply after syllable-final neutralizations):

n (1st person plural endings)

  • n → l after l
  • n → r after r

t (2nd person/feminine endings, middle voice, definite article/modifiers):

  • dropped after -d, dh – Exception: -d assimilates to -t- of the middle voice to form -t- (instead of the expected -d-)
  • l + t → ch
  • t → th after underlying -a, aa, e, ee, o, oo (note that -o and -e become a before th)
  • t of the middle voice, if it occurs between vowels after any applicable reductions, is softened to -th-
  • t (of middle voice) + t, nt, nn

k (definite article/modifiers):

  • dropped after -', x, kh, c, g, q, h
  • k → h after final -a, e, o (which then assimilate to the following vowel)
  • k → gh after -aa, ee, oo

sh (causative)

  • sh + t → s
  • sh + n → nn (simplified to -n word-finally)

s (middle causative)

  • l + s → sh

Vowels

  • An a, e, or final -o followed by one of the "guttural" consonants (', x, c, or h) assimilates to the following vowel. If the following vowel is o, they can either become a or o. e.g. ma dhohó or ma dhahó "he does not say"
  • Unstressed vowels are often dropped before vowel-initial endings if it will not violate phonotactics.
e.g. gacán (stem: gac(a)m-) + -oóyngacmoóyn "hands" (not *gacamoóyn)
Sometimes metathesis is involved.
e.g. culús "(he/she is) heavy" + -íincuslíin "(they are) heavy" (not *culsíin)

Morphology

Pronouns

Personal Pronouns

Af Mexee personal pronouns
Independent Clitic Possessive3 With locative particles
Stressed Unstressed Subject1 Object2 + ún + ká + kú + lá
1S
aní
an(i)
an
i
kéy
iín
iká
ikú
ilá
2S
athí
ad/athi
ad
ku
káa
kuún
koó
kukú
kulá
3SM
usú
us(u)
us
(su)
kíis
suún
suká
sukú
sulá
3SF
ishí
ish(i)
ish
(shi)
kíshi
shiín
shiká
shikú
shilá
1P
unú
un(u)
an/un
nu
kéen
nuún
nuká
nukú
nulá
2P
isín
isin
ad/isin
sin
kíin
siín
sinká
sinkú
sinlá
3P
ishó
isho
ish/isho
(sho)
kísho
shoón
shoká
shokú
sholá
IMP4
la
loón
laká
lakú
lalá
REF5
is
isún
iská
iskú
islá

1 Clitic subject pronouns are optional and are often dropped unless needed for clarity or emphasis. For further emphasis, the independent forms may be used. In the plural, the clitic forms un, isin, and isho are formal; the more commonly used forms are an, ad, and ish respectively.

2 Third person object pronouns are only used for humans and (anthropomorphized) animals.

3 Masculine forms are shown (the corresponding feminine forms begin in t-). Possessives may be used as modifiers, in which case they attach to the noun, or independently as possessive pronouns.

4 Used for impersonal passive. Although it is technically a subject pronoun, it behaves as an object pronoun (but always comes before any true object pronouns).

5 Used for reflexive and reciprocal (all persons).

K/T Pronouns

The k/t determiners (including possessives and the definite article) can be used independently as pronouns. They pluralize by inserting the infix -uw- after the k of the masculine singular.

e.g. kan "this (one), m.", tan "this (one), f.", kuwan "these (ones)"
ki "the one, m.", ti "the one, f.", kuwi "the ones"

There is an additional k/t pronoun with no determiner equivalent:

  • ko, to, kuwo: one/ones (indefinite) - e.g. ko kale "another one"

Interrogatives

  • keé/teé, kuweé "which"
  • mexeé "what"
  • meé "where"
  • goórma "when"
  • yaá "who" - comes at the beginning of the sentence, but unlike the focus particle yaa is not preceded by a noun. Equivalent to kuma/tuma yaa.
  • kúma/túma, kuwáma "who"
  • áyo "who"

Nouns

Gender

There are two main genders: masculine and feminine. Plural and collective/mass nouns are considered masculine, but may be treated as a separate gender (especially because they take plural agreement). Double plurals are feminine.

Nouns with a non-final high tone are often masculine, and nouns ending in -o are most often feminine. However, these are not reliable rules but rather tendencies. Sometimes, the gender of words is distinguished solely by tone. This distinction is lost in the nominative and genitive cases. Of course, they still use different articles and verb forms.

e.g. Absolutive: ínan(ki) "boy", inán(ti) "girl"

Nominative: inan(ki/ti) "boy/girl"
Genitive: inán(ki/ti) "boy/girl"
Vocative: ínan "boy/girl!", ínamów / ínanków / ínanyow "boy!", ináméy / inántéy / inányey "girl!"

