Help, I need to learn Tunisian?
It can sometimes seem like a mountain to climb, when trying to learn the language in Tunisia! There are 3 main languages spoken. The local Tunisian dialect is spoken everywhere, but not used in written literature. Children at school are taught to speak, read and write in classical Arabic. I have been told by my 8 year old son that he must go with his friends to the far end of the playground if he wants to speak in the Tunisian dialect, so that the teachers cannot hear him!!
French plays a major part, taught currently from the age of 8, the majority of the Tunisians are fluent in the language and shop signs, road signs, menus in restaurants, important documents etc are all written in French as well as Arabic.
Language teaching is excellent in Tunisia and there are many opportunities to learn a host of languages, either for school children or for adults with private lessons or at language schools where both classical Arabic and conversing in the Tunisian dialect are offered.
English is set to become Tunisia's third official language, after Arabic and French. It is a compulsory subject, taught from the age of 10, and most of Tunisia's official documents are being translated into English now, as well as French.
It is difficult to offer people a list of Tunisian phrases. As well as a completely new alphabet to learn, many of the sounds from the Arabic alphabet, do not exist at all in the English language and can prove very difficult to pronounce.
Below are some phrases, taken from different sources; including my son who was 8 at the time! You can probably spot some of his rather dubious phrases!!
If anybody has learnt any other phrases and would like them included please email me with them
Pleasantries / General
Aslemma - Hello
Bislemma - Good bye
Bye Bye - Yes this does actually exist and is said all of the time!
Aye/na'am - Yes
Leh - No
Min fathlik - Please
Shokrun/barrakaloveek/ascent - Thank you
Ilelyacar - See you again
Sbakhir - Good morning
Ala Khir - Good night
Messa el Khir - Good Evening
Shniya ahwalek? - How are you?
Lebes? - How are you? Lebes, winti? - I'm fine and you?
Labes elhamdulillah - I'm fine thanks (thanks to God)
Asia cullock! - Come here and let me tell you something/pay attention and listen
Sahmahni - Excuse me or sorry
Shismik? - What is your name
Ismi - My name is........
Tikallem Angleez? - Do you speak English?
Ma nifhimsh - I don't understand
Ma nitkallamsh arbi - I don't speak Arabic
Kaddesh omrek? - How old are you?
Asking for Something
Et - Give
Attini min fathlik - Please may I have
Andixshee? - Do you have?
Leh, mandeesh - No there is/there are none
Attini zeed shwayer ?- Could I have a little more?
Shwire shwire - just a little (for example in answering Do you speak any Arabic?)
Hattashay - Nothing
Tushrub Haja? - Can I get you a drink?
Schnouwa? - What?
Alesh/Aleh? - Why?
Attini zouz miyet gramme buggarah hashay? - Could I have 200g of minced beef?
Food and Drink
De bousa mer - A bottle of water
Hhobs - Bread
Helib - Milk
Athum - Eggs
zibteh - Butter
Buggarah hashay - Minced beef
Aloush - Lamb
Djege - Chicken
Hhooter - Fish
Potartah - Potatoes
Senaria - Carrots
Brigdenna - Oranges
Tafeh - Apples
Roze - Rice
Macarouna - Pasta
Sulk - Spinach
Magnoose - Flat leaf parsley
Taebal - Fresh coriander
Tay - Tea
Kahwah - Coffee
Kahwah blairshee helib - Coffee without milk
Gahli Barcha - Too expensive
|1 wehud||11 ahadesh||30 Thlehtheen|
|2 ithneen||12 uthnage||40 arabah een|
|3 thehther||13 thletage||50 khamseen|
|4 arabar||14 arabartage||60 sitteen|
|5 khamser||15 khamstage||70 sabah een|
|6 sitteh||16 sittage||80 thmehneen|
|7 sabahr||17 sabartage||90 tsah een|
|8 ithmenier||18 thmontage||100 miyeah|
|9 tisah||19 tsahtage||25 khamser ou ashereen|
|10 ahsharah||20 ashereen||44 Arabar ou arabah een|
NOTE : When asking/ordering 2 of something use "zouz"
Many French words such as docteur, dentiste, lycee, banque
Nhib nsarraf el flous - I'd like to change some money
Kaddesh el wakt? - What time is it?
Taktooka - Ashtray
Kaddesh/Kaddeh - How much?
Shnouwa ma’ena hadha? - Can you translate this for me?
Ween mechi? - Where are you going?
Ween? - Where are you?
Wehnoowa John - Where is John?
Wehneeya Jane - Where is Jane?
Asia - Come here
Asia leh neh toe! - Come here NOW!
Chef, brabbi atina zouz kahawi bel helib. - Waiter, give us two cups of coffee with milk
El ftour bneen barcha barcha - The lunch is delicious
Barcha - so much
Kaddesh essabaat? - How much do these shoes cost?
Mandiksh haja okhra? - Do you have anything else?
Chouff! - Look!
Imshee feesah! - Go quickly!
Rowetha - Nursery school
Mukteb - Primary school
Lycee - Secondary school
Yizzy - Stop
Wallah - Believe me/I swear
Bearhee - Ok
Enhebbeck - I love you
Habibi - Babe/darling
Imshee al habs - Go to prison!
Barrra imshee hadeh enna shnooklik inti!! - Go away or I'll kill you!!!
Still feeling antisocial??!!!
Try this phrase suggested by Pat (ideal for over-zealous market traders or in my son's case .....the bully down the road!)
Pat was told that "metta keesh maiya" meant "Stop bothering me" so she usually puts that together with "min fahdlek, imshi" and finds it works a treat!
Food In Tunisia
Rape cheese (This grated cheese is pronounced Rapay! From the French language)
El Bastardo - Yes I actually saw this brand new cheese in Monoprix the other day!
Thank you Helmi from Tunisia for taking the time to send in the following link :-
Explanations on how the language formed, pronunciations, vowels, verbs and many new words!