Learning family members with a children’s video

On the “Learn with Zakaria – تَعَلَّمْ مَعَ زَكَرِيّا” channel on YouTube there are quite a few short instructional videos for children that can teach you some basic vocabulary.

In this post I’ll talk a bit about the video about family members. You will know several of these already if you have done a few chapters of the Bite-Size Arabic book, but you will also learn a few new ones. Here is the video:

Let’s start with the introductions. Although they are short, the introductions use whole sentences. If you’re an absolute beginner, you may want to skip this part and go straight to the section called “The family relations”.

The narrator’s introduction

The narrator begins with this familiar phrase:

الْسَّلامُ عَلَيْكُم.
’as-salaamu ʕalay-kum.
‘Peace be on you.’

He then says:

الْيَوْمَ سَوْفَ نَتَعَلَّمُ أَفْرادَ الْعائِلَة مَعَ زَكَرِيّا.
’al-yawma sawfa nataʕallamu ’afraada l-ʕaa’ila maʕa zakariyya.
less formal: ’al-yawm sawfa nataʕallam ’afraad il-ʕaa’ila maʕa zakariyya.
‘Today we will learn the family members with Zakaria.’

Let’s pull a few words out of this sentence to make it easier. The phrase سوف نتعلّم sawfa nataʕallam ‘we will learn’ is formed from the word يتعلّم yataʕallam ‘to learn’ (lit. ‘he learns’). نتعلّم nataʕallam is the ‘we’ form: ‘we learn’. The particle سوف sawfa before a present tense verb makes it future tense, giving us سوف نتعلّم sawfa nataʕallam ‘we will learn’. Often instead of سوف sawfa, the particle سَـ sa is placed before the verb in the same way (always written together with the verb that follows). The following two expressions mean exactly the same thing. They are merely stylistic variants of each other:

سَوْفَ نَتَعَلّمَ / سَنَتَعَلَّم
sawfa nataʕallam / sa nataʕallam
‘we will learn’

أفراد العائلة ’afraad il-ʕaa’ila means ‘family members’, with عائلة ʕaa’ila meaning ‘family’. This is a good word to remember.

The narrator now asks:

هَلْ أَنْتَ مُسْتَعِدّ؟
hal ’anta mustaʕidd?
‘Are you ready?’

Addressed to a woman the form would be:

هَلْ أَنْتِ مُسْتَعِدّة؟
hal ’anti mustaʕidda?
‘Are you ready?’

Assuming you answered by saying نعم naʕam ‘yes’, he says the following:

هَيّا نَبْدَأ.
hayyaa nabda’.
‘Let’s start.’

The verb يبدأ yabda’ means ‘to start’, and so نبدأ nabda’ in this expression means ‘we start’.

Now the narrator has finished and the little boy Zakaria starts talking.

Zakaria’s introduction

Zakaria’s words are similar to those of the narrator’s introduction. He starts of with:

الْسَّلامُ عَلَيْكُم. أنا زَكَرِيّا.
’as-salaamu ʕalay-kum. ’anaa zakariyyaa.
‘Peace be on you. I’m Zakaria.’

He then goes on to say:

وَالْيَوْمَ سَأُقَدِّمُ لَكُم أَفْرادَ عائِلَتي.
wa l-yawma sa ’uqaddimu la-kum ’afraada ʕaa’ilat-ii.
‘And today I’m going to introduce to you the members of my family.’

The verb يقدّم yuqaddim means ‘to introduce, present’, so أقدّم ’uqaddim means ‘I introduce’. And سأقدّم sa ’uqaddim is the future form of that: ‘I will introduce’. لكم la-kum means ‘to you (masc. pl.)’. And did you notice how the ة (taa’ marbuuṭa) on the word عائلة ʕaa’ila ‘family’ turned into a regular ت (taa’) when we added the pronominal suffix to it, making it عائلتي ʕaa’ilat-ii ‘my family’?

Now we get to the actual topic of this video, which is family relations. This part is much easier than the introductions.

The family relations

If you have done a few chapters in Bite-Size Arabic, you should know the following words:

أُخْت أَخ أُمّ أَب
’ukht ’akh ’umm ’ab
‘sister’ ‘brother’ ‘mother’ ‘father’

And you should also understand the following sentences, in which these words appear in the ‘my’ form:

هذه أُخْتي. هذا أَخي. هذه أُمّي. هذا أَبي.
haadhihi ’ukht-ii. haadhaa ’akh-ii. haadhihi ’umm-ii. haadhaa ’ab-ii.
‘This is my sister.’ ‘This is my brother.’ ‘This is my mother.’ ‘This is my father.’

After this, a few new words are introduced:

جَدّة جَدّ
jadda jadd
‘grandmother’ ‘grandfather’

Now come the aunts and uncles. Arabic doesn’t have terms that are as general as the English ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’. For your paternal aunt and uncle (that is, your father’s brother and sister), Arabic uses these terms:

عَمَّة عَمّ
ʕamma ʕamm
‘(paternal) aunt’ ‘(paternal) uncle’

And for your maternal aunt and uncle (that is, your mother’s brother and sister), Arabic has the following pair of words:

خالَة خال
khaala khaal
‘(maternal) aunt’ ‘(maternal) uncle’

Note how the ة (taa’ marbuuṭa) in all three of these feminine words turns into a regular ت (taa’) when the suffix ي -ii is added to it:

جَدَّتي جَدّة
jaddat-ii jadda
‘my grandmother’ ‘a grandmother’
عَمَّتي عَمّة
ʕammat-ii ʕamma
‘my (paternal) aunt’ ‘a (paternal) aunt’
خالَتي خالة
khaalat-ii khaala
‘my (maternal) aunt’ ‘a (maternal aunt’

After all these family relations are introduced, the narrator tells us its time for an activity:

حانَ وَقْتُ الْمُراجَعة.
ḥaana waqtu l-muraajaʕa.
‘It’s time to review.’

You might want to remember the important word وقت waqt ‘time’ in this expression.

Now you are presented with pictures and asked if you remember who they represent. Can you do this in Arabic?


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