Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Results 1 to 21 of 21

Thread: Arab words/phrases

  1. #1
    standing on head, typing one-handed... muse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    6,093

    Arab words/phrases

    I want to add a little flavour to a couple of my Characters.

    The first is a well-to-do elderly Arab gentleman, old-school, rigid in his beliefs and proud of his heritage. His English is perfect, if somewhat precise.
    I have no particular region or dialect in mind. Id like, if feasible, to keep his diction/ phrases as general as possible. Everyday words.

    Im also looking for a derogatory name for a girl the grandfather considers to have loose morals a young English girl who is free and easy with her favours and curses a lot- what would he call her?

    Another question: How would this elderly Arab gentleman address his granddaughter, in company or when theyre alone, a term of endearment, maybe? And on the flip side, how would his Granddaughter address her grandfather a pet name, or more formal address?

    I also need a curse word/phrase, or common saying.

    Honestly, anything, any help would be appreciated

    Muse
    My short story, A Killer Week, is now available to read in the Anthology Crime After Crime out NOW in paperback and e-book format from Bridge House Publishing

  2. #2
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    In God I dwell, especially in Eugene OR
    Posts
    6,410
    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    One problem is that Arabic, like Chinese, is actually several languages. A Moroccan won't be able to understand everything a Syrian says, for instance. And I'm not talking about problems similar to British and American English. So, it would help to figure out where your gentleman hails from.

    I'd check in the International section of the forum for help.

    Unfortunately, I never knew my Lebanese grandfather, so can't help with some of your specifics. My Lebanese grandmother is reported (by my American/Anglo/Scottish mother) to have used Iss mool eben iben as a curse, but I do not know what it means, though I suspect it has something to do with the devil. I also do not know if I've spelled it correctly, though since Arabic has a different alphabet, spelling is moot.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    142
    Iraqis I used to know would talk about this tribe in Iraq called the Kowleeah (my best attempt at a phonetic spelling) that were a tribe of prostitutes. I had the impression they sort of travelled around and set up camp outside towns and military encampments. You could use the word Kowleeah as your derogatory term.

  4. #4
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    In God I dwell, especially in Eugene OR
    Posts
    6,410
    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    These aren't ones you asked for, but

    "Inshallah" means "God willing." Most old school Arabs, even Christians like my grandmother, tend to say it to qualify certain statements. (ie "I'll meet you at the store next Friday, Inshallah.") This is one phrase that is common, I believe to all Arabs, and even Punjabi Sikhs tend to know it.

    "Eh heh loo eh seh heh loo" That's very phonetic, have no idea which syllables go together to form words, but it's also common, at least amongst the Lebanese. It means roughly "My house is yours." It's a graceful way to welcome visitors, and your elderly gentleman would probably use it.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  5. #5
    standing on head, typing one-handed... muse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    6,093
    Thank you so much, Siri Kirpal and espresso5, all suggestions gratefully received.
    One problem is that Arabic, like Chinese, is actually several languages. A Moroccan won't be able to understand everything a Syrian says, for instance. And I'm not talking about problems similar to British and American English. So, it would help to figure out where your gentleman hails from.
    I had a feeling it would be something like that, but was hoping I could just slip a couple of words/phrases in without having to go too far in-depth. That will teach me to try and be lazy.

    "Inshallah" is a good one. I can use that.

    If anyone has any other suggestions I'd love to hear them.

    Thanks.
    My short story, A Killer Week, is now available to read in the Anthology Crime After Crime out NOW in paperback and e-book format from Bridge House Publishing

  6. #6
    Playing the waiting game MsLaylaCakes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Places where there are APOs
    Posts
    340
    Kalas - it means absolutely done ("That's it? No more changes? Kalas?"). One of the phrases I picked up living in the UAE.

    Alhumdulillah (dunno actual spelling ...) - Praise be to god (I believe ... a response to something good that has happened).

