To commemorate Refugee & Pride Month, Get 20% OFF any Language Session Purchase, using code WRD21 at Checkout, to amplify impact during this special month!

To commemorate Refugee & Pride Month, Get 20% OFF any Language Session Purchase, using code WRD21 at Checkout, to amplify impact during this special month!

Arabic

8 Ways to Wish Someone a Happy Eid

8 Ways to Wish Someone a Happy Eid in Arabic

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Millions around the world mark the end of Ramadan with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. Here are 8 different greetings from around the Arabic-speaking world that you can use to wish someone a happy and prosperous Eid (and the common responses to such wishes).

1. Eid Mubarak (عيد مبارك) – Across the Arab world

This is perhaps the most common way to wish someone a happy Eid. It literally translates to, “[have a] blessed Eid”. In response, one could also say Eid mubarak (عيد مبارك) which means, “blessed Eid [to you too]”, Allah yebarek feek/i (الله يبارك فيك), which means “God bless you [too]”,  or simply, shukran (شكراً) meaning “thank you”.

2. Yen’ad alaikum bel-sahha wa al-saleme (ينعاد عليكم بالصحة والسلامة) – Levant 

This greeting is directed to a group of people and means: ‘‘May the next Eid find you in [good] health and wellness’’. It is used commonly in the Levant. As a response one would say: wa alaikum bel-sahha wa al-saleme (وعليكم و بالصحة والسلامة) meaning, ‘‘may health and wellness be upon you [too]’’.

3. Kol ‘am wa anta/i bikhair (كل عام وأنت بخير) – Levant 

With this expression you are saying: ‘‘I wish you goodness every year’’. Like the previous greeting, it is used popularly in the Levant. One would respond by saying: wa anta/i bikhair (وأنت بخير) which translates to ‘‘and goodness to you [too]’’.

4. Eid fitr saeed (عيد فطر سعيد) – Across the Arab world

This greeting is most apt for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr celebration. It literally means: “Happy Eid al-Fitr”. The common response to this would be: ‘alayna wa ‘alaik/i (علينا وعليك) meaning, “upon us and upon you”.

5. Eidkum mubarak wa inshallah min al-aydeen (
عيدكم مبارك وإن شاء الله من العايدين) – Iraq

This is a popular Eid salutation in Iraq. It means: “[Have a] blessed Eid and God willing, may you be among those who celebrate it over and over”.

6. Min al-aydeen (من العايدين) – Yemen

Similar to the Iraqi greeting, this expression from Yemen means: ‘‘May you be among those who celebrate Eid over and over’’. One would respond to it with min al-fayzeen (من الفايزين) which means, ‘‘may you be [counted] among those who are successful’’.

7. Eidkum mubarak wa asakum min uwwadah (عيدكم مبارك وعساكم من عواده) –  The Gulf region

This heartfelt expression means: ‘‘Have a blessed Eid and may you go on to witness many more Eids’’. In response one would say: Mubarak ‘alayna wa alaikum inshallah (مبارك علينا وعليكم إن شاء الله) meaning ‘‘God willing, blessings on us and you’’.

8. Kol sana wa anta/i tayeb/a (كل سنه وأنت/ه طيب/ه) – Egypt 

With the meaning of ‘‘I wish you goodness every year’’, this phrase is commonly used in the Egyptian Eid greetings (as well as birthday wishes). It is often followed by wa anta/i tayeb/a (وأنت طيب) and/or Eid saeed ‘alayna (عيد سعيد علينا)  as a response, meaning ‘‘and [wish] you goodness too’’ and ‘‘happy Eid to us [all]”, respectively.

Book a session, today, to learn more about these greetings and the various dialects of Arabic with NaTakallam’s native language tutors! Choose from Modern Standard Arabic and 7 dialects: Egyptian, Iraqi, Sudanese, Yemeni, and Levantine – Syrian, Palestinian, Lebanese.

To our language partners, learners, friends, supporters and all those celebrating, Eid Mubarak!

At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from refugee/displaced backgrounds and their host communities.

 

 

Credits:
– 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.
– Copyediting: Emmy Plaschy is a volunteer content writer and editor at NaTakallam. She currently works in communications in Switzerland. In her spare time, she enjoys polishing her Arabic skills, writing and gazing at the stars.
Proofreading support: Sally Wehbi is an Education Coordinator with NaTakallam. Her background is in education and event planning. In her free time, Sally enjoys spending time with family, seeking out adventures, and practising laughter yoga.
Content support 1: Abir Zahra is an Arabic Language Partner with NaTakallam from Lebanon. She has worked as a maths and science teacher for 4 years. More recently, she worked as an educator with Syrian refugee children. Abir enjoys travelling, shopping, and meeting new people.
Content support 2: Ahmed Aseem is an Arabic Language Partner with NaTakallam from Egypt. He is passionate about the Arabic language and culture, and enjoys helping others overcome language barriers. In his spare time, Ahmed loves to go fishing and hiking.
And 3 other Language Partners who would like to remain anonymous.

NaTakallam 6 Must-Try Easter Delicacies From Around The World

6 Must-Try Easter Delicacies From Around The World

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Easter is celebrated by millions around the world and it is not a surprise that food is at the heart of these festivities. Join us as we delve into the Easter delicacies from around the world – from Ukraine to Argentina, Armenia to Egypt.

Paska (пáска)1. Paska (Ukraine)


Paska
(пáска) is a bread traditionally made at Easter in Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe. It is made with milk, butter, eggs, flour and sugar. In Ukraine, it forms an important part of the Easter basket also known as the “basket of blessed food” (свячене, “svyachene”) alongside Easter eggs (писанки, “pysanky”) and sausage (ковбаса, “kovbasa”).

Variations of this bread are also made in Armenian and Assyrian communities of Iran, Iraq, Armenia and the diaspora.

Kaek and Ma’amoul2. Kaek and Ma’amoul (Egypt and the Levant)


Kaek (كعك) and Ma’amoul (معمول) are two cookies at the heart of all Egyptian and Levantine celebrations (read about ma’amoul in our Ramadan blog). These cookies are made with semolina flour and butter. They are stuffed with dates, pistachios, walnuts and flavoured with rosewater, orange blossom, mastic and mahlab. Each cookie is formed by hand or by using wooden moulds and each shape symbolizes an event associated with the Holy Week and Easter.


Egyptian Fattah3. Fattah (Egypt)


Among the Coptic Christians of Egypt,
fattah (فتّة) is a popular dish eaten at Easter and other feasts. It is a quintessentially Egyptian dish that dates back to the time of the pharaohs. It is made with rice, (lots of) garlic, crispy pita bread and a protein of choice – commonly, lamb. 

The word fatteh comes from the Arabic root verb meaning “to break up” or “crush”, referring to the pita bread crumbs that form the bases of all fatteh recipes. 

A similar but distinct dish is found in southern Levant. This Levantine counterpart (fetteh, فتّة), includes ingredients such as chickpea, strained yoghurt and other regional variations, and is a popular breakfast dish.


Rosca de Pascua4. Rosca de Pascua (Argentina)


This is a sweet bread enjoyed at Easter in Argentina. The name literally translates to “ring or bagel of Easter”. Like the name, the bread is shaped into a ring and decorated with cream, fruits, nuts and often, chocolate eggs. 

It is similar to Rosca de Reyes and Galette des Rois, cakes enjoyed at Epiphany in several Spanish and French-speaking countries, respectively (read more about Galette des Rois, “Kings’ cake”, in our New Year traditions blog).

Choreg5. Choreg (Armenia)


Choreg
(չորեկ), also spelled as “chorek”, “cheoreg”, or “choereg” is an Armenian sweet yeasted bread made at Easter. It is made with flour, butter, yeast, eggs, milk and sugar, and flavoured commonly with mahlab (cherry-based spice), mastic or orange zest. It is often braided using three strands to represent the Holy Spirit

Variations of this bread are found in Greece (τσουρέκι, “tsoureki), Turkey (paskalya çöreği), Romania (cozonac) and Bulgaria (козунак, “kozunak).

Petits Nids de Pâques6. Petits Nids de Pâques (France)


Literally translating to “little Easter nests”, this is a popular delicacy from France. It is a chocolate-based, nest-shaped pastry that brings together the symbolism of eggs at Easter with the decadence of chocolate. It is made with flour, sugar, a raising agent, butter, eggs and cocoa, and is served with chocolate Easter eggs nestled on the top.

 

Learn more about these delicacies, people and languages with NaTakallam, today! Book a session with one of our Ukrainian, Arabic, Persian, Spanish, French or Armenian language partners from displaced backgrounds, and delve deeper into the world of languages and everything sweet! 

To all learners, language partners, and friends observing this festival Happy Easter – Shchaslyvoho Velykodnya (щасливого Великодня), Eid Fasih Sa’eid (عيد فصح سعيد), Shnorhavor Surb Zatik (Շնորհավոր Սուրբ Զատիկ), Felices Pascuas, Joyeuses Pâques!

 

CREDITS
– 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.
– Copyediting: Emmy Plaschy is a volunteer content writer and editor at NaTakallam. She currently works in communications in Switzerland. In her spare time, she enjoys polishing her Arabic skills, writing and gazing at the stars.

7 Traditional Ramadan Delicacies You Must Try

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer and self-reflection, observed by millions around the world. It is a time for practicing self-discipline, empathy and compassion. 

Those who observe it, fast from dawn to dusk. These fasts are broken by a meal after sunset called iftar (إفطار) or ftoor (فطور) and reinitiated by dawn with a meal called suhur (Arabic:سحور) or sahari/sehri (Persian/Urdu: سحری). The iftar table particularly is a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds, enjoyed by Muslims and their guests from all walks of life. 

Here are 7 traditional delicacies from the Middle East that you can spot on iftar/suhur tables around the world.

 

Ma'amoul1. Ma’amoul (معمول)


Ma’amoul is a filled semolina cookie popular in the Middle East particularly in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. It is often filled with dates, figs and nuts such as pistachios, almonds and walnuts. It is also prepared in Egypt and Turkey where it is called kahk and kombe, respectively. The word ma’amoul is derived from the Arabic root ‘amila (عَمِلَ) meaning “to do”.

Basbousa2. Basbousa (بسبوسة)


Basbousa is a semolina cake, soaked in syrup, originally from Egypt. Today, it (or a version of it) is found throughout the Middle East (in Levant: harissa “هريسة”), the Caucasus (Armenian: shamali “Շամալի”), and in countries like Greece (ravani “ραβανί”), Turkey (“revani”), Bulgaria (revane “реване”) and Ethiopia (basbousa “ባስቦሳ”).

Qatayef3. Qatayef (قطايف) (also pronounced as ‘atayef)


Qatayef is a sweet dumpling made from yeasted batter and filled with cheese and nuts, enjoyed throughout the Levant and Gulf region. A recipe for it is found in the earliest known Arabic cookbook – the 10th century, Kitab al Tabikh (كتاب الطبيخ, “The Book of Dishes”) by Ibn Sayyar al Warraq. The word qatayef is derived from the Arabic root qtf (قطف) meaning to pick or pluck.

Om Ali4. Om Ali (أم علي)


Literally translating to ‘mother of Ali’, this is a traditional Egyptian dessert. Some call it the national dessert of Egypt.
Legend has it that it was first prepared in the 13th century at the behest of Om Ali, the first wife of Mamluk Sultan Izz al Din Aybak. It is a speciality at most Egyptian iftar feasts. 

A variant of this dish is found in the Jordanian and Iraqi delicacy called “khumaiaa”.

Luqaimat5. Luqaimat (لقيمات) or Zalabiya (زلابية)


Luqaimat
literally translates to “morsel” or “mouthful” and refers to deep fried dough balls, soaked in syrup or honey. This delicacy, sometimes also known as zalabiya (زلابية), is mentioned in several medieval sources such as Ibn Batuta’s travelogue, the famous ‘Thousand One and Nights’ (in the story of the porter and the three ladies of Baghdad), and in the 13th-century writer, al-Baghdadi’s cookbook Kitab al Tabikh (كتاب الطبيخ, “The Book of Dishes”) – where it is called luqmat al-qādi (لقمة القاضي), “the judge’s morsel”.

Variations of this delicacy are found in Iran (bamiyeh, “بامیه”), Cyprus (loukoumádes “λουκουμάδες” or lokmádes “λοκμάδες”), Greece (zvingoi  “σβίγγοι” or tsirichta “τσιριχτά”), and in Turkey (Saray lokması).

Zoolbia6. Zoolbia (زولبیا)


It is a sweet and crunchy Iranian fritter prepared with fermented batter, saffron, sugar and syrup. At
iftar tables, they are often found alongside bamiyeh (بامیه), the small donut-shaped bites. The Iranian zoolbia is closely related to the Arab zalabiya (زلابية), another delicacy prepared at Ramadan using fermented batter, sugar and syrup. Recipes for the latter are recorded in both al Warraq’s and al Baghdadi’s cookbooks from the 10th and 13th centuries respectively. 

Varieties of this delicacy are also found in South Asia (jalebi), North Africa (zlabia) and the Caucasus (zulbiya or zilviya).

 

Goosh-e fil7. Goosh-e fil (گُوش فيل)


Literally meaning “elephant’s ears”,
goosh-e fil is a deep fried pastry prepared in Iran and Afghanistan. They often come topped with powdered sugar and crushed pistachios and are in many ways similar to the Italian dessert named crostoli or chiacchiere. They are particularly enjoyed around Nowruz (Persian new year) and Ramadan.


Learn more about these delicacies and their cultural histories with NaTakallam! Book a session with one of our Arabic, Persian or Kurdish language partners today to delve deeper into the world of languages and everything sweet! 

To all learners, language partners, and friends observing this month, Ramadan Kareem (رمضان كريم, “[have a] blessed Ramadan”), remezan pîroz be!

 

CREDITS
– 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.
– Copyediting: Emmy Plaschy is a volunteer content writer and editor at NaTakallam. She currently works in communications in Switzerland. In her spare time, she enjoys polishing her Arabic skills, writing and gazing at the stars.

6 Ways To Say Mother In Arabic

6 Ways to Say “Mother’’ in Arabic

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Mother’s Day in the Arabic-speaking world is celebrated on March 21 every year. This date was chosen to coincide with the beginning of spring. This Mother’s Day, join us as we take a look at a few different ways one can say “mother” in Arabic!

1. Omm (أم) or Ommi (أمي)

These terms are used commonly throughout the Arabic-speaking world to refer to mothers. Literally, Omm (أم) means “mother”, and Ommi (أمي) as “my mother”.

Fairuz, a music icon from Lebanon uses this term in her famous song “Ommi el-Habiba” (أمي الحبيبة, My beloved mother).

2. Yumma (يُمّه)

In Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and neighbouring Gulf countries, one often hears the term yumma (يُمّه) for mother.

3. Mama (ماما) or Mami (مامي)

In the Levantine or Shami dialect, the words used for mother are mama (ماما) or mami (مامي). It is likely that one may hear Mama or Mami in regions beyond the Levant and across different languages – read more here on why words for “Mom” and “Dad” sound similar across the world!

4. Youm (يوم)

In Aleppo, Syria, one encounters the term youm (يوم) for mother.

5. Yamo (يامو)

In Damascus, Syria, a slightly varied term, yamo (يامو) is used for mothers. 

Popular Damascene actor and director, Duraid Lahham, pays tribute to mothers in his song titled “Yamo Yamo“.

6. Lwalida (لوالدة)

In the Moroccan or Darija dialect, one of the terms for mother is lwalida (لوالدة).

Mothers are an epitome of love, warmth and selflessness. In their embrace, one finds hope, strength and protection. These sentiments are beautifully encapsulated in the award-winning Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish’s (1941-2008) poem titled, “To My Mother” (إلى أمي). Here is an excerpt:

Dearly I yearn for my mother’s bread,
My mother’s coffee,
Mother’s brushing touch.
Childhood is raised in me,
Day upon day in me.
And I so cherish life
Because if I died
My mother’s tears would shame me.

Set me, if I return one day,
As a shawl on your eyelashes, let your hand
Spread grass out over my bones,
Christened by your immaculate footsteps
As on holy land.
Fasten us with a lock of hair,
With thread strung from the back of your dress.
I could grow into godhood
Commend my spirit into godhood
If I but touch your heart’s deep breadth.
____________________________

أحنُ إلى خبز أمي
وقهوةِ أمي
ولمسةِ أمي ..
وتكبر فيَّ الطفولةُ
يوماً على صدر يومِ
و أعشق عمري لأني
إذا متُّ
أخجل من دمع أمي !

خذيني .. إذا عدتُ يوماً
وشاحاً لهدبكْ
وغطي عظامي بعشبٍ
تعمَّد من طهر كعبكْ
وشدِّي وثاقي..
بخصلة شعرٍ ..
بخيطٍ يلوِّح في ذيل ثوبك..
عساني أصيرُ إلهًا
إلهًا أصير ..
إذا ما لمستُ قرارة قلبك !

