Month: February 2022

5 Incredible Arab Feminists You Need to Know

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Blog contributor: Maria Thomas

NaTakallam is marking International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month by highlighting some of history’s most celebrated feminists. This week, join us as we take a look at 5 incredible Arab feminists we all need to know.

1. Nawal El Saadawi (Egypt, 1931-2021)

Nawal El Saadawi was an Egyptian feminist writer, activist and physician. Her works such as The Hidden Face of Eve (الوجه القاري للمرأة العربية, Al-Wajh al-qari lil-mar’a al-‘arabiyyah), A Daughter of Isis, and Memoirs of a Woman Doctor have over the years become a cornerstone of Arab feminism. In Saadawi’s own words, her writing was a weapon which she exercised against the autocratic power of state and that of the father or husband figure in the family.

‘‘The written word is an act of rebellion, against injustice exercised in the name of religion, or morals, or love.’’ – Nawal El Saadawi (A Daughter of Isis)

2. Fatema Mernissi (Morocco, 1940-2015)

Professor Fatema Mernissi was a Moroccan writer and sociologist. Her works include her revolutionary book Beyond the Veil (1975), a fictional memoir, Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood (1994), and The Forgotten Queens of Islam (1990). Her scholarship thwarts the popular notion that female subordination is rooted in religious texts and argues that this misunderstanding ‘‘sprang from centuries of misinterpretation by male leaders intent on maintaining the sexual status quo’’. Mernissi was a pioneer of Islamic feminism and inspired Muslim women, especially those from humble backgrounds, in their struggles for human dignity, equality and social justice.

3. Sahar Khalifeh (Palestine, 1941-)

Sahar Khalifeh is a Palestinian writer known for her gripping novels such as Wild Thorns (الصبار, Al- Sabaar), The Inheritance (الميراث, Al-Mirath), and My First and Only Love (حبي الأول, Hubbi al-Awaal). Her writings focus on female characters with strong personalities. She masterfully connects the plight of the nation with that of women, pointing out that the devaluation of women obstructs nationalist ambitions

‘‘I could see very clearly that the debacle of 1967 was the fruit of a rotten tree that needed a cure – the internally defeated do not triumph. The cure must start with our households and with those in power, with our social values and ties, with the fabric of the family, with the rules and basics of the upbringing of the individual at home, in school, and at university, and then progress to the street.’’ – Sahar Khalifeh (My Life, Myself, and the World)


4. Ghada al Samman (Syria, 1942-)

Ghada al Samman is a Syrian journalist and novelist, best known for her sublime short stories. Her writings are collected in volumes such as عيناك قدري (Aynak qadiri, ‘‘Your eyes are my destiny’’), لا بحر في بيروت (La bahar fi Beirut, ‘‘No sea in Beirut’’), and  رحيل المرافئ القديمة (Rahil al-marafi al-qadima, ‘‘The departure of the Old Ports’’). She also wrote two novels – Beirut Nightmares ( كوابيس بيروت, Kwabis Beirut) and ليلة المليار (Laylat al-milyar, ‘‘The Eve of Billion’’). Samman’s works are a bold commentary on contemporary social and political realities. She established the Ghada al Samman Publications in 1977 to publish her own writings free of editorial interference and censorship.

5. Assia Djebar (Algeria, 1936-2015)

Assia Djebar was an Algerian writer, translator and filmmaker. She is known for works such as La Soif (“The Thirst”), Les Enfants du Nouveau Monde (‘‘Children of the New World’’), and Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade (original title: L’Amour, la fantasia). Although her writings are not in her mother tongue – Arabic, she had a keen interest in the language and used French to ‘‘reproduce Arabic rhythms’’. Her writings explore the struggles she knew both as a feminist living under patriarchy and an intellectual living under colonialism and its aftermath.

Learn Arabic and explore the writings of these incredible women with NaTakallam! We are a women-led and women-fueled community that offers language sessions in Modern Standard Arabic and 7+ dialects. This March, receive a $25 credit in NaTakallam language sessions to gift to a woman, loved one, or yourself, with every language purchase of 5 hours or more!

 

This piece was contributed by Maria Thomas, a copywriter with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in art history. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, powerlifting and going on hikes.

5 Ways to Express Love in Western Armenian

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Blog contributors: Nairy Kouyoumjian, Lucy Davis, and Maria Thomas.

The month of love may be well behind us but everyday is a new opportunity to spread love! Armenian has two main dialects – Eastern and Western – and even more ways to say “I love you”. Though the two main dialects are mutually intelligible, they have been evolving separately over the last 100 years in their own unique ways.

