SOAS University of London

Africa Section, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Somali 1 (PG)

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year

PLEASE NOTE: This module will be divided into two 15-credit modules next academic year (i.e Language A and Language B). The overall objectives and outcomes for the year will not change. There may be some slight changes to the formal assessment. Students will be required to take a written test in the last week of Term 1 and should therefore not plan to be absent from SOAS at this time.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  1. knowledge and understanding of basic Somali grammar
  2. knowledge and understanding of essential Somali vocabulary
  3. knowledge and understanding of the appropriateness of basic Somali structures and expressions in a given context
  4. the ability to understand short passages in written Somali on everyday topics
  5. the ability to produce short passages in written Somali on everyday topics
  6. the ability to understand spoken Somali and to engage in short spoken discourse on everyday topics
  7. knowledge and understanding of the role of language in general, and Somali in particular, in language-based scholarship and research (specific learning outcome for PG students)


A total of 22 weeks teaching with 4 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

This module provides an introduction to Somali language with emphasis on practical written and spoken Somali. It covers phonetics and phonology, verb and noun morphology and basic syntax, particularly the focus system and single relative clauses. Communicative practice is established through learning language around dialogues dealing with a range of everyday situations, including travelling, buying and selling, and urban and rural life.

This module provides students with a basic knowledge of Somali and practice of using Somali in a variety of everyday situations. It allows students to interact with Somali speakers in Somali and to use original Somali language sources within the level covered in the course. This provides students with a basis to approach research topics relating to Somali language and Somali history, culture and society.

A series of special PG lectures with associated seminars structured around the six themes Structure, Texts, Identity, Society, Translation and Transformation (provided for PG students studying different languages) introduces students to general questions of the role of language in language-based scholarship and research and provides them with the critical and methodological skills to relate their language acquisition to the thematic aspects of the studies.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written paper taken in May/June (50%); portfolio of language homework (30%); one 15 minute oral examination (20%).

Suggested reading

1) The module will be based on
  • Orwin, Martin. 1995. Colloquial Somali.  London: Routledge.

and additional materials which will be made available throughout the course.

2) Additional Somali References
  • Somali Learning Resources
  • Zorc, R.D. & Madina M. Osman. 1993.  Somali-English Dictionary with English Index, (Third Edition).  Kensington, Maryland: Dunwoody Press.
  • Saeed, J.I.  1993.  Somali Reference Grammar (Second Revised Edition).  Kensington, Maryland: Dunwoody Press.
  • Zorc, R.D. & Abdullahi A. Issa.  1990.  Somali Textbook.  Kensington, Maryland: Dunwoody Press.
  • Griefenow-Mewis.  2004.  Lehrbuch des Somali: Eine praktische Einführung.  Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
  • Panza, B.  1974.  Af Soomaali: grammatica della lingua somala con piccolo vocabolario in appendice.  Firenze: Le Monnier.
  • Puglielli, A.  1998.  Dizionario Italiano-Somalo.  Roma: Carocci Editore.
  • Agostini, F. et al.  1985.  Dizionario Somali-Italiano.  Roma: Gangemi Editore.


Linguistic Studies
  • Puglielli, A. (ed.).  1981.  Studi Somali 2: Sintassi della lingua somala.  Roma: Il Bagatto.
  • Warsama, S. & R.C. Abraham.  1951.  The Principles of Somali.  London: published by the author.
  • Moreno, M.M.  1955.  Il somali della Somalia: grammatica e testi del Benadir, Darod e Dighil.  Roma: Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato.
  • Dubnov, H.  2003.   A Grammatical Sketch of Somali.   Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.
  • Bell, C.R.V.  1953.  The Somali Language.  London: Longmans, Green and Co.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules