MBC's Turning Point (نقطة تحول)

Turning Point is a popular show on the Saudi channel MBC. I like it because it covers topics of all kinds, not just explosions and disasters like Al Jazeera and other news stations seem to cover. Turning Point takes a bit of science, art, history, and sometimes disasters, and provides a more enjoyable way to learn Arabic. When I was taking Arabic classes the word "explosion" إنفجار was one of my first words because of how often it is used in the news. Watching Al Jazeera wasn't hard to do after a few months because of the limited scope of their stories. Their news will almost always consist of

1. Explosions/Car Bombs/Suicide Bombers سيارات مفخخة ,إنفجارات
2. The Most Recent Summit Between World Leaders قمم متعددة الأبعاد
3. Any Natural Disasters Such As Floods, Famines, Earthquakes كوارث طبيعية
4. Clashes With Rebels إشتباكات عنيفة

I realize that these things are important, but when they are the only topics that the channel covers the viewers get desensitized to this death and destruction and stop caring. It's sad to say that people suffering becomes boring and people stop caring when that's all they see on TV every day, but it's true. Here is a clip from نقطة تحول. I transcribed and translated the first minute or so.

العالمة السعودية تصنع تحولات عالمية و تتفوق على رجال
The female Saudi scientist manufactures turning points and excels over men.

الطفلة في ديالى, قصة عبث طفولي صنعت تحولات مأساوية
The (female) child in Dyala. A story of childhood play causing tragic changes.

عارضات الازياء يتحولن إلى فنانات
Clothes models becoming (changing to) artists.

صوته و ألحانه و اغانيه. نقاط التحول في حياته و حياتنا, الفنان محمد عبدو
His voice, his melodies, and his songs. Turning points in his life and our life. The artist Muhammed Abdu.مساء الخير مشاهدين الكرام و اهلا بكم إلى حلقة جديدة من برنامج نقطة تحول. حلقتنا الليلة مليئة بتحولات جديدة و حافنة ايضاً بالمفاجآت. عالمات سعوديات لم يصنعن نقطة تحول في حياتهن الشخصية و في المجتمع السعودي فقط, بل صنعن اكثر من نقطة تحول في العالم. هذا التقرير يلقي الضو على مصيرة المرأة السعودية و بعدها سنلتقي مع واحدة من اهم 15 شخصية عالمية ستغير من وجه الأرض. كونوا معنا

Good evening generous viewers and welcome to a new episode of the program Turning Point. Our show tonight is filled with new turning points and also filled with surprises. Saudi (female) scientists didn't only make turning points in their personal lives and in the Saudi society, but also made more than (just) one turning point in the world. This report shines light on the destiny of the Saudi woman and after it we will with one of the 15 most important international personalities who will change the face of the world. Stay with us.

Vocabulary List

  1. ألحان - melodies
  2. مليئة ب - filled with
  3. مصيرة - destiny, fate, path
  4. عارضة - model
  5. مأساوي - tragic
  6. عبث - play, amusement
  7. تحول - turning, changing

Product Review: Arabic Genie

One of the biggest things that makes Arabic seem so daunting is its alphabet. It basically just looks like a bunch of squiggles and dots before you learn it, as you can see in this screen cap from the South Park episode Imaginationland. Learning the alphabet is an essential first step when learning Arabic. Without knowing it you can't start to learn anything else about the language. One of the most difficult aspects of the Arabic alphabet is the fact that simply adding a dot to a letter, in many cases, makes it a totally different letter. You have ب ,ي ,ن ,ت ,ث which are all the same except for the number of dots they have and whether those dots are above or below. Many people confuse these similar letters for a long time when learning Arabic. You really need a way to distinguish the Arabic letters from each other and remember what sounds they make. That is why the Arabic Genie program is so nice. It offers memory aids for each letter and dozens of exercises that cement the sound and shape of each letter in your mind. It teaches you how to spell English words with the Arabic letters, a method which connects the new Arabic letters to something that you are familiar with and have been using all your life.Once you go through the program and learn the sounds and shapes of each letter, the book introduces you to Arabic calligraphy. I find certain Arabic calligraphy very difficult to read. I remember when I was first learning Arabic I asked my teacher what the logo on the Al Jazeera channel said. My teacher laughed at me and told me that it said "Al Jazeera". It took me months to figure out where each of the letters were in the logo, which dots went with which letter, and which markings were just for decoration. I had to figure it out on my own, but Arabic Genie points out where each letter is in several calligraphies, a tactic which you will be able to apply to all Arabic calligraphy you come into contact with in the future.

