NaTakallam

Top 5 Reasons To Learn Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

A common dilemma faced by Arabic learners has been: should one learn fusHa (فصحى), otherwise known as Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), or ʿāmmiyya (عامية), a colloquial dialect? While both are important for mastering the Arabic language, here are our top 5 reasons why you should learn MSA.

1. Used across the MENA region


Arabic is the 5th most spoken language in the world, so being able to understand MSA is a huge advantage! MSA is used for print and broadcast media, law, legislation, academia, and modern literature throughout the Middle East and North Africa regions. It is likely that many people in these regions understand it to some extent, having heard it on news broadcasts, read it in books and/or learnt it at school. Therefore, MSA provides a common language among the Arabic-speaking countries, meaning you should be able to communicate with most Arabic speakers to a certain extent.

2. A practical basis for learning other dialects


Modern Standard Arabic provides a solid foundation for learning the different spoken varieties of Arabic (dialects) across the Arab world. Although there are many differences between the various dialects and MSA, a lot of words can be traced back to their roots in MSA. For instance, in Levantine dialect, to ask ‘How are you?’ you would say ‘كيفك’ keefak/fik which is very similar to MSA’s ‘كيف حالك’ keef halak/lik.

3. A consistent way of understanding the Arab world


Modern Standard Arabic is a beautiful and complex language. It is a variety of standardized, literary Arabic developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, heralding a modern period for Arabic language. For Arabic learners, MSA can provide a more grammatically consistent route into the Arabic linguistic and cultural world.

4. Accessing Arabic media & culture


Want to understand news channels or read poems by Mahmoud Darwish in its original language? Then you should choose to learn MSA as it is the language of media and literature in the Arab world and the vast majority of news channels, newspapers and radio productions. Therefore, understanding MSA is key for accessing the world of journalism and foreign affairs in the MENA region.

5. Extensive economic and business advantages


Arabic is the official language of 22 countries and is one of the 6 official languages at the United Nations. The economic and business advantages of understanding MSA are abundant and having Arabic on your CV can boost your job prospects massively! For example, did you know that the Arab world has a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion?


Yalla! What are you waiting for? Kick-start your Arabic journey here or if you’re looking for a deep-dive, try NaTakallam’s one-of-a-kind Integrated Arabic Curriculum which combines MSA AND Levantine dialect! Try a FREE curriculum session here before you commit.

What’s more? It’s on SALE today with 10% off (up to US$75)! Plus, make an impact by supporting the livelihoods of NaTakallam’s language partners from displaced backgrounds.

How People Express Laughter in Different Languages

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Laughter is a universal yet culturally-tinted phenomenon. It draws people together and has the power to stimulate physical, emotional, psychological and social changes. Ever wondered how people from different cultures conveyed laughter and humor? Join us as we explore laughter and humor in five different language-cultures!

 

1. PERSIAN

In Persian, laughter is transcribed as either خخخخخ (khkhkhkhkh), ههههه (hahahahaha), or هاهاهاها (ha ha ha ha). 

Central to Persian popular humor is the figure of Mulla Nasruddin Khodja. Born in Seljuk Sultanate of Rum in the 13th century, Khodja was a philosopher and a wise man who imparted his wisdom through witty jokes and funny tales. A famous Khodja tale that Persian-speakers (and others) chuckled to over generations goes as follows: 

Mulla had lost his ring in the living room. He searched for it for a while, but since he could not find it, he went out into the yard and began to look there. His wife, who saw what he was doing, asked: “Mulla, you lost your ring in the room, why are you looking for it in the yard?” Mulla stroked his beard and said: “The room is too dark and I can’t see very well. I came out to the courtyard to look for my ring because there is much more light out here”.

 

2. ARABIC

In Arabic, laughter is written as ههههه (hhhhh or hahahaha), هاهاها (hā hā hā), or even هع هع هع (ha’ ha’ ha’). 

Like Mulla Nasruddin Khodja in the Persian-speaking world, Arabic-speaking countries too have a popular figure who effortlessly combines humor and wisdom. Known as Juha, Djoha, or Goha, this figure first appeared in Al-Jahiz’s 9th-century book “Saying on Mules” (القول في البغال). However, over the centuries, the character of Juha was merged with that of Mulla Nasruddin Khodja. Juha appears in thousands of tales, always witty, sometimes wise, and other times gently absurd – a butt of his own jokes. 

In one story, a man sees Juha across a raging river. “How do I get across?” the man cries. “You are there already!” Juha shouts back.

 

3. SPANISH

In Spanish, laughter is expressed as jajajaja (hahahaha). 

The Spanish sense of humor is well encapsulated in Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a mock epic which satirizes early modern obsession with noble knights, ridiculous quests and chivalric attitudes. Published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615, it is considered one of the founding works of western literature. Humor in Don Quixote is subtle but sharp. Cervantes sets his story as follows, before going on to describe the absurd adventures of his titular character:

“En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no hace mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor.”

(‘‘Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.’’)

 

4. ARMENIAN

In Armenian, laughter is transcribed as հա հա հա (ha ha ha). 

Humor, in more recent times, has been used by Armenians as a form of resistance and empowerment. The famous Radio Yerevan jokes are an example. Popular in the 20th century, these jokes took a Question & Answer format, mimicking that of popular series on Armenian Radio. 

When asked ‘‘Could an atomic bomb destroy our beloved town, Yerevan, with its splendid buildings and beautiful gardens?’’

Radio Yerevan answered: ‘‘In principle, yes. But Moscow is a far more beautiful city.’’

 

5. FRENCH

In French, laughter is often expressed with the initials mdr’ for mort de rire (dying of laughter) – equivalent to LOL in English. 

French humor is celebrated in cartoonist André Franquin’s Gaston, a gag-a-day comic strip first published in 1957 in the comic strip Spirou. The series focuses on the everyday life of Gaston Lagaffe (meaning Gaston “the blunder”), a lazy and accident-prone office junior working at Spirou’s office in Brussels. It is much loved not only for its perfectly timed comedy, but also for its warm outlook on everyday life.

Explore humor and laughter in different languages this New Year with NaTakallam’s native language partners! Sign up for sessions here or spread the laughter (it’s contagious!) with a loved one by gifting a NaTakallam session here – an experience like no other.

Gaston comic visual source: philonomist.com/en/article/innovation-smile-gaston-lagaffe

8 New Year’s Traditions Around The World

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

As we ring in New Year 2022, here are different traditions that mark the beginning of the year from around the world!

 

1. Syria & Lebanon: a ‘‘white dish’’


In Syria and parts of
Lebanon, New Year’s is celebrated with a “white dish” representing the hope for all things good for the year. The ‘‘white dish’’ could be a scrumptious plate of shakriyeh, kibbeh labanieh, sheikh el mahshi, muhalabia or just a simple bowl of cereal with milk1. As in several other cultures, the color white is considered particularly auspicious for New Year’s as it is associated with new beginnings, peace and prosperity. 

 

2. Ecuador: burning the Año Viejo (‘‘old year’’)


In Ecuador, the New Year is ushered in with the burning of effigies of all people/things that represent the year gone by. These effigies could range from that of politicians, television personalities to that of beloved superheroes and cartoon characters. As a part of the
tradition of Año Viejo, revelers jump over the burning effigies twelve times for each month of the year in a symbolic cleansing of the bad from the past year before commencing the New Year.2

 

3. Armenia: breaking of the ‘‘year bread’’


In Armenia, a sweet bread called the
‘‘year bread’’ (also known as gata, darin, or darehats) is baked to mark the New Year. Although the recipe for this bread varies from region to region, it usually consists of flour, sugar, butter, eggs and often an Armenian yogurt known as matsoni. A coin, walnut, or a button is hidden in this bread and when it is broken (yes, broken not cut)3 on New Year’s the person who finds it in their piece is considered to have the best fortune for the year. 

 

4. Spain: las doce uvas de la suerte (the 12 grapes of luck)


In Spain, twelve grapes are eaten, synchronized with the sound of the twelve strikes of the bell marking the New Year.
This tradition is believed to lead an individual into twelve lucky and prosperous months. In more recent years, the grapes are stuffed into the mouth all at once and the ringing of the bell is substituted with loud cheers from family and friends.

 

5. Peru: three potatoes 


In Peru, three potatoes – one peeled, one half peeled, and one unpeeled – are hidden under a chair or a couch before midnight. When family/friends gather at midnight, a potato is picked at random.
This potato is believed to predict the person’s/family’s fortunes for the year to come. The peeled potato signifies bad financial fortune, half-peeled signifies a normal year, and unpeeled signifies a great bounty in the year ahead.

 

6. France: galette de Rois (‘‘Kings’ cake’’)


In France, New Year celebrations extend to January 6, when the feast of Epiphany – marking the three wise men’s visit to baby Jesus – is celebrated. On this day, people tuck into a sweet pastry called
galette des Rois. Two little figurines are hidden inside the pastry; whoever finds it is deemed King or Queen for the day. 

