“Thank You” and “You’re Welcome” in Lebanese Arabic

“Thank You”

Responses to “Thank You”


“Thank You”image of three Lebanese persons saying "thank you" with three different words: "merci", "shukran", and "yislamo"

šukran

This is typically the first expression of gratitude that Arabic students learn. However, the frequency with which it is used in Lebanon can vary considerably from one place to another. It is relatively uncommon in settings in which French and English greetings are in regular use.

Thanks šukran شُكْراً
Thanks very much šukran ktīr شُكْراً كْتير
Thank you very much (formal) šukran jazīlan شُكْراً جَزيلاً
Thank you (m.) šukran Āilak شُكْراً إلَك
Thank you (f.) šukran Āilik شُكْراً إلِك
Thank you (pl.) šukran Āilkun شُكْراً إلكُن

The following variations on “šukran / شُكْراً” are also used:

I thank you (m.) (formal) bišikrak بِشِكْرَك
I thank you (f.) (formal) bišikrik بِشِكْرِك
I thank you (pl.) (formal) biškirkun بِشْكِرْكُن
I (m.) am much obliged maškūr مَشْكور
I (f.) am much obliged maškūraŧ مَشْكورَة
We are much obliged maškūrīn مَشْكورين


Thanking in French and English

Where French and English greetings are in regular use, “Merci” (“mérsī / ميرسي”) is the most common expression of thanks. However, it is rarely used elsewhere, as noted in Marie-Aimée Germanos’s study on greetings in Beirut. This sociolinguistic divide is replicated in the case of the English “Thank you” and ”Thanks”, which are said where “mérsī / ميرسي” is said (although not nearly as often) and rarely elsewhere (“Greetings in Beirut”, p. 160).

The modifier “ktīr / كْتير” (“a lot”) is sometimes appended to “mérsī / ميرسي”. This is never done, however, with “Thank you” or “Thanks”.

Thank you mérsī ميرسي
Thank you very much mérsī ktīr ميرسي كْتير


yislamō

This widely used expression is particularly appropriate when someone hands you something, although it can be used to thank someone for just about anything. It literally means “May they be protected”, where “they” refers to “these hands” or “your hands”. Sometimes the expression is extended to indicate this explicitly.

Germanos finds that “yislamō / يِسْلَمو” is the second most common expression of thanks in areas where “mérsī / ميرسي” is predominant (“Greetings in Beirut”, p. 160).

May they (i.e. your hands) be protected yislamō يِسْلَمو
May these hands be protected yislamō haddayyēt يِسْلَمو هَالدَّيَات
May your (m.) hands be protected yislamō Āīdék يِسْلَمو إيديك
yislamō dayyētak يِسْلَمو دَيّاتَك
May your (f.) hands be protected yislamō Āīdayke يِسْلَمو إيدَيْكِ
yislamō dayyētik يِسْلَمو دَيّاتِك
May your (pl.) hands be protected yislamō Āīdaykun يِسْلَمو إيدَيْكُن
yislamō dayyētkun يِسْلَمو دَيّاتْكُن

The following variation on “yislamō / يِسْلَمو” is also used:

May he (i.e. God) protect them ysallimħun يْسَلِّمهُن
(i.e. your hands)


killak zōĀ

This lovely expression literally means “All of you is good taste”. It is a very complimentary thank you, and can be used in response to a compliment or something particularly kind that someone did for you.

(to m.) killak zōĀ كِلَّك ذوق
(to f.) killik zōĀ كِلِّك ذوق
(to pl.) kilkun zōĀ كِلْكُن ذوق

It is commonly used in conjunction with other expressions of thanks, e.g.:

Thanks, you (m.) are very kind šukran, killak zōĀ شُكْراً، كِلَّك ذوق
Thanks, you (f.) are very kind mérsī, killik zōĀ ميرسي، كِلِّك ذوق
Thank you, you (pl.) are very kind yislamō, kilkun zōĀ يِسْلَمو، كِلْكُن ذوق


mamnūn

This is somewhat more earnest than a simple “šukran / شُكْراً” or “mérsī / ميرسي”. It is not used as often as the preceding expressions.

I (m.) am grateful (Āanā) mamnūn (أنا) مَمْنون
I (m.) am very grateful (Āanā) mamnūn ktīr (أنا) مَمْنون كْتير
I (f.) am grateful (Āanā) mamnūneŧ (أنا) مَمْنونِة
I (f.) am very grateful (Āanā) mamnūneŧ ktīr (أنا) مَمْنونِة كْتير
We are grateful (niHnā) mamnūnīn (نِحْنا) مَمْنونين
We are very grateful (niHnā) mamnūnīn ktīr (نِحْنا) مَمْنونين كْتير

You can also add a suffix pronoun, indicating the person to whom you are grateful.

I (m.) am grateful to you (m.) mamnūnak مَمْنونَك
I (m.) am grateful to you (f.) mamnūnik مَمْنونِك
I (m.) am grateful to you (pl.) mamnūnkun مَمْنونْكُن
I (f.) am grateful to you (m.) mamnūntak مَمْنونْتَك
I (f.) am grateful to you (f.) mamnūntik مَمْنونْتِك
I (f.) am grateful to you (pl.) mamnūnitkun مَمْنونِتْكُن
We are grateful to you (m.) mamnūnīnak مَمْنونينَك
We are grateful to you (f.) mamnūnīnik مَمْنونينِك
We are grateful to you (pl.) mamnūnīnkun مَمْنونينْكُن


“Thank you for…”

If you want to specify the thing for which you are thankful, simply add the preposition “3alā / عَلى” (usually contracted to 3a / عَ) + noun to the word or expression of thankfulness. If what you are thankful for is described in a phrase, the preposition is omitted.

