11 different Ways to Say Hello in French

Reading Time: 4 minutes

One of the first things we are taught when starting a new language is basic greetings. Textbooks, however, often fail to introduce the variety of ways we can express a simple “Hello!” In reality, a greeting will often change depending on the time of day, the formality of the situation, and the region you are speaking in–this last is particularly true of French! Ranging from Swiss to Haitian, young to old, here are many different ways you can greet someone in French like a true native!

1. Bonjour – across the francophone world

One of the first things we are taught when starting a new language is basic greetings. Textbooks, however, often fail to introduce the variety of ways we can express a simple “Hello!” In reality, a greeting will often change depending on the time of day, the formality of the situation, and the region you are speaking in–this last is particularly true of French! Ranging from Swiss to Haitian, young to old, here are many different ways you can greet someone in French like a true native!

2. Bonsoir – across the francophone world

When broken down, bonsoir literally means “good evening” – bon equating to “good” and soir, to “evening.” As the name implies, the use of bonsoir is exclusive to evening greetings, after about 6 pm and often in more formal situations. For instance, a waiter at a restaurant may approach you at dinner with a bonsoir. The same word can be repeated back to them in response.

3. The Double Meanings of Salut and Ça va ? – across the francophone world

Some of the first greetings taught in school French classes all over the world are salut (meaning “greeting” and related to the English word “salute,” but similar in use to “hi”) and ça va ? (equivalent to “how are you?”). However, many fail to mention their other meanings.

As well as “hi,” salut is also an informal way of saying “bye.” In addition, Ça va ? is another way of saying “I’m fine.” So responding to the question of Ça va ? is very easy; just repeat it! Ça va, et toi/et vous ? (Et toi ? means “And you?”- toi is used with family or friends whereas vous is more formal)

4. Quoi de neuf? – across the francophone world

Used in casual settings, Quoi de neuf ? translates to “What’s up?” or, more literally, “What’s new?” (Note that neuf can mean both “nine” or “new” depending on its context.) This is a very common conversation starter, which has similar implications to “How are you?” Therefore, an appropriate answer, given the informality of the situation, would be Ça va (“I’m fine”).

5. Coucou – France

Without a doubt less formal than the standard bonjour, coucou is a sweet and affectionate way of saying “hi, there.” Coucou’s original meaning translates to “peek-a-boo,” and thus it’s still commonly used when greeting or playing with a child. Although not very typical among adults, many will still use it on the street and in texts or emails to greet friends.

While coucou can simply be replied back, it is also correct to respond with salut or bonjour.

6. Jourbon – France

How good would an article on French greetings be without a little verlan thrown in, just to confuse everyone? The definition of verlan can be found in its name – verlan is the inversion of l’envers, meaning “the reverse.” The essence of verlan is, thus, the act of splitting up a word according to its syllables and switching them around. For instance, if we split up bonjour and swap the two constructions together, we are left with jourbon.

Verlan was originally created as a means to maintain the confidentiality of illegal proceedings. However, it has now evolved and become a common form of slang, first used by young people living in the suburbs (banlieues) of French towns, and has now spread to most young people who continue to keep up with new terms.

7. Ciao – Switzerland

Although this greeting is often attributed to the Italian language, the French-speaking Swiss (who make up about 1.9 million of the country’s population) are also known to say ciao, meaning “hi” as well as “bye.” This greeting is widespread and very casual. The response can be the same back, or the alternative casual greeting, salut.

8. Adieu – Switzerland

Although this greeting is often attributed to the Italian language, the French-speaking Swiss (who make up about 1.9 million of the country’s population) are also known to say ciao, meaning “hi” as well as “bye.” This greeting is widespread and very casual. The response can be the same back, or the alternative casual greeting, salut.

9. Bon matin – Quebec

The dialect present in the Canadian province of Quebec retains many aspects of the French that was spoken in Paris during the 17th-18th centuries. While mainland French uses bonjour to mean both “good morning” and “good afternoon,” bon matin still exists in contemporary Québécois. The word-for-word translation of bon matin is “good morning”; bon means “good” and matin means “morning.”

10. Bonjou and Bonswa – Haitian creole

From the title of this greeting, you might notice that a special element of Haitian Creole is the strong presence of phonetic spelling, meaning that a word is often written the way it’s pronounced.

Starting with bonjou! This greeting derives from its mainland French counterpart bonjour, meaning “hello.” However, while the French bonjour is used to greet people in the morning and afternoon, in Haiti, bonjou would be applied exclusively in the morning.