Here are our top 5 phrases to spread the love with Western-speaking Armenians around the world!

1. Դուն իմ աշխարհն ես (Toun im ashkharhnes)
Meaning “you are my world,” this is also the name of a famous song by Armenian-American singer Paul Baghdadlian, known as the King of Love Songs.

2. Սիրելիս (Sirelis)
This word, meaning “my darling” or “my beloved,” is a simple one to memorize and use with your loved ones! Use this expression (and the others listed!) to tell someone how much you care for them.

3. Կեանքս (Gyankes)
This more figurative way of expressing love, meaning “my life,” uses the same word as you would use to talk about life in a general sense.

4. Սիրտս (Sirdes)
To round out our list we have Սիրտս meaning “my heart.” It is commonly used when talking with a lover, friend or family member with affection.

5. Քեզ կը սիրեմ (Kez geh seerem)
This is the most straightforward way to express your adoration of someone in Eastern Armenian, translating directly to “I love you.”

Here’s another bonus expression: Սէրս Քեզ Կու տամ (Seres kez gou dam). This phrase translates to “I give you my love,” which you might use interchangeably with Քեզ կը սիրեմ (Kez geh seerem) i.e. “I love you.”

Interested in learning more Western Armenian? Sign up for NaTakallam Sessions today, or give the Gift of Language to a loved one! At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from displaced backgrounds.

Join a session today, learn a language and make an impact!

 

This piece was contributed by Nairy Kouyoumjian, Lucy Davis, and Maria Thomas:
Content support: Nairy Kouyoumjian is a Syrian-Armenian Language Partner with NaTakallam teaching Arabic and Western Armenian. She loves teaching her native languages in a fun and engaging way! During her sessions, she combines the basic rules of the language with discussions about her life and her culture! In her free time, she enjoys reading and doing voluntary social work.
Copywriting: Lucy Davis is a Communications and PR Officer with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing a dual Bachelor’s degree in economics and literature. She loves cooking, doing puzzles, and traveling to new places.
Copyediting: Maria Thomas is a copywriter with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in art history. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, powerlifting and going on hikes.

5 Ways to Express Love in Eastern Armenian

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Blog contributors: Anahid Jouljian, Lucy Davis, and Maria Thomas.

The month of love is coming to an end, but that’s no reason to stop celebrating love! Armenian communities around the world mark the holiday of Trndez, also known as Candlemas Day in some parts of the world, in February. What’s more, these celebrations are followed by another Armenian festival, St. Sargis Day – providing even more reasons and ways to share love.

Learn 5 phrases about love in Eastern Armenian with NaTakallam and find out more about these unique holidays!

1. Իմ պաշտելիս (Im bashdelis)
This phrase, meaning “my adorable,” might be used on Trndez, when it is customary for newlyweds to help build a large bonfire in the church courtyard and leap over it together.

2. Իմ մի հատիկս (Meg hadiges)
This is a beautiful way to tell someone you love them, meaning, “my one and only.” On Trndez, celebrating love is not just for newlyweds but for families and people in all stages of life. During the bonfire, people light candles to bring the fire back to their own households.

3. Թանկագինս (Tangakeenes)
This translates to “my precious” but don’t worry, it’s not a reference to the Lord of the Rings! You can use this expression to tell someone how much you care for them.

4. Սիրելիս (Sirelis)
This one word phrase meaning “my darling” or “my beloved” can be added into any phrase to make it loving. According to tradition on St. Sargis Day, young people should eat a small salty snack called aghi blit before going to sleep, and in their dreams, they will see their future soulmate offering a glass of water.

5. Սիրում եմ քեզ (Seeroum em kez)
This is the most straightforward way to express your adoration of someone in Eastern Armenian, translating directly to “I love you.”

Interested in learning more Eastern Armenian? Sign up for NaTakallam Sessions today, or give the Gift of Language to a loved one! At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from displaced backgrounds.

Join a session today, learn a language and make an impact!

 

This piece was contributed by Anahid Jouljian, Lucy Davis, and Maria Thomas:
Content support: Anahid Jouljian is a Lebanese-Armenian Language Partner with NaTakallam teaching Western Armenian. As a result of the pandemic and Lebanon port blast, Anahid moved to Yerevan with her family in March 2020. In her 25 years of teaching, Anahid’s lessons have helped the Armenian diaspora around the world get back in touch with their roots. Today, she is also an editor in the Memory Documentation Project of The Armenian Program of the Gulbenkian Foundation.
Copywriting: Lucy Davis is a Communications and PR Officer with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing a dual Bachelor’s degree in economics and literature. She loves cooking, doing puzzles, and traveling to new places.
Copyediting support: Maria Thomas is a copywriter with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in art history. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, powerlifting and going on hikes.