Arabic Genie turned out to be a much better program than I expected. It takes things that make total sense to Arabs, but not so much sense to English speakers, and explains them in a way that is perfectly logical and simple. If I ever hit my head and forget Arabic I know where to turn to start relearning it. To buy a copy of the Arabic Genie, click here.


Childrens Song اسناني واوا Asnani Wawa

This is another song by the Birds of Paradise طيور الجنة, a really popular group that sings songs for kids. This انشودة (hymn) has about 4 million views on YouTube. The dialect is Syrian and the lyrics along with translation and explanations are below the video. It's about cavities and brushing your teeth!

يا بابا اسناني واوا
Dad, my teeth hurt

Explanation: واوا is basically the equivalent of the English term "boo boo". It's a word used by children for a small wound or some pain. Haifa Wehbe has a song called ليك الواوا (Look at the boo boo).

وديني عند الطبيب
Take me to the doctor.

ما عاد بدي شوكولاته بس بدي اشرب الحليب
I don't want chocolate anymore but I want to drink milk.

Explanation: ما عاد means "no longer". It is used in MSA as well.

السوسة نخرت في سناني
The worm has decayed my tooth

Explanation: سوسة means "woodworm". Back in the day people believed that when your teeth decayed it was worms eating your teeth. The word تسوّس means "worm eaten" or as we would translated it in English "cavitied".

اه يا اسناني
Ahhhhh, oh my teeth.صورلي الدكتور سني
The doctor took a picture of my tooth for me.

فرجاني ست السوسة
He showed me the cavity.

Explanation: ست means "woman" and sometimes "grandmother". Here I just translated ست السوسة to mean cavity, but it means literally "the lady worm". It's a kids' song, can't take it too literally :)

قاعدة جوى مبسوطة
It (the cavity) was sitting inside happily

بسيطة يا بسبوسة
It's a simple matter, sweetie.

Explanation: They say بسيطة when something can be taken care of easily. It just means "simple". بسبوسة is a Middle Eastern dessert.

والله لا اكل تفاح
I swear I won't eat an apple.

و رح انسى هالحلويات
And I will forget sweets.

رح اكل خضرا و حليب
I will eat vegetables and (drink) milk.

ما بدنا شبس و غازات
We don't want chips or soft drinks.

Explanation: غازات means "soft drinks". It comes from the English word "gas" since the drink are carbonated.

بالسواك و المعجون انا عندي حملة تنظيفات
With a miswak and with toothpaste I have a cleaning procedure

Explanation: سواك is a stick that Muhammad used to clean his teeth and it's mentioned in the Koran so lots of Muslims use it. The English word for it is "miswak" which I hadn't heard of until now. The word حلمة means "campaign" most of the time, as in حملة إنتخابية (election campaign), but here "cleaning campaign" wouldn't make much sense in English so I said "procedure". This is something that a lot of people never understand when learning a language. Each word in the foreign language does not always have an exact translation into another language. You have to translate the word into your language in a way that makes sense and conveys the right meaning. You can't always give the word the definition that you find in the dictionary or in a word list.


