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1.5 Greetings

1.5 Greetings   Language & Culture Lessons

Language & Culture Lessons

Ok, moving right along to the Language and Culture lessons. Yes they are "grammar" lessons, but they are so very much more than


that. Along with the grammar you're also getting a great insight into Arabic culture. You'll be way ahead of the pack if or when you decide to visit any Arabic speaking countries.


I've designed these lessons to ease you into the mechanics behind the Arabic language. You'll notice that many of the topics


correspond to the ones i phrases you learned in t

n the Interactive Audio Course. The lessons give you a chance to take a closer look at many of the words and hose audio lessons.

Like the Interactive Audio Lessons, all of the Language and Culture lessons have My Level testing. This is the absolute best way to power

up your understanding o

f Arabic. I really recommend that you use My Level for each and every lesson!

In today’s lesson, you’ll

learn some more greetings as well as a variety of different forms of address. In the culture lesson, you’ll

learn the difference between classical and colloquial Arabic.

Are you ready to get started? Here we go then…





There are two things we should mention before you dive into the lesson. The first is that the Arabic spoken in different Arab countries varies slightly. Sometimes it’s just the accent, but in some cases it’s the use of different words. In this course, we are teaching Egyptian Arabic. This will be an advantage to you in two ways. The first is that Egypt is definitely the most popular tourist destination in the Middle


East. The other is that Egypt is the capital of Arab television and movie making. For this reason, Egyptian Arabic is widely understood throughout the region.


Lastly, as was mentioned in the audio lesson, there are some letters in Arabic for which equivalent letters in English don’t exist. So when Egyptians are writing Arabic in English letters (for whatever reason), they use numbers that look similar to the Arabic letters. These


sounds are listed below

. Practice the sound before you try to apply it in a word.








Greetings are an import “business” of the conve

ant part of relating in an Arab setting. Good etiquette dictates that adequate greetings are exchanged before the rsation is addressed. There are many ways of saying more or less the same thing and you will find that Egyptians

may welcome you and ask you how you are several times in a conversation. This is considered polite, especially for a host. Hospitality is

an important Arab value and so the repeated use of various greetings is just an Egyptian way of making sure you feel welcome.

is just an Egyptian way of making sure you feel welcome. Ahlan wa Sahlan Welcome Ahlan

Ahlan wa Sahlan Welcome

Ahlan wa Sahlan litera shortened to just ahlan bekum. Both greetings

lly means “welcome”, but is commonly used as a general greeting just like “hello” in English. This greeting can be (hi) in informal settings. When greeting a number of people, you should say ahlan wa Sahlan bekum or ahlan can be responded to by saying ahlan beek (to a male) or ahlan beeke (to a female).

ﻼﻬﺳوﻼﻫا Ahlan wa Sahlan





ﻢﻜﻴﺑﻼﻬﺳوﻼﻫا Ahlan wa Sahlan bek


Welcome everyone!


Hi everyone!

Ahlan bekum


Hi to you (male)

Ahlan beek


Hi to you (female)

Ahlan beeke


As all Arab countries are predominantly Muslim countries, you will very likely hear and be greeted with the universal Islamic greeting

issalamu 3alekum! Thi

s literally means “peace be upon you” and the appropriate response would be wa 3alekum issalam which means

“and peace be upon you.”

Greetings can also be given according to the time of day, as you heard in the audio lesson. Saba7 il 7’eer means good morning and can be used until midday. The appropriate response is Saba7 il noor, although you might also hear Saba7 il ful.


Ahlan - Hi

Misa’ il 7’eer means good afternoon, which applies to the rest of the day. The appropriate response is Misa il noor. Tesba7 ala 7’eer means good night, and is used when leaving someone’s house late at night or when going to bed. It is repeated in response.

ﺮﻴﺨﻟاحﺎﺒﺻ Saba7 il 7’eer

Good morning!

رﻮﻨﻟاحﺎﺒﺻ Saba7 il noor

Good morning (response. Lit. morning of light)

ﺮﻴﺨﻟاءﺎﺴﻣ Misa’ il 7’eer

Good afternoon!