Bonswa, on the other hand, would be used to greet someone in the afternoon and evening. Its mainland French alternative, bonsoir, literally translating to “good evening,” is only appropriate after sunset. A correct response to both bonjou and bonswa is simply to repeat the greeting back to the other person.

11. C’est comment? – Côte d’Ivoire

This greeting is owed to a type of Côte d’Ivoirian slang, known as Nouchi, which appeared in its capital, Abidjan, in the 1980s. When inquiring about someone’s wellbeing, you can use C’est comment? equating to “What’s up?” This is used regardless of the time of day.

Some common replies include Voilà moi, meaning “Here I am,” a directive for the other person to look at you and see for themselves. Ya foye and Il n’y a rien imply that “Everything is fine.” Alternatively, if things aren’t going too great, you can opt for C’est mou or C’est djinzin.

Anxious to try out some of these greetings? Book a session today with one of our native French Language Partners at NaTakallam and kickstart your linguistic journey. Your interest enables our skilled tutors to support themselves by passing on their knowledge, while also creating friendships beyond borders.

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French words that made their way from Arabic

Reading Time: 3 minutes

From the Arabs of Andalusia in the 8th century, who brought immense commercial, scientific, and literary knowledge to Europe, all the way to the more recent Middle Eastern and North African migrations in the last decades, Arabic-speaking populations have had a considerable impact on the French language and culture.

French, an official language in 29 countries and one of the most-widely spoken Romance languages, has over 500 everyday words with Arabic origins (and that’s not even counting slang terms!).

If you take a close look at this list, you will also see that while these terms all entered French from Arabic, some of those Arabic words were borrowed in turn from other languages such as Greek or Sanskrit – and many of the French variants then made their way into English. Even in centuries past, the world was far more connected than we realize!

Here is our list of 35 French words that made their way from Arabic:

  1. ​​Abricot (apricot)from the Arabic word al barqūq (اَلْبَرْقُوق‎), meaning “plums,” which is itself derived from Latin praecoquum, meaning “early-ripening fruit”

  2. Alchimie (alchemy)from the Arabic word al-kīmiyā (كيمياء), derived from the Greek khemeioa which was in turn either a name for Egypt or the Greek word khymatos, meaning “that which is poured out”

  3. Alcool (alcohol)from the Arabic word al-kuhul (الكحول), meaning “darkened with kohl”, a metallic powder used as make-up to darken the eyelids, which itself comes from the Arabic “kahala” (كحل) meaning “to stain, paint” 

  4. Algorithme (algorithm)derived from the surname of 9th-century Persian mathematician Al-Khwarizmi (الْخُوَارِزْمِيّ), whose works introduced advanced mathematics to the West

  5. Algèbre (algebra) – from the Arabic word al-jabr (الجبر), meaning “reparation” or “the reunion of broken parts”

  6. Artichaut (artichoke)from the Arabic word al-khurshuf (الْخُرْشُوف‎), meaning “artichoke”

  7. Assassin (assassin)with a fascinating etymology and story, evolved from the Arabic word hashashin (حشَّاشين), meaning ‘hashish users’, derived from the word hashish (حشيش), meaning ‘grass’ or ‘[powdered] hemp’

  8. Azur (azure, shade of blue) Arabicfrom the Arabic word al-lazaward (اللازُورِدِ), meaning “lapis-lazuli”, a semi-precious stone known for its deep-blue color.

  9. Bougie (candle)taken from Béjaïa (بجاية), an Algerian city/port town where tapered hand-dipped candles were made

  10. Café (coffee) – from qahwa (قهوة), the Arabic word for “coffee”

  11. Chiffre (digit)from the Arabic word sifr (صِفر‎), meaning “empty” and, by extension, “zero”

  12. Coton (cotton) – from quṭn (قطن), the Arabic word for cotton

  13. Douane (customs) – from the Arabic word diwan (دِيوَان‎), meaning “office”

  14. Echecs (chess) – from shatranj (شطرنج), the Arabic word for chess, which is derived from the Sanskrit chaturanga, meaning “four members of an army” – elephants, horses, chariots, foot soldiers

  15. Elixir (elixir) – from the Arabic word al-ʾiksir (اَلْإِكْسِير‎), meaning elixir, which is ultimately derived from Ancient Greek xēríon (ξηρίον), meaning medicinal powder, which in turn comes from the Greek xērós (ξηρός) meaning “dry”

