This is a post about one of the most useful, common, and under-appreciated verbs in Levantine Arabic: طلع (Téle3 yéTla3). Perhaps because it is so difficult to pronounce (i and 3ayn and Taa2 all in one word!!!), and because it is little-used in MSA, I’ve encountered many people who would never even think to use it (in spite of taking colloquial lessons in Levantine-speaking countries) and even those people who do know it are only familiar with it in one or two of its most common uses. Its opposite, نزل (nézel byénzel) is also used in several related meanings, as are these two verbs’ form II causatives; we’ll cover all of them in this post. Although my examples, as usual, are pretty much exclusively Syrian/Lebanese, most of these senses are also used in many other dialects.
In a slightly drier but also useful sense, these verbs are really good case studies for various different features of colloquial and Arabic more generally. They have causatives which can basically be the causative equivalent of any of their meanings, and which, like causatives in Arabic in general, can mean ‘let’ or ‘make’ depending on context; a lot of these causatives don’t line up with specific verbs in English. They also have ‘nouns of instance’ (اسم مرة) which express the meaning of one specific instance of an action. Finally, they have participles which can be either continuous or express the ‘resultative state’ of the verb, depending on the meaning. They also have lots of useful idiomatic usages that are very very helpful to know. So all in all, very useful verbs.
Up, down, in, out
طلع’s most ‘basic’ meaning – if you can talk about words having a ‘basic’ meaning as opposed to their more idiomatic meanings – is to describe upward, or outward motion. This is a sense that lots of people are familiar with and a sense that also exists in MSA, where the two verbs َطَلَع and طلُعَ (‘to go up’ and ‘to rise’, respectively), cover much of its meaning. طلع in this sense doesn’t have one exact equivalent in English, but covers several different verbs of motion in English.
طلع من البيت Téle3 mn ilbeet – he left the house, came out of the house
طلع الدرج Téle3 iddaraj – he climbed the stairs, came up the stairs, went up the stairs
طلعت لفوق Tlé3@t lafoo2 – I went upstairs
الاركيلة ما عم بيطلع منها دخان ilargiile maa 3am byéTla3 ménna dékhhaan – there’s no smoke coming out of the shisha pipe
الكلمة ما طلعت معو مزبوطة ilkélme maa Tél3et ma3o maZbuuTa – he pronounced the word wrong, it didn’t come out right
طلع بالتاكسي Téle3 bittaksi – he went by taxi, in a taxi (see ‘by camel’ in this video)
طلاع لبرا ولك! Tlaa3 labarra wlak! – get out!
ليش بضل صوتك طالع على أهلك؟ leesh biDall Sootak Taale3 3ala 2ahlak?– why are you always shouting at your parents?
Its opposite, nizil, is used similarly for a range of English verbs of motion generally expressing coming and going down:
نزل الدرج – nézel iddaraj – he came down the stairs
في مي عم تنزل من الغسال fii moyy 3am ténzel mn ilghassaale – there’s water coming out of the washing machine
نزلت من على ضهر الجمل nzél@t min 3ala Dahr ijjamal – I got down off the camel’s back
The form II verbs can be used in the straightforward causative sense of ‘take/bring [something] up’, ‘take/bring [something] down’, ‘take something out’, ‘raise’, ‘lower’, ‘let out’:
طلع هدول لفوق Talli3 hadool lafoo2 – take these upstairs
نزلها للبرداية شواي nazzéla lalbérdaaye shwayy – lower the curtain a little bit
طلع الرصاصة من ايدي Talla3 lirSaaSa mén iidi – he got the bullet out of my hand
نزل المي من تحت الغسالة nazzal ilmoyy mén ta7t ilghassaale – he made the water come out of the bottom of the washing machine
طالع, the form III verb, is also used as the causative of طلع (possibly not in all senses, but in many of them):
بابا طالعني من هون! baaba Taalé3ni min hoon! – Dad, let me out!
ولها الشي بيطالع الزبالة والقرف من تمه؟ w la hashshi biTaali3 lizbaale w il2araf min témmo? – And that’s why (= for this thing) he spits (= causes to come out) such vile things (= rubbish + disgusting stuff) from his mouth?
And طلّع من can also be used for ‘kick out’ or ‘fire’, in an extended sense of ‘made me leave’, forced me to leave:
بابا طلعني من الاوضة وشغل الاخبار baabaa Talla3ni mn ilooDa wshaghghal ilakhbaar – Dad kicked me out of the room and put the news on
طلعني ابو ياسر من الشغل عندو Talla3ni abu yaasir mn ishshéghl 3éndo – Abu Yaasir fired me
Take me out
In a very related – almost synonymous – sense, طلع is used for going out, in the extended sense of going to do something, going to a restaurant, going out to have fun, etc etc. This is apparently not the case in Egyptian, where نزل is the usual verb in this sense.