    And then there's the whole greeting - asalaam walaykum (answered with walaykum salaam).
    Layla (writing as Tara Quan)

    Website/Blog | Facebook | Twitter | G+ | Pinterest | GoodReads

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    142
    It's starting to come back to me a bit. These are my best attempts at phonetic spelling. They will be roughly in a Northern Iraqi dialect.
    Wa'alah means essentially, "I swear to God."
    Mu mooshikila-no problem
    Mooshkila kabeera- big problem
    ma aref- I don't know
    Shlonek-what's up? (most dialects use keyfak)
    A alah bel kher-Welcome (or something along those lines)
    Shukran- thank you
    Sa-kher- true (true as in, in agreement to a statement)
    musta'ed, jehez- both are forms of "ready," as in Jehez?
    when-where
    shweyaket-when
    shismek-what is your name
    ismee-my name is
    isgoot-shut up
    Of course, there's the universal greeting, "Salam a laykim?" And the reply, "A laykim a salam."
    zien-good
    ani-I
    inta-you
    Sometimes salamtek would get worked in, as in, "Shlonek?"
    "Salamtek. Ani zien. Inta shlonek?"

  8. #8
    Happy Spring!! backslashbaby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    12,205
    Quote Originally Posted by muse View Post
    Thank you so much, Siri Kirpal and espresso5, all suggestions gratefully received.


    I had a feeling it would be something like that, but was hoping I could just slip a couple of words/phrases in without having to go too far in-depth. That will teach me to try and be lazy.

    "Inshallah" is a good one. I can use that.

    If anyone has any other suggestions I'd love to hear them.

    Thanks.
    Now you have me all curious! All you know is that the character speaks Arabic? But that's so many different cultures. I hope it's someone your characters meet completely in passing. Otherwise, choose a country, silly

    The only Arabic I know is a really rude curse word a Moroccan guy taught me, so I'm no help at all
    It's Woman, by Kraft. All your favourite classic flavours like virgin, whore, damsel, black widow and now all-new feminazi! Extra spicy!
    --
    BunnyMaz

    Did you just Godwin a 4 year old?
    -- Celia Cyanide


    I've walked these streets in the madhouse, asylum they can be
    Where a wild-eyed misfit prophet on a traffic island stopped
    And he raved of saving me

    Please donate: http://www.karmakrew.com/outreachprograms.asp

  9. #9
    Snarkenfaugister Friendly Frog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Belgium
    Posts
    865
    One of the few words in Arabic I know of is 'Yalla" (Spelling is probably off, I've never seen it written, just heard it.) It means as much as 'quickly now', 'faster' or 'hurry up'. Picked it up from someone who's learning Arabic.

  10. #10
    If I only had a brain... scarecrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    southern states of the usa
    Posts
    136
    I learned to speak arabic in Egypt, as stated before different places have different dialects.

    Inshallah -god willing, is used a lot. "She will be home at 5, inshallah"

    lo samaht -excuse me or please to a family member or friend.
    min-fadlak. -same to a stranger

    Habibi-my love - used as a term of endearment especially toward children and women.

    Hellwah- beautiful also used toward children a lot.

    humdulillah- praise be to god. I am not familiar with the Al before it. I think this may be a dialect thing. It is used when recieving good news and when someone sneezes like god bless you.

    Salaam wallakum is hello and welcome.
    Sabah el heir -good morning. The correct response is Sabah el noor. (Praise to the light). I can't remember what the first part means.

    The only curse word I heard was the Arabic word for donkey. It was used in traffic much like jack-ass is used in America. I don't remember the actual word.

    The only term I heard for a woman with loose morals was western, but I don't know the Arabic word or even if that is what they would use in their own language.

    Shukran-Thank you, is often answered with Afwan- no problem.

    Talla Henna- come here (my children know this one)

    La- no
    La-a -hell no, this is a cultural american explanation to the meaning behind the word. There is no actual referral to hell intended, and some of the Egyptians took offense to this explanation.

    I will post any more if I think of them. Keep in mind the Arabic language doesn't use the same symbols so their is no correct spelling and many guide books differ in the spellings of the same words. kh, k, and h are all throaty noises and vowels can differ. I have done the best I could on spellings but I hear I have a horrible American accent.