To all mothers and mother figures out there, عيد ام سعيد, Happy Mother’s Day! 

Are you a heritage language learner or perhaps, you are looking for ways to make the mother figures in your life feel a little extra special this Mother’s Day? Gift a NaTakallam Language Experience session to a loved one today, or treat yourself to a session!

Learn Arabic authentically with our native language partners from displaced backgrounds. Besides Modern Standard Arabic, NaTakallam offers Arabic in more than 7 dialects: Egyptian, Iraqi, Sudanese, Yemeni, and Levantine – Syrian, Palestinian, Lebanese.

P.S. Write to us and let us know if you use another term to refer to your mother in an Arabic dialect!

Credits: We would like to thank our Language Partner community for helping with the content, and Maria Thomas for copywriting the piece. Maria is a copywriter at NaTakallam and is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in art history. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, powerlifting and going on hikes.

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.

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? You’ll 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

5 Ways to Express Love in Arabic

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

The month of love is upon us! This Valentine’s Day, or for that matter, any day of the year, show your love to that special someone in your life with one of these Arabic love expressions.

From our قلب ❤️  (heart) to yours:

1. Ahebbak/Ahebbik (أحبك)
This is the most common and widely recognized way to say “I love you” in Arabic.

2. ‘Ala raasii (على راسي)
This phrase literally translates to ‘‘on my head’’ and expresses your commitment to accomplish the hardest of tasks for the one you love. When a loved one asks you a favor, this Arabic reply allows you to assure them that you would walk across hot coals, move mountains, in short, do anything humanly possible for their happiness.

3. Ya rouhi (يا روحي)

If you know Arabic, chances are you’ve heard of the commonly used term ‘‘habibi/habibti’’, literally meaning “my dear”. Similarly, this sweet little phrase which literally means ‘‘my soul’’ also implies “my dear/beloved”.

4. Kalamak/ik ‘asal ‘ala qalbi (كلامك عسل على قلبي)

Make sure to add a wink after this phrase ;). Literally meaning, “Your words are honey on my heart,” this expression is the perfect response for when a special someone says something especially sweet.

5. Tuqburnii (تقبرني)

Although this phrase literally means “you bury me”, it’s used commonly to say “I love you so much.” Someone saying this is expressing that they would rather die and be buried than lose you. It’s actually quite sweet!

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Hubb (حب), Shaghaf (شغف), ’Ishq (عشق)… Arabic is known for its poetic expressions & beautiful ways of expressing love. Learn them with NaTakallam! Or give the unique Gift of Language to a loved one, available in 7 offerings: Egyptian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian, Syrian, Yemeni, or Modern Standard Arabic.

Also this month, don’t miss NaTakallam’s “DUO” Valentine’s offer on our Integrated Arabic Curriculum, perfect for two – lover, sibling or friend! FREE trial on us before committing.

10 Untranslatable Love Expressions From Different Languages

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Love is a universal language but some days you need a little extra help with expressing your affection to your loved one. Here are our top 10 love expressions in 6 languages.

1. Arabic: Damu-hu/hā khafeef (دمه/ دمها خفيف)
Literally meaning “his/her blood is light”, this expression is used to say that you find someone extremely funny and adorable! Don’t forget that gender matters in Arabic: when referring to a male, use damu-hu khafeef, and for a female, use damu-ha khafeef.

2. Spanish: Eres un bombón
Like the previous expression, this phrase is a way of complimenting a loved one when they look particularly sweet. It literally translates to “you are a bonbon”.

3. French: Mon petit chou (masculine) or Ma choupinette (feminine)
This unique term of endearment can often be confusing. It literally translates to “my little cabbage”! However, you’re not calling your loved one a cabbage here but a “chou” short for ‘chou à la crème’, a sweet French puff pastry!

4. Persian (Farsi): Delam barāt tang shode (دلم برات تنگ شده)
When “I miss you” just isn’t enough, employ this poetic Persian phrase. It literally translates to “my heart has tightened for you”. This expression conveys the physical agony of being separated from a loved one – you miss someone so much that you can’t breathe!

