THE LEAVING BEIRUT SERIES Part 4: Arabic Dictionary


95% of my blog posts here have something to do with Arabic and how I don’t know it at all and I know you’re all sick and tired of it. Cause it’s not all bad, it’s actually quite good. These are the words that I intend to infiltrate into every conversation I have for the rest of my life, or something like that.

Yella (n.) [yell-ah] Come on, let’s go, start, any other possible thing a word could mean because they use it everywere. This one is particularly helpful for our group because we don’t get anywhere fast, and the only way to move people from place to place is to yell YELLA a couple dozen times. Ex. “We’re 20 minutes late, yella guys.” (on the phone) “yella okay, yella bye.”

Anjet (n.) [ahn-jahet] Really? Ex. Anjeeetttt? Anjet, anjet.

(83% of the words they say are yella, anjet, and hallas. If you know that you know more than enough to stay alive.)

Yanni (n.) [yah-nee] You know

Haram (n.) [hah-ram] Oh you poor thing. This is never not sarcastic.

Hallas (n.) [kh-ah-lahs] Enough, I’m done, finished. If you’re fed up with someone you can just say hallas and they’ll get it and maybe not even be offended.

Ma baref [ma bar-if] I don’t know

Question words

Shew – What (This has been conditioned so deeply that if you say my name I’ll say Shew? Instead of yes?) They also repeat words all the time, sometimes in Arabic and sometimes in English. So it’s a constant “Shew? What?” and “Yella, let’s go.”

Wen – Where (YES THIS IS CONFUSING) (I have yet to have figured out any part of the grammer, but sometimes the question words go before and sometimes they go after. For example, Elie looks at me 100 times a day and says “Shew Victoria?” and we lose Dina 100 times a day and everyone walks around saying “Dina wen?”)

Sahten, Niemya, Mabrugh

Arabs are 1000 times more social than us, so they have a whole bunch of community words that are now just sorta like formalities that we would never think of having because we’re selfish.

Sahten [<- literally just like that] This is sorta like bon apetit, but you say it whenever anyone is eating anything. It means like “to good health” or something, but it more means “I’m going to acknowledge that you’re stuffing your face right now.” It’s mostly a nice gesture, but it feels mostly sarcastic and I like it both ways. You can also say it when someone messes up or falls down or loses in a manner similar to “ate it” and I guess that’s pretty offensive or something.

Niemyan [ny-ee-mahn] This one you say after you shower, after someone else showers, after you get your hair cut, or your nails done, or anything like that. Like if they see you in public post-haircut, they say niemyan. I have no idea why, but niemyan to all of you.

Mabrugh [ma-bru-guh] This one is like congratulations, and get this. You say this in two instances: 1. After you buy something, like “ohh cool new shoes mabrugh” OR 2. After you graduate from college. That’s it.


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