Tachelhit in conversation: Transportation

<< Previous lesson: Possessives

You’ve learned the basics of the language, now let’s look at some scenarios you might find yourself in.

When I try to qualify how well I speak Tachelhit I tell people, “I’m not quite conversational but I know enough to argue with a Soussi taxi driver.” Transport is an everyday headache in Tachelhit-speaking regions, whether you’re halfway up a mountain trying to hitchhike a camion into town, or perhaps you find yourself dropped off at the Inezgane bus station at 3AM (I’ve spent more hours of my life there than I care to recall).

Here’s a conversation you might have if you’re hitchhiking, and a car with several people stops. Read the dialogue, trying to understand as much as you can. Then we’ll go over everything. Hint: the verb ‘to go’ is iri. Watch for how it’s conjugated.

Driver: –s-salamu عalaykum. mani trit?

Hitchhiker: –righ ad ddugh s-Tafraoute. 

Driver: –ura nra s-Tafraoute. numz ugharas n-Anezi.

Hitchhiker: –mnchkk ad kilumetru airaman s-Anezi?

Driver: -3chrin d-mraw id kilumetru.

Hitchhiker: –aywa, awiyyi s-Anezi, 3afak.

You might remember using the verb iri as ‘want’ — in fact it means both ‘go’ and ‘want’, which is easy enough to remember; imagine asking a traveler “Where are you wanting?”. Listen to this song; the refrain ahiawa, mani trit? basically means “Heya, where are you going?”

Also remember that when you see or hear ma-, it’s always a question. When the driver asks you mani trit he’s asking very simply ‘Where are you going’? (Remember the personal indicator for ‘you’ is t-t, so the verb iri becomes trit when it’s conjugated for the 2nd person singular.)

You, the hitchhiker, respond righ ad ddugh s-Tafraoute. “I want to go to Tafraoute.”

Notice how you’re using the verb iri in the other sense, meaning ‘want’.

“You go/ you want” – trit

“I go/ I want” – righ

You’re using the verb ddu “go, depart” as your action verb, to explain “I want to go to Tafraoute” — righ ad ddugh s-Tafraoute.

When you use two verbs in a row, join them with adWe haven’t touched on verb aspects yet (Tachelhit’s version of our past/present tense) but just know that the conjuctions ad/rad always mark a verb in the future tense, in this example the verb ddu.

“I will go/depart” – rad ddugh

“I want to go/depart” – righ ad ddugh

Whether you use rad or ad simply depends on how the verb is conjugated, but we’ll cover that in a different lesson.

The prefix u- always indicates a negative, so when you see ura/urad, that’s a conjunction preceding a negative verb in the present (ura) or future (urad) tense 

The driver says “We aren’t going to Tafraoute” — ura nra s-Tafraoute

We’re going — nra

I’m going — righ

You’re going — trit

Instead, they will take (amz) the road (agharas) toward the small market town of Anezi: numz ugharas n-Anezi.

Remember the word agharas changes to ugharas because it’s in the state of attachment (the road of/to Anezi).


The driver’s only going as far as Anezi, so you ask how many kilometers away that is: mnchkk ad kilumetru airaman s-Anezi? Literally translated that reads “how many of kilometers remain to Anezi?”

The preposition s- is an important one. It’s the preposition you use when movement is involved, as in

“I want to go to Tafraoute” – righ ad ddugh s-Tafraoute.

“They leave for the beach” – nddu s-taghart

The driver responds 3chrin d-mraw id kilumetru, that it’s 30 kilometers to Anezi. We’ll learn numbers in a later lesson.

That’s a pretty good chunk of the distance to your destination of Tafraoute, and you’ve heard that Anezi produces really excellent babouches and you’d like to buy a pair. So you say aywa, awiyyi s-Anezi, 3afak — “Okay, take me to Anezi, please!”

aywa just means OK, all right, and it’s a great word to know.

awiyyi is the verb awid, “bring”. You can use that to ask a taxi driver to bring you somewhere, or to ask a waiter to bring you a salad. The suffix -iyyi is used when the verb applies to you.

‘Excuse’ is samH; ‘excuse me’ is samHiyyi

‘Give’ is fk; ‘give me’ is fkiyyi

iyyi is an object pronoun, words which are used to say things like “he gave me” or “I told him”. We’ll learn the rest of them in the next lesson!

3afak means ‘please’. Good to know!

Now go back to the dialogue on top of the page and see if you can read it! Hopefully by now you’re comfortable with everything we’ve learned.

Here are some further expressions you’ll use or hear when dealing with transport.

Please take me to… awiyyi عafak s…

Stop here please – bidd ghid, 3afak

Is the meter on? – is ixdm l-kuntur?

Turn on the meter, please – ssxdm l-kuntur, 3afak.

How much? – mnchkk a dari?

How far is it from here? – mnchkk as iba d f ghid?

Are you going (to the souk) today? – is trit (s-suq) ghas-ad?

Where is the taxi stand? – manigh tlla l-maHt a n t-taksiyat?

Which bus do I need to take if I want to go to…? (you already know most of the words in this sentence) – man t-ubis rad amzgh igh righ ad ddugh s…?

Hitchhiking expressions

I don’t have money. – ura dari iqariDn

Is that OK? – is waxxa?

Are you going to… – is trit…

Take me to… – awiyyi عafak s…

the next village – aduwwar dyuchkan

the next road – agharas dyuchkan

the checkpoint – barrage

Where is the road to…? – manigh illa ugharas n-…

Take the road to the left/right – amz agharas aZlmad/afasi

My name is… – isminu

What’s your name? (m/f) madak/madam ism?

Nice to meet you. – mtsharfin

Thanks so much! – lla yrнm l-walidin (literally “may God bless your parents”, used when someone helps you).


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