Somali or Somalian

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SalvadorFreemanson

Senior Member
English - London 1960s
The adjectival form I have always seen in the press referring to the government of Somalia, the waters around the country, its inhabitants, institutions etc on the web and in most dictionaries is "Somali".
Wordreference gives both forms.
My boss, who is French (but I write in English) wants to use the word "Somalian" exclusively, stating that Somali refers to the ethnic group, whose members may or may not actually live in Somalia.
This seems to go against general usage.
Is he right?
 
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I would generally agree with your boss, Salvador: Somali = ethnic group, Somalian = anyone who lives in Somalia (not necessarily Somalis), national adjective etc.
     

    SalvadorFreemanson

    Senior Member
    English - London 1960s
    I am inclined to agree, if only because I have begun to get accustomed to the idea, if only because I have to bow down to my boss.


    But, other clues seem to point in the opposite direction. For example in this morning's Guardian, I read:
    "Until recently Eyl was a remote and rundown Somali fishing outpost of 7,000 people."
    A search on its web site reveals that Somalian is used (at least by Guardian writers) to refer to the people, as for example:
    "says the banking collapse is all down to Somalian fishermen"
    or "of a Somalian 13-year-old girl"
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    "Until recently Eyl was a remote and rundown Somali fishing outpost of 7,000 people."
    Could well mean 'a fishing outpost in Somalia entirely populated by Somalis'

    A search on its web site reveals that Somalian is used (at least by Guardian writers) to refer to the people, as for example:
    "says the banking collapse is all down to Somalian fishermen"
    That sounds about right to me: 'fishermen from Somalia, not necessarily ethnic Somali fishermen'

    or "of a Somalian 13-year-old girl"
    Perhaps: a 13-year old girl from Somalia, ethnic identity unknown so we'll call her 'Somalian' just in case she isn't a Somali
    Without knowing precisely who or what is being referred to in each instance, it's difficult to judge whether or not the writer is using the terms correctly. (I mean 'correctly according to my interpretation' of course:D)
     

    gasman

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    My extensive search over the last 1 minute indicates that both forms-Somali and Somalian-are in general use and mean the same thing.
     

    Soomaali

    New Member
    Somali
    As a Somali person, the correct noun is Somali. There is no "Somalian."

    The country is called Somalia, the people Somali, the language Somali, the culture Somali.

    There is no sub-category for "Somalian" to those who only live in Somalia. No. The noun Somali is a nationality as well as an ethnicity. Hence, that boss of yours is wrong to differentiate.

    All respected media organizations use Somali noun in their reports, though some reporters in those organizations might incorrectly use the noun "Somalian," nevertheless it is incorrect.
     

    Bintz

    New Member
    English
    Somalian’s call themselves “Somali” because that’s how you say it in Arabic and they speak a lot of Arabic. If you want to speak English you say “Somalian.”

    Here are some examples of words translated from English to Arabic. Notice the pattern:

    Somalian=Somali
    Palestinian=Filistini
    Syrian=Soori
    Egyptian=Masri
    African=Afreeqi
    American=Amreeki
    British=Britaani
    Russian=Roosi
    Chinese=Seeni
    Saudia Arabian=Saudi
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The English form is Somali, with a borrowed ending just as we use in many other English names across a wide region: Qatari, Kuwaiti, Iraqi, Pakistani, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Bengali, Zanzibari. It just happens to have a less common variant, which others don't.
     

    AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    You will certainly be understood if you say Somalian. This ngram shows that it's hardly ever used, though.
     

    Bintz

    New Member
    English
    I am convinced. Thank you for correcting me.

    Except about the Hindi part...isn’t the word for a person from India Indian?
     
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