  11. #11
    That hairy-handed gent
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Who ran amok in Kent
    Posts
    30,986
    As already mentioned, "Inshallah". When I lived in England, I had non-Arabic and non-Islamic friends who had worked in Saudi Arabia, and they sometimes used "inshallah" in the same manner an Arab would, and often as a simple substitute for "yes" in response to a question. It's actually a wonderfully useful and colorful word that might even catch on in the supremely adaptive language of English.

    caw
    "Badger! Badger! The weasels have stolen my motor-car!"

    "Frankly, Toad, I don't give a damn."

    -- Gone with the Wind in the Willows

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin light's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    21
    Quote Originally Posted by muse View Post
    I want to add a little flavour to a couple of my Characters.

    The first is a well-to-do elderly Arab gentleman, old-school, rigid in his beliefs and proud of his heritage. His English is perfect, if somewhat precise.
    I have no particular region or dialect in mind. I’d like, if feasible, to keep his diction/ phrases as general as possible. Everyday words.

    I’m also looking for a derogatory name for a girl the grandfather considers to have loose morals – a young English girl who is free and easy with her favours and curses a lot- what would he call her?

    Another question: How would this elderly Arab gentleman address his granddaughter, in company or when they’re alone, a term of endearment, maybe? And on the flip side, how would his Granddaughter address her grandfather – a pet name, or more formal address?

    I also need a curse word/phrase, or common saying.

    Honestly, anything, any help would be appreciated

    Muse
    Well, well. I speak Arabic so I may be able to help you out a bit. First off, what would an old gentleman call a lewd girl - I honestly have no idea! wahsha maybe? kalba (dog) is also a bad word. aahira, mumus, sharmoota - these are some more bad words meaning prostitute etc.

    The grandfather can address his granddaughter informally with habeebati or jameelah or almaasah or malaak or husnaa or warda or a million other things : ) depends on what you need! Most nice things can probably fit. It would also depend on how the grandpa sees the granddauther (is there something distinctive about her? does he think she's beautiful? etc).

    As for what she'll call him... that's a tougher one. The common ones are jaddi and seedi. I think most words would work, just like in English. What you're thinking of in English would probably work.

    One tip: in Arabic we use "ya" a lot, which means "O" as in "O muse". It's not used much in English anymore but it's still in use in arabic. So you could have him saying "ya habeebati" - literally "O darling". Or if I say "ya muse" = "O Muse". I hope you get the drift.

  13. #13
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin light's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    21
    Quote Originally Posted by scarecrow View Post

    humdulillah- praise be to god. I am not familiar with the Al before it. I think this may be a dialect thing. It is used when recieving good news and when someone sneezes like god bless you.
    .
    There actually is an "Al" before - it's "alhamdulillah"

    People tend to say it fast so you might not hear the "al"well, but it's there and in writing you never never want to write humdulillah!

  14. #14
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    In God I dwell, especially in Eugene OR
    Posts
    6,410
    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    Yes, "Ya Habibi" as a term of endearment. That's pronounced Yah Hah-bee-bee, btw.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  15. #15
    standing on head, typing one-handed... muse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    6,093
    Oh my goodness. What a lot of answers. Thank you so much everyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by MsLaylaCakes View Post
    Kalas - it means absolutely done ("That's it? No more changes? Kalas?"). One of the phrases I picked up living in the UAE.

    Alhumdulillah (dunno actual spelling ...) - Praise be to god (I believe ... a response to something good that has happened).

    And then there's the whole greeting - asalaam walaykum (answered with walaykum salaam).
    Some great ones there, MsLaylaCakes. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by espresso5 View Post
    It's starting to come back to me a bit. These are my best attempts at phonetic spelling. They will be roughly in a Northern Iraqi dialect.
    Wa'alah means essentially, "I swear to God."
    Mu mooshikila-no problem
    Mooshkila kabeera- big problem
    ma aref- I don't know
    Shlonek-what's up? (most dialects use keyfak)
    A alah bel kher-Welcome (or something along those lines)
    Shukran- thank you
    Sa-kher- true (true as in, in agreement to a statement)
    musta'ed, jehez- both are forms of "ready," as in Jehez?
    when-where
    shweyaket-when
    shismek-what is your name
    ismee-my name is
    isgoot-shut up
    Of course, there's the universal greeting, "Salam a laykim?" And the reply, "A laykim a salam."
    zien-good
    ani-I
    inta-you
    Sometimes salamtek would get worked in, as in, "Shlonek?"
    "Salamtek. Ani zien. Inta shlonek?"
    I can definitely use some of them, espresso5. Thanks so much.

