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Speak / Lesson 1

How to Greet People and Ask How They're Doing

salām, and welcome to the first-ever Persian (Farsi) language lesson of Chai and Conversation! In this lesson, we learn one of the most important things in any language: how to greet people and ask them how they are doing--- in Persian! We also learn a few simple ways to reply when asked how we're doing. 

In addition, there's a short introduction to the teacher, Leyla Shams, and the student, Matt Bourneuf. You can find out more about our comprehensive language learning program here.

GREETINGS:

salām
hello
سَلام
chetor-ee
how are you?
چِطوری؟

Note: In Persian, as in many other languages, there is a formal and an informal way of speaking. We will be covering this in more detail in later lessons. For now, however, chetor-ee is the informal way of asking someone how they are, so it should only be used with people that you are familiar with. hālé shomā chetor-é is the formal expression for ‘how are you.’

Spelling note: In written Persian, words are not capitalized. For this reason, we do not capitalize Persian words written in phonetic English in the guides.


ANSWERS:

khoobam
I’m well
خوبَم

Pronunciation tip: kh is one of two unique sounds in the Persian language that is not used in the English language. It should be repeated daily until mastered, as it is essential to successfully speak Persian. Listen to the podcast for more information on how to make the sound.

Persian English
salām hello
chetor-ee how are you?
khoobam I’m well
merci thank you
khayli very
khayli khoobam I’m very well
khoob neestam I’m not well
man me/I
bad neestam I’m not bad
ālee great
chetor-een? how are you? (formal)
hālé shomā chetor-é? how are you? (formal)
hālet chetor-é? how are you? (informal)
khoob-ee? are you well? (informal)
mamnoonam thank you
chetor peesh meeré? how’s it going?
ché khabar? what’s the news? (what’s up?)
testeeeee

Leyla: Hello, and welcome to Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation, the podcast for anyone looking to learn conversational Persian. My name is Leyla, and I’ll be your teacher for the course.

Matt: And my name is Matt, and I will be learning Persian along with you.

Leyla: Chai and Conversation will teach you conversational Persian in weekly lessons of about 15 minutes each.

Matt: If you know anything about Iranians, they don’t do anything without first grabbing a cup of tea – or, as they call it, chāi.

Leyla: So pour yourself a cup and join us in learning the Persian language.

 

Hello, and welcome to Learn Persian with Chai and Conversation. The point of this podcast is to provide you with a simple, effective, and easy way to learn conversational Persian. As I said, my name is Leyla, and I’m joined by Matt. salām Matt!

Matt: salām!

Leyla: If you’ve downloaded this program, you are looking for a way to learn to speak and understand Persian. Now, I was born in Iran, so I am a native Persian-speaker. Even though I moved to Texas when I was four years old, I grew up speaking the language. I have noticed, however, that there is such a lack of effective learning materials out there for people trying to learn on their own. And I have been listening to a lot of language-learning podcasts over the last few years and thought we'd create one for people trying to learn conversational Persian.

Matt: And even though I grew up in Texas as well, I have a vested interest in learning the Persian language since I married an Iranian about a year ago. I feel like learning a language is the best way to open the door into any culture, and it would be nice to be able to better communicate with my in-laws, especially her grandparents, who don’t speak any English at all. By listening to this podcast, you all are going to be learning quite a bit of Persian, and I am going to be learning along with you.

Leyla: Persian is the predominant language spoken in Iran, but because there is such a large number of Iranians living outside of Iran now, there are Persian-speakers everywhere in the world!

Matt: Many of you, like me, may have many Persian spouses or in-laws, or you may have Iranian friends and would like to be able to communicate with them on a conversational level.

Leyla: Or perhaps you come from an Iranian or Persian-speaking background and would like to get more in touch with your heritage.

Matt: And in case you haven’t noticed, Iran has in been in the news quite frequently, especially in the past few years. This also may have piqued your interest in learning the language.

Leyla: Whatever your reason, we are so glad that you have chosen to learn the Persian language with us! We’ve created this podcast with the goal of helping you to learn the language in a fun and casual manner in weekly podcasts of about 15-20 minutes each. The good thing about learning using a podcast is that you can learn anywhere - while in your car or on a run, or while sitting comfortably at home in front of your computer. 

Matt: I will be repeating the words and phrases that Leyla says, and you should try to repeat them out loud along with me.

Leyla: You really should repeat the phrases out loud as often as possible. This will be the best way to commit them to your memory, and it will help you to develop a better accent.

Matt: We will go at a nice and easy pace so that you can get the most out of the lessons. We would like to mention that the podcasts are only one part of Chai and Conversation. In addition to the podcast, we’ve created a website, chaiandconversation.com, with “chai” spelled C-H-A-I, on which we’ll be posting additional learning materials for you to take advantage of.

Leyla: We'll talk about this more after the lesson, but for now, Matt, are you ready to begin?

Matt: Ready!