 

 

7. Iran: the haftseen (هفت‌ سین), spread of seven S’s


Iranians celebrate their New Year,
Nowruz (نوروز), at the beginning of spring (on March 20th or 21st). They usher in the New Year with a ‘haft-seen’ table, set with seven symbolic dishes starting with the Persian letter seen (س, S). These may include sabzeh (سبزه, sprouts) for rebirth, sekkeh (سکه, coins) for wealth, sib (سیب, apple) for beauty, samanoo (سمنو, pudding) for bravery, sumaq (سماق, spice) for sunshine, seer (سیر, garlic) for health, and serkeh (سرکه, vinegar) for patience. 

 

8. From ancient Babylonia to you (wherever you are) today: New Year’s resolutions


The Babylonian
akitu festival is one of the oldest recorded New Year celebrations in the world. It developed from a semiannual agricultural festival to an annual New Year’s national holiday, and reached its zenith in the first millennium B.C.E.4 As a part of the festivities, Babylonians would make promises to gods to return borrowed objects and to pay any outstanding debts – these became an early forerunner to our own New Year’s resolutions today! According to a 2016 study, 41% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. They are, after all, a triumph of hope over experience.


As we see above, different countries and regions of the world usher in the New Year in their own unique ways, however, common to them all is the hope for a new year full of happiness, peace and prosperity. 

If your New Year celebrations this year include a resolution, consider learning a new language or brushing up an old one! If you’re on the fence, check out our top 10 reasons why learning a new language will benefit you. NaTakallam’s language learning is taught by displaced, native speakers and is available in Armenian, Arabic (MSA+ dialects), English, French, Kurdish, Persian and Spanish. This New Year, learn new languages, create new experiences!

Wishing all our readers and learners a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year 2022!

 


1  Siham Tergeman. Daughter of Damascus: A Memoir. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994. p.52. 
2 This symbolic jumping over flames can also be found in Iranian New Year (Nowruz) celebrations. See, no. 7 to learn more.
3 To some Armenians, bread symbolizes abundance, and hence, it is never cut with a knife (but broken) so as not to curb their good luck. For more, see: Nane Khachatryan, New Year in Armenia: A Festive Dinner, ecokayan.com/armenia/travel/explore/new-year-dinner-in-armenia. 
4 Julye M. Bidmead, The Akitu Festival: Religious Continuity and Royal Legitimation in Mesopotamia. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2004. Introduction.

 

Top 10 Reasons to Learn a Language this New Year

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Want to introduce something new and transformative into your life this New Year? We recommend language learning! Picking up a new language, or brushing up an old rusty one, is the best way to (re)connect with yourself and with the world around you this new year.

Here are 10 reasons why learning a language would make a great new year resolution for 2022!

1. CONNECT

One of the most rewarding aspects of the human experience is our ability to connect with others. Being able to communicate with someone in their language is a vital and irreplaceable form of connection. Bilinguals have the unique opportunity to communicate and connect at a deeper level with a wider range of people in their personal and professional lives.

2. ADVANCE YOUR CAREER

Language skills can provide a significant competitive edge that sets you apart from your monolingual peers. They are among the top eight skills required of all occupations – no matter your sector or skill level – and the demand for bilingual professionals is rising exponentially. As an added incentive, in many instances, language skills also lead to hiring bonuses and increased salaries.

3. FEED YOUR BRAIN

The cognitive benefits of learning languages are undeniable. Recent studies have demonstrated that people who speak more than one language have improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, ability to multitask, and better listening skills. If that isn’t enough, as we age, being bilingual or multilingual also helps to delay mental ageing and cognitive decline.

 

4. DEEPEN YOUR CONNECTION TO OTHER CULTURES

Language provides a unique insight into cultures. Being able to communicate in another language exposes and thus fosters an understanding and appreciation for the traditions, religions, arts, and history of the people associated with that language. This, in turn, promotes greater tolerance, empathy, and acceptance of others. Studies show that children who have studied another language are more open – and express more positive attitudes – towards the culture associated with that language.

5. SEE THE WORLD

While monolingual travelers are capable of visiting the same places, travelers who know more than one language are more easily able to navigate outside the tourist bubble. They are able to connect and interact with the place and its people in a way that is often inaccessible to those without knowledge of the language. Learning a second language also opens up additional doors to opportunities for studying or working abroad.

6. GO TO THE SOURCE

In a world with more than 6,000 spoken languages, we sometimes require translation, but speaking at least one additional language empowers us to access information that would otherwise be off-limits. For example, individuals proficient in other languages are able to navigate the Internet as true global citizens – accessing and consuming media and entertainment without being restricted by language barriers.

