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Old 12-06-2012, 04:19 AM   #1
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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. 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
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:42 AM   #2
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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
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:48 PM   #3
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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.
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Old 12-07-2012, 04:08 AM   #4
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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
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Old 12-07-2012, 07:13 PM   #5
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Thank you so much, Siri Kirpal and espresso5, all suggestions gratefully received.
Quote:
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.
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:10 PM   #6
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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).
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:25 PM   #7
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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?"
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Old 12-07-2012, 11:40 PM   #8
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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
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:34 AM   #9
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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.
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Old 12-08-2012, 01:11 AM   #10
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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.
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Old 12-08-2012, 01:22 AM   #11
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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.

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Old 12-08-2012, 03:44 AM   #12
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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.
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Old 12-08-2012, 03:47 AM   #13
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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!
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:29 AM   #14
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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
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:22 PM   #15
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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?

Quote:
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.
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:59 PM   #16
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I have a feeling I may be picking your brains a little bit more, if that's okay?
Yeah, sure!
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Old 12-09-2012, 04:10 AM   #17
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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.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:46 AM   #18
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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.
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Old 12-09-2012, 01:13 PM   #19
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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

Quote:
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!
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:07 PM   #20
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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.
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Old 12-10-2012, 09:50 PM   #21
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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.
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