Note, however, that this is not done with the English “Thanks” and ”Thank you”. These words have not been assimilated into Lebanese Arabic to the same degree as “mérsī / ميرسي”.

* Thanks for the coffee. šukran 3alĀahweŧ. شُكْراً عَالقَهْوِة.
* Thanks very much for the šukran ktīr 3almuĀābaleŧ. شُكْراً كْتير عَالمُقابَلِة.
   interview.
* I’m very grateful for the gift. maškūr ktīr 3alihdiyyeŧ. مَشْكور كْتير عالِهْدِيِّة.
* Thanks for bringing me from mérsī jibtīné min lmaTār. ميرسي جِبْتيني مِن المَطار.
   the airport.
* Thanks for your (m.) help. yislamō 3amusē3adtak. يِسْلَمو عَمُساعَدْتَك.
* Thanks very much for preparing yislamō ktīr HaDDartīlnā يِسْلَمو كْتير حَضِّرتيلنا
   dinner for us. l3ašāå. العشاء.
* Thank you for the information. killak zōĀ 3alma3lūmēt. كِلَّك ذوق عَالمَعْلومات.
* I (f.) am grateful for your (m.) visit. mamnūneŧ 3azyārtak. مَمْنونِة عَزْيارْتَك.
* I (f.) am grateful to you (m.) for the visit. mamnūntak 3azzyāraŧ. مَمْنونْتَك عالزّيارَة.


Responses to “Thank You”you're welcome 350x1024

“You’re Welcome”: Āahlan, tikram, 3afwan, l3afū

“Āahlan / أهْلاً” and “tikram / تِكْرَم” (and their variations) are the most common responses to an expression of gratitude. We have looked at the former elsewhere; shown below are the various forms of “tikram / تِمْرَم” and “tikram 3aynak / تِكْرَم عَيْنَك”:

You (m.) are welcome tikram/tikram 3aynak تِكرَم/تِكرَم عَيْنَك
You (f.) are welcome tikramé/tikram 3aynik تِكرَمي/تِكرَم عَيْنِك
You (pl.) are welcome tikramō/tikram 3aynkun تِكرَمو/تِكرَم عَيْنكُن

“3afwan / عَفْواً” and “l3afū / العَفو” are also used, although less commonly in Lebanon than in Syria:

You’re welcome, Don’t mention it 3afwan عَفواً
You’re welcome, Don’t mention it l3afū العَفو

Lebanese do not normally use French or English when responding to thanks. Of course, Lebanese who know or suspect that they are speaking with a foreigner might say “You’re welcome” or “De rien” in response to “Thank you” or “Merci”. But these responses are not ordinarily used among Lebanese unless they are consciously speaking English or French.


walaw! “It’s no big deal!”

Sometimes people will respond to thanks with “walaw! / وَلَو!”, an interjection which expresses surprise. In this context it means something like: “Why are you thanking me? Of course I would do this for you.”

Of course! walaw! وَلَو!

Similar expressions include:

It’s no big deal miš/mannħa Harzēneŧ مِش/مَنّها حَرْزانْة
No problem miš miškleŧ مِش مِشْكْلِة
No problem (lit. “simple”) basiTaŧ بَسيطَة
Don’t worry/No worries (to m.) walā yhimmak وَلا يْهِمَّك
Don’t worry/No worries (to f.) walā yhimmik وَلا يْهِمِّك
Don’t worry/No worries (to pl.) walā yhimkun وَلا يْهِمْكُن


“Thank you!”

In some situations, it might be appropriate to return the thanks:

Thank you (m.)! šukran Āilak! شُكْراً إلَك!
Thank you (f.)! šukran Āilik! شُكْراً إلِك!
Thank you (pl.)! šukran Āilkun! شُكْراً إلْكُن!
Thank you (m.)! mérsī Āilak! ميرسي إلَك!
Thank you (f.)! mérsī Āilik! ميرسي إلِك!
Thank you (pl.)! mérsī Āilkun! ميرسي إلْكُن!

Note that expressions of thanks other than “šukran / شُكْراً” and “mérsī / ميرسي” are not used in this way.


Additional Responses

The following formulas are sometimes used in response to thanks offered for a service or favour rendered or promised.

Don’t mention it (lit. “No thanks for a duty”) lā šukur 3alā wējib لا شُكُر على واجِب
Don’t mention it (lit. “It’s our duty”) wējibnā واجِبْنا
At your service niHnā bilЌidmeŧ نِحْنا بالخِدْمِة
At your service (lit. “On my head”) 3arāsé عَراسي

Reference:
Germanos, M. (2007), “Greetings in Beirut: Social distribution and attitudes towards different formulae”, in C. Miller, E. Al-Wer, D. Caubet and J. C. E. Watson (eds), Arabic in the City: Issues in Dialect Contact and Language Variation, London and New York: Routledge, 147-65.

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