    Quote Originally Posted by backslashbaby View Post
    Now you have me all curious! All you know is that the character speaks Arabic? But that's so many different cultures. I hope it's someone your characters meet completely in passing. Otherwise, choose a country, silly

    The only Arabic I know is a really rude curse word a Moroccan guy taught me, so I'm no help at all
    Rude words are always a help.

    My character speaks perfect English except when he's angry or frustrated, then he lapses into his own language. That's why I didn't really want to pick a region, more a couple of common words to use in his dialogue. Hey, it seemed a good idea at the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Friendly Frog View Post
    One of the few words in Arabic I know of is 'Yalla" (Spelling is probably off, I've never seen it written, just heard it.) It means as much as 'quickly now', 'faster' or 'hurry up'. Picked it up from someone who's learning Arabic.
    Thanks, Friendly Frog.

    Quote Originally Posted by scarecrow View Post
    I learned to speak arabic in Egypt, as stated before different places have different dialects.

    Inshallah -god willing, is used a lot. "She will be home at 5, inshallah"

    lo samaht -excuse me or please to a family member or friend.
    min-fadlak. -same to a stranger

    Habibi-my love - used as a term of endearment especially toward children and women.

    Hellwah- beautiful also used toward children a lot.

    humdulillah- praise be to god. I am not familiar with the Al before it. I think this may be a dialect thing. It is used when recieving good news and when someone sneezes like god bless you.

    Salaam wallakum is hello and welcome.
    Sabah el heir -good morning. The correct response is Sabah el noor. (Praise to the light). I can't remember what the first part means.

    The only curse word I heard was the Arabic word for donkey. It was used in traffic much like jack-ass is used in America. I don't remember the actual word.

    The only term I heard for a woman with loose morals was western, but I don't know the Arabic word or even if that is what they would use in their own language.

    Shukran-Thank you, is often answered with Afwan- no problem.

    Talla Henna- come here (my children know this one)

    La- no
    La-a -hell no, this is a cultural american explanation to the meaning behind the word. There is no actual referral to hell intended, and some of the Egyptians took offense to this explanation.

    I will post any more if I think of them. Keep in mind the Arabic language doesn't use the same symbols so their is no correct spelling and many guide books differ in the spellings of the same words. kh, k, and h are all throaty noises and vowels can differ. I have done the best I could on spellings but I hear I have a horrible American accent.
    Thanks you so much, scarecrow, these are a great help.

    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    As already mentioned, "Inshallah". When I lived in England, I had non-Arabic and non-Islamic friends who had worked in Saudi Arabia, and they sometimes used "inshallah" in the same manner an Arab would, and often as a simple substitute for "yes" in response to a question. It's actually a wonderfully useful and colorful word that might even catch on in the supremely adaptive language of English.

    caw
    Thanks for that little tidbit, blackbird.

    Quote Originally Posted by light View Post
    Well, well. I speak Arabic so I may be able to help you out a bit. First off, what would an old gentleman call a lewd girl - I honestly have no idea! wahsha maybe? kalba (dog) is also a bad word. aahira, mumus, sharmoota - these are some more bad words meaning prostitute etc.

    The grandfather can address his granddaughter informally with habeebati or jameelah or almaasah or malaak or husnaa or warda or a million other things : ) depends on what you need! Most nice things can probably fit. It would also depend on how the grandpa sees the granddauther (is there something distinctive about her? does he think she's beautiful? etc).

    As for what she'll call him... that's a tougher one. The common ones are jaddi and seedi. I think most words would work, just like in English. What you're thinking of in English would probably work.

    One tip: in Arabic we use "ya" a lot, which means "O" as in "O muse". It's not used much in English anymore but it's still in use in arabic. So you could have him saying "ya habeebati" - literally "O darling". Or if I say "ya muse" = "O Muse". I hope you get the drift.
    I do indeed, light.

    I have a feeling I may be picking your brains a little bit more, if that's okay?