انا طالع ana Taale3 – I’m off, I’m leaving, I’m going out (in this sense, as a verb of motion, the participle is usually continuous, though it can also be resultative ‘Have gone out’ or near future ‘am about to go out’)
طلعت معه يوم الجمعة Tlé3@t ma3o yoom ijjém3a – I went out with him on Friday
Talla3 can also be used as the causative of this sense:
طلّعني! Tallé3ni! – take me out!
Even though نزل is not necessarily used to mean ‘go out’ in the specific sense of ‘going out to have fun’, it can still be used in a similar way:
نزلت كزدر ع بيروت nzél@t kazder 3a beeruut – I went [down] for a wander in Beirut
When is the new iPhone coming out?
Again relatedly, nizil is the verb used to mean ‘come out’ (and nazzal ‘release’) of new models of things:
ايمتى بدو ينزل الأيفون الجديد؟ eemta biddo yénzel il2aayfoon lejdiid? – when’s the new iPhone coming out?
The house of the rising sun
طلع is also the verb used for the sun coming up. But نزل is not used for ‘go down’ in this context, for some reason, only غاب:
طلعت الشمس Tél3et ishsham@s – the sun came up
غابت الشمس ghaabet ishsham@s – the sun went down
It’s getting hot in here
نزل can also be used for describing, for example, the temperature, rates, percentages, numbers – ‘go up’ and ‘go down’:
نزلت درجة الحرارة nézlet darjet il7araara – the temperature’s gone down
نزلت حرارته؟ nézlet 7araarto? – has his temperature gone down?
نزلت نسبة الجوعانين بالعالم nézlet nésbet ijjoo3aaniin bil3aalam – the number of starving people in the world has gone down
طلع can be used as its opposite (though I think ارتفع is more common):
طلعت حرارتي ولله Tél3et 7araarti waLLa – my temperature’s gone up!
طلعت نسبة الجوعانين بالدنيا؟ Tél3et nésbet ijjoo3aaniin biddénye? – has the number of starving people in the world risen?
Stop the world, I want to get on (or off)
In a similar and related sense, طلع and نزل are the usual words used for getting in and out of vehicles, including cars, boats, and planes:
طلع بالتاكسي – Téle3 bittaksi – he got into the taxi (this same sentence could also mean ‘he went by taxi’, see above)
نزل من التاكسي – nézel mn ittaksi – he got out of the taxi
Their causative equivalents, Talla3 and nazzal, can be used in the sense of ‘pick up’ (‘let in’) and ‘drop off’ (‘let out’):
رجعنا على محل ما طلعتنا rajjé3na 3ala ma7all ma Talla3tna – take us back to the place you picked us up
نزّلني عندك – nazzélni 3éndak – drop me off here (3éndak here = literally ‘by you’, i.e. where you are now)
Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
طلع can also be used for a rumour or a story to mean ‘start’, ‘spread around’:
طلعت اشاعة انه مات Tél3et 2ishaa3a inno maat – a rumour started that he’d died
Talla3 3ala is then predictably used for the causative, starting rumours about people:
طلع علي قصص Talla3 3aleyyi 2éSaS – he’s been starting rumours about me
So I said to the captain, please bring me my wine
نزّل can be used in the quite specific sense of a waiter bringing things to a table – drinks, food etc:
نزللنا كاس حبيب nazzéllna kaas 7abiib – bro, bring us a glass (of e.g. whisky)
Download (Upload) Festival
نزّل is also used for uploading, downloading, and – in a presumably related sense – posting on Facebook and related things:
نزللك بوست nazzallak boost – he put a post [on your Facebook wall]
نزلت الغنية الجديدة لهيفا شي؟ nazzalt ilghanniyye lijdiide la-Heefa shi? – Have you downloaded the newest Haifa Wehbe song?
Mum I’m on the TV!!!!
Returning to form I, طلع can also mean ‘appear’, especially when talking about, for example, TV, or photos:
طلع بالتلفيزيون Téle3 bittelevizyoon – he appeared on TV
هو هلأ طالع بالتلفيزيون huwwe halla2 Taale3 bittelevizyoon – he’s on TV now
لا هيك انا مو طالع بالصورة la2 heek ana muu Taale3 biSSuura – no, that way you can’t see me in the picture!
He turned out to be an idiot
طلع can also mean ‘turn out to be’ or ‘turn out to look’ or ‘seem’ or a number of related meanings:
طالعة كتير حلوة اليوم Taal3a ktiir 7élwe lyoom – you look really pretty today (I guess this participle is resultative – ‘you have turned out very pretty’)
طلعت كتير حلو بالصورة Tlé3t @ktiir 7élw biSSuura – you look really good in the picture!