7. BECOME A POLYGLOT

Not only does learning a second language improve communication skills and multiply vocabulary in your first language, but research also shows that it makes picking up additional languages a much easier feat, especially among children. That’s because when you learn a new language, you develop new neural-pathways that are primed and ready when you embark on learning a third language.

8. BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE

Any language learner can attest to making his or her share of mistakes while discovering a new language – often in front of an audience. It’s a necessary part of the learning process! Learning a language means putting yourself out there and moving out of your comfort zone. The upside is the amazing sense of accomplishment you will feel when conversing with someone in their native language.

9. STRENGTHEN YOUR DECISION-MAKING

Studies show that decisions made in your second language are more reason-driven than those made in your native language. Contrary to popular assumptions, when we deliberate in a second or third language, we actually distance ourselves from the emotional responses and biases deeply associated with our mother tongue. The result? Systematic and clear-headed decisions based solely on facts.

10. GAIN PERSPECTIVE

As we explore a new language and culture, we naturally draw comparisons to what is most familiar. Learning about another culture sheds light on aspects of our own culture – both positive and negative – which we may not have considered previously. This is likely to result in a greater appreciation for what one already  has, and/or provide an incentive to shake things up a little!

Find out more on how you can learn a language with one of our programs TODAY: natakallam.com

3 Reasons Why The Gift of Language Is The Ultimate Gift

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

On a quest for a meaningful gift for a loved one? Look no further. Online language lessons are the ultimate gift for a culture aficionado or a perennially curious language enthusiast in your life. Perfect for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.

Plus, it’s shipping-free, impact-driven and starts at only US$25.

1. IT NOURISHES YOUR MIND

Learning a language physically changes your mind – making one a stronger, more creative thinker. A study at the University of Edinburgh demonstrated that young adults proficient in two languages performed better on attention tests and had better concentration than those who spoke only one language. The study also showed that adults who had become bilingual later in life performed better than those who had not – exhibiting more robust general intelligence and thinking abilities. 

Learning a new language can make you a better listener. A study at Northwestern University found that bilinguals are better at juggling linguistic input, instinctively paying more attention to relevant sounds and ignoring irrelevant ones – making them more effective in challenging or novel listening conditions. 

Language learning is essentially a workout for your mind. It challenges it in order to keep it sharp and cognizant. It mustn’t be surprising then that language learning is an effective therapy to help delay the onset of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

2. IT NOURISHES YOUR SOUL

Learning a new language provides an avenue to explore new and exciting cultures that ignites the soul! It helps one to interact with people from around the world and acquaint oneself with their experiences. This can help broaden one’s perspective in ways that many other educational experiences cannot. Dan Roitman points out that ‘‘as a language learner, you’ll not only become a more conscious thinker and listener who can communicate clearly and think creatively, but you’ll also gain the most significant benefit of multilingualism: a broader, more global perspective.’’ 

Learning a new language can also help transcend political, geographical and cultural boundaries. It encourages one to try to comprehend experiences that are remote from their own, develop a sense of empathy and work towards the common good, and go beyond headline narratives. The people, stories, and experiences that a new language brings you truly has the potential to nourish your soul!

3. IT NOURISHES YOUR HEART

When you learn a new language on platforms such as NaTakallam, you not only nourish your mind and soul but also your heart! NaTakallam leverages the freelance digital economy to provide income to refugees, displaced persons and their host communities by hiring them as online tutors, teachers, translators and cultural exchange partners, regardless of their location and status. Learning a new language with NaTakallam allows one to connect to local cultures, initiate cross-border friendships and have a holistic language-learning experience that’s good for your mind, soul and heart! 

Give your loved one a unique language-learning experience with NaTakallam’s Gift of Language and Conversation. Available in Arabic, Armenian, English, French, Kurdish, Persian, Spanish, and suitable for all ages and levels.

What’s more? NaTakallam’s language sessions take place virtually from the comforts of home and make the perfect last-minute (yet meaningful) gift that requires no shipping. Gift a language, surprise a loved one, change a life.

Gift Guide: 6 Social Enterprises that Support Refugees

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

It’s that time of year again! This holiday season, kill two birds with one stone by considering impact-driven gifts for your loved ones. Make a difference with our list of 6 social enterprises that support the talents, skills, and livelihood of displaced persons – refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants – through their unique and thoughtfully-collated products that will leave a lasting impression (and impact).

 

1. MADE51 | Starting from £12 

MADE51 is a UNHCR initiative that connects refugee artisans to global markets. It is a lifestyle brand selling beautiful home decor and fashion items that merge contemporary design with traditional craftsmanship. Each product in the MADE51 collection is handcrafted by a refugee artisan who lives in a hosting country in Africa, Asia, Europe, or the Middle East. Whether it is their Amaryllis Basket, crafted by Burundian refugees living in Rwanda, or their Gold Glow Nuusum Statement Earrings, crafted by refugees from Myanmar, Syria, and Afghanistan living in Malaysia – each piece in this collection tells a story of skill and perseverance and would make a perfect stocking filler this holiday season! 

