Levantine Arabic: Lesson 1

Since posting the Introduction to Levantine Dialect video I've had requests to continue with Levantine dialect lessons. This lesson will use a clip from the first episode of the MBC series الحب المستحيل (Impossible Love). It's a Turkish show dubbed in Arabic. The specific dialect used is Syrian. This first episode is about the main character, Omar, chasing the only girl he's ever met who didn't want him at first sight. This seems to be a common theme in Turkish dramas because the show عاصي (Asi) has the same idea. It's about a guy who's chasing a girl that doesn't want him, or maybe is just playing hard to get, but in the end she falls in love with him.

لا تواخذني رأفت بيك. تأخرت عليك. سيارتي تعطلت على الطريق (La tuwaakhizni Ra'fat Beyk. Ta'akhart Aleyk. Sayaarti ta'atalat 'atari'.)

Don't hold it against me Mr. Ra'fat. I'm late. My car broke down on the road.

شفناك عمرو افندي لما وصلتك رشا لهون (Shifnak Omar Afundi limma wasalatek Rasha lihoon)

We saw you, Mr. Omar, when Rasha brought you here.

خلينا نحكي. رأفت بيك, شو القصة؟ ليش ما عم نقدر نشتري الأرض؟ (Khalina nahki. Ra'fat Beyk, shoo al issa? Leysh ma am ne'der neshteri al ard?)

Let's talk. Mr. Ra'fat, what's the story? Why can't we buy the land?

المسألة هي... أول شي شو منضيفك عمرو بيك؟ شاي, قهوة, ميلو, كولا؟ (Al masali heyeh... Awal shi sho mindeyfek Omar Beyk? Shay, ahweh, milo, cola?)

The problem is... First of all, what can we get you Mr. Omar? Tea, Coffee, ????, Cola?

Comments: I don't know what ميلو is. I typed it into Google and couldn't find anything. It's got to be a drink or something like that. Maybe I'm hearing it wrong.

يا ريت كولا باردة (Ya reyt cola baardeh)

I'd like a cold cola.

تكرم. عدنان (Tikrum. Adnan!)

You're welcome to it. Adnan!

أمور معلم (Umoor muallim)

At your service, sir!

جبلي كولا بسرعة! مبوز إكتير (Jibli cola bisura. Mbowwiz iktir)

Bring me a cola quickly! Very cold.

حاضر معلم (Hadir muallim)

Yes sir!

المشكلة إنه الأرض إللي عم تطلبها انت في قطعة منها صاحبها واحد من الضيعة. و هذا الزلمي عنده عناد بشكل إكبير إكتير. ما عم يقبل يتخلع عن أرضه بنوب (Al mishikli innoo al ard illi am tutluba enti fi 'ata mina sahiba wahid min adaya. Wa hatha azelami andu anaad bi shekl ikbir iktir. Ma am ye'bel yetkhela an ardu ibnobe.)

The problem is that the land you're asking for, there's a piece of it that's owned by someone from the village. And this man is very stubborn. He isn't accepting to let his land go at all.

كيف يعني؟ انت عرضت عليه سعر منيح؟ (Keyf yani? Enta aradt aley sar imneeh?)

How do you mean? You offered him a good price?

عرضت عليه طبعاً. بس ما عجبه (Aradt aley taban. Bes ma ajabu.)

I offered him, of course, but he didn't like it.

طيب, المصاري مو مهمة. شو بده عطوه (Tayyib, al masaari moo muhim. Shoo bedu atoo.)

Ok, the money isn't important. Whatever he wants, give it to him.

شلون؟ شو ما بده؟ (Shloan? Shoo ma bedu?)

What? Whatever he wants?

شو ما بده (Shoo ma bedu.)

Whatever he wants.

بدي ياك تحلل لي هالقصة من هون لبكرة. و هلق عن إذنك (Bedi yak ithellili hal ussa min hoon li bookra. Helleh an iznek.)

I want you to solve this story (problem) for me by tomorrow. Now if you'll excuse me.