Leyla: Great, let’s begin to learn Persian with Chai and Conversation!

LESSON 1

Leyla: So the first thing you learn when learning any new language is how to say ‘hello’. In Persian, the word for ‘hello’ is “salām.”

Matt: salām.

Leyla: Now, when I say a word and Matt repeats it, you should try to repeat the word along with him. So we're going to try that one more time. Matt, could you repeat along with me? salām.

Matt: salām.

Leyla: Great. So after you learn how to say ‘hello’, you generally follow it up with ‘how are you?'. In Persian, ‘how are you’ is "chetor-ee?"

Matt: chetor-ee?

Leyla: I would like to note here that in Persian, as in French, Spanish, and many other languages, there is an informal and formal way of speaking. Matt and I are friends, so we would most likely use the informal language. Formal is used when you're speaking to people you don’t know very well, or, Matt, with your in-laws, or anyone who's older than you. Because we’re trying to learn conversational and casual speaking, for today, we’re just gonna use informal speech. So again, ‘how are you’ in Persian in the informal sense is…?

Matt: chetor-ee?

Leyla: Great, so let’s put those two together. salām, chetor-ee?

Matt: salām, chetor-ee?

Leyla: Now, you’ll probably want to be able to answer this question if you're asked. The most common form of answering the question in any language is to say ‘I am well,’ ‘I am good,’ or, in Persian, “khoob-am.”

Matt: khoob-am.

Leyla: Now, Matt has hung out with Iranians enough that he's heard this sound before, but many of you might not be familiar with it. It's “kh,” and this presents our first big challenge in learning the Persian language. Matt, could you please repeat that sound again? kh.

Matt: kh.

Leyla: I had an old Persian professor who learned the language in his 20's and explained that he learned to make this sound by continuously repeating it every morning when he'd wake up. This might not sound like the best way to wake up in the morning to you, but the point is, the more you practice it, the more natural you'll be at saying it. And to successfully speak Persian, you must be able to make this sound 'cause it will come up again and again. So let’s try that one more time. kh. kh. kh.

Matt: kh. kh. kh.

Leyla: Matt, could you maybe help out how you learned to say this sound?

Matt: Yeah, it's kind of like clearing your throat. kh. kh. kh.

Leyla: Okay, and with this sound, again, we can say the word for ‘I am well’, which is…?

Matt: khoob-am.

Leyla: So, Matt, I’m going to ask you how you're doing, and you can answer that you are well. So, salām Matt, chetor-ee?

Matt: khoob-am.

Leyla: So, Matt, if I’ve asked you “chetor-ee?” and you’ve answered back “khoob-am,” what would be a nice way to continue the conversation?

Matt: Maybe by asking you how you’re doing.

Leyla: And how would you do that?

Matt: I would say chetor-ee?

Leyla: Okay, so let's just try that. salām Matt, chetor-ee?

Matt: khoob-am. chetor-ee?

Leyla: khoob-am. And after answering this way, I could follow up politely by saying ‘I’m good, thank you.' Thank you in Persian is merci.

Matt: merci.

Leyla: Now, this might sound familiar to you because it is taken from the French word for ‘thank you’, “merci,” just pronounced slightly differently, with the r rolled. merci.

Matt: merci.

Leyla: In fact, you’ll see a lot of Persian words that overlap with French in the future. So again, the word for 'thank you' in Persian is…?

Matt: merci.

Leyla: So now with these few words, we can have our first conversation in Persian! So I’ll begin. salām Matt, chetor-ee?

Matt: khoob-am, merci, chetor-ee?

Leyla: khoob-am, merci.

Now we’re going to repeat this conversation again, but this time, after I ask the question, Matt will give you some time so that you can provide an answer for yourself before he gives his answer. Ready? salām Matt, chetor-ee? … 

Matt: khoob-am, merci, chetor-ee?

Leyla: khoob-am, merci.

Great, so, so far, we have “salām,”chetor-ee,” “khoob-am,” and “merci,” four new words in your Persian vocabulary. So, now, let’s continue with a different answer to the question “chetor-ee?” Instead of saying ‘I’m good’, let’s say ‘I’m very good’. To say ‘I’m very good’ in Persian, you say "khayli khoob-am."

Matt: khayli khoob-am.

Leyla: You may have noticed we encountered the ‘kh’ sound again. If you haven’t gotten a hang of this sound yet, don’t worry; it will come with practice! So again, ‘I’m very good’ is…?

Matt: khayli khoob-am.

Leyla: So Matt, I'm going to ask you how you're doing, and you can answer that you're very good. salām Matt, chetor-ee?

Matt: khayli khoob-am.

Leyla: However, you won’t always be doing ‘good’ or ‘very good’. If you’re having a rough day, you might want to answer ‘I’m not good', which in Persian is “khoob neestam.

Matt: khoob neestam.

Leyla: So khoob again is the word for ‘good’, and neestam means ‘I am not’. khoob neestam.

