advanced, beginning, intermediate

Learn 10 professions with a Zakaria 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 professions. If you’re a beginner, you’ll probably just want to do the first part of the video, which simply presents the Arabic words for ten different professions. If you are more advanced, you will also want to work through the second half, which quizzes you using a series of questions like “Who protects citizens’ safety?” (answer: a policeman) and “Who fights fire?” (answer: a fireman).


The title of this video is:

تَعَلَّم الْمِهَن بِالْلُّغَة الْعَرَبِيَّة
taʕallam il-mihan bi l-lugha l-ʕarabiyya
‘Learn the occupations in Arabic.’

The word مهن mihan ‘occupations’ in this phrase is the plural of the word مهن mihna ‘occupation’.

Since many of the readers here will be beginners, let’s start with the meat of the matter, which is the words for the professions introduced. After that, I will present other elements, such as the introduction and the quiz.

The occupations

Here are the ten words for occupations presented:

رائِد فَضاء شُرْطِيّ طَبيب
raa’id faḍaa’ shurṭiyy ṭabiib
‘astronaut’ ‘policeman’ ‘doctor’
رَجُل إِفْطاء خَبّاز فَلّاح
rajul ’ifṭaa’ khabbaaz fallaaḥ
‘fireman’ ‘baker’ ‘farmer, peasant’
جَزّار طَيَّار مُعَلِّم ساعي الْبَريد
jazzaar ṭayyaar muʕallim saaʕii l-bariid
‘butcher’ ‘airplane pilot’ ‘teacher’ ‘postman, mailman’

Just a few notes are in order:

  • The word used here for ‘teacher’ is معلّم muʕallim. You may know a different word for this: مدرّس mudarris. Both words are correct, and they mean the same thing.
  • Note that the word طيّار ṭayyaar ‘pilot’ is related to طائرة ṭaa’ira ‘airplane’.
  • Note that the word خبّاز khabbaaz ‘baker’ is related to خبز khubz ‘bread’.
  • The word بريد bariid in the phrase ساعي البريد saaʕii l-bariid means ‘mail’.
  • The word إطفاء ’ifṭaa’ in رجل الإطفاء rajul ’ifṭaa’ ‘fireman’ comes from the verb يطفئ yufṭi’ ‘to extinguish, put out (a fire)’. So, the phrase literally means ‘man of extinguishing’.
  • The word فضاء faḍaa’ in رائد فضاء raa’id faḍaa’ ‘astronaut’ means ‘(outer) space’. The whole phrase literally means ‘space pioneer’ or ‘space explorer’.

The narrator’s introduction

Now let’s back up and look at what is said before the names of the professions are introduced. The narrator begins with this familiar phrase:

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

He then says:

الْيَوْمَ سَوْفَ نَتَعَلَّمُ أَسْماء الْمِهَن.
’al-yawma sawfa nataʕallamu ’asmaa’a l-mihan.
less formal: ’al-yawm sawfa nataʕallam ’asmaa’ il-mihan.
‘Today we will learn names of the professions.’
هَلْ أَنْتَ مُسْتَعِدّ؟ هَيّا نَبْدَأ.
hal ’anta mustaʕidd? hayyaa nabda’.
‘Are you ready? Let’s start.’

These phrases are explained in greater detail on the page dealing with another video in this series Now the narrator has finished and the little boy Zakaria starts introducing the ten professions covered above.

The quiz

More advanced learners will also want to work through the quiz portion of the video, which uses ten complete questions that describe the professions. The narrator invites you to participate by saying:

اِلْعَبْ مَعَنا الآن!
’ilʕab maʕa-naa l-’aan!
‘Are you ready? Let’s start.’

All of the questions start with من الذي… man illadhii… ‘Who is the one who…’, which can be thought of as short for من الشخص الذي… man ish-shakhṣ illadhii… ‘Who is the person who….’ This is a common way of forming subject questions. Here is a simple example:

مَن الَّذي يَتَكَلَّم؟
man illadhii yajakallam?
‘Who is speaking?’ (literally: Who is the one who is speaking?)

After each question, the narrator will offer a word of encouragement, which will be one of the following:

بِالْفِعْل! نَعَمْ! مُمْتاز! جَيِّد! أَحْسَنْت!
bi l-fiʕl! naʕam! mumtaaz! jayyid! ’aḥsant!
‘Indeed!’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Excellent!’ ‘Good!’ ‘You are right!’

The ten questions are listed below. The transliteration has been omitted, as it is assumed that if you’re advanced enough to work through this part, you are able to read Arabic script fairly well. (And, of course, you also have the video for the pronunciation.)

Question 1

مَن الَّذي يُعالِج الْنّاس؟
‘Who treats people?’

Question 2

مَن الَّذي يُحافِظ عَلى أَمْن الْمُواطِن؟
‘Who protects the citizen’s safety?’

Question 3

مَن الَّذي يُسافِر خارِج الكُرة الأَرْضِيّة؟
‘Who travels outside the globe?’

You may know the words كرة kura ‘ball’ and الأرض ’al-’arḍ ‘the earth’. The phrase الكرة الأرضية ’al-kura l-’arḍiyya ‘globe’ literally means ‘earthly sphere’.

Question 4

مَن الَّذي يَزْرَع الْخُضَر والْفَواكِه؟
‘Who grows vegetables and fruit?’

Question 5

مَن الَّذي يَصْنَع الخُبْز؟
‘Who makes bread?’

Question 6

مَن الَّذي يُحارِب الْنّار؟
‘Who fights fire?’

Question 7

مَن الَّذي يُوَزِّع الْبَرِيد؟
‘Who distributes the mail/post?’

Question 8

مَن الَّذي يُعَلِّم الْتَّلامِيذ؟
‘Who teaches the pupils/schoolchildren?’

Question 9

مَن الَّذي يَقُود الْطّائِرة؟
‘Who drives the airplane?’

Question 10

مَن الَّذي يُقَطِّع الْلَّحْم؟
‘Who chops the meat?’

I hope this was helpful. If it was, why not work through some other videos in this series?



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