الكولا معلم (al cola muallim)

The cola, sir.

وصلت الكولا يا بيك. أنا بشربها (wasalat al cola ya beyk. Ana bishruba.)

The cola arrived, sir! Eh, I'll drink it.

Vocabulary List:
  • لا تواخذني - Don't blame me/Don't hold it against me. They say the ذ as a ز in this word and in many words in Levantine.
  • شو منضيفك - What can we get you? The noun ضيف means guest. Here they are using it as a verb. So, you could say "What can we guest you?", but that wouldn't really make sense in English. The م in front of the word is added to make things flow better, just like the إ that is inserted before a lot of words like إكتير إكبير.
  • يا ريت - I wish. In this context it means "I'd like" or "I want".
  • مبوز - cold. It also means angry.
  • ضيعة - village
  • زلمي - man
  • بنوب - at all, ever
  • مصاري - money
  • عن إذنك - with your permission. You say this when you are leaving or asking someone if you can do something. Also, بعد إذنك means the same thing.


BB said...

This is ميلو

The Arabic Student said...

Thanks very much! It seems to be the equivalent of Nestle Quick or Ovaltine. I don't think they sell Milo in the US.

czarekpoland said...

Great job "Arabic Student"

It is very nice that u are giving an opportunity here to improve and understand "shaamee dialect" which i think becomes more and more popular now and of course I like it very much .I have been learning an arabic for 10 months by myself and i am also interested in this dialect .

Lesson 1 was really nice and helped me a lot to understand everything clearly.Please keep on going with that stuff :)

I am still poor at my arabic,but i will try to post also my comments as an explanation that might me usefull for beginner's.

1.آخذ-aakhadha.To find fault with or to blame sm.
This word is used mostly in SA(Syrian Arabic),it has also equivalent in MSA(Modern Standard Arabic)لام-laama

لا تؤخدني-la toaakhedne-Don't blame me!!!
لا تلومني -la tloom(o)ne-Don't blame me!!!

3aTala-to break down,to disable

Here is my example in SA:

المكينة عطلت اليوم-
al-makeena 3aTlet al-youm.
The machine broke down today.

The equivalent is سيد-sayyed

to let,to leave

خلينا نروح عالبيت
khallena nrooH 3al-bayt.
Let us go home

q(2)eSSa-means "story"
Remember that 2 is a glotal stop
in SA ,so letter "Q "changes into "2"-ء

دايما نفس القصة-daa2eman nafs al-q(2)eSSa.
It is always the same story.

means like"to stay with us a guest"

but here منضيفك" means a bit diffrent
like "what we will give\offer you (to eat or drink)?

as far as i know letter م at the beginning of this word it is Syrian grammar and refers to pronoun "we".Example below:

منحكي-mnaHkee-we will speak

7.يا ريت
yaa reet-i wish.Expression used a lot in dialect

يا ريته هون
yaa reeto hoon.
I wish he was here

jaab-to bring

Ex:جيبلي كاسة مي من فضلك
jeeble kaasat mayy men faDlak
Please ,bring me a glass of water


here i think the meaning is a bit diffrent but not sure in 100%.We should ask any Syrian or Lebanese guy about this sentence :)

مبوز اكتير relates to the drink ,that he wants something cold.Like"Bring me a cold one .

bnoon or منوب mnoon
is strictly SA word
means "at all".

EX:ما عنده صبر منوب
ma 3endo Sabr mnoob
He has no patinece at all

mneeH in SA means "good"

Ex:هو تلميد منيح
howa telmed(z) mneeH
He is a good student

means "now" in MSA الأنal-an

Anyway u are really great guy and doing a very good job here

Do u use any dictionary or ever heard about any for Syrian or Lebanese dialect?.I will gratefull for any sugestions

مع السلامة

The Arabic Student said...

Good comments, czarekpoland and thanks for the kind words. As for مبوز , I had only ever heard it mean angry, but from context I'm guessing it means hot here. Maybe someone else will comment.