Number

Plural is formed with -oóyn (definite: -oóyki) or -yáal (definite: -yáalki). When either of these endings is added to a noun, any high tones in the singular are dropped. The ending -yáal is used for nouns (mostly masculine) ending in -e or -i, e.g. tuké "crow" → tukeyáal. All other nouns take the ending -oóyn. Note that both endings override any other high tones in the word. For feminine nouns ending in -o, the -o becomes -a- and an epenthetic -th- is added before the ending. For example, maghaaló "city" + -oóynmaghaalathoóyn "cities". Masculine nouns assimilate an -o to the ending.

Some words have a "short" plural (usually in , definite: -íhi) in addition to the "long" plural in -oóyn/yáal. In the case of body parts, the short plural is normally used when they belong to one person.

e.g. Gacánti taagheen. = They raised the hand (i.e. each person raised a hand; hand is in singular).

Gacmíhi taagheen. = They raised the hands (i.e. each person raised both hands; hand is in short plural).
Gacmíhi la taaghi. = The hands (of a single person; hand is in short plural) were raised.
Gacmoóyki la taaghi. = The hands (of multiple people; hand is in long plural) were raised.

For other words, the short plural is most often used as a collective/mass noun or as a paucal. Short plurals are mostly relics of earlier plural formations, although some are analogical innovations.

There is also a double plural, used to emphasize the large number of something. This is formed with the suffix -oónyo (definite: -oonyáthi) or -yaálo (definite: -yaaláthi), for -oóyn and -yáal nouns respectively.

Case

Af Mexee has absolutive, nominative, genitive, and vocative cases. Case is indicated primarily by tonation. Unless otherwise stated, tonation applies to the plural in the same way as the singular. Special rules apply to words with k/t determiners (see below).

  • Absolutive: The default citation form of a noun. If a high tone is present, feminine nouns often have it finally, while masculine nouns tend to have it penultimately. However, this is not a rule but only a general tendency. Feminine nouns ending in unaccented -o can shift their accent to the final vowel when occurring phrase-finally.
  • Nominative: Formed by removing any high tones in the word.
  • Genitive: Any high tones in the word are removed, and a high tone is added to the final syllable.
    • Many nouns (especially feminine) also have an "indefinite genitive", which is formed with -eéd, -aád, or -oód. -eéd is the most common. -oód is used for plurals (especially after a cardinal number). -aád is mostly used to form ordinal numeral.
e.g. dhár naagheéd "women's clothes (in general)" vs. dhár naág "clothes of a (specific) woman"
  • Vocative: There are two ways of forming the vocative.
    • Tonal vocative: Formed with a high tone in the initial mora (and no other high tones). Regardless of the regular plural suffix, the plural takes -(a)yaal.
    • Suffixed vocative: Formed with a suffix. There are two types: "specific" and "general" vocatives.
      • "Specific" vocatives: have high tone (but do not affect those in the word).
        • Masculine: -ów (any final vowels are elided)
        • Feminine: -éy (ending in consonant or -e) / -óy (ending in -o) / -áy (ending in -a)
        • Plural: -oónyów / -yáalów / -(a)yáalów
      • "General" vocatives: have low tone. These cannot be used with definite or proper nouns.
        • Masculine: -yow (corresponds to Af Maxaa -yohow)
        • Feminine: -yey (corresponds to Af Maxaa -yahay)
        • Plural: -oónyow / -yáalyow / -(a)yáalyow

Special cases:

  • Plural: As already stated, the plural is affected similarly as the singular except in specific cases.
e.g. nimoóyn "men (ABS)", nimooyn "men (NOM)", nimooýn "men (GEN)", nímayaal / nimoónyów / nimayáalów / nimoónyow / nimayáalyow "men (VOC)!"
  • K/t determiners: When a noun has a k/t determiner with a tone, only the tone of the determiner is affected. If it has no high tone in the absolutive, the word behaves as it would without the determiner.
e.g. Remote definite article: nínkíi "the man (ABS)", nínkii "the man (NOM)", nínkií "the man (GEN)", nínkíi / nínkiiyów "the man (VOC)!"
Regular definite article: nínki "the man (ABS)", ninki "the man (NOM)", nínki "the man (GEN)", nínki / ninków "the man (VOC)!"

Particles

K/T Determiners

The definite article attaches to the noun and is subject to sandhi rules.

  • Masculine/Plural: -ki
  • Feminine: -ti

There is also a remote definite article.

  • Masculine/Plural: -kíi
  • Feminine: -tíi
    • Does not affect tonation of the word.

