Arabic

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.

5 ways to express your love in Arabic

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Valentine’s Day is almost here! 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”:
What better way to tell someone you would do anything for them than to say you would do it “on my head”? When a loved one asks a favour of you, this Arabic reply means that – to use English equivalents – you would walk across hot coals, move mountains, do anything, for their happiness.

3. Ya rouhi “يا روحي”:

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

4. Kalamak/ik ‘ala qalbi ‘asal “كلامك على قلبي عسل”:

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 a lot to say “I love you so much.” Someone who says this expression is remarking that they would rather die and have you bury them before losing you. It’s actually quite sweet!

np9zczbxg8d31

… حب (hub), شغف (shaghaf), عشق (‘ishq) and more… in Arabic, love is a complex spectrum!

This month, don’t miss NaTakallam’s NEW “Duo” Valentine’s offer on our Integrated Arabic Curriculum, perfect for two – lover, sibling or friend!

Alternatively, sign up for our Duo Conversation Sessions in the following Arabic offerings: Egyptian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian, Syrian, Yemeni, or Modern Standard Arabic.

10 untranslatable love expressions from 6 languages

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Love is a universal language but some days you need a little extra to express your affection to your loved one. With Valentine’s just around the corner, here are our top 10 love expressions in 6 languages!

1. Arabic: “دمه خفيف” (damu-hu khafeef)
Literally “his blood is light”, is a way of saying that you find someone extremely funny and adorable! Change to “دمها خفيف” (damu-ha khafeef) when speaking to a lady 😉

2. Spanish: “Eres un bombón”
For days when your eye candy is looking particularly sweet, literally meaning “you are a bonbon”.

3. French“Mon petit chou” (masculine) or “Ma choupinette” (feminine)
Want a unique way to address your beloved? This French term of endearment, literally translates to “my little cabbage”! Confused? The “chou” here is actually short for ‘chou à la crème’, a sweet puff pastry!

4. Persian (Farsi): “دلم برات تنگ شده” (delam barat tang shode)
When “I miss you” just isn’t enough, employ this poetic Persian phrase: lit. “my heart has tightened for you”. This could mean the mental feeling of missing someone transforms into physical pain or that you miss someone so much you can’t breathe!

5. Spanish: “Me haces mucha falta”
Or if you’d prefer en español, this very common phrase is often directly translated as “I miss you”. But when you break it down, it basically translates to: you make a big absence in me, or you are lacking from me!

6. French: “Retrouvailles”
More relevant this year than ever: the unmatched feeling of joy when finally reunited after much time apart – that’s exactly what this untranslatable French word describes!

7. Kurdish (Kurmanji): “Kezeb-a min”
Go beyond the typical terms of endearment with Kurmanji and address your loved one – lover, family or friend – with: “Kezeb-a min”, literally meaning “my liver”. As a vital organ, this is truly a sign of affection!

8. Arabic “تقبرني” (tuqburnii):

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: one would rather die and have you bury them, than live without you! It’s actually quite touching.

9. Persian “دورت بگردم” (doret begardam):
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. Armenian: մեռնեմ ջանիդ (mermen janid)
As suggested by its literal translation, “let me die for/on your body”, this phrase indicates a readiness to sacrifice your life for your loved one, and may be said to anyone you love and care for.

Looking for more ways to express your love? Skip the chocolates!

This year, try NaTakallam’s NEW Duo language option and discover your language of love WITH your loved one (and save up to 25% compared to individual sessions!).

Twice the learning, twice the impact. Available in Arabic, French, Persian and Spanish!

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!

5 ways to say “thank you” in Arabic

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Ahlan (أهلا, hello)! Last week, our blog explored 5 ways of saying “thank you” in Spanish. This week, let us dive into 5 different ways of expressing gratitude in Arabic.

Although each country in the MENA region has its own colloquial dialect, ‘aammiya (عامية), here are 5 ways to say “thank you” that can be understood almost anywhere in the region.

1. Shukran (شكراً)

Shukran is used in all Arabic-speaking countries, in both formal and informal settings, and is understood widely among speakers of all dialects of Arabic. It comes from the root verb shakara (شكر) meaning “to thank”. As a common response, you may hear al-’awfoo (العفو) or ‘af-waan (عفواً) which literally means “forgive/pardon”, and is the equivalent of “you’re welcome” or “no problem” in English.

2. Tislam/Tislami (تسلم/تسلمي)

Heard mostly throughout the Levant and parts of the Gulf, this phrase comes from the root verb salama (سلم) meaning “to come out safe/healthy”. It can be used when a friend or family member gives you something or does something nice for you.

Add ideyk (إيديك – to a male) or ideyki (إيديكي – to a female) to the end of the phrase and you will quite literally say “may your hands enjoy health” – a way of thanking the person who gave you something.

3. Mamnoun(t)ak/ek (ممنونك/ممنونتك)

Mamnountak/ek (female speaker) or mamnounak/ek (male speaker), is used throughout the Levantine region to say “thank you” or to mean “I’m grateful to you”.

If you’ve got this down, you know some Persian, too! This Arabic loanword, mamnoun (ممنون), which is gender-neutral in Persian, is commonly used to say “thank you” by Persian speakers as well. Watch out this space to learn more about expressing gratitude in Persian!

4. Ya‘tik al-‘afiya (يعطيك العافية)

Literally translating to “may [God] give you health” this phrase is said in recognition and appreciation of someone’s hard work. In response, you may hear Allah y-a‘fik, which also means “may God bless you with good health”. It is also used in the Levant as a way to say “hi” when entering a shop, acknowledging and praising the fact that the people attending you are working hard.

Caution: in Moroccan Darija dialect, ‘afiya means fire, so please be careful while using this phrase in Morocco!

 5. Yekather khairak/ek (يكثر خيرك)

An abbreviated version of the saying “I wish [that God] increases your welfare”, this phrase can be a way of saying “thank you so much for helping me” across the Arab world. Khair (خير) is the noun meaning “good” often heard as bekhair (بخير, well) when responding to the question “How are you?”

These are a few ways to express gratitude in Arabic. This holiday season, learn more about the subtleties of the Arabic language and culture with NaTakallam’s language partners! Sign up for sessions here. Offer the gift of conversation to loved ones, near or far, here!

Scroll to Top