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  5. "He is your dog, Maha."

"He is your dog, Maha."

Translation:هُوَّ كَلْبِك يا مَها.

July 16, 2019



Shouldn't it have been كلبك kalbuka considering it is خبر

  • 1379

Yep, you're right. Someone else also reported that yesterday, but I'm not sure if Duolingo is paying attention to this. The problem is, they are dependent on a text-to-speech machine and i myself not sure how this works but seems it is something out of control when it comes to Arabic and vowels in it.


Hi DJ,

I have read a comment from some Duolingo member (in another lesson), he explains us (more less) that "kalbak" is for English-speakers who learn Arabic while "kalbuka" is for native Arabic-speakers (... same case for "kalbik" and "kalbuki").

Is it true?

Thanks for your answer :)

  • 1379

I'm not sure what that person said, but maybe there is a misunderstanding. Arabic is Arabic. Just like any language, you can perfect it, or you can learn it on the go. You can learn English and perfect the accent, whether British or American, to the limit of not being recognized that you are not a native English speaker, or you can learn it just to do what you are required to do and get going, with a foreign tone and accent.
There is no such thing as (Arabic for English-speakers). It's only one Arabic, and people learn it differently.
As for the case of (kalbuka) and other variants: First of all, the grammatical case of the word in Arabic, show at the word ending. The word for (Dog) is (kalb). In Nominative (normal) case it would be (Kalbu), in Accusative it would be (Kalba), and in Genitive or Dative (if I can call it dative, that is when the word comes after a preposition), then it becomes (Kalbi). Notice that in Arabic grammar book we have different naming and different understanding than the typical "European" hierarchy and analysis for the grammar, so I'm trying to approximate the terminology here.

After the main word, we can add the possessive suffix. Speaking of standard Arabic, the suffix would be (-k) or (-ka) for masculine 2nd person, and (-ki) for feminine 2nd person. The (a) in (-ka) can be dropped sometimes when the word is at the end of the sentence, however the (-i) in the feminine case is kept to keep it clear that we are talking to a female.
What happens here is that in modern dialects of Arabic, some of these dialects shifted the vowel to the back of (-k-), and thus the suffix became (-ak) for a masculine 2nd person, and (-ik) for a female 2nd person.
Now, most of my answers here to people asking questions on Duolingo in this course are based on the standard, because simply Duolingo did not specify a dialect for modeling this course. Besides, the course itself is a mix of standard Arabic and some weird sentences and expressions from dialects and English that are sometimes translated word-for-word and make no sense in Arabic. If I was to answer according to some dialect, then what dialect to use after all? One country, like Egypt for example, might have more than 4 dialects altogether.
Some people here expressed their desire to learn a dialect because this is what you really use in everyday life when you travel, and they have a point with this, but the thing is, Duolingo is a mix, and also there is no concrete orthography for any dialect (no official standard for writing a dialect) and most people when text messaging do use the standard Arabic orthography even for sounds that originally not in Arabic (like writing ق or غ for the sound of "G"). A dialect is better learned either by mixing with the people, traveling, or maybe YouTube would do, and maybe indulging in online communities I guess.
So, in a nutshell, there is no such thing as "Arabic for English-speakers" or for any other speakers of any other language. Arabic is Arabic, it's just up to people to decide what and how to learn it.


Yes, TJ. You're correct, Arabic is Arabic :)) And, that was why 'ilm nahwu emerged.

Nb: Some members also explain that the -ak and -ik are from some specific dialects (like you have said). Some say, in Lebanese, they are "kalbak", "ibnak", and so on. It is very sad that the original one has been altered.

Thanks again, TJ.