Other determiners that behave similarly to the definite article:

  • Possessives (see Personal Pronouns)
  • Demonstratives:
    • -kan/tan: this, these (close to speaker)
    • -kaas/taas: that, those
    • -koó/toó: that, those over there
      • Causes high tones in the word to be dropped.
  • Interrogative:
    • -keé/teé: which
      • Causes any high tones in the word to be dropped.
    • -ma: which (not a k/t determiner, but might as well include it here)

Negation Particles

The negation particles are mâ, an, hâ, and yâa. Each of these serves a different function.

  • is the default negation particle in main clauses and is used with the indicative. e.g. má qapo "I do not have". It can combine to clitic subject pronouns:
    • + an(an)mâan(an) (for (an), see the next point)
    • + ad/athanmâad/máathan
    • + us(an)mâws(an)
    • + ish(an)mâysh(an)
    • + un(an)mâwn(an)
    • + isin(an)mâysin(an)
    • + isho(n)mâysho(n)
  • an has two functions:
    • It is used to form negative subject pronouns, which replace clitic subjects in negative clauses. e.g. usan qapín "He did not have", compare us qapi "he had". In this usage, an is optional and may be dropped - e.g. us qapín. It combines to clitic subjects:
      • ad + anathan
      • isho + anishon
      • The rest simply add -an - i.e. anan, usan, ishan, unan, isinan
      • Alternatively, when another negative particle (i.e. or yâa) is present, an can come before the subject pronoun and attach to the preceding negative particle. The composite particle can still combine to following clitic subjects - e.g. mâan us / mâanus (= + an + us). If the subject is la, an always comes before it (assuming it isn't dropped), whether another negative particle is present or not.
    • an is also used as the sole negation particle in subordinate clauses. Since negation is shown on the verb, it is also optional here. e.g. ninkii (an) af soomaali aqiin "the man who does not know Somali". Note that in this usage, an prefers clause-initial position (although something like ninkii af soomaali an aqiin would not be incorrect).
  • is used in the negative imperative. e.g. ha bíxin "don't leave".
  • yâa is used to negate the jussive. e.g. yá usan bíxin "don't let him leave". Like , yâa can combine with clitic subjects (it does so in the same manner as wâa). e.g. yóosan bíxin.

Focus Particles

Focus particles are used with main clause verbs. They are wâa, wixi, yaa, âa and their interrogative equivalents (more may be added later).

  • wâa optionally precedes a main affirmative verb. It puts emphasis on the verb.
e.g. ninki bixi "the man left"; ninki wáa bixi "the man left"
  • The interrogative equivalent of wâa is mâa.
e.g. ninki máa bixi? "did the man leave?"
  • wâa and mâa can combine to clitic subjects as follows:
  • wâa + anwâan
  • wâa + adwâad
  • wâa + uswôos
  • wâa + ishwêesh
  • wâa + unwôon
  • wâa + isinwêesin
  • wâa + ishowêesho
  • wâa can also be used with nouns (in the present) with a zero copula. In this case, it can go before or after the noun.
e.g. waa nín OR nín wáa(he) is a man".
wáa cadaan OR cadaan wáa "(he/she/it/they) is/are white" (literally "whiteness").
  • When wáa occurs at the end of the sentence, it can optionally become wáay(e).
  • As an extension of the above usage, it can be used with a subordinate clause (introduced by ín "that") to indicate obligation. In tenses other than the present indicative, the copula (in the feminine) is used.
e.g. waa ín us taghó "he should/has to go" (literally: "it (is) that he go).
ín us taghó ahaayti "he should have gone" (literally: "it was that he go").
  • wixi is used before a main verb when the object follows the verb, allowing for a SVO word order. It literally means the thing. It places emphasis on the object.
e.g. ninki wixi qaathi qálin "the man took a pen" (literally: "the thing the man took (was) a pen")
  • The interrogative equivalent of wixi is mixi.
e.g. ninki mixi qaathi qálin? "did the man take a pen?"
  • wixi and mixi can combine to clitic subjects as follows:
  • wixi + anwaxan
  • wixi + adwaxad
  • wixi + uswuxus
  • wixi + ishwixish
  • wixi + unwuxun
  • wixi + isinwixisin
  • wixi + ishowixisho
  • yaa (not to be confused with the negative particle yâa) put emphasis on a noun (either subject or object). It follows the noun being emphasized. Unlike the negative particle yâa, the following verb is in the indicative.
e.g. ninki yaa qálinki qaathi/qálinki ninki yaa qaathi "the man took the pen"
  • The interrogative equivalent of yaa is - yaa (i.e. yaa is kept and the noun is preceded by ma).
e.g. ma nínki yaa qálinki qaathi? "did the man take the pen?" (or "did the pen take the man?)
  • yaa can combine to clitic subjects in the same way as wâa.
  • aa puts emphasis on a noun (more so than yaa). It also follows the noun but puts the following verb into the subjunctive. The noun also remains in the absolutive case even if it is the subject. aa can again combine to clitic subjects like wâa.
e.g. nínki aa qálinki qaathí/qálinki nínki aa qaathí "it was the man who took the pen"
  • The interrogative equivalent of aa is - aa.
e.g. ma nínki aa qálinki qaathí? "was it the man who took the pen?"
  • wixi can be combined with âa to form waxâa, which is used when the subject follows the verb (allowing for OVS word order). It places emphasis on the subject.
e.g. qálinki waxaa qaathí nínki "it was the man took the pen" (literally: "what took the pen (was) the man")
  • The interrogative equivalent of waxâa is maxâa.
e.g. qálinki maxaa qaathí nínki? "was it the man who took the pen?"
  • To make a sentence without a focus particle interrogative, the particle (not to be confused with the homonymous negative particle) is placed before the verb in the indicative. can combine to clitic subjects as the homonymous negative particle does (but without the -an).
e.g. ninki taghi? "did the man go?"
  • For a negative interrogative, the regular negative form of the verb is preceded by the particle soẃ.
e.g. ninki soẃ ma taghín? "didn't the man go?"