MADE51 offers flat-rate worldwide shipping and free shipping with a minimum purchase spend. Find out more here.

 

2. Migrateful | Starting from £20 | Digital Gift Option

Migrateful is a social enterprise based in London that gives asylum seekers and refugees looking for jobs in the UK a space to share recipes from their countries, their culture, language and stories through cookery classes – in person or digital. They also receive professional training and English-language lessons. Participants in these classes can learn recipes from all over the world from chefs coming from: Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Albania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Cuba and Ecuador. Migrateful’s online or in-person cookery classes are an ideal gift for foodies and culture enthusiasts in your life, near or far!

The Migrateful cookery classes can take place in-person in London, Bristol, Kent or Brighton or online on Zoom. Shipping-free and guaranteed fun with impact.

 

3. Sisterhood Soap | Preemptive Love | Starting from US$10

Looking for gifts that are good for your skin, the environment, and the world? Preemptive Love’s Sisterhood Soap, hand-milled by refugees in Iraq, using natural and sustainable ingredients will not disappoint. They use natural ingredients such as 100% pure olive oil and wild grown herbs. Their motto for the latter is: if it hasn’t been grown wild for hundreds of years, don’t use it! Sisterhood Soap does not use any dyes, artificial fragrance, glycerine, sulfates or parabens – making it safe for all skin-types. In choosing their individual soaps, gift sets, or their quarterly soap subscription, you’re empowering a refugee soapmaker and growing the sisterhood! 

Rebuild lives one bar at a time. Preemptive Love ships worldwide from the US. Shipping rates and times will vary according to items, courier and location.

 

4. Anchor of Hope Box | Starting from US$36

The Anchor of Hope Box is a monthly subscription box filled with original, lifestyle items handmade by refugees, survivors of human trafficking and other vulnerable situations. In doing so, they endeavor to give hope and dignity to individuals who are working to overcome poverty and injustice that has impacted their lives. The monthly subscription boxes include well-thought-out and researched products ranging from jewelry, ceramics, art works to home decor and spices. Each month, the subscription box will contain 3 quality, handmade items as well as an information card about the products and the artisans that made them. Gift a loved one an Anchor of Hope Box this holiday season and share the joy of a gift that keeps giving! 

Anchor of Hope Box currently only ships to the US. Shipping rates and times may vary according to the location.

 

5. SEP Jordan | Starting from €35

A Swiss-based social enterprise, SEP Jordan is a luxury fashion & lifestyle business with a social impact focus. Its mission is to bring thousands of refugees, located in the Jerash “Gaza” Camp in Jordan, above the poverty line: by leveraging their skills and talent in hand embroidery. They currently work with over 500 embroidery artists, mostly women, enabling them to regain their economic and emotional independence. Their hand-embroidered keffiyehs (كوفية‎), beautiful cashmere shawls, and bespoke accessories, all packed with love and heritage, would make quality gifts for loved ones. Additionally, they offer Gift Card options starting from €50. 

SEP Jordan ships worldwide via DHL Express. Shipping rates and times may vary according to the location.

 

6. NaTakallam | Starting from $25 | Digital Gift 

Last, but not least, NaTakallam is an award-winning social enterprise that pairs language learners with native tutors from refugee backgrounds for one-on-one online lessons! You can choose from an array of languages – including Arabic, Armenian, Kurdish, Persian, French and Spanish – and gift packages to fit your budget. With NaTakallam’s language sessions you can give your loved one an experience of a language and culture while also supporting the livelihood of tutors from displaced backgrounds and their host communities. It makes a perfect stocking stuffer for a beloved language-enthusiast looking for a life-changing experience (both theirs and their tutors alike)!

Give the Gift of Conversation to a language lover in your life, near or far. Suitable for all levels and ages. This gift is paperless and shipping-free (i.e it can be “virtually” shipped worldwide).

7 Meaningful Gift Ideas To Make Someone’s Holiday

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

This holiday season, spread love and stand out from the crowd with meaningful gifts that help transcend borders and offer your loved ones a tangible experience of the world from the comforts of home. Go the extra mile (without breaking the bank) by choosing gifts that speak to their senses, curiosity and wanderlust. Whether you are looking for presents for a budding homecook, an avid traveller, or a culture aficionado, here are some ideas to create memorable gift experiences.

