Tachelhit lesson 1: Greetings and personal indicators

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These lessons have been getting a huge amount of traffic, and it’s awesome that so many people want to learn Tachelhit, but makes me feel bad that I’ve been updating so infrequently. A big obstacle for me is not knowing in which direction to take these lessons, so I’d really appreciate if you left a comment with feedback. What do you like about these posts, what do you dislike, what do you want to learn next? Are you learning this language for academic or for tourism purposes? Is my transliteration sloppy? Do you want more cat pictures?

Welcome to the first of my Tachelhit lessons. We’ll start by learning how to greet people. But we should learn a bit of grammar as we go.

There are many basic greetings used in Tachelhit but to keep things simple let’s just use the most common.

Manik a tgit – ممنك أ تكَيت – How are you?

Sometimes people place the emphasis on the a, but more typically it’s placed on the tgit. Just like you can say in English ‘how are you?’ but you can also say ‘how are you?’

Now let’s look at each word.

manik = how

tgit = you-are 

Notice how the word tgit begins and ends with the letter t. In the context of verbs, t-t is a ‘personal indicator’ which tells us the verb applies to ‘you’ (as opposed to me, her, him, etc.). The verb in this case is g, which means ‘to be in a state’, so tgit can mean either ‘you are’ or ‘are you?’.

Let’s look at the verb g with some other personal indicators tacked onto it. We’re essentially conjugating verbs here.

g – to be, to become (not to ‘to be in a physical place’)

gigh – I am

tgit – you are

iga – he is

tga – she is

nga – we are

tgam – you are (masc. plural)

tgamt – you are (fem. plural)

gan – they are (masc.)

gant – they are (fem.)

‘To be’ is a good first verb to learn. Click here to access my set of Quizlet flashcards for the verb g, to be in a state, to become

manik just means ‘how’. Most inquisitive words begin with ma-.

Time for a Moroccan cat picture.IMG_0976

So how do you respond when someone asks you manik a tgit?

labas – لإباس is a useful word (technically it’s an Arabic loanword). Basically it means ‘all right’. In English we can use ‘all right’ as both a greeting and a response. Particularly in the United Kingdom you’ll hear,

“Awright, man?”

“Yeah, awright.”

Labas is used in a similar way. As a greeting it’s informal, but as a response it’s standard. Here’s a typical dialogue. I’m assuming you know the Arabic terms s-salamu عalaykum and hamdullah.

Samira: S-salamu عalaykum.

Abdul: عalaykum s-salam. mamnk a tgit?

Samira: labas, Hamdullah. imma kyyi?

Abdul: labas.

You probably guessed in context that imma kyyi? means ‘and you?’ kyyi is the masculine form of ‘you’. The feminine form is kmmi. I remember this by imagining a man called Kyle and a girl called Kimmy. You’ll need to come up with a few of these silly memory tricks to memorize the table of pronouns below:

Independent pronouns

nkki – I

kyyi – you (masc.)

kmmi – you (fem.)

ntta – he

nttat – she

nkni – we

knni – y’all (masc.)

knninti – y’all (fem.)

ntni – they (masc.)

ntnti – they (fem)

Click here for my Quizlet flashcards for personal pronouns.

And if you memorize all that, you deserve another cat.


Next lesson: Introductions and possession »


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