5. Spanish: Me haces mucha falta
Although this Spanish expression is commonly translated as “I miss you”, it has a more heartwarming meaning to it. When broken down, it translates to: you make a big absence in me, or you are lacking from me!

6. French: Retrouvailles
Perhaps more relevant these past two years than ever: the unmatched feeling of joy when finally reunited with a loved one after much time apart – that’s exactly what this untranslatable French word conveys!

7. Kurmanji Kurdish: Kezeb-a min
Go beyond the typical terms of endearment with this Kurmanji expression. Address your loved one – lover, family or friend – with: “kezeb-a min”, literally meaning “my liver”. This expression conveys how vital they are to your life, like the liver to the human body!

8. Arabic: Tuqburnii (تقبرني)

No, we did not mix up our Valentine’s Day and Halloween expression lists! Although this phrase literally means: “you bury me”, it’s used to imply that one would rather die and have you bury them, than live without you! A rather touching expression of love!

9. Persian (Farsi): Doret begardam (دورت بگردم)
Another poetic Persian phrase, this one translates literally to: “let me circle around you”, in effect meaning, “I would do anything for you”. We love the planetary imagery this evokes!

10. Eastern Armenian: Janit mernem (ջանիդ մեռնեմ)
Literally meaning “let me die on/for your body”, this is said to show your profound love and care for someone! A heartwarming expression of love, to be taken metaphorically, of course ;)!

 

Roses are red, violets are blue, express love in new languages, & meet NaTakallam’s awesome (refugee) language tutors, too! Treat yourself to our unique language lessons or give the Gift of Language to your loved ones, near or far. Available in Arabic, Armenian, English, French, Kurdish, Persian and Spanish.

At NaTakallam, every language session contributes to the livelihoods of our skilled tutors from displaced backgrounds. Learn a language, make a friend, change a life.

10 ways to go beyond a simple “thank you” in different languages

Reading Time: 2 minutes

2020 has been a testing year for us all, to say the least. As a way of expressing our gratitude to all our language learners, language instructors, translators, interpreters, volunteers & team members throughout, here are 10 ways of saying thank you — in Arabic, French, Persian and Spanish! 

1.Tislam/Tislami (تسلم / تسلمي)

Coming from the root verb “سلم” or “salama” meaning “to come out safe/healthy”, this phrase means “May you stay safe”, and can be used as a way to thank someone, while literally also wishing well for their health and safety!

2. Ya‘tik al-‘afiya (يعطيك العافية)

Literally translating to “may [God] give you health,” this is a recognition of someone’s hard work and allows you to show your appreciation.

3. Merci de tout coeur (mekh-see dah tu ker)

A heartfelt phrase in French meaning, “thank you with all my heart”.

4. C’est très gentil à toi / vous (seh tkheh jan-tee a twa/voo)

In more formal settings, one might say “that’s very kind of you”. Remember to use “vous” when speaking in a respectful manner!

5. Daste shomā dard nakone (دست شما درد نکنه )

Never realized how poetic Persian is? This phrase means “may your hand not hurt”, often used when someone gives you a gift or prepares food for you.

6. Ghorbāne shomā (قربان شما )

Literally meaning “your sacrifice”, this is an example of a Persian taarof or an Iranian sign of etiquette and politeness, displaying humility. Read more here for context.

7. Te la/lo debo (te la/lo de-bo)

Spanish for “I owe you” – use this with friends to let them know you’re grateful for them and you got them next time!

8. (Estoy) Muy agradecido/a (ehs-toy muy agra-de-cido/a)

This is a lovely way to say “(I’m) very grateful for you” – another version of “thank you so much”, as the adjective “agradecido” is translated as “grateful”.

9. Mamnoun(t)ak/ek (ممنونك/ممنونتك)

You may hear this Arabic loanword, “mamnoun” or “ممنون”, in Arabic or Persian, as a way to say “thank you” or “I’m grateful to you”.

10. Merci (mekh-see)

Don’t be surprised if you hear “merci”, a common way to say “thank you”, beyond francophone countries, it’s also common in Middle Eastern countries and even Iran!

Happy new year, كل سنة وأنتم بخير, Feliz año nuevo, Bonne année, سال نو مبارک, from the NaTakallam family to yours 🙂 Here’s to reaching new language feats in 2021!

P.S. In case you missed our thank you series in the past month, check them here in ArabicPersianFrench and Spanish!

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