 

1. Kitchen Gift Set | Sitti x Darzah (US$70)
This embroidered apron and olivewood utensils set is an ideal gift for a treasured homecook. It brings together centuries-old Palestinian artitistic traditions of tatreez (تطريز) or embroidery, handed down from mother to daughter, and of olivewood carving, documented as a speciality of the region in travelogues and historical documents from as early as the 16th century. While the apron in this gift set is hand-embroidered by women artisans in Bethlehem with a traditional red tatreez olive branch motif, the utensils are crafted from sustainably-sourced olive wood in Palestine.

This kitchen set is a perfect gift for a seasoned chef, aspiring cook, or somebody who needs an extra push to try new recipes and travel through culture and cuisine – Palestinian or another.

Sitti ships worldwide. Shipping rates and times will vary according to items, courier and location. Free shipping is offered to orders made within Canada and the USA.

 

2. Tote Bag, Cojolya | Amano Marketplace (US$57-62)
Made by a Tz’utujil Maya masterweaver in Guatemala using traditional Mayan techniques, this tote bag from Cojolya is an elegant amalgamation of style and sustainability. Cojolya is a certified fair trade organization that is dedicated to the conservation of traditional Mayan techniques, not as historical relics, but as economically viable sources of employment for the women weavers associated with them.

This makes a great option for the culturally curious who would get a glimpse of Latin American culture through this tote bag, handmade with love and packed with history.

Amano Marketplace ships worldwide. Shipping rates and times will vary according to items, courier and location. Free U.S. shipping for orders over US$175.

 

3. Tahdiglover pot | Tahdiglover (Starts from £12.99)
Share the joys of a perfectly crispy and scrumptious tahdig with a fellow Persian-food lover with this Tahdiglover pot. Traditionally made of rice, tahdig (ته دیگ) which literally translates to “bottom of the pot”, is considered a Persian “soul food”. Tahdiglover pot ensures that you always get this dish right! It is a woman-owned business working with other small businesses in Iran and the UK to help young people showcase their cooking talent and to make Persian and Middle Eastern cooking more accessible and enjoyable.

The Tahdiglover pot is a creative gift for anyone keen on mastering their Tahdig skills, taking up the challenge of cooking a new cuisine, or accessing new worlds through food and culture.

Tahdiglover ships worldwide from the UK. Shipping rates and times will vary according to items, courier and location.

 

4. Hojari Frankincense from Oman | Pink Jinn (US$55.46)
Dial up warmth and comfort this holiday season with the gift of Omani frankincense from Pink Jinn! Frankincense, an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, was traded on the Arabian peninsula and the Horn of Africa for over 5,000 years. Monopoly over frankincense trade is believed to have helped the Nabateans rise to prominence in the 1st century BC. This exquisite gift brings home the intriguing history of frankincense along with an effortless experience of luxury and healing. Pink Jinn’s frankincense are sourced from Dhofar in Oman, an historically important site for frankincense production, and comes in an ornate jar along with a pair of tongs and charcoal discs.

The Hojari Frankincense is an exquisite gift that speaks to the senses of the bold, the spiritual, and those interested in new experiences from the comfort of their homes.

Pink Jinn ships worldwide from the UK (via Etsy). Shipping rates and times will vary according to items, courier and location.

 

5. Queen Amina’s Blend | Amatte Coffee (£8.90)
Gift for a coffee lover AND a history enthusiast? Look no further. Sourced from female farmers in the Sidamo province of southern Ethiopia and from the Democratic Republic of Congo, this naturally processed ground coffee is the holy grail you’re seeking! This blend by Amate Coffee has a sweet and smooth taste with notes of orange, apricot, caramel, vanilla and citrus and is named after Queen Amina, the first female leader of the city-state of Zazzu, located in the north-western part of modern Nigeria. The gift receiver is guaranteed an exhilarating journey through time, space and robust tasting notes!

Amatte ships worldwide from the UK. Shipping is £3 within the UK and £15 outside the UK.

 

6. The Latin American Cookbook by Chef Virgilio Martinez | Phaidon (€45)
Discover the vibrant flavors, aromas, and ingredients of Latin American cooking with Chef Virgilio Martinez’s latest cookbook which celebrates the treasures of Latin American cookery. Replete with six hundred recipes from twenty-two countries, this cookbook will help any Latin America lover reinvigorate memories of food, people and culture from their travels and musings! Holiday gifting done right.

Phaidon ships worldwide from one of their warehouses in the USA, UK, or Australia. Shipping rates and times will vary according to items, courier and location.