I don't know about any dictionaries for Levantine Arabic that are any good. I've seen some, but they were all just for basic words. I haven't found any of them to be useful.

I will continue to do posts like this from different shows in the future.

czarekpoland said...

Hi there my friend,

Thanx a lot for nice words also

I finally asked a Syrian guy from Damascus what means
مبوز اكتر-very cold(relates to drink)
So i was right ,cos i felt from the context it cant mean like"I am hot"

I heard a word in TV in meaning
"i am hot".
انا مشوب-ana mshawweb is used like i am hot.

All the best wished and see u soon
with a new video's

To be sincere with u I was trying to translate one of the episode from"حب المستحيل.Well i make some efforts but i think there is many mistakes still

Try to correct it and send it to you


The Arabic Student said...

That's such a weird word. It means angry and cold then depending on the context. Here's an explanation I got from a guy named sa3eed:

This is what he says:

In the first one, it refers to a facial expression showing discontent and marked by a certain posture of the mouth (بوز means mouth in Lebanese/Syrian slang).

The second one means "ice-cold" and is used as an adjective for the cola drink (Again it is slang and is derived from بوظة=ice cream)

czarekpoland said...

Thanx a lot also for your comments
I sent this video to my friend from Saudia and Egypt they didnt understand this expression.
Told me that مبوزis close to word زعلان,but it is not used quite often in their's slang

How can we deal with this all stuff relating to Shaamee slang:)They say it is one of the easiest accent(maybe comparing to Maghrebian or Algerian they are right but for me it is still a bit hard.

I wanted to ask you if u have many difficulties with understanding this slang as a student of Arabic language.I am very curious how is it?How do u deal with video translation especially in a slang.

If it is any opportunity to speak with u by private ,i have few questions. Do u use skype,yahoo any other communicator.I will be glad if u send me something(you can send it by email to not make it such a public thing


Jessie said...

Ya salaam, thank you so much, this blog is super!
I wonder if the مبوز could be مع بوز, because in Turkish the word "ice" is buz, and Syrian dialect has some Turkish words.

You are so great, I really love what you are doing!!So helpful!!

Unknown said...

To Arabic Student,
I came across your excellent site recently and wanted to share this resource with you.

It has long interviews with major Egyptian figures along with transcripts and translations. Unfortunately I have been unable to download the interviews so I can put them on my IPod. Do you know how one might do this or find these somewhere else?
Dan (used to study Arabic and live in Egypt--last time in early 1990s-- but getting back into it).

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this lesson! I've just started trying to learn Syrian Arabic, and it's really helpful to be able to read a breakdown/explanation of a scene from a TV series because you get to hear words and sentences as they're actually used in real life.

Unknown said...

I've been studying Syrian/ Lebanese Arabic on my own for almost 1 1/2 years now. The best show I could recommend for listening practice is الفصول الاربعة. I bought all the DVDs I could find of this series during my 2 trips to Syria. Clear sound, normal speech but not very fast as compared to بقعة ضوء which is the next show I would recommend. Both shows are rich in expressions, vocab, etc. I love them both.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what I needed, please continue, Thank you.

bluex said...


Manu said...

oh how i wish there was a blog like yours for tunisian, algerian or moroccan arabic...

The Arabic Student said...

Haha, Manu. Anything west of Egypt is Greek to me :).

elyabany said...

Ahlan w sahlan ya telmiz el3rabia,

Alf shokran for your blog. I've been studying MSA for a while, but I'm going to Egypt, Palestine, and Jordan soon so your lessons have helped me so much.

One thing I don't think you've fully covered yet (sorry if you have) are "indicators" in Levantine. So like in MSA,


Also, it looks like sometimes there are words where this (hadha)is just h- attached to the beginning of the word, h-elbayt . When is that used/what is that?

There are surprisingly few resources online for this stuff. Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

it's not مبوز he said مبوظة mbawwzah (ver cold)
since in levantine for ice-cream is بوظة boozah

Ali Khan said...

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Sohale said...

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