Preverbal particles

Like Standard Somali, Af Mexee does not natively have true adpositions. Instead, it uses preverbal particles that always appear before the verb. They all have a high tone; when they come in sequence, the tone is carried by the final one. Sóo and síi are an exception to this rule: they always come at the end of a sequence without affecting the rest.

  • ún: indirect object, destination, purpose, way
  • : comitative
  • : "from", source, "than"
  • : direction, "on", instrument, means
  • sóo: towards speaker or reference point
  • síi: away from speaker or reference point, further

Pseudo-adpositions can also appear preverbally.

e.g. mínki dhéxtíis yaan joogha = mínki yaan dhéx joogha ("I am inside the house.")

Adjectives

Adjectives in Af Mexee are technically verbs. Unlike other verbs, they do not vary according to gender. However, they are conjugated for time and person (following the adjectival conjugation). When used with a noun, they always have a final high tone due to being in the subjunctive (see Dependent clauses for more information).

e.g. mín yár "a small house", mín yaraaý "a house that was small"

Adjectives can be reduplicated and/or take adjectival conjugation endings to show plurality, or the singular forms may be used.

e.g. minoóyn yaryár / yaryaráan / yár / yaráan "small houses"

Predicative and descriptive uses of adjectives are identical in the present (even in tone, unlike other verbs). Class III long forms can be used predicatively for disambiguation. Focus particles such as wâa can also be used (note that in the present, wâa can only be used with the long forms).

e.g. ínanki yár "the small boy (ABS)" OR "the boy is small"

ínanki (waa) yárya "the boy is small"
ínankíi yaraaý "the boy that was small"
ínankii (wáa) yaraay "the boy was small"

For more information, see Af Mexee/Verbs § Class III: Adjectival Conjugation

Some abstract nouns can also be used adjectivally. In this case, they are used with the verb eh "to be", which can be dropped in the presence of a focus particle.

e.g. cadáan "whiteness" or "white person/thing"

minki waa cadáan / minki cadáan wáa / minki cadáan (wáa) yaha / minki cadáan éh "the house is white"
minkii cadáan (wáa) ahaay "the house was white"
mínki cadáanki éh "the white house (the house that is white)"
mínkíi cadáanki ahaaý "the house that was white"

Note that non-adjectival nouns can be used similarly.

e.g. askári "soldier"

ninki waa askári / ninki askári wáa / ninki askári (wáa) yaha / ninki askári éh "the man is a soldier"
ninkii askári (wáa) ahaay "the man was a soldier"
nínki askáriki éh "the man who is a soldier"
nínkíi askáriki ahaaý "the man who was a soldier"

Verbs

Main article: Af Mexee/Verbs

Numbers

Numbers in Af Mexee are nouns. Ordinal numbers are the genitives of the corresponding cardinal numbers.

