Warning! This is a LONG post. I'm going to try to give you an idea of how I learn new Arabic words. These words and phrases are all from a single episode of a comedy show called بقعة ضو (Spotlight). I'm not going to play the whole episode, I'm just going to show clips to give you enough context to understand what's going on. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best way to learn (next to watching the whole episode of course). I think the hardest part for most people who haven't had exposure to Syrian dialect (or any dialect) will be actually hearing the words they're saying. I know that was (and sometimes still is) a major problem for me. To get over that it just takes a LOT of listening to a lot of different things. Even if you don't know what it all means you'll eventually be able to hear the words that are being said and at that point you can do a Google search since you'll know how to spell the word. Even if there isn't a site that says "the definition of this word is X", and sites like that are rare for the dialects, you will have a lot of uses of the word from the sites Google returns and you'll be able to figure out the meaning, in most cases, from all the new context you have. You should be able to tell that context is my favorite word. Let's dive in!First, I need to give you the plot of the show so it's not all just random clips. This woman (Reem) accidentally leaves her phone in the taxi she took to work. She calls her cellphone from work and the taxi driver (Abu Janti) picks it up. She asks him to come by her work and return the phone to her but he keeps picking up passengers and dropping them off instead. He eventually has people calling her cellphone about work matters and he takes care of the issues. He goes and picks up her French passport that was ready, he pays her phone bill, etc. At the end of the show he returns the phone and she offers him a job working for her since he did such a good job for her. He turns down the job though because he loves being a taxi driver.
That's enough for these clips to make some sense and really make the vocab stick in your head.
1. اي رد على الموبيل والله صرعنا. ولا عجبتك رنته؟ (Ay rid 'ala almoobile wallah sara'na. wala 'ajibtak rintu?) - Hey, answer the cellphone. It's driving me crazy. Or do you like its ring?
In this clip, Abu Janti (the driver) thinks that the cellphone belongs to this new passenger. However it belongs to Reem who he just dropped off at work. He says والله صرعنا which is like "by God it's driving us crazy." You can refer to just yourself as "us" in Arabic sometimes. Also, الصرع in MSA means "epilepsy", so you can remember this phrase as "you're giving me epilepsy."
The phone rings for a while before I started the clip so Abu Janti adds literally "or do you like its ring?". I would translate that to "or do you just like the sound of its ring?" to make it clearer. ولا is a common way to say "or" in many dialects. Egyptian included. It doesn't mean "and no".
2. الو؟ (aloo?) - Hello?
الو! لك مين انت؟ (aloo! lek meen intay) - Hello! Hey, who is this?
انا ابو جانتي ملك اللانسر. (ana abu janti melik alansar) - I'm Abu Janti, king of the Lancer.
لك هادا موبيلي إللي معك. (lek hada moobayli illi ma'ak) - Hey, that's my phone that's with you.
ايه عرفت عرفت. حاكيني بعد 5 دقايق. انا ماني فاضي. (ay 'arifit 'arifit. haakini ba'd khams d'aaya ana maani faadi) - Yeah, I know, I know. Talk to me in 5 minutes. I'm not free (now).
يِ! يِ! يخرب بيته! هادا شوفير تاكسي سكر بوشي (yi! yi! yikrib baytoo! hada shofer taksi sakkar ibwishi) - Yi! Yi! Destroy his house! That taxi driver hung up in my face!
Now for an explanation of some things that might not be clear. لك is basically like "hey". It can be perceived as rude. A Lancer is the model of car that Abu Janti drives. That's why he calls himself "king of the Lancer". You'll notice she says هادا instead of هذا . They change ذ to د sometimes in lots of dialects.
Also, he says انا ماني فاضي. The word ماني might be new to you, but it means the same thing as مش and مو. He could have said انا مو فاضي and it would mean the same thing. "I'm not free (to talk).
The word "yi" is an expression of surprise or astonishment. It's said mostly by women. يخرب بيته literally means "destroy his house", but it's not a terribly mean phrase and not to be taken literally. It's used when someone upsets you.
The word سكّر means to close. The full expression would be سكر الخط بوشي . "He closed the line in my face", literally, but we would translate it to "He hung up in my face". وش is how they say the MSA word وجه which means "face".
3. يِ! نسيت أساله مين دقإلي (yi! nasayt asalu meen da' illi) - Yi! I forgot to ask him who called me!
رجعي دقيله. لك ليكون غزوان دقإلك اذا بيرد و بيطلعله صوت شاب بيطبل الدنيا (rja'i di' illu. lik laykoon ghazwan da' illik izi byitla'lu soot shab byitbal addini) - Call him back! Hey, it could be Ghazwan who called you. If he answers and he gets a guy's voice he's going to be very angry.
The prominent word in this clip is دق. It means "to beat" (as in a heart beat), "to knock" as in knock on the door, but in the context of phones it means "to call". ليكون here means "it might have been" or "maybe it was".
Ghazwan is the name of Reem's fiance. Before this clip Abu Janti said that someone called Reem's phone but Reem forgot to ask who called. Reem's friend says that she should call Abu Janti back because if Ghazwan calls again and gets Abu Janti he's going to get the wrong idea.
يطلع has many different meanings. Here and a lot of the time it means "turns out to be" or "happens to be". A new phrase I learned here is يطبل الدنيا (they pronounce دنيا as dini instead of dunya). يطبل الدنيا means the same thing as كسر الدنيا (literally "to break the world"), but in actual use it means "to get really angry".
