Learn and practice hearing the difficult sounds in Somali that are not found in English.
There are a number of sounds in Somali that do not exist in English language. Learning to hear these sounds and pronouncing them well can be challenging, but with practice you’ll be able to sound like a pro. Here are basic descriptions of the unique Somali sounds.
This is a sound that is occasionally found in English words like “Loch”, “Bach”, or “Chanukah”. It’s not a ‘K’ sound but rather it’s the sound you make when clearing your throat.
This letter can be confusing for new learners. This does not make a ‘C’, ‘S’, or ‘K’ sound but is entirely unique and not found in English. It’s a gutteral sound from your throat that sounds a bit like choking. Don’t worry if you think you sound silly making this sound… that probably means you’re doing it right!
This is one of the tougher sounds for new learners to master. X is similar to an ‘H’ sound but is aspirated from deep in your throat.
The Q sound is like a K sound but which is formed in the back of the throat. Unlike English, you do not have to follow Q with a U (in case you were wondering).
This is a sound that is unique to Somali. It’s best described as being in the middle between a ‘D’ and an ‘R’ sound. The pronunciation of this word can vary by regional Somali dialect, and sometimes it can sound more like an ‘R’.
The apostrophe represents a glottal stop. Think of this like taking an abrupt pause where you see the letter.
View the flashcards below, and click on the letter or word to hear the pronunciation. The letters in bold are those you should be listening to and becoming familiar with.