Articles for Teachers

Survival Arabic for ESL Teachers
By:Loreto O. Bagio, BS Electronics and Communications Engineer/Notes added by Robin Day <[email protected]>

There are many differences in vocabulary, dialect and accent in the Arabic speaking countries. Egyptian Arabic evolved after conquest and still retains many many words dating back to pre-Islamic times of the Pharos. Natuarally many Iranian, Turkish, Greek and French words entered the language and today some English worlds and expressions. In Kuwait foreigners see the word "Saloon" everywhere on business signs in the city but it is a funny misspelling in a country officially without alcohol! These are not drinking saloons, like those of the American Wild West, but beauty or barber salons for men or women the word originally taken from French for room. [Preamble by Robin Day]

I have here some commands which can be useful for anyone who plans to teach Arab speaking students in ESL or in any subject:

1. Ta'al - Come here.

2. Shuai-Shuaia - Slowly

3. Ma Fee Sa-wi (Hada) - Don’t do that.

4. Ijlees - Sit down.

5. Yokaf - Stand.

6. Sora-Sora - Hurry, Hurry up.

7. Yalla - Let us go, Let us start.

8. Oskoot - Be quiet.

9. Khudbalaak - Be careful. Note: Can also say In-ta-beh.

10. Ka'laas - Finished. Note: This expression also means No way.

11. As-Salaam Alaikom - The standard Arabic greeting which means “Peace be with You”, the voicing of which disarms any person and is expected to be returned back by “wa-Alaikom Assalam (Abdullah Barakatu)” or Peace be with you also, Servant of God.

12. Habeebi - “My Love”, expression of deep personal feeling towards someone (even a male to a male). The less personal form is “Sadeeq” or ‘Friend’.

13. In-Shaallah - God Willing. The expression of hope in Arabic. Usually voiced by someone when she/he made a promise which is rather uncertain.

14. Kateer - Too much. Said when something has become too complicated.

15. Mushkillah - (it is a) problem.

Fee mushkillah? - Have a problem? (added by Robin) Note: This expression and the next one are very useful expressions.

Mafi mushkillah - No problem (added by Robin)

16. Tayeef - OK, Fine. Note: tie-eb in Kuwait

17. Kuayyis - Good. Note: Zen also means good.

18. Masboot - Correct, Right, OK. Note: mazboot in Kuwait.

19. Mumtaz - Excellent.

20. Nayeef - Clean. Note: dan-dif in Kuwait.

21. Wasih - Dirty. Note: wasak in Kuwait.

22. (Ana) Waheebu - I like it.

23. (Hada) Taban - It is not good.

24. (Anta) Qarban - You’re bad.

25. Kida - (Do it) Like this.

26. Yani - Means or meaning like…

27. Matahlan - For example.

28. Yaah Walad - Hey young boy. Sometimes expressed when referring to a young adult acting playfully like a little boy.

29. Shabab - Young man. To affirm that the one being spoken to is adult enough.

30. Sheyba - Old man.

31. (Ana) Nazit - I forgot.

32. Mall-Farq - What’s the difference?

33. Hada - This.

34. Hoonak - There.

35. Dahen - Now.

36. Keif El Hal - How are you? Keif halik is usually a greeting referring to a female. In Egypt they have a variant ‘Ezayyak’. In Lebanon it is ‘Keifhak’.

37. Ma Fish or Ma Fee - Nothing or None

38. Fen or Weyn - Where

39. Min - Who?

40. Mita - When?

41. Yokarer - Repeat or Thani - Again.

42. Fok - up. The reverse is Dah’t for down.

43. Aiwa or Naam - Yes.

44. La - No

45. Bara - Out!

46. Sa wo La - Yes or No,

47. Saa? - Is it?

48. Taffadal - Please. An expression of admitting someone to pass or when inviting someone to eat or drink.

49. Shoukran - Thank you.

Added by Robin:

50. Woman's headscarf is hejab and distashia is the man's gown in Kuwait.

51. Bish-mil-la means, In the name of God, and it was used by Freddy Mercury in one of his famous songs with the rock opera group QUEEN. On the radio in Kuwait this is blanked out as it is not seen as correct, like an oath or taking the Lord's name in vain.

Copyright 2004 Loreto O. Bagio





Messages In This Thread

Survival Arabic for ESL Teachers -- Loreto O. Bagio, BS Electronics and Communications Engineer/Notes added by Robin Day
Re: Survival Arabic for ESL Teachers -- B.T

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