  • Cardinal numbers precede the noun they modify, which appears in the genitive (most often singular, but plural is also allowed). When modified by a cardinal number, nouns are usually in the singular since the plural marking is redundant (but still allowed). If the indefinite genitive is used, it is always -oód (regardless of which ending the noun normally takes).
e.g. áfar nín / áfar nimooýn / áfar nimoód "four men"
  • Ordinal numbers follow the noun being modified.
e.g. nínki afraád "the fourth man"
  • Distributives are formed by reduplication.
e.g. láma láma "two by two" / "two for each"
  • Multipliers are formed with the word laáb (laap-) "fold"
e.g. láma laáb "two-fold"
Numbers in Af Mexee
Number Cardinal Ordinal
1 hál(ki) halaád
2 láma(thi) lamaád
3 sédex(ti) sedexaád
4 áfar(ti) afraád
5 shán(ti) shanaád
6 líx(ti) lixaád
7 todópa(thi) todopaád
8 sidéed(i) sideethaád
9 sagháal (sagháachi) saghaalaád
10 tóman(ki) tomanaád
11 tóman ii hál(ki) tóman ii halaád
20 lamaátan(ki) lamaatanaád
30 sódon(ki) sodonaád
40 afártan(ki) afartanaád
50 shántan(ki) shantanaád
60 líxtan(ki) lixtanaád
70 todopaátan(ki) todopaatanaád
80 sideétan(ki) sideetanaád
90 saghaáchan(ki) saghaachanaád
100 boqól(ki) boqolaád
1000 kún(ki) kumaád

Syntax

Constituent order

The most common (and underlying) word-order is SOV.

Noun phrase

  • Cardinal numbers come before the noun. If a cardinal number is present, the singular form of the noun (in the genitive) is used.
nimoóyn "men" BUT áfar nín / nimoód "four men" (áfar nimooýn is also acceptable)
  • Adjectives and determiners other than cardinal numbers come after the noun.
  • The definite article and other suffixed determiners attach to the noun unless it is preceded by a cardinal number, in which case they attach to the number.
nimoóyki "the men" BUT áfarti nín "the four men"
  • Possessive phrases can be formed in two ways:
a) Genitive construction
mínki Shariíf "Shariif's house" (lit. "the house (of) Shariif")
b) Possessive determiner
Sharíif mínkíis "Shariif's house" (lit. "Shariif his house")
  • Possessive phrases have multiple uses besides possession. Many of these only allow a certain type of possessive construction. For example, ordinal numbers must use a genitive construction and pseudo-adpositions must use a possessive determiner.
e.g. Ordinal number construction: nínki afraád "the fourth man" (lit. "the man of four") NOT *áfar nínkíshi "the man of four" (lit. "four its man").
Pseudo-adposition: mínki dhéxtíis "inside the house" (lit. "the house its inside") NOT *dhéxti mínki "the house's inside" (lit. "the inside (of) the house").

Verb phrase

(Subject Pronoun) + Object Pronoun + Locative Particle + Negation (+ Clitic Subject Pronoun) + Relational Particle + Verb

Clitic subject pronouns come after the negation particle ma if it is present. Otherwise, they go at the beginning (in which case either the clitic or non-clitic forms may be used).

Sentence phrase

Dependent clauses

Dependent clauses lack focus particles and have the verb in the subjunctive.

Example texts

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 1)

Regular orthography:

  • Bini aathanki dhammaantisho wixi ish dhachaan isho oo xor eh kana siman xagi sharafti ii xuquuqi. Ilaahi wixi us sho siishi wacyi ii damiir, waana in qof walba qofki kale si walaalnimo eh suula dhaqmo.

A not-so-accurate attempt at indicating vowel frontedness and tone (acute = high tone, umlaut = front, no accent = back + low tone):

  • Bïnï ää́thänkï dhammáantísho wixi ish dhacháan ishó oo xór éh kä́nä sïmä́n xä́gï sharáfti ïï xuquúqi. Ïlä́ähï wixi us sho sïïshï wácyi ïï dämḯïr, wáana ïn qof walba qófki kale sḯ walaalnímo éh süülä́ dhaqmó.

Gloss:

  • Mankind.NOM-the entirety-their OBJFOC they are_born.3P they REL free.ABS being.3 in-and equal.3 side-the dignity.GEN-the and rights.GEN-the. God.NOM OBJFOC he them gave.3S reason.ABS and conscience.ABS, VBFOCUS-and that person.NOM every person.ABS-the other way.ABS brotherhood.GEN being him-for-with act.SBJV.

For comparison, a word-for-word translation into Af Maxaa (i.e. regular Somali):

  • Bini aadanka dhammaantood waxa ay dhashaan iya[ga] oo xor ah kana siman xagga sharafta iyo xuquuqda. Ilaahay waxa uu (Ø) siiyay wacyi iyo damiir, waana in qof walba qofka kale si walaal[ti]nimo ah (Ø) ula dhaqmo.

Other resources

Swadesh list