Five common Somali slang words and phrases to help you fit in

For non-native speakers, Somali can be an extremely difficult language to learn.

With its numerous dialects, it may sometimes feel overwhelming to master the language.

But with an estimated 15 million people speaking Somali today, it’s a language many cannot afford to ignore.

Although some linguists consider slang words and phrases to be grammatically incorrect, learners of a new language should master a few.

Here are five popular Somali slang words and phrases for non-native speakers to enjoy and practice with their Somali-speaking friends and/or colleagues:

1. Miskiin
Literal meaning: poor

This phrase is used to describe a situation that is sad, pathetic, or poor. Whether it’s a person or a situation, the term comes from the Arabic language and it’s normally used to place emphasis on an unfortunate situation.

2. Caathi (pronounced Athi)
Literal meaning: normal/usual

Caathi is used the same way the term “alright” would be used. You’re essentially just showing your agreement or satisfaction with someone else’s answer.

3. Wallahi
Literal meaning: by God

This phrases translates to “I swear by God” in Arabic but it’s used by Somalis to emphasise a point. It’s common among teens.

4. Ciyaal suuq
Literal meaning: children of the market

Somalis use it to describe someone who is considered a bad influence or ill-mannered.

5. Daqan celis
Literal meaning: Returning to the culture

This slang is used in multiple contexts but it mainly describes the process of teeangers in the Somali diaspora forgetting their culture and needing to be sent to East africa to get it back.