Bab al Hara - Syrian Dialect Lengthening Words

Bab al Hara باب الحارة (The Neighborhood's Gate) is a very popular show in the Arabic world. The setting is a neighborhood حارة in Damascus during the beginning of the French control of Syria at then end of the Ottoman rule . It's in the Syrian dialect and to me the way they speak sounds really funny. They often lengthen the last word of their sentences. Syrian is the only dialect I've noticed that does this. They don't even do it in Lebanon right next door to Syria. You can see examples in this clip from the show.
At 00:05 and 00:14 listen to how he says حارة. And at 00:23 how he says ابو غالب. It basically sounds like he's saying ابو غالييييب. At 01:35 is also a good example. Listen to كذاب. And the whole conversation starting at 01:37 is full of it. Anyway, you get the idea. Not every Syrian does this but quite a lot do, so if you ever are wondering where a person is from, if they're lengthening their words then it's a safe bet that they are Syrian.

Here's the theme song from the show. I really like it.


The Green Apple: Health Program on MBC

The Green Apple التفاح الأخضر is a show on MBC about heath, nutrition, and beauty. The dialect is Egyptian, but at times it's MSA with only a hint of Egyptian. Even though a show may be in a dialect there are levels to the amount of slang they can use. Since MBC is a Saudi channel and they get viewers from all over the Arabic world the shows don't have so much regional slang that not all viewers would be able to understand. This definitely isn't the same as the language you hear on the news though. I transcribed the first minute of the clip and wrote out the difficult vocab words.

اهلا بكل مشاهدي التفاح الاخضر و ساعة كاملة من نصائح جديدة و مفيدة للصحة و التغذية و الجمال. و نتواصل معكم من خلال الانترنت تبعتولنا مشاكلكم و نرد عليها من خلال الحلقة او كمان نستضفكم معنا في الإستوديو. ضيوف كثير بعتولنا حاجات و استضفناهم معنا في الإستوديو و حلينا مشاكلهم قدر إستطاعي

Hello to all the viewers of The Green Apple and a complete hour of new and beneficial advice for health, nutrition, and beauty. We keep in touch with you through the internet. You send us your problems and we reply to them throughout the episode and also we host you with us in the studio. Many guests have sent us things and we hosted them with us in the studio and we solved their problems as much as we were able to.

Comments: You'll notice that at the beginning it doesn't say مشاهدين . The nun is dropped when anything plural ending in ين is in an idafa. بعت is how they say "send" in Egyptian. In MSA the word is بعث. And قدر إستطاعي means "as well as I could".انهاردة هنشوف الالوان و الورود ازايها حلو مشكلة مدام ليلى ابازا إللي بتعاني من صداع و توتر و عصبية شديدة جدا في العمل.

Today we will see how colors and roses solved the problem of Madame Laila Abaza who suffered from headaches, tension, and severe stress in her work.

ممكن الدريسنج يحول طبقة سلطة الخفيف لوجبة دسمة جدا. هنقوللكم النهاردة على سر الدريسنج الخفيف و اللذيذ.

It's possible for dressing to change a light plate of salad to a very fattening meal. Today we will tell you about the secret of light and delicious dressing.

السيدة مؤمنة محمد من السعودية بعتت تسألنا تعمل أيه لان هي و ابنها الرضيع بيسافروا كثير ع الطيارة و بيعانوا من الم في الأذن إثناء صعود و هبوط الطيارة.

Mrs. Mumina Muhammad from Saudi Arabia sent in asking us what she should do because she and her infant son travel a lot on planes and suffer from pain in the ear during the take off and landing of the plane.

تثائبي او ابتلعي لعابك او امضغي علكة و بعض الحلوى.

Yawn or swallow your saliva or chew gum and some candy.

Comment: This is the written text on the screen.

Vocabulary List:

  • نصيحة/نصائح - advice and the plural
  • تغذية - nutrition
  • بعث - send
  • حاجة - thing
  • انهاردة - today
  • توتر - tension (وتر is a guitar or bow string, so you can see where the word comes from)
  • تثاؤب - yawn (noun)
  • لِعاب - saliva
  • عِلكة - gum


Al Jazeera News with Transcript

This is a short clip of the summary of the news on 9/20/2009 read by Iman Ayyad إيمان عياد. The transcript will help with recognizing words when you hear them. I remember when I was first learning Arabic one of my biggest problems was that I had trouble telling where one word ended and another began. It was especially a problem when they were putting the fatha, kasra, and damma at the end of all the words like they do on Al Jazeera. What really helped me was having transcripts of audio and video clips that I could used to parse out where the individual words were. The vocab list at the end are words that I thought might be new or difficult.

