Somali Translation Services

Whether you are looking for a Somali translation for something technical, legal or medical, or simply a letter, we can help you.

We will equip you with knowledge and methods, enabling you to communicate in the correct written Somali form, whether you are targeting an audience in Somalia or Ethiopia, we can help. Remember not to pick the wrong one!

We offer a professional Somali to English and English to Somali language translation service, and more. Here is some information which you will find useful as the Somali language is full of interesting facts and essential tips when you are looking to communicate effectively in Somali speaking countries.

Location: Somalia
Population: 10 million
Language Family: Afro-Asiatic
Number of Global Speakers: 15 million


About Somali

Somali is an official language of Somalia, along with Arabic. It is also a recognised minority language in Djibouti and the Somali region of Ethiopia. The reason that Somali is spoken as a native language by many more people than are inhabitants of this country is due to the Somali diaspora, which has occurred as a result of the Civil War in Somalia. Somali natives have been forced to flee from the war-torn country and have settled in countries all over the globe. For example, there are 200,000 Somalis in Yemen, 150,000 in Canada and 108,000 in the United Kingdom. The Somali diaspora accounts for a large proportion of Somali native speakers outside of Somalia and also means that translation and interpreting services from and into Somali are in constant high demand.

Due to the significant and growing Somali presence in the United Kingdom in recent years, professional Somali translators are needed to translate correspondence, medical certificates and legal documents for Somali communities and public service interpreters are regularly sourced in healthcare and legal situations. Contact us today and Lingua Translations will be there to provide for all of your Somali translation and interpreting requirements.

Written Somali

A variety of alphabets have been used throughout history to transcribe Somali. In 1972, after much debate about how to standardise all the different scripts used to write Somali, the Supreme Revolutionary Council introduced the Somali Latin alphabet. It was disseminated to the wider population via a mass literacy campaign and is now the official method of writing Somali. The Latin alphabet uses all the letters of the English alphabet except for p, v and z. It uses capital letters just like English.

An example of a Somali sentence written in Latin script is: Intaadan falin ka fiirso (“look before you leap” or literally “think before you do”.)

Before this occurred, and before the arrival of the British and Italian colonists, Somalis either wrote in Arabic or used a version of the Arabic script to transliterate Somali called Wadaad writing. Other scripts used include the Osmanya and Borama scripts.

Due to the fact that the official script was only introduced relatively recently, and because only a small segment of Somali society has had an education enabling them to fully master Somali orthography, spelling mistakes are frequent and even occur regularly in the Somali press and official government documents.

Somali Dialects

Somali dialects can be broadly categorised into three main groups:

Northern Somali, which is also known as Common or Standard Somali, is the most widely used dialect. It is the language used in official situations and in broadcasting, for example.
Benaadir or coastal Somali is spoken on the Benadir coast as well as in Mogadishu, the capital.
Af-Ashraaf is spoken by inhabitants of Merka and Muqdisho. This dialect actually has limited intelligibility for speakers of standard Somali.
Differences between Somali and English

Vowels have a fixed value in Somali – this means that every vowel has only one sound, and is only ever pronounced like this. Likewise, doubled vowels (aa, ee, ii, oo, uu) have a particular sound and are only ever pronounced as such. This marks a stark contrast with English, because vowels can be put together in any number of ways to produce different sounds.

Somali nouns are gendered and can be masculine or feminine, whereas English does not make such a distinction.

In Somali, differences in gender are not marked by a different word ending like in French or Spanish. The written word remains the same, but there will be an accent on each word that will change position accordingly to denote the change – for example, ínan is “boy” and inán is “girl”.

Whereas English has a huge number of different prepositions, Somali has only four, which are placed before the verb rather than before the noun. This means that Somali prepositions have a wide variety of different meanings, depending on context, which can be complicated to translate back into English.

There is no passive voice in Somali, so this may present difficulties when translating the English passive into Somali.


Ian Chapman – Director of Holiday Experience –

“Lingua Translations provides instant multi-lingual options for TUI’s 24/7 Holidayline, so 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year TUI’s customers are connected to an interpreter instantaneously. This service is designed to help holidaymakers who find themselves in difficulty and require non-English language assistance.

The service offered by Lingua Translations provides us with instant translation for every destination we travel to, and has proved invaluable.”

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