  • 1379

Most welcome.
Yes, it can be from Lebanese, but such things are common on a spectrum of dialects actually. In the Levant and Egypt and I'd say in the Maghrib region (not sure about that though) people would do the same; Shift the vowel to the back. Some dialects, like mine, would use (-ik) to a male, and (-ich) to a female. I think some dialects in Saudi Arabia would use (-ish) to a female, and some use (-is) as I heard some.
Speaking of dialects, they are actually a natural consequence of life and generations. Dialects did exist even before Islam in Arabia, but dialects back then were more or less related to tribal differences and not "political" entities like we have it now. The thing about Arabic is, at some point in history, all these dialects were given a reference point, and that is the beginning of Islam and the revelation of Quran. From that point in time and forward, Arabic is gauged and measured by the Arabic used by Quran (which was majorly in the Arabic of Quraysh tribe of Makkah). This is the classical Arabic from which the standard is based (and by the way, classical and standard are just terms used by non-Arabs studying Arabic, we simply say fusHá فصحى).
In other languages, we you can see that language develops overtime, e.g. we have old English, middle English, and modern English, and maybe we have sub-divisions, maybe Victorian English? Not sure. Anyway, the thing is, there is no reference to scale and measure and the window of change is flexible in most languages. However, for Arabic, however the everyday language develops, there remains always the standard which we learn in school, use for formal writing in workplaces, use in education, and we can use as well in communication in case 2 people fail to understand each other's dialects for some reason. So, change in Arabic is normal like any other language out there, but, we have a reference point we can always use to communicate and get our ideas through.


(1) Yes, you're correct again, TJ :)) Many dialects existed before the Islam came. That is why the Quranic recitation has seven reading variations, ie. Qiroo-tul Sab'ah (or more than seven, some say). All are valid and have strong narrations.

(2) Yes, indeed, Arabic is one of the most stable languages that still stands until now.


Hi I am so sorry I deleted my previous message as I could not find the "reply" link to your last message.

But, after I sent it, the "reply" was shown up. So, I moved that message.


Thanks, Away54. But what's 'ilm nahwu?


To be more correct ot should be KABUKI as it's addressed to female and its خبر

  • 1379

Away54: It's OK I've read it and gave it thumbs up. Duolingo removes the reply button after few posts under a single thread. That's why I'm posting this here in a separate thread.


نعم، فهمت. شكرا لك

Yes, I understand. Thank you. :))

بارك الله فيك

  • 1379

KatieC993112: علم النحو (3ilmu-nnaHw) is the Arabic term for grammatology or syntactic.


Thanks TJ_Q8, we can always count on you! Adding a note: KatieC993112, علم النحو is a subject of Arabic language that studies about -an, -in, and -un at the end of the word. My term is simpler. You may discuss it further with TJ_Q8 as I have found many difficulties when I should say some Arabic terms in English. Also, your language is too English, I couldn't understand it well :))


Away54, are you saying that the only area of grammar that علم النحو studies is -an, -in, and -un at the end of the word? Really? That's a very narrow field. TJ_Q8, grammatology is either a) the scientific study of writing systems, a term coined in 1952 or b) a science of language advocated by the French philosopher Derrida, in relation to his theory of deconstructive criticism. Surely you don't mean either of those? As for "syntactic" it is an adjective meaning, "related to syntax". So I'm not quite clear what you are telling me.

  • 1379

I think he was trying to approximate the idea.
Actually the full name of this science in Arabic is علم النحو والصرف - and typically this would be translated as the science of grammar and derivation. It is a branch of linguistics in Arabic that deals with grammar and the composition of sentences and position of words, and on the other hand, with the derivation of words from roots and verbs.


TJ_Q8, thanks so much for understanding me! I think we are in the same age :))

KatieC, I just want to make it simpler. Yes, nahwu is a narrow field if we compare it to other Islamic-related subjects. To be noted that I say "Islamic-related subjects" because in my country, only Muslims study this subject as a tool to read the Islamic sources ...

I say -an, -in, and -un because they are the versus of -ak and -ik in many threads of Arabic Duolingo. I thought it would be understandable. So, if you want more details, nahwu is: (1) "-un" consists of 2al-mubtada2 (which people translate it as a subject or beginning of a sentence, whereby both are not the actual meaning!), khabar (complement, predicative adj.?), kaana & her sisters, inna & her sisters, etc. (2) "-an" includes maf3ul bih (object?), maf3ul ma3ah, maf3ul fiih, Haal, tamyiiz, etc. (3) "-in" means something such as muDaaf ilaih. There are also na3at (attributive adj.?), badal, and the similar things (which can be -an, -in and -un) ... and other things, e.g. ال that makes the a, i, and u sounds ... and so on.