One story of cross-border love from our Afghan tutor, Sadiqa

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Since February is the month of love, we put out a call to our conversation partner community to tell us their stories of love and romance. Sadiqa, one of our tutors from Afghanistan, shared the story below

Sadiqa Sultani, one of NaTakallam’s Dari instructors, is originally from Afghanistan. She had moved to Quetta, Pakistan with her family when she was young to escape the Taliban rule, but soon after, they were forced to leave Pakistan due to persecution based on their ethnic and religious identities, rendering her double displaced.

Now living as a refugee in Bogor, Indonesia, Sadiqa is a volunteer teacher within the local refugee community. She tries to give her refugee students something meaningful to do as they wait out the resettlement process. She also teaches students on the other side of the world online through NaTakallam. 

One morning in October 2018, Sadiqa saw she had received a message from a man named Naeem Royan, a long-lost classmate of hers from her days in Quetta. In his love letter, Naeem wrote that he had loved her since primary school and had searched for her for eight years.

At first, she didn’t believe him! 

Sadiqa was waiting to go back to Pakistan, but she was still in Indonesia because of the slow resettlement process. She began chatting with Naeem online, getting to know each other after so many years apart and slowly falling in love…

When Naeem proposed, Sadiqa had a big decision to make.

Was he serious? Sadiqa wasn’t sure. She discussed the proposal with her parents. She spent more time talking to Naeem before making any decision, as she still didn’t know him very well. Naeem was trying very hard to make her feel his love and respect for her, never missing a single chance to express his feelings and thoughts. 

Finally, Sadiqa said YES and accepted his proposal. 

However, there were many challenges in store for the two lovers. As Sadiqa could not go back to Pakistan, Naeem decided to come to Indonesia. Just as he was planning his trip, the coronavirus pandemic struck, and the world went on lockdown. By this time, Sadiqa and Naeem had been in a relationship for more than three years and were still unable to be together. Last month, they were Nikahfied (married) in an online ceremony. 

They love each other dearly and unconditionally. These two lovers have been able to stand and be together through so many ups and downs. They are still searching for any possible way to start living together and bridge the forced divide between them, just praying and hoping to be together soon.

5 Ways to Express Love in Kurmanji Kurdish

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Blog contributors: Hadiya Ahmed, Maria Thomas, and Baran Hasso.

Valentine’s Day may have just passed but why run out of words to say how much you love someone? This week, we bring you five sweet words and expressions in Kurmanji Kurdish!

1. Dilê min
This expression literally translates to ‘‘my heart’’ and is used to address a loved one – a romantic partner, a friend or a family member – endearingly.

2. Ji te hez dikim
What better way to express your love and affection for a loved one than to say those magical three words – ‘‘I love you’’? In Kurmanji Kurdish, that would be Ji te hez dikim.

3. Kezeba min
Literally translating to ‘‘my liver’’, this phrase is an expression of endearment much like جیگر طلا ‘‘jigar tala’’ in Persian. It conveys their significance to your life!

4. Ronîya çavê min
This expression literally translates to ‘‘light of my eyes’’. It is commonly used to refer to a beloved family member, friend or significant other.

5. Hevalrêya min
Literally translating to ‘‘my way mate’’, this heartwarming phrase encapsulates what love is all about – companionship, a sense of belonging, and warmth! It refers to someone who is your “traveling companion” through life’s journey. Use this expression (and the others listed above!) to tell someone how much you care for them.

Learn how to express words of love, endearment and more in Kurmanji Kurdish with NaTakallam’s native Language Partners, today! At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from refugee/displaced backgrounds.

Join a session today, learn a language and make an impact!

 

 

This piece was contributed by Hadiya Ahmed, Maria Thomas, and Baran Hasso:
– Content support: Hadiya Ahmed is a Language Partner with NaTakallam specializing in Kurmanji Kurdish and Arabic. Originally from Qamishli in Syria, she has a degree in English literature and loves spending her spare time reading, playing basketball and practicing Zumba.
– Copywriting: Maria Thomas is a copywriter with NaTakallam. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in art history. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, powerlifting and going on hikes.
– Proofreading support: Baran Hasso is a Language Partner with NaTakallam specializing in Kurmanji Kurdish and Arabic. He graduated from Aleppo University with a degree in Philosophy before going on to study Philosophy for Children in Turkey. Baran enjoys playing music, reading and traveling for recreation.

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