  16. Gazelle (gazelle) – from ḡhazaal (غَزَال‎), the Arabic word for gazelle

  17. Girafe (giraffe) from the Arabic word for giraffe, zarāfah (زرافة), meaning “fast walker”

  18. Hasard (chance) – from the Arabic word az-zahr (اَلزَّهْر‎), meaning “dice”

  19. Henné (henna) – from the Arabic word hinna’ (حِنَّاء‎), the name for the tree used to make henna

  20. Jupe (skirt) – from the Arabic word jubba (جُبَّة‎), meaning “long garment”

  21. Magasin (shop, warehouse) – from the Arabic word makhazin (مَخَازِن‎), plural of the Arabic word for “storeroom”

  22. Mesquin (petty/stingy) – from the Arabic word miskeen (مِسْكِين‎), meaning “poor”

  23. Nénuphar (waterlily) – from the Arabic word niloofar (نِلُوفَر), meaning “lotus, water-lily,” ultimately derived from Sanskrit nīlotpala (नीलोत्पल)

  24. Orange (orange) – from the Arabic word naranj (نارَنْج), which was borrowed from the Persian narang. The fruit naranj refers specifically to the bitter orange and can be traced back to the Sanskrit word naranga.

  25. Pastèque (watermelon)from the Arabic word bṭikh (بَطِّيخَة‎), meaning “melon, watermelon”

  26. Quintal (100 kg) from the Arabic word qinṭaar (قِنْطَار‎), which is ultimately derived from Latin centenarius, meaning “containing a hundred” 

  27. Razzia (raid) – from the Arabic word ghazwa (غَزْوَة‎), meaning “raid, military campaign”

  28. Safari (safari) – from the Arabic word safar (سفر), meaning “journey, travel” 

  29. Satin (satin) – from the Arabic word zaytūn (زَيْتُون‎), the transliteration of Citong, the city  in China where the fabric originated (thought to be around modern day Quanzhou)

  30. Sirop (syrup) – from the Arabic word sharab (شَرَاب‎), meaning “beverage”

  31. Sofa (couch) – from the Arabic word souffah (صُفَّة‎), referring to “a long seat made of stone or brick”

  32. Sucre (sugar) – from the  Arabic word sukkar (سُكَّر), meaning “sugar,” which is ultimately derived from the Sanskrit word śárkarā (शर्करा), meaning “ground or candied sugar”

  33. Tarif (rate) – from the Arabic word t‘aarifa (تَعْرِفَة‎), meaning “tariff”, which in turn comes from “تَعْريف”, meaning “information, notification”

  34. Toubib (doctor, informal) – from the Arabic word ṭabīb (طَبِيب‎), meaning “doctor”

  35. Zénith (point of the sky directly overhead at any place; the highest point or achievement of something) –  from the Arabic phrase samt ar-ra’s (‎سَمْت اَلرَّأْس‎), meaning “path over the head”

Want to learn more about French and/or Arabic? Check out our affordable, one-on-one language sessions for either language! Both are taught by native French and Arabic speakers from refugee and displaced backgrounds.

Through NaTakallam’s language partners, you will not only be able to learn to speak your target language – you will also discover new cultures and see the world without getting out of your chair! Sign up here. 

NaTakallam 6 Must-Try Easter Delicacies From Around The World

6 Must-Try Easter Delicacies From Around The World

Reading Time: 4 minutesEaster 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)

(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)

(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!

– 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.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Learn French

Reading Time: 2 minutesIn an increasingly globalized, digital world, speaking several languages is an asset. To those of you wondering which second or third language to pick, here are five good reasons to learn French!


French is spoken by around 300 million people. It is, along with English, one of the few languages spoken on all five continents! French is a major language in international communication: be it at the UN – where it is one of the 6 official languages, or at multinational events such as the Olympics or Eurovision.


France and the Francophone world have produced a plethora of cultural icons. From famous painters (Cluade Monet, Auguste Renoir), thinkers, writers and poets (Balzac, Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, Amhadou Kourouma) to legendary singers, composers and musicians (Edith Piaf, Claude Debussy, Daft Punk), fashion designers (Gabrielle Chanel, Christian Dior), film directors and actors (Jean-Luc Godard, Luc Besson, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Simone Signoret)… the list goes on! What’s more exhilarating than diving into this rich culture aided by the knowledge of its original language!


France is a great travel destination – with its variety of historic locations within the heart of Europe and landscapes, from Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) to the Alps to explore. So too are destinations such as Mauritius, Seychelles, Morocco, Quebec and Monaco – where French is commonly spoken, too! Learn French to converse with locals and share meaningful experiences in a number of countries from around the world – whether you are enjoying the sea in Mauritius or Seychelles, the desert in Morocco, the mountains in Quebec, or the Grand Prix in Monaco!


