Somali alphabet

Somali alphabet

The Somali Latin alphabet used since 1972 was developed specifically for the Somali language using all letters of the English Latin alphabet except P, V and Z. There are no diacritics or other special characters, although it includes 3 consonant digraphs: DH, KH and SH. Tone is not marked and a word-initial glottal stop is also not shown. Capital letters are used for names and at the beginning of a sentence.

It is largely phonetic, with consonants having a one-to-one correspondence between graphemes and phonemes. Long vowels are written by doubling the vowel, but the distinction between front and back vowels is not represented. Diphthongs are represented using Y or W as the second element (AY, AW, EY, OY and OW) and long diphthongs are shown with the first vowel doubled.

As there is no central regulation of the language, there is some variation in orthography, the endings -ay and -ey being particularly interchangeable.

The Somali Latin alphabet, which follows an Arabic-based order, is:
', B, T, J, X, KH, D, R, S, SH, DH, C, G, F, Q, K, L, M, N, W, H, Y, A, E, I, O, U.

The letters' names are spelt out thus::alef, ba, ta, ja, xa, kha, deel, ra, sa, shiin, dha, cayn, ga, fa, qaaf, kaaf, laan, miin, nun, waw, ha, ya, a, e, i, o, u

The following elements of the Somali alphabet either are not IPA symbols in their lower case versions, or else have values divergent from IPA symbols:
*' - IPA|/ʔ/
*J - IPA|//
*X - IPA|/ħ/
*KH - IPA|/χ/
*SH - IPA|/ʃ/
*DH - IPA|/ɖ/
*C - IPA|/ʕ/
*Q - IPA|/ɢ/
*W - IPA|/w/ or the second element in a diphthong
*Y - IPA|/j/ or the second element in a diphthong
*A - IPA|/æ/ or IPA|/ɑ/
*E - IPA|/e/ or IPA|/ɛ/
*I - IPA|/i/ or IPA|/ɪ/
*O - IPA|/ɞ/ or IPA|/ɔ/
*U - IPA|/ʉ/ or IPA|/u/

ee also

*History of Somalia#The language and literacy issue

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