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Lesson Transcript

Marḥaban ǧamīʿan, ʾanā Carole! Hi everybody! I’m Carole.
Welcome to ArabicPod101.com’s Al-ʿarabiyyah fi ṯalāṯi daqāʾiq. The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn Arabic.
In the last lesson, we learned the most common forms of greetings in Arabic. Do you remember them? We introduced marḥaban and Al salāmu ʿalaykum , as well as šukran and ʾilā al-liqāʾ.
In this lesson we’re going to learn a very useful phrase: “Do you speak English?”
If you find yourself in a situation where you need assistance in English, this phrase can be a lifesaver. And because you’re asking it in Arabic, you can be sure that everyone will understand what you’re saying, even if their answer is no.
Are you ready? then let’s start!
Here's the basic way to ask if someone speaks English:
Hal tatakallamu al-ʾinklīziyyah? if you are talking to a male and Hal tatakallamīna al-ʾinklīziyyah? if you are talking to a female.
[slowly] Hal tatakallamu al-ʾinklīziyyah?
Hal tatakallamīna al-ʾinklīziyyah?
Hal means "Do”.
“You” and “Speak” are merged into the same word “tatakallamu ” for males and “tatakallamīna” for females.
ʾinklīziyyah means "English,"
This is an indirect way of asking someone to speak to you in English.
There are many ways of making it clear that you're asking the person to speak English to you, for example:
Hal biʾimkānika al-takallum bil ʾinklīziyyah? also means "Could you speak English?"
Hal biʾimkānika? means “can you” or ”could you”, “are you able to”, or “is it possible to” and can also mean the “ability” of the person to speak English. Again, if you are talking to a female you should change the last accent of ka to ki. So the question becomes:
Hal biʾimkāniki al-takallum bil ʾinklīziyyah?
Al-takallum is a noun that means ‘speaking’ and bil ʾinklīziyyah is “in English”.
To be more formal we could add the word “please” to the request, to make it:
Hal biʾimkanika al-takallum bil ʾinklīziyyah min faḍlika?
In this case, the question cannot mean the person’s ability to speak English anymore, because you are obviously asking them to speak English to you.
Since in Arabic the word ‘please’ literally means ‘from your favor’ it should also be changed according to the person’s gender. So in case of a female, we should also change the ka ending of ‘please’ in min faḍlika? to min faḍliki?
The question becomes Hal biʾimkaniki al-takallum bil ʾinklīziyyah min faḍliki?
The responses you will receive could be one of these three:
Naʿam. "Yes."
[slowly] Naʿam.
Qalīlan. "A little."
[slowly] Qalīlan
There are a few ways of saying ‘no’ in Arabic
Lā or Kallā. “No”
"No, I don’t speak English." is Lā, ʾanā lā ʾatakallamu al-ʾinklīziyyah
[slowly] Lā, ʾanā lā ʾatakallamu al-ʾinklīziyyah
It is exactly the same structure as in English.
Lā is ‘no’, ʾanā is ‘I’, lā means “don’t”,
ʾatakallamu is “speak” (me) and al-ʾinklīziyyah is “English”.
Since this last one is a negative statement, we need to say lā before the verb, ʾatakallamu or speak. lā literally means ‘no’, but when placed before a verb it negates this verb, becoming “don’t” or “doesn’t”. Notice also that the verb, ʾatakallamu is slightly different than tatakallamu which we learned before. Remember, the verb changes depending on the pronoun used. We are now talking about ʾanā , Arabic for "I," Thus “I do not speak” is:
ʾanā lā ʾatakallamu
Now it’s time for Carole’s Tips.
For those of you who are not native English speakers, you can obviously use this question with any language you need. Arab people study other languages at school depending on the country they live in, so maybe you will get lucky! Just substitute al-ʾinklīziyyah with al-faransiyyah for French,
Al-ʾiṭāliyyah for Italian,
Al-ʾispāniyyah for Spanish, or
Al-ʾalmāniyyah for German.
In this lesson you learned how to ask if someone can speak English. In the next lesson we’ll learn how to say “excuse me” and other ways to apologize in Arabic.
I'll see you in the next Al-ʿarabiyyah fi ṯalāṯi daqāʾiq lesson.
ʾilā al-liqāʾ!