Lebanese You Tube series: Shankaboot

If you're interested in learning authentic Lebanese Arabic, the type that is spoken by everyday people in Beirut then check out the You Tube series Shankaboot. It's a low budget show that is really high quality. It looks even better than a lot of the shows I've seen on Arabic TV. The story is interesting and the Arabic in it is great. The show has English subtitles that you can select as well. The series stars a delivery boy, Suleiman Shankaboot, in Beirut who gets involved with the mafia. It's not a conservative show which makes it more interesting. It has everything that you would find on American TV. The show also shoots in Bekaa البقاع for a few episodes so you get to hear what some of the rural Lebanese dialect sounds like.

The language is much different from the kind of thing you'll see on Lebanese talk shows and shows dubbed in Lebanese. Even though those shows are in Lebanese dialect the language contains less slang and is more proper. The thing I'm most interested in right now is Arabic slang and sayings. I've learned how educated upper class people talk, but I'm not as good as I'd like to be with slang. It's harder to find resources for that kind of thing because people have an aversion to teaching a way of speaking that they feel is wrong. It's just like how most Americans view Ebonics. It is viewed as bastardized form of English and no one teaches it. I've met a lot of foreigners who try to understand African Americans when they speak to them on the street but can't. That's how I feel when it comes to Arabic spoken in everyday life. I've learned a lot of everyday Arabic in the past year or so, but I still understand the news better than I do 2 friends just talking and joking with each other. I'm trying to change that.

And, if you can find it, another good show for learning authentic spoken Arabic is called Dunia دنيا. It's a comedic Syrian drama about a girl who comes from the country side to work as a maid and earn a living in Damascus and her dialect reflects that. She speaks with an accent that I hadn't heard before and it took a while to get used to. I still don't understand everything that it said in the show, but that means that it's something I can learn from. I stopped watching dubbed shows because I noticed that I can understand the vast majority of everything that's said. Dubbed shows have a more simplified and less "slangy" form of the language. Anyway, I found Dunia and a lot of good shows on, but they only accept new registrations from time to time. I would keep checking if you're interested because that site has tons of shows. I paid $20 a while ago for unlimited downloads.


Ma'qoul Mesh Ma'qoul Lyrics and Translation

If you like current Arabic pop music you should subscribe to the following YouTube channels: MelodyTvgroup, MelodyMusicGroup, and MelodyMusicRecords. That is how I found this song "Ma'qoul Mesh Ma'qoul" by the Lebanese singer Dominique Hourani دومينيك حوراني. I like songs like this that have have a debka feel to them. I've translated the song in a way that would sound like how someone speaking English would say the phrases. For example, I didn't translate مش معقول to mean "illogical", "irrational", or "unreasonable" even though those are all meanings of the word as those don't really fit. When translating something into English I think it's best to take into account how an English speaker would say something. The meaning is more important than adhering to the dictionary translation. Some people don't like this method. They feel that every word has a 1 to 1 exact translation into English. For example, it's better in most cases to translate ان شاء الله as "hopefully" and not "if God wills it". The literal translation is "if God wills it", but in almost every case it's used to just mean "hopefully". Literal translations like that also make Arabs seem a lot more radical to western audiences. Most people aren't thinking about God when they say "inshalla", and the same thing for the phrase بالله as it's used to respond when someone tells you something incredible. Literally it means "by God??", but when it's said the person means "really??". Anyway, that's a bit of a tangent. Enjoy the song! :D

معقول مش معقول (ma'ool mish ma'ool) - Really? No way!
معقول مش معقول (ma'ool mish ma'ool) - Really? No way!
معقول مش معقول شو جنيت (ma'ool mish ma'ool shoo janeyt) - Really? No way! Have you gone crazy?
معقول يعني تكون غيري حبيت (ma'ool ya'ni tkoon gheyri habeyt) - Is it true that you love someone other than me?

لا ما بصدق لا هالعملة بتعملها (la ma basaddi' la hal'amli bta'mila) - No, I don't believe this thing that you've done.
و ان كنك عاملها ما ترجع عالبيت (wa in kinak 'aamilha ma trj'a 'albeyt) - And if you've done it, don't come back home.