I see that translation suggests both 'kalbak' and 'kalbik' but only one of this is considered correct. Can you please explain the difference and the usage?

  • 1379

Let's put the audio here aside because it is wrong.

The word in this sentence should be "Kalbuki" (your dog) - speaking to a female (Maha is a female's name). In Arabic it would be كَلْبُكِ

If we are talking to a male (i.e. "your" is for a male person) then it would be كَلْبُكَ (kalbuka) - as you can see the letters are the same but the diacritics at the end are different (-ka when speaking to a male, -ki when speaking to a female).

The main word here is (kalb) كلب (i.e. dog). In this situation and this sentence it is the subject (or in other words, the word is it Nominative case) so it has to be (Kalbu-). I put (-) at the end because this could either be a suffix here or simply Tanwin or Nunation (-un). Just as a bonus, let's suppose it was preceded with a preposition, like "from" مِن (min): from a dog - that would change the ending: مِن كلبٍ (min kalbin). Not sure what they call this case in English, but in Arabic we call it Majrúr مجرور.

Finally, if the word is in Accusative case (some verb is applied to it), then it would get (-a) ending. Example: He sees a dog يرى كلباً (yará kalban). Again, Tanwin or nunation (-an) is used here because the word (كلب: dog) is indefinite.


Thank you so much..!


Many moons ago (second half of 20th century), we were taught in high school a "classic" pronunciation, ie:

  • "a dog" was "kalbun" (with a double damma, joined into mini helicopter blades),

  • "the dog" was "el kalbu" (-u, not -un!),

  • female names ended in "-etun",

  • the accusative case ended in "-en" (double fatha),

  • the genitive case ended in "-in" (double kasra),

  • words beginning with long "aa" had the alif with a wavy flag.

This was all in Europe, so when we came across students from Arab countries they all laughed at our pronunciation. It must have sounded sooooo ancient to them. We also noticed that they hardly put any vowels into their writing, and as the vowels are markers of meaning, we were completely lost trying to pronounce the consonant clusters correctly.

My question is: does anyone anywhere use this ancient style any more?

  • 1379

if you mean (ancient style) as in fusHa Arabic الفصحى then yes, it is used already in newspapers, media, and in workplaces in formal letters and so.


Many thanks for the swiftt reply! You have restored my confidence :-) I now also found another thread (Arabic: Your name?), that reassures me that those rules still apply, in fuHsa. On the other hand, Duolingo has brought me into the modern day, with introducing texting :-)

  • 1379

Well, Duolingo is actually a mix. And with their speech-machine, there are a lot of errors there.
I'd say it is fine for beginners - I do call such type of learning (for Arabic specifically) as "traveler's Arabic" - something that helps you go by, since it has a mix of standard and dialectical Arabic.
On the other hand, some people might "laugh" or find it strange that someone speaks fusHa or try to communicate with it, but this is not because it is outdated, but because they are uneducated and don't know the value of their own language. That is, they laugh for their ignorance, as they don't appreciate the power of the language. Because with learning and speaking fusHa there is the power of communicating with a wide spectrum of people in the Arab world, and outside of the Arab world (since fusHa is taught academically and it is the official standard) regardless of the dialects that spread across the geographic space, and it should be understood by anyone with some education.


NFraser3 TJ_Q8:

In my country (a non-native Arabic but Muslim country), people who learn Arabic are taught about the ending sounds (e.g., "-an", "-in", and "-un"), we use the method which is closer to how the way of Quran, hadeeth narrations, and scholars' books are applied. We choose this method in the hope that we can have a better understanding of those Islamic sources. So, it is not surprising if indigenous people (who are fluent in Arabic) from my country also speak like "ancient".

Be sure that the Real Ancient Arabic language (Qur'anic version) is the best ever! :)

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