To comply with – لبّى

We are very sorry but we cannot comply with your request
met’assfiin ektiir bass maa fiina nlabbi Talabak.

  • I wonder how nlabbi is pronounced.
  • Note that the Damma has been replaced with fat7a in متأسفين (derived active participle)

Status of My Language Learning

So I finished the book of Iraqi poetry a few days ago, and now I’m moved on to Easy Arabic Reader by M. Gaafar and J. Wightwick. It’s pretty good, but it’s obviously fus7a. I’ve decided to separate my fus7a and my amiyya notebooks. Namely, amiyya will be on WordPress, while fus7a will be in real notebooks. Amiyya will be more extensive, while fus7a will just be the occasional vocab word. For instance, most pages in this Arabic reader have one or two words I’d like to jot down.

As far as amiyya, I finished the 8-CD Pimsleur course on Levantine Arabic that I got from the Daniel Boone Regional Library. I could have continued Pimsleur’s Unit 1 by buying lessons 16-30 from their website, but I don’t expect they will be much of a challenge, so I decided to skip ahead. I have bought lessons 1-10 of Unit 3 (the final unit) and they’re definitely a good challenge.

For instance, there is على مهلي for “slowly” referring to myself, versus على مهلك for “slowly” referring to you. Pronunciation of the Damascene dialect is definitely getting more comfortable, but I ought to use HelloTalk more to supplement Pimsleur. Just because someone on HelloTalk seems cool, doesn’t mean I should spend a lot of time with them, if they are from Egypt or the Gulf or whatnot. I should probably be focusing on people from Jordan, Syria and Lebanon – they’re definitely out there.

Anyway, the main resources I’m relying on right now are as follows:

  1. Pimsleur Levantine Unit 3
  2. Easy Arabic Reader (I plan to finish in 4 days by reading 38 p. daily)
  3. Georgetown’s Syrian Colloquial Dictionary

Resources that have fallen by the wayside for now include

  1. Memrise (whoa, maybe I should bring it back – for fus7a only, this time)
  2. News podcasts
  3. Hans Wehr
  4. “Easy Fun Learn Arabic 1-6000” App
  5. Forvo
  6. Reverso
  7. iTalki
  9. Reddit
  10. LangMedia (this was good, but it’s not interactive like Pimsleur)

There are some things distracting me lately, namely Javascript, Travis picking (legitimate distraction), stupid YouTube videos, and Borges. I might not finish this Borges book, after all. I don’t know. He seems weirdly inspiring when it comes to writing lyrics, in which case I want to stick with it. Should I stick with Javascript? Hm… I think it’s something I can re-enter later once I have a job. This week is not special when it comes to coding opportunities – it is special when it comes to songwriting opportunities.

Pimsleur Unit 15

  • 12 has a little nasal sound at the beginning, transliterated something like tn3ash with air coming out of the nose for the /tn/
  • كم can be used in questions, of course, to mean “how many”, but it can also be used colloquially in declarative sentences to mean “a few”
    • For example, بدي كم دولار
    • Note that دولار is singular, not plural, despite the plural meaning. No big surprise.
  • مو ممكن is used to mean “I can’t” or “you can’t” rather than the ambiguous “maybe”. In other words, it might be good to start thinking of ممكن as more of a factual statement of capacity rather than an expression of vagueness or uncertainty. I can. You can. He can. For now, I think I’ll use ربما for uncertainty.


So I just learned a new transliteration trick. You can underline sh to clarify that you mean ش rather than two adjacent letters (سه). Same goes for kh, to ensure it´s not read as كه but rather خ.

Also, note to self: lektaab is pronounced as such not because of le being a natural definite article in amiyya, but rather because the helping vowel that starts ال manages to change its position. It jumps to the side one step in order to break up a three-consonant cluster. I don´t usually think of ال as beginning with a helping vowel, but the fact that it does, and the fact that said helping vowel can migrate to the side, explains why the correct pronunciation is lektaab rather than elektaab.

Pimsleur Unit 6 (misc. notes)

  • ايمتى – when (AYMta)
  • هلا – now (pronounced هلاء , with the glottal stop)
  • There are patterns to the insertion of helping vowels, but it´s best figured out intuitively… انا كمان بحب اكل gets one: ana kamaan ´eb7ib ´aakul
  • the ل in آكَل is pretty subtle, sometimes.
  • Never mind what I said about SVO being required in Colloquial Arabic. Like in fus7a, it´s normal to omit the pronouns, since the conjugated verb provides that information.
  • On one occasion, I got ايمتى (when) confused with وين (where) 😝