 

7. Gift of Conversation | NaTakallam (Starts from US$25)
After a year of pandemic and social distancing, what is better this holiday season than connecting to another human being through language? NaTakallam’s “Gift of Conversation” is a unique gift that allows individuals to learn a new language or brush up their existing skills from the comforts of their home. What’s more? You would be supporting the livelihood of tutors from displaced backgrounds and their host communities. It makes a perfect stocking stuffer for a beloved language-enthusiast looking for a life-changing experience (both theirs and their tutors alike)!

Give the Gift of Conversation to a language lover in your life, near or far. Suitable for all levels and ages, and available in over 15 languages and dialects.

NaTakallam’s Gift of Conversation is paperless and shipping-free (i.e it can be “virtually” shipped worldwide).

 

Still need more inspiration? Check out this impactful gift guide by our friends at Vital Voices, who have partnered with inspiring small women-led businesses this holiday season.

Vital Voices Global Partnership are “venture catalysts” that invest in women leaders and change makers who are solving the world’s greatest challenges across 185 countries – from gender-based violence to the climate crisis, economic inequities, and more. 

Beatboxing as a Gateway Between Worlds

Reading Time: 5 minutes 

Director’s Notes of the Multilingual Beatbox Video

Contributor: Daniel Te, Summer Intern – Program Support Officer at NaTakallam

 

Two years ago, I beatboxed on the streets of Athens, Greece, on the last day of my study abroad program. During the performance, I felt some sort of connection towards the locals, as they challenged me to beatbox battles, shimmied along, and even gave me a smoothie. That’s when I knew there was more to discover about human connection at the intersection of music, language, and different cultures.

This past summer, during my internship at NaTakallam, I wanted to use the opportunity to tie in my passion for beatboxing together with the experiences of the language partners from displaced backgrounds at NaTakallam. This is where the project idea was born.

Universality and Distinctness in Language

Languages have many sounds in common. The “voiced bilabial stop” (another way of saying the letter “B” in English) can be found in a wide range of languages worldwide, and it is also the most fundamental sound for beatboxing. Practically any language has enough hard consonants to create a strong, basic beatboxing rhythm.

However, not only do different languages have sounds that are less common (such as خ, a sound in Arabic that is like a rough “K” vibrating at the back of the mouth or the Spanish letter J, “jota”), but even languages that do share many sounds can be pronounced quite differently. As a result, beatboxers that speak different languages produce rhythms that are structurally similar but aurally distinct.

In parallel, to a certain extent, the refugee narrative holds similar patterns. With over 80 million displaced persons worldwide (as of 2021), the journey of displacement is common among many people, but the character of their journey is shaped by their individual circumstances and the crises they flee. At NaTakallam, each language partner has their own unique story of displacement. This is what the Multilingual Beatbox video aims to portray.

The Process

The Multilingual Beatbox video combines each story of displacement into the general refugee narrative (universality), while highlighting a chosen word in their native language that represents their journey (distinctness). Each language partner introduces themselves by saying, “can you say [(word) in their native language]” to simulate a NaTakallam conversation session.

An early storyboard of the project.

 

After drafting a storyboard, I connected with various language partners, including translators and interpreters, on Slack (a communication channel for organizations). I aimed to gather a diverse group, reflective of NaTakallam multicultural team and language services in a wide range of languages.

Gathering a multilingual team for my beatboxing project (a “CP”, or “conversation partner”, is an internal term for language partners at NaTakallam).

 

It truly was a pleasure getting to know the language partners from all corners of the world. During the remote recording sessions, we had a great time and many of them got to meet some of their co-workers for the first time.

A meeting with Sayed, a Persian language tutor from Afghanistan based in Indonesia, and the fourth language partner featured in the video.

 

After the recording sessions, I looped the audio of each language partner saying their chosen word, editing it in the style of a beatbox rhythm. While it would have been exciting to have each of them do their own beatboxing, that would have been hard to coordinate remotely.

 

The video was produced in Adobe Premiere Pro, and the audio track was created in Adobe Audition.

 

 

 

Reflections on the Final Piece

This project hit close to home for me. My parents were refugees of the Cambodian Genocide in the 1970’s, so the journey of displacement was a recurring theme growing up. Throughout my life, I have been haunted by the question of what can we do in a world that still suffers constant refugee crises and how we can enable displaced persons to rebuild their lives. I have come to two conclusions.

One, open yourself up to the world. Embrace the universe. Beatboxing is my gateway, in that it helps me recognize what we have in common linguistically, as humans living in one world, and it only colors my vision more as I use it to engage with other cultures.

Two, enter others’ worlds and find the nuances. Engage in the issues that have persisted for displaced persons for decades and enable them in host communities. Speak their language and immerse yourself in the way they experience reality. With the Internet and services like NaTakallam (meaning “we speak” in Arabic), venturing into new linguistic worlds has never been easier.