طلع الزلمة حرامي Téle3 izzalame 7araami – the guy turned out to be a thief
حطيت ايدي بجيبتي وطلع معي ميت ليرة بس 7aTTeet iidi bjeebti w Téle3 ma3i miit leera bass – I put my hand in my pocket and it turned out I only had a hundred lira
Its causative can be used, similarly, to mean ‘make me turn out to be’, ‘make me look like’:
I won the lottery!
In a similar usage, it is used to describe the results of dice throws, or the lottery:
طلعلي خمسة Tlé3li khamse – I got a five
طلعلو ميت مليون ليرة باليانصيب Tlé3lo miit milyoon leera bilyaanaSiib – he won 100,000,000 lira in the lottery
I take after my grandfather
In a related sense, it’s used to ask who a child is more like (out of their parents):
لمين طالع؟ la miin Taale3? – who does he take after?
What do I get out of it?
In another related sense, طلع لـ can be used to express what you get out of something, or how much you’re earning (I guess this is pretty identical to the lottery thing):
بيطلعلي ميتين دولار بالشهر byiTla3li miiteen doolaar bishshahr – I earn/get twenty dollars a month
ما بيطلعلي من القصة شي؟ maa byéTla3li mn il2éSSa shi? – don’t I get anything out of it?
It can be used metaphorically as well in a sense which is basically synonymous with بيحقّلي bi7a22illi ‘be my right’:
واذا اشتكيت؟ ما بيطلعلي؟ w iza shtakeet? Maa byéTla3li? – so what if I complain? Don’t I deserve to?
The causative has the sense of ‘earn’ or ‘get your hands on’ some money:
طز بها الكام ألف ليرة بدك تطلعيلنا ياهن Tézz b-ha-lkaam alf leera béddik tTall3iilna yaahon – screw this few thousand lira you want to earn for us
اكيد ابوك الله يرحمه كان يطالع براني كتير bass akiid abuuk aLLa yar7amo kaan yTaale3 barraani ktiir – but of course your father, God rest his soul, must have earned money outside a lot
All together, it’s…
In yet another related meaning, it can express the total of things all added together, or how much a price has ‘come to’:
قديش طلع ع العداد؟ 2addeesh Téle3 3a l3addaad? – How much is it on the meter?
قديش طلعو مع بعض؟ 2addeesh Tél3u ma3 ba3D? – how much are they all together?
It’s out of my hands
It’s also used in a number of expressions to do with not being able to do anything:
ما عم بيطلع معي شي ma 3am byiTla3 ma3i shi – I can’t do anything
This is also a somewhat direct euphemism for erectile dysfunction. Similar to this expression are the (perhaps quite Syrian):
ما بيطلع بايدي maa byéTla3 bi2iidi – I can’t do it
ما طالع بايدي شي maa Taale3 bi2iidi shi – it’s out of my hands, I can’t do anything about it
And the simple (although not طلع-related):
مو بايدي mu bi2iidi – I can’t help it, it’s out of my hands
My temper’s all up
There’s also these exciting expressions to do with being sick of things:
طلع خلئي عليا Téle3 khil2i 3aleyya – I lost my temper with her
بتعرف انه الواحد احيانا ممكن يطلع خلقه bta3ref énno ilwaa7ed a7yaanan mumken yéTla3 khél2o – you know that sometimes, a person can lose their temper…
ولله طالع خلئي انا waLLaahi Taale3 khél2i ana – I’m really annoyed!
طلعت عيوني منو Tél3it 3ayuuni ménno – I’m fed up with it, I’ve given up
طلعت روحي وأنا عم اسأل Talla3t roo7i wana 3am és2al – I’ve worn myself out asking, I’ve tried my hardest
The former can also be made into a causative, of course:
طلعلي خلقي ع الزلمة Talla3li khél2i 3azzalame – he made me lose my temper with the guy
On the up-and-down
ع الطالعة والنازلة means ‘all the time’, ‘constantly’. طالع نازل can also be used as an adjective with a similar meaning:
حاج تحكي كلام طالع نازل ع البنت lak 7aaj té7ki kalaam Taale3 naazel 3a lbin@t – stop saying these [horrible] things about the girl all the time!
Ups and downs, rises and falls
Finally, the اسم مرةs of طلع and نزل – which are طَلعة Tal3a and نَزلة nazle – are used for hills and dips:
في قدامنا نزلة fii 2éddaamna nazle – there’s a dip ahead of us (or a descent, a place where we’ll have to go down)
نزلة is also used for an exit from the motorway – presumably where you go down off it.
طلعة and نزلة are also, in their more normal roles as اسم مرةs, used to mean one instance of doing something:
بلا نزلتك ع الساحة بنص الليل! bala naz@ltak 3a ssaa7a bi néSS illeel! – forget about going down to the square in the middle of the night!/there’s no way you’re going downstairs in the middle of the night!