Matt: khoob neestam.

Leyla: So, what if you’re not doing good, but things aren’t going so badly, either? Another common way to answer the question ‘how are you?’ would be to say that you’re not bad. In Persian, this would be "bad neestam."

Matt: bad neestam.

Leyla: So you may have noticed another familiar word in there: bad. bad has the same meaning in Persian as it does in English. Just make sure to note the subtle, subtle difference in the accent. In Persian, this word is “bad,” and in English, it's “baaad,” so it's a bit less drawn-out in Persian. Let’s try saying it the Persian way: bad.

Matt: bad.

Leyla: That’s right, bad.

Matt: bad.

Leyla: So, again, I’ll ask you how you are, and answer that you’re not bad. salām, Matt, chetor-ee?

Matt: bad neestam.

Leyla: Okay, let’s run through all these answers quickly. ‘I’m good’ is "khoob-am."

Matt: khoob-am.

Leyla: ‘I’m very good’ is "khayli khoob-am."

Matt: khayli khoob-am.

Leyla: ‘I am not good’ is “khoob neestam.”

Matt: khoob neestam.

Leyla: ‘I’m not bad’ is “bad neestam.”

Matt: bad neestam.

Leyla: Very good! So, in Persian, ‘very good’ is “khayli khoob!” Okay, so far, I’ve been asking Matt “chetor-ee?” and he’s been answering with:

Matt: khoob-am,”"khayli khoob-am," khoob neestam,” “bad neestam.”

Leyla: And when he wants to ask me how I’m doing in return, he says: 

Matt: chetor-ee?”

Leyla: Let’s practice this in conversation. salām Matt, chetor-ee?

Matt: khoob-am, merci. chetor-ee?

Leyla: khoob-am, merci.

Great, now let’s try this again, and this time answer that you’re not bad. salām Matt, chetor-ee?

Matt: bad neestam. chetor-ee?

Leyla: man khoob-am, merci!

So I added a word in there, “man.” “man" in Persian means ‘me’. I added that in there to emphasize that me, I'm doing good. So, "man khoob-am" means that I, I'm doing good. man khoob-am. You can use that to emphasize the other phrases we learned as well such as, ‘me, I’m not bad’, which would be ‘man bad neestam’.

Matt: man bad neestam.

Leyla: Or even ‘I’m not good': man khoob neestam.

Matt: man khoob neestam.

Leyla: So again, this is to emphasize, like, you, maybe you're not doing well, but me, I'm doing great! So let’s repeat all the words we’ve learned so far one more time. salām.

Matt: salām.

Leyla: chetor-ee?

Matt: chetor-ee?

Leyla: khoob-am.

Matt: khoob-am.

Leyla: khayli khoob-am.

Matt: khayli khoob-am.

Leyla: merci.

Matt: merci.

Leyla: khoob neestam.

Matt: khoob neestam.

Leyla: bad neestam.

Matt: bad neestam.

Leyla: Now let’s learn one last answer for the question ‘how are you?’, and we’ll wrap up this lesson. Let’s say you’re doing really, really well, and you want to say ‘I’m great!’. In Persian, this would be "ālee!"

Matt: ālee!

Leyla: So this is the Persian word for ‘great!’. So when you're asked ‘how are you?’ and you want to answer that you are great, you just simply say ‘great!’ ālee! So I'm going to ask you how you're doing one last time, and you're going to answer that you are doing great. So, salām Matt, chetor-ee?

Matt: ālee!

Leyla: Great, so Matt is doing very well after learning all these new Persian words! Let’s run through our answers one last time. ‘I’m good’.

Matt: khoob-am.

Leyla: 'I'm very good'.

Matt: khayli khoob-am.

Leyla: ‘I’m not good’. 

Matt: khoob neestam.

Leyla: ‘I’m not bad'.

Matt: bad neestam.

Leyla: ‘I’m great!’

Matt: ālee!

Leyla: Let’s repeat it all again one last time so we can definitely get a grasp on the vocabulary. Again, I’m going to say the words and Matt is going to repeat them, and you should repeat them along with Matt. salām.

Matt: salām.

Leyla: chetor-ee?

Matt: chetor-ee?

Leyla: khoob-am.

Matt: khoob-am.

Leyla: khayli khoob-am.

Matt: khayli khoob-am.

Leyla: khoob neestam.

Matt: khoob neestam.

Leyla: bad neestam.

Matt: bad neestam.

Leyla: ālee!

Matt: ālee!

Leyla: We also learned man.

Matt: man.

Leyla: merci.

Matt: merci.

Leyla: And that wraps up our vocabulary for this lesson! It may not seem like we learned that many new words, but that’s how we want to do it for Chai and Conversation: to learn a few words each time so that you will be able to practice in practical conversation at a pace that is easy to manage.

Matt: Thank you so much for listening to us, and we look forward to seeing you next time on Chai and Conversation!