    Yes, "Ya Habibi" as a term of endearment. That's pronounced Yah Hah-bee-bee, btw.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    Thanks, Siri Kirpal.

    Reppies for everyone.
    My short story, A Killer Week, is now available to read in the Anthology Crime After Crime out NOW in paperback and e-book format from Bridge House Publishing

  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin light's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    21
    Quote Originally Posted by muse View Post

    I have a feeling I may be picking your brains a little bit more, if that's okay?
    Yeah, sure!

  17. #17
    If I only had a brain... scarecrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    southern states of the usa
    Posts
    136
    Quote Originally Posted by light View Post
    There actually is an "Al" before - it's "alhamdulillah"

    People tend to say it fast so you might not hear the "al"well, but it's there and in writing you never never want to write humdulillah!

    Good to know. Missing details like that is most likely why I was told I had a horrible accent.

  18. #18
    Writer Beware's Faithful Igor Richard White's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Central Maryland
    Posts
    1,460
    Ibn el kelb - Son of a dog.
    Bint el kelb - daughter of a dog

    Shaitan - Devil

    Alhumdallah ayom ayom ajumuah - Thank God it's Friday (a favorite toward the last period of class.)

    Remember Arabic (well, Modern Standard that is) is both a phonetic language as well as having rather strict grammar rules. Most arabic words are built around a three letter verb and all other words build off of that. For example:

    Kataba - To read (actually spelt ktb (the a's are understood)
    Kitab - A book (this is also spelled ktb, the i and the a are understood based on context)
    Kitabun - many books (spelled ktbn)
    maktab - A library (spelled mktb)

    And so on.

  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin light's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    21
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard White View Post
    Alhumdallah ayom ayom ajumuah - Thank God it's Friday (a favorite toward the last period of class.)
    lol...

    just to correct the spelling in case you ever want to use it, it's alhamdulillah alyawm yawm aljumuah

    Remember Arabic (well, Modern Standard that is) is both a phonetic language as well as having rather strict grammar rules. Most arabic words are built around a three letter verb and all other words build off of that. For example:

    Kataba - To read (actually spelt ktb (the a's are understood)
    Kitab - A book (this is also spelled ktb, the i and the a are understood based on context)
    Kitabun - many books (spelled ktbn)
    maktab - A library (spelled mktb)

    And so on.
    Good stuff... short vowels do not have separate letters in Arabic.

    When writing in English though make sure to include those a's and i's!

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW Sunwords's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Amman
    Posts
    125
    Well, you already got a lot of good answers.
    One thing: the grandfather might call the granddaughter "habibti" - but never "habibi", because that is the male form.
    She might - and this really depends on the local dialect - call him zeedo, or habibi zeedo, when alone.
    I think the most common word for a loose girl would really be "sharmuta" - it is wideliy used, also in the expat-arabic communities.

  21. #21
    standing on head, typing one-handed... muse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    6,093
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard White View Post
    Ibn el kelb - Son of a dog.
    Bint el kelb - daughter of a dog

    Shaitan - Devil

    Alhumdallah ayom ayom ajumuah - Thank God it's Friday (a favorite toward the last period of class.)

    Remember Arabic (well, Modern Standard that is) is both a phonetic language as well as having rather strict grammar rules. Most arabic words are built around a three letter verb and all other words build off of that. For example:

    Kataba - To read (actually spelt ktb (the a's are understood)
    Kitab - A book (this is also spelled ktb, the i and the a are understood based on context)
    Kitabun - many books (spelled ktbn)
    maktab - A library (spelled mktb)

    And so on.
    Some interesting information, (and some great curse words) Richard, thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunwords View Post
    Well, you already got a lot of good answers.
    One thing: the grandfather might call the granddaughter "habibti" - but never "habibi", because that is the male form.
    She might - and this really depends on the local dialect - call him zeedo, or habibi zeedo, when alone.
    I think the most common word for a loose girl would really be "sharmuta" - it is wideliy used, also in the expat-arabic communities.
    Thanks, Sunworlds, much appreciated.
    My short story, A Killer Week, is now available to read in the Anthology Crime After Crime out NOW in paperback and e-book format from Bridge House Publishing

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search