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Lesson Transcript

Simon: Hello and welcome to the ArabicPod101.com, the fastest, easiest and most fun way to learn Arabic. I'm joined in the studio by Hala.
Hala: Hello, everyone. Hala here.
Simon: Welcome to Basic Boot Camp. This five pod series will help you ease your way into Arabic. We’ll go over all the basics that will really help you understand Arabic much quicker and easier, and we’ll have fun doing it.
Hala: Yes. In this lesson, you will learn how to introduce yourself. And we’ll be listening to a conversation between two people meeting for the first time.
Simon: Ok. Well, let’s listen to the conversation.
هَالَة: أَهلاً ، أنا هالة ، فرصة سعيدة.
سايمون: أهلا، أنا سيمون ، أنا أسعد.
Hala: Now, with the English translation.
هَالَة: أَهلاً ، أنا هالة ، فرصة سعيدة.
Hala: Hello. I’m Hala. Pleased to meet you.
سايمون: أهلا، أنا سيمون ، أنا أسعد.
Simon: Hello. I’m Simon. Pleased to meet you, too.
So, Hala, what do people in Egypt and the Arabic world do when they meet for the first time or introduce themselves.
Hala: Very often they shake hands. It’s very polite and decent but some women may not do that. It depends on the cultural and educational background.
Simon: Ok, and how would I know in this case?
Hala: Dealing on a professional level, it’s not a problem. But on personal basis, I would recommend not to do it. Just one greeting and a small nod of the head is perfect.
Simon: So I suppose giving a small kiss on the cheek is off the list.
Hala: That’s a no-no. In our culture, strange men never kiss women. And even friends don’t do it. Some certain classes might accept it, but talking about the majority I would definitely say no. Men kissing women or vice versa is very unacceptable for us.
Simon: So what would happen if I didn’t know that and I was just saying “Hello”, whether to an old friend or someone I just met.
Hala: Most likely the girl will back up smiling and saying that it’s not accepted in our culture. Some might even jump back rather than take a small step. It depends on the girl.
Simon: But shaking hands?
Hala: That’s ok. Even if the girl doesn’t usually do it, it wouldn’t be a problem for the first time.
Simon: Is it the same between girls?
Hala: No. Between girls and girls, of course, or even guys and guys it’s ok to give a small kiss on the cheek. Or in our case it could be to say “Hello” but never for the first time. It would be a little bit strange and not on professional basis, never do that, but more on friendly basis.
Simon: So first time no kissing, but between friends or later on it’s ok.
Hala: Yes. As long as it’s not professional basis and girls with girls or guys with guys, never mixing.
Simon: Ok, great, very good to know.
Hala: Ok. Now, let’s take a closer look to these phrases for learning Arabic.
Hala: [أهلاً] [ʾahlan]
Simon: Hello.
Hala: [أهلاً و سهلاً] [ʾahlan wa sahlan]
Simon: “Hello” - as a reply.
Hala: [أنا] [ʾanā]
Simon: “I” or “I am”.
Hala: [فرصة سعيدة] [furṣah saʿīdah]
Simon: It’s nice to meet you.
Hala: Now, let’s move on to the vocab and usage of some phrases in this lesson. We have “Hello” or [أهلاً] [ʾahlan].
Simon: So “Hello, when can we use this greeting exactly?
Hala: It can be used in the morning, day, evening, anytime. We have other greetings for those, but this one is very popular.
Simon: And to say [فرصة سعيدة] [furṣah saʿīdah], what does it mean?
Hala: [فرصة سعيدة] [furṣah saʿīdah] or “It’s nice to meet you”. This literally means “happy chance” or “happy opportunity”. As an expression, it’s what we use when we meet someone for the first time. [فرصة] [furṣah] means “chance”, you can use it separately in any conversation or context like “That’s a good chance”. [دي فرصة كويسة] [diī furṣah kuwaīsah] or “I have a good chance in winning the trip” and so on. It’s just a little bit different when it comes to this part as we use it as part of the expression itself, not separately.
Simon: And what about [سعيدة] [saʿīdah]? From what I remember it means “happy”?
Hala: Yes. Happy for a female, so I could say [أنا سعيدة] [ʾanā saʿiīdah] and this means “I’m happy”. Again, as part of the expression it goes with a different meaning so [فرصة سعيدة] [furṣah saʿīdah], “Pleased to meet you” and as a reply as well.
Simon: Hala, I noticed when we were talking about self-introduction it was only one word, but I couldn’t hear or find anything to indicate the usage of the word “to be”.
Hala: Very good point, Simon. In Arabic, we never use verb “to be” with self-introduction. In Arabic, just to say [أنا] [ʾanā] it means both “I” or “I am”. And this is the one we always use when talking about present tense as well, but we will get to that later with more explanations.

Lesson focus

Simon: Works great for me and sounds easy enough. So, Hala, when I introduce myself to someone, what’s the best way to do it? Should I use my first or second name?
Hala: Well, we always go with the first name basis. If you’re in a meeting or a business gathering, you might need to go first and second name or first and family name. It really makes no difference to us which one you use in this case.
Simon: But when meeting people for the first time, say, away from business?
Hala: Always go with the first name only. It’s more friendly and for us that’s what we are going to use. Second name here won’t make much of a difference but will sound a little bit strange.
Simon: Another thing I noticed is how certain names are used a lot.
Hala: That is true, Simon. It’s simply the Islamic names such as Mohammed, Ahmed, Mahmud, Mustafa, which are all the names for our prophet, followed by the names of his companions, which holds great importance for us. For women, you will find more options and name varieties but, again, Islamic names will take the majority of it. For us, we recognize it easily even if it’s not common. For others it will be a little bit hard at the beginning.
Simon: I assume people will introduce themselves by first name.
Hala: That is correct. For people with common names such as Mohammed, if there are four or five Mohammeds at the same time, they will use the second name. And on this case, we might actually use it to call them.
Simon: You know, that explains a lot. I do know a Mohammed Adel and a Mohammed Hussein. And I noticed when they are both there, people just call them just Adel or Hussein.
Hala: Yes, that’s exactly how it goes. And it might stick to them, just people calling them [Adel] or Hussein and not using Mohammed a lot, but that’s normal here.


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Hala: Thanks everyone for listening!