مش من واحد من مية (mish min wahid min miyi) - Not 1, but 100
سمّعوني هالخبرية (samm'aooni halkhabariyi) - have told me this news
و ان شاء الله تكون مزبوطة (wa in shalla tkoon mazboota) - And I hope it's true
يا معتر يا ريت, يا ريت, يا ريت (ya m'attar ya reyt, ya reyt, ya reyt) - you stupid. I hope, I hope, I hope.

لخلي الدنيا كلها تسمع صريخك و الله (lakhali aldinyi killa tasm'a sareekhak wallah) - Let the whole world hear you yell.
عم بحلفلك بالله يا ريت يا ريت يا ريت ('am bahliflak bi allah ya reyt, ya reyt, ya reyt) - I swear to God. I hope, I hope, I hope.


عن شغلة تخليت كرامة رقة احساسك ('an shaghli tkhalleyt kramat ri'at ahsaasak) - You've forgotten about something, your senses of honor and kindness.
بتقعّدني بالبيت بتفلت انت عراسك (bit'a'adni bilbeyt btiflit enta 'araasak) - You make me sit at home and go you lose your mind.
عراسك عراسك لا و الله ('araasak 'araasak la wallah) - your mind, your mind, no oh God.


عن قصد مش عن قصد ما بيفيد ('an 'asd mish 'an 'asd ma beefeed) - Whether you meant it or not doesn't matter.
ما تقلي غلطة و ما كانت بالايد (ma t'ili ghalta wa ma kaanit bileed) - Don't tell me it was a mistake and not your fault.



Lebanese Phrases from Fares Karam Songs

These phrases all come from songs by Fares Karam. As far as I'm concerned doing things like this is the best way to learn a language, i.e. using authentic material like songs and videos. In the video I sing the phrases the way Fares Karam sings them and also say them word by word so you can tell where one word ends and the next word begins. That was one of my big problems when trying to learn Levantine dialect. Everything would just run together since things aren't said as separated as they are in MSA. Let me know if things like this are helpful and what you'd like more of.

بقعد من دون شمس و ماي, بس ما بقعد بلاكي (ba'ud min doon shams oo mai, bes ma ba'ud balaaki) - I can go without sun and water, but I can't go without you.

ضيق لبسك ما عندك أوسع منه (dayyi' libsik ma 'andik aws'a minu) - Your clothes are tight, don't you have any looser ones?

نام بغني بوعا بغني ضيعتيلي عقلي مني وخليتيني دوب (nam baghanni boo'a baghanni day'atili 'a'li mini oo kheleytini doob) - I sing in my sleep, I sing when I'm awake, you made me lose my mind and made me melt.

اللي بتقصر تنورة تلحقها عيون الشباب (Illi bit'assir tanoora tilha'ha 'ayoon ashabab) - The one who shortens her skirt, the eyes of the boys follow her.

وين بتكوني انا بكون و حبك بدي (wayn bitkooni ana bkoon oo hobik bedi) - Where you are, I am and I want your love.

شفتها بشارع الحمرا بإيدها في قلم حمرا عم بتشيله من الجزدان (shifta bshaari' al hamra bi eeda fi 'alam hamra 'am bitsheelu min al jizdaan) - I saw her on "Red" street with a lipstick in her hand taking it out of the purse.


France 24 Arabic Commercial Campaign

On YouTube I subscribe to the French news channel France 24 and today I noticed some videos titled so and so "apprend l'arabe". I don't know much French, but I understand enough to know that that means so and so "learns Arabic". To promote their Arabic news channel they have these faked videos of famous people trying to speak Arabic. There's Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Hu Jintao, and the Queen of England learning things like numbers and how to say hello. They're all really funny, but my favorite part is how they have Bill Gates say "4". I'm sure this is how my Arabic sounded 3 years ago. :D

Bill Gates:

Barack Obama:

Queen of England

Hu Jintao