أهلاً بكم, أعلن البيت الأبيض أن الرئيس الأمريكي باراك اوباما سيلتقلي الرئيس
الفلسطيني محمود عباس و رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي بنيامين نتانياهو بعد غداً الثلاثاء. و أوضحت الرئاسة الأمريكية أن هذه القمة الثلاثية ستسبقها لقاءات ثنائية على هامش إجتماعات الجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة في نيويورك.

Hello and welcome. The White House announced that the American president, Barack Obama, will meet the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu the day after tomorrow, Tuesday. The American presidency clarified that this tri-party summit will be preceded by bi-party meetings on the margin of meetings of the UN general assembly in New York.

و كان رئيس الحكومة الفلسطينية المقالة إسماعيل هنية قال إن مقترحات الإدارة الأمريكية الجديدة لا تختلف في جوهرها عن مقترحات الإدارات الأمريكية السابقة, مأكداً انه لا أحد مخول بتوقيع أي إتفاقاً نيابتاً عن الشعب الفلسطيني.

And the displaced president of the Palestinian government, Ismail Haniyeh, said that the proposals of the new American administration and no different at their core from the proposals of the last American administration, stressing that no one is authorized to sign an agreement in place of the Palestinian people.

قالت مصادر محلية في محافظة صعدة شمال اليمن إن عشرات الأشخاص سقطوا بين قتيلاً و جريح في مواجهات بين قوات الجيش و
مسلحين من جماعات الحوثي

Local sources in the district of Sa'dah in northern Yemen said that 10's of people fell among the dead and injured in confrontations between the army forces and gunmen from the Houthi squads.يحتفل أكثر من مليار مسلم في مختلف انحاء العالم اليوم بأول ايام عيد الفطر المبارك. يذكر ان معظم الدول العربية اعلنت ان اليوم الأحد هو أول ايام العيد بعد ما ثبتت فيها رؤية هلال شهر شوال.

More than 1 billion Muslims in various parts of the world celebrate today the first days of Eid Al-Fitr Al-Mubarak. It's worth mentioning that most of the Arabic countries announced that Sunday is the first day of the feast after it was proved that the crescent (moon) of Shawwal was seen.

تواعد زعيم الحزب الإسلامي في الصومال شيخ حسن طاهر اويس بمزيد من العمليات التفجيرية ضد قوات الإتحاد الافريقي اذا لم تنسحب من بلاده.

The leader of the Islamic party in Somalia, Sheik Hassan Tahir Uways, promised more explosion operations against the forces of the African Union if they don't withdraw from his country.

قال الرئيس الافغاني حامد كرزاي انه سيطلق في حال اعلان فوزه رسمياً بإنتخابات الرئاسة محادثات سلام مع قادة حركة طالبان.

The Afghan president Hamid Karzai said, in the case of his winning the presidential elections, that he will launch peace talks with the leaders of the Taliban movement.

إلى اللقاء

Until next time.


  • أوضح - to make clear, clarify (it's measure IV)
  • مقالة - dismissed (Ismail Haniyeh was the previous Palestinian president)
  • مقترحة - proposal, suggestion
  • جوهر - essence, content, can also mean "jewel"
  • إدارة - administration
  • نيابتاً عن - in place of, representing (نائب is a representative)
  • مخول - authorized
  • رؤية - vision, sighting
  • هلال - crescent (الهلال الأحمر is the Red Crescent, the Middle East equivalent of the Red Cross)
  • قادة - leaders (usually words ending in ة are singular. This is a rare exception. قائد is the singular.)