رﻮﻨﻟاءﺎﺴﻣ Misa’ il noor

Good afternoon (response, lit. afternoon of light)

ﺮﻴﺧﻲﻠﻋﺢﺒﺼﺗ Tesba7 3la 7’eer

Good night (lit. may you wake up well).

As was mentioned befo

re, Egyptians have a number of different ways of asking essentially the same question. Other Arab countries also

have different ways to ask “how are you?”


How are you?


رﺎﺒﺧﻻاﻪﻳا Ey il a7’bar?

What’s the news?


What’s your news?

A7’barak ey?


How are you doing?

3amal ey?


Are you happy?



How are you? (Jordanian/Palestinian greeting)



Traditional Arab greeting.How is your situation?

Kief 7alak?


Saudi/Iraqi greeting



All of these greetings can be generally answered with the reply taught in the audio lesson.

Kuwayyis/a, il 7amdulillah

I’m good, thank God.

You may be wondering Sometimes one word in

how one word in Arabic equals two or three words in English. Let me explain, as this will happen all the time!

English requires two or more in Arabic, or vice versa, to have the same meaning. That's why it's important not to


get caught up in making literal, or word-by-word, translations.

Arabic uses a grammar

system called conjugation which basically means that the subject of the word can be included in the word by

means of a slight modification. An example of this would be the word izzayak? The word izzay means “how” and is modified according to whether the person being asked the question is a male or a female.


How are you? (female)


How are you? (male)

Forms of Address

You may remember from the audio lesson that Egyptians normally add the word ya before someone’s name when addressing them. This also applies to titles, which are commonly used in Egypt both formally and informally. Here’s some formal examples.

Ya Doktor/a

Can be broadly used to address any medical person (except nurses) or university lecturer.

Ya Ustaz/a

Is something like “Mr” and can be used to respectfully address anybody.

Ya Hagg/a

Is used to address someone who has performed the pilgrimage to Mecca. It is generally used to address any elderly person.


Women without any other title are addressed according to whether they are married or not.

Ya Madam

For a married woman (borrowed from the French)

Ya Anesa

For a young, unmarried woman


Egyptians also like to use titles in a more light-hearted way. In particular, the old fashioned titles of Turkish officials are commonly used amongst friends when addressing each other. Examples you might hear.

Ya Basha


Ya Bey

Ya Fandim



Classical and

Colloquial Arabic

The Arabic language takes two different forms, aside from national variations. The first is known as fus7a (classical) and refers primarily to the written form of the language. The second, known as 3amayah (colloquial), refers to the modern spoken language. A native Arabic speaker may know 3amayah without knowing fus7a, depending on their level of schooling. Conversely, an Islamic student from a non-

Arab country like Malay

sia may know how to read and write fus7a without being able to speak or understand 3amayah.

All Arabic literature is w

Shakespeare or the Kin

USA: 8721 Santa Monica Asia/Pacific: 2-1008 Ferry

the Kin USA: 8721 Santa Monica Asia/Pacific: 2-1008 Ferry ritten in fus7a , most notably the

ritten in fus7a, most notably the Qur’an. Muslims believe that Arabic is the language of heaven, and that

translated versions of the Qur’an fail to convey the most complete meaning. You will find that amongst Egyptians there is a varying ability to use fus7a. Those who were educated at Islamic schools or studied Arabic seriously at school and university will be quite capable with this form of the language, while many others struggle to understand classical Arabic literature. It’s the equivalent of deciphering

g James Bible.

It’s the equivalent of deciphering g James Bible. Arabic literature is written in fus7a . 3amayah
It’s the equivalent of deciphering g James Bible. Arabic literature is written in fus7a . 3amayah

Arabic literature is written in fus7a.

3amayah, while being based on fus7a, has mutated and evolved like any spoken language. It has been influenced by the languages of foreigners living in Egypt over the centuries, and has adopted and adapted words referring to modern conveniences. For example, the English word “bus” is pronounced utubis, while “television” is pronounced “tilivizyon”. Because this course is primarily aimed at helping you communicate in Arabic, we have been teaching you 3amayah rather than fus7a. Many American universities teach classical Arabic for those who may be interested in taking it further.

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