Arabic Urban Dictionary

Last month Makkay suggested the site for learning Arabic dialect words. It's basically the Arabic equivalent of Urban Dictionary. It's the best way to learn authentic dialect words that I've found. I've been spending time going through the شامي dialect and after that I plan to go through the others. When I'm not sure exactly what a definition means I just type the word into Google and look at the picture results. I found the word بربتوز and the definition said it meant "baby clothes" in Palestinian, but I wanted to see what Google had to say. Sure enough it brought up lots of pictures of one-piece baby clothes. I really don't know of another way to learn these kind of purely dialect words other than living in an Arabic speaking country. It's also nice in that is writes out the English transliteration for each word. So for بربتوز it has barbatooz. This is really helpful because with dialect it's sometimes impossible to guess how the word is pronounced.

An interesting flaw I've noticed with the site is in the rating system. It's just like Urban Dictionary in that anyone can rate a word/definition. This is meant to weed out words that aren't widespread or are just incorrect. However, on ar.mo3jam people vote down any curse words or anything vulgar. This makes it hard to learn those types of words because you can't be sure if the word was voted down simply because it was vulgar or if it really was incorrect. For example, I found the word بيضات (literally, "eggs" but figuratively "testicles") and it had 6 thumbs down. Arabs seem to be ashamed that their language contains words like this. If you go on Urban Dictionary you don't find this at all. The most vulgar words will have hundreds of thumbs-ups. Maybe this points to some difference between Western and Middle Eastern mentalities?


Thinking About Getting an Arabic Tattoo?

Make sure you read this! The guy goes through all the mistakes that people make time and time again when getting a tattoo written in Arabic. Yes, Arabic looks a lot cooler than English if you're an English speaker and I have nothing against people who get Arabic tattoos. One of my friends has "otter" (قضاعة) written on his leg. Just make sure you check with someone who knows Arabic before you get something permanent. Don't end up like the girl in the picture. م ا ل س


Lebanese Lesson: Lost Dubbed in Arabic

When learning a new language it's often helpful to watch movies and TV shows that you know from your native language dubbed (مدبلج) in the target language. That way you know can more easily absorb new words since you know the plot and what's happening even when it's not obvious from the characters' behaviors. I finished watching the first season of the TV show Lost (الضياع) a few weeks back and it was good for me because I first watched that season in English about 4 years ago so there was a lot I didn't remember which kept me interested.

Alas I don't think my favorite movies and shows like Star Wars and Star Trek have dubbed versions in Arabic. I don't know why but it seems like Arabs generally don't like sci-fi. It would have helped me immensely when learning if I had been able to watch shows that I actually liked which is why I think learning something like Chinese, Japanese, or Korean would be easier for me. They seem to like the same kinds of things that I like, video games, space, technology. I'm sure I'm generalizing with that statement but that's the way I see it. I was actually very surprised when I found Lost dubbed because it's one of the few shows that I actually enjoy that I've found in Arabic (aside from Disney movies). I know I shouldn't complain. Imagine if you were learning a language like Mongolian or Kurdish. I doubt you'd find much at all in the way of dubbed media.

Lost is actually dubbed in Lebanese which is rare because most of the time shows are dubbed in Syrian. If you've watched Lost before you know that there's an Iraqi character named Sa'id سعيد. Everyone on the island speaks Lebanese except for him. He speaks Iraqi dialect :). That's a dimension of authenticity you don't get with the American version. Here's a clip from season 2 where John Locke first enters the hatch and meets Desmond. As usual the transcript and a vocabulary list are below.

قال لنا الطيّار أنه إنقطع الإتصال و إطلعنا عن المسار المحدد و بعتقد أنه هالمسافات البعيدة منعت فرق البحث من انه توصل لنا
(aalna atayyaar anu in'ata'a alitisaal wa itla'na 'an almasaar almuhadad oo ba't'aid anu halmisaafaat alba'eeda mana'at fira' albahs min anu toosalna)

The pilot told us that the communication was cut and (that) we went off course. I think that the long distance prevented the search teams from reaching us.

الرحلة إلي طلعت من سيدني على لوس أنجلس؟
(alrahli illi tala't min sydney 'ala los angeles)

The flight that took off from Sydney to Los Angeles.



كانت رحلة إعتيادية
(kanat rahli i'tiyadia)

It was a routine flight.

أيه طبعاً
(ay taba'an)

Yes, of course.

ممكن أني أعرف إسمك؟
(mumkin anni a'rif ismak)

Can you tell me your name? (Literally says, "Is it possible for me to know your name.")

إسمي؟ إسمي دريد
(ismi? ismi dureid)

My name is Dureid

و أنا إسمي جميل. بس أنا برأي ما في داعي لهذا السلاح
(wa ana ismi jamil. bes ana bi ra'iy ma fi daa'i li hatha silaah)

And my name is Jamil. But I don't think there's any need for this weapon.

عن جد؟ و شو رأيك أعطيك ياه إلك؟
('an jad? wa shoo ra'yak a'teek yah ilak)

Really? And what do you think about me giving it to you?

قلي كم واحد أنتو
(illi kam waahid into)

Tell me how many of you there are.

أه, 43 بس 4 منن ركبو طوف و راحو
(uh, thalaath wa arba'een bes arba' minun rikbu toof oo raahu)

Uh, 43 but 4 of them boarded a raft and left.


A raft?!

هالضو هاد مستعوضين فيه عن ضو الشمس لأنكن ما بتطلعو من هون؟ أه في شي طريق تاني للخروج؟
(hal daw had musta'wadeen fih 'an daw ashams lankun ma tatla'u min hoon? uh, fi shi tari' taani lilkhurooj?)

Is this light substituting the sun for you since you don't leave here? Uh, is there another way to exit?

كم واحد منكن مرضان؟
(kam waahid minkun mardaan?)

How many of you are sick?



أيه مرضان. يعني صحته تعبانة
(ay mardaan. ya'ni sahtu ta'baani)

Yes, sick. I mean in bad health.

و يمكن لهالسبب مكتوب "حجر صحي" على مدخل ال
(wa yumkin li hasabab maktoob "hajar sahi" 'ala madkhal al...)

And maybe that's the reason "quarantine" was written on the entrance of the...


Answer me!

ولا شخص لا. ما حدا مرضان
(wala shakhs la. ma hada mardaan)

No one, no. No one is sick.

Vocabulary List:
  • إنقطع (inqata'a) - to be cut - This is used with electricity, communication signals
  • إعتيادية (i'tiyaadiya)- routine
  • ما في داعي (ma fi daa'i)- there's no need
  • عن جد ('an jad) - really, seriously
  • طوف (toof) - a raft
  • حجر صحي (hajar sahi) - quarantine