To borrow the words chosen by the language tutors, it can be disheartening to hear that people around the world still face “discrimination” (“ubaguzi” – in Swahili) in their end of the “universe” (“l’univers” – in French), and experience “endless escaping” (“هروبٌ لا نهاية له“- in Arabic). The resolution of one refugee crisis doesn’t stop another from happening. Yet, seeing the Cambodian refugee community rebuild their lives in America, while still facing many struggles, gives me hope that displaced persons around the world have a genuine chance at “peace” (“صلح” – in Persian) and finding their new “earth” (“tierra” – in Spanish).

One day, I hope that “we speak” (or “we beatbox”!) as humans invested in each other’s well-being, compassionate of the struggles (universal and distinct) that people go through all around the world.

My beatboxing performance on the streets of Athens, microphone in hand.

 

Contributor: Daniel Te is a second-generation Cambodian-American with a zest for life. He interned as a Program Support Officer at NaTakallam and recently graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and a minor in Urban Studies.

 

 

5 Ways to Express your Love in French

Reading Time: < 1 minute

French is known as “le langage de l’amour” or the language of love! And we believe that love should not be defined by just a day or month.

Keep sharing the love with our top 5 phrases in French, with the special people in your life!

1. Je t’aime
This is the most widely recognized way to say “I love you” in French to a loved one, family member or friend!

2. Mon chéri/Ma chérie
Meaning “my darling/dear,” this common endearment is used throughout the francophone world. Fun fact: If someone uses the noun “chéri” in the US, it is commonly thought that they are from (French-speaking) New Orleans, Louisiana.

3. Ma moitié
While literally “my half”, in English this would be more accurately translated as “my better half” and often refers to a “partner in crime”. This can be used with friends and romantic partners alike.

4. Avoir un cœur d’artichaut
This phrase literally means “to have an artichoke heart,” but refers to someone that falls in love easily.

5. Mon cœur bat la chamade
They don’t call it the language of love for nothing. This poetic expression translates as “My heart beats loudly [for you]”, in anticipation or excitement to see a loved one.

But as a fun twist, the word “la chamade” has an archaic use, meaning “a trumpet of signal inviting the enemy to parley”.

Do you have “un cœur d’artichaut”? Fall in love with language learning over and over again with NaTakallam’s NEW Duo Sessions in French!

Pair up and share the language learning experience with your “chéri(e)” for double the fun, double the impact! Sign up today.

5 Ways to Express your Love in Persian

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Valentine’s Day may have passed, but we have the lesser-known Sepandār-mazgān (سپندارمذگان) – the ancient Persian celebration of earth, women and love – coming up on February 23rd! 

Only recently gaining popularity among Persian communities, Sepandār-mazgān historically takes place on the 5th of ‘Esfand’ (the 12th month in the Persian calendar) and dates back to the 20th century BC! Today, in Iran, this day is observed a week earlier due to calendar changes with time.

This Sepandār-mazgān, express your affection to loved ones with our top 5 Persian phrases! ❤️

1. Doostet daram “دوستت دارم”

It literally translates to “I like you” but it is the most common and widely recognized way to say “I love you” to a loved one, family or friends in Persian!

2. Asheghetam “عاشقتم”

From the word eshghعشق” (love), it literally translates to: “I’m in love with you.” It’s a much more intense expression or display of love, for romantic or close platonic relationships alike! 

3. Jigar tala “جیگر طلا

This Persian expression takes the cake for unique ways to address your lover, literally meaning “golden liver”. An English equivalent might look something like “A heart of gold.” 

4. Fadat besham “فدات بشم”

The ultimate expression of affection, this phrase means “I am willing to sacrifice myself for you.” Use this expression the next time someone says something super adorable that makes you melt. Said in fun, this phrase is not to be taken seriously!

5. Eshghe mani “عشق منی” 

Translating to “you are my love”; this phrase can be used in response to an adorable comment by a loved one. Derived from the word eshgh “عشق” (love), you can flip around the expression and add the possessive pronoun “my”, or suffix “-am” in Persian: “eshgh” + “am” = eshgham (my love).

Other common terms of endearment include: azizam (my dear), asalam (my honey), khoshgelam (my beautiful), nafasam (my breath), jigaram (my liver).

This February (and beyond), sign up for NaTakallam’s NEW Duo Sessions in Persian and share the love WITH your jigar tala (جیگر طلا)! At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from refugee/displaced backgrounds. What say’s “doostet daram” more than that?

Double the fun and impact; learn more here.

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