Talking About the Home in Soussou
Objective: When you’re in Guinea, you will often be in and out of various people’s homes. You’ll not only be living somewhere (likely in a home with someone else), but you’ll also often be invited to visit friends, neighbors, and others at their homes. Knowing some basic phrases to talk about the items at home is an important skill to have. This lesson will introduce you to the basic vocabulary around the house, and how to ask for certain things, such as a place to sit, or a spoon to eat with (as you will often be invited to eat “wöni do tébili ra” – when sitting at the table, which is often the center of the home).
Bankhi – House
Högni – Home (Where someone live specifically)
Feigntegne – Property
Kouri – Kitchen
Nadè – Door
Sadé – Bed
Boutou – Mattress
Hougni sassé – Pillow (Note how this is related to the parts of the body we learned)
Handè/Handèdi – Bathroom
Göngni – Chair
Foré gögni – Plastic chair
Wouri gögni – Wooden chair
Döhö sè – A place to sit (usually a wooden stool, but is refers to any place one might sit)
Tébili – Table
Pöti – Mug
Köpi – Cup
Kehefou – Spoon
Kefoudi – Little spoon
N’siga fé bankhi fikhè – I am going to the white house.
M’fa fé bankhi, m’ha fa m’sa – I am coming home to go to sleep.
I na minsé raba fé bankhi? – What’re you doing at the house?
Kamoudèri kérén khili, ahafa m’ma nadè yalan – Call a carpenter to come fix my door.
M’ma sankiri na sadé boungni – Leave my shirt on top of the bed please.
I ha boutou nöhi – Your mattress is dirty.
Fa hougni sassé firin nan m’bè – Please bring me two pillows.
Foré göngni söngnira, n’ha döhö – Bring me a plastic chair, I am going to sit down.
Tébili ra danguima, n’ha sèbèli ti – Pass me the table, I am going to write.
Köpi söngnira n’ha yé miin – Bring me a cup, I’m going to drink some water.
Kéfoudi söngnira n’han dhè gué – Give me a spoon, I am going to eat.
- Using the above list of vocabulary, go around your own home and label certain items with post-it notes. Along with your Soussou language mentor, you can add certain items if you wish–especially those things that are used most regularly. However, also remember that there is a cultural context to a number of things. For example, for certain food items, even those that were common later on in Africa such as coffee, there is no equivalent in Soussou (people use the word “café” from French). This is also true for some other items in the home, such as a couch, for which there is no easy equivalent, and would fall under the broad category of döhö sè, or something upon which one sits.
- With your language mentor, pretend that you’re going to someone’s home. You can ask about the different rooms in the house. You can also ask where certain things are, such as the bathroom, the kitchen, or the bed. This could be a good orientation to the whole house.
- You can also practice, building off of some of the previous vocabulary, a situation in which you’re being invited to the table for dinner. You can practice asking for certain items in Soussou, using the phrase “söngnira” which essentially means “bring mean,” although it does not have any impolite sense to it. You and your language mentor can practice being in a certain scenario where you might need a cup to drink some water or some juice, a spoon to eat rice, fonio, or boui, or perhaps you need a chair to sit down because there isn’t quite enough room at the table. Make sure that you work on your pronunciation. Lots of repetition will help!
Feedback and Reflection:
One thing you want to pay close attention to is the small words when it comes to these exercises. Perhaps one of the most complicated parts about this exercise is that the level of vocabulary can get quite extensive quickly. One technique might be to focus on a single room in the house (kitchen, bedroom, etc.). This might be one way to concentrate on a certain type of vocabulary or a set of words. You can then move on to others.
You also want to remember your cultural context as well. For example, there are certain items that you might see at home that you might not necessarily see in Guinea, or that there might not be a direct equivalent. For example, if you ask for water, you will often be given a small plastic pouch of water (usually referred to in French as “l’eau (en) sachet.”) However, this water is often not the best filtered, and you will often want to drink water from a “sipa,” which is essentially a plastic bottle. This is just some of the cultural context to keep in mind.
One other thing to work on with your language mentor is the culturally specific context of certain words, such as “köpi” versus “pöti,” which refer to different kinds of cups. Although they might refer to roughly the same object, and you might be able to get by with using one versus the other, there are some specificities that can be best explained alongside a native Soussou speaker.