Although it can be intimidating at first, French is not a difficult language to learn! Its grammar is similar to that of a lot of European languages (mainly due to their Romance origins). Many English words have roots in Old French – apparently, as many as 10,000 loanwords! This is perhaps not surprising given the long history of political and cultural exchange between France and Great Britain, with French once being the language of the English court for several centuries. 


This is one of France’s strengths and its influence has extended to the rest of the world. If you ever find yourself seated in a fancy restaurant, learning French will come in handy! No wonder France is the homeland of the Michelin-star rating system (read more on its fascinating origins here)! From all the table-related customs (the word “etiquette” literally comes from the French “étiquette”) to the fine art of pronouncing the names of dishes, knowing French will help you fit right in!

Learn French and explore more of such linguistic and cultural connections with NaTakallam. Our brilliant Language Partners come from displaced communities from around the Francophone world. Book a session for yourself or for a loved one today and kickstart your journey exploring the richness of the French language and cultures!

How People Express Laughter in Different Languages

Reading Time: 3 minutesLaughter 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!


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”.


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.


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.’’)


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.’’


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:

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. 

5 Ways to Say “I Love You” in French

Reading Time: < 1 minutes


French is known as “le langage de l’amour”, the language of love! And we believe that love should not be defined by just a day or month. Here are 5 French phrases that you can use to express love this Valentine’s Day (or any day!).

1. Je t’aime
This is the most commonly used 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 is another common phrase of endearment used throughout the Francophone world. Fun fact: The term “chéri” is also used in the US as a form of endearment, common in (French-speaking) New Orleans and Louisiana.

3. Ma moitié
While literally meaning, “my half”, this term is better translated in English as “my better half” and understood as referring to a beloved “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 or often!

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]”, encapsulating the anticipation and excitement in  seeing a loved one.

A fun fact, 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 French with NaTakallam’s unique one-on-one language learning with native tutors from displaced backgrounds.

Ps. Looking for a special Valentine’s gift? The Gift of Language is meaningful and impactful, a gift like no other!

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. تسلم / تسلمي (Tislam/Tislami)

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. يعطيك العافية (Ya‘tik al-‘afiya)

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!  

Here’s to reaching new language feats in 2021! 

Happy new year, كل سنة وأنتم بخير, Feliz año nuevo, Bonne année, سال نو مبارک, from the NaTakallam family to yours 🙂

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

5 Ways to say “thank you” in French

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Bonjour (hello)! Rounding up our “thank you” series, this week’s blog explores 5 different ways of saying “thank you” in French.

If you’re just tuning in, check out our previous posts on how to express gratitude in Spanish, Arabic and Persian.

1. Merci (mekh*-see)

Merci is the most common way to say “thank you” in French. The response you may hear is de rien, which literally translates to “from nothing”, meaning “you’re welcome”. You might also hear avec plaisir which means “with pleasure”.

Fun fact: merci is also used commonly in French-speaking countries across the MENA region as well as in Farsi-speaking countries!

* The letter “r” in a French word is pronounced as a soft version of the Arabic “kh”, like in the word “Khaled”.

2. Merci infiniment (mekh-see an-fee-nee-man)

You can combine merci with adverbs such as beaucoup, mille fois, infiniment to form expressions such as merci beaucoup (thank you very much), merci bien (thanks a lot), merci mille fois (thank you a thousand times) and the strongest, merci infiniment translating to “thanks infinitely”.

3. 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”. It generally follows merci and can be used when someone does you a favor.

A useful tip: if you’re thanking an elder, or in a situation that requires you to use the polite form, use the formal counterpart of toi which is vous, applicable to both men and women, to a single person or to a group of people: “C’est très gentil à vous!

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

A heartfelt phrase meaning “thank you with all my heart”. It’s also sometimes used with the verb j’espère, to express hope. For example: J’espère de tout coeur que tu vas réussir cet examen, meaning “I hope with all my heart that you’ll pass this exam”.

5. Cimer (see-mekh)
Spice up the standard merci by using its inverse, “cimer”. Caution: this word is French slang, also known as “verlan”, for “thanks” and used mostly in conversations in younger crowds.

These are 5 ways to express gratitude in French. This holiday season, level up your language skills with one of NaTakallam’s native language partners or Gift a Conversation to your French-learning friends! À bientôt!

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