4. دخيل عينك. دخيل عينك ابو جانتي دير بالك عليه. هادا الباسبور مو اي كلام يعني. (dakheel 'aynak. dakheel 'aynak abu janti deer baalak 'aleyh. hada albasboor moo ay kalaam ya'ni) - I beg you. I beg you, Abu Janti, look after it. That is a passport, not just any old thing.
ولا تهكلي هم. حطيته بالتابلو مع اوراق السيارة (wala tihkali hem. hatteytu biltablu m'a oora' assayaara) - Don't worry. I put it in the glove compartment with the car's papers.
دخيل عينك means "I beg you". It's like please, but stronger. دير بالك means "to look out for". بال is "mind" and دير means "to wrap around". A new phrase for me is when she says that this passport is not اي كلام "any talk". From context you can tell the meaning is "not just any old thing", that it's very important.
Abu Janti responds and tells her to لا تهكلي هم . This means "don't worry". هم is a worry. There are other variations on this phrase as well. I had never heard this one specifically. I had heard however, لا تاكل هم and لا تعتل هم which mean the same thing. Respectively they literally mean "don't eat a worry" and "don't carry a worry". Those are probably mostly Lebanese though.
حطيت means "I put". And yet another new word for me that you can get from context is تابلو. It means glove compartment. Put تابلو السيارة into Google and look at the images it gives you. I tried تابلو and التابلو and it didn't give me what I wanted. That's how I make sure of a lot of words. Doing Google images searches.
5. ابو جانتي. من شان الله. الله يرضى عليك. الله يخليلك ولادك. من شان الله تاع محتاج الموبيل ضروري ضروري من شان الله (abu janti. min shan allah. allah yerda 'aleyk. allah ykhalleelak oolaadak. min shan allah taa' mahtaaj almoobile daroori daroori min shan allah) - Abu Janti. For God's sake. May God satisfy you. May God keep your children for you. For God's sake come. I need the cellphone. It's imperative. For God's sake.
Reem is really getting annoyed and she starts to beg Abu Janti to bring the phone. The things she says are very typical of what is said when someone is pleading with someone else to do something.
تاع is the Syrian way of saying تعال, "come".
محتاج means "I need".
And something that is ضروري is something necessary or something that must be done.
6. لك مع مين عم تحكي لك مع مين؟ (lek ma' meen 'am tahki lek ma' meen?) - Who are you talking to, Abu Janti? Who are you talking to?
لك الله يخليلك جانتي ان شاء الله لك بس قلي رح تجلطني يا اخي. شي بدقإلك بلاقيه مشغول شي بدقإلك ما بترد علي شو القصة؟ (lek allah ykhleelak janti in sha allah lek bes illi. rah tijlitni ya akhi. shi bda' illak blaa'eeh mashghool. shi bda' illak ma bitrud 'alayy. shu al'issa?) - May God keep Janti, inshallah, but tell me, you're going to give me a stroke, brother. Sometimes I call you and I find it busy. Sometimes I call you and you don't answer me. What's the story?
I really wish I could talk as fast as she talks at the end of the clip... even in English. The لك is just used for emphasis here and I wouldn't translate it as "hey". You could maybe translate it as "look here" but I like just leaving it out.
Janti is Abu Janti's son obviously, but coming from a western background that might not register to us right away. I know I had that problem. The word رح indicates future tense and تجلطني is a cool word. جلطة دماغية is a stroke so رح تجلطني means "you're going to give me a stroke) :D.
The word بلاقي means "I find". بلاقيه is "I find it". When she says شي you can take it to mean "sometimes" here. شو القصة is like "what's going on". I know I had a hard time recognizing it when I first started with Levantine dialect because they drop the ق so it's "shu al issa". I knew the word قصة but because they didn't say it like I had learned it in MSA class I didn't recognize it as a word I knew.
You'll find that, if you've studied MSA, a lot of words that you hear and think you don't know you actually do know, they're just said in a weird way to your ears so you don't recognize them. This problem is solved with lots of exposure to the dialects.
7. انا اذا ما كل يوم اطلعت ورا دركسيون اللانسر و حطيت الشريط إلي على ذوقي و فتلت الشام كلياتها حارة حارة و شارع شارع ما بيهنالي عيش (ana iza ma kil youm atla't wara direkesion al lancer wa hateyt ashareet illi 'ala zoo'ee wa fatelt ashaam kilayaata haara haara wa shaar'a shaar'a ma byihnaali 'aeesh) - If I didn't get behind the steering wheel of the Lancer every day and put on a tape I'm in the mood for and weave around the entirety of Damascus neighborhood by neighborhood and street by street, I couldn't live happily.
This clip is right after Reem offers Abu Janti a job for his good work that day. He turns it down even though the pay she is offering is more. دركسيون is the French word for steering wheel. ذوق is "taste", but in English you wouldn't say "I put on the tape that's on my taste", so "the tape I'm in the mood for" is a better translation.
فتل is not a word I'm familiar with, but you can get it from context that it means to go around Damascus. I looked it up in the Hans Wehr dictionary and it said to twist or weave around. الشام is Damascus by the way. They also say دمشق . I translated كلياتها as "the entirety of it", but more simply it just means "all". Just like the word كل .
Now I'm not 100% sure of the last phrase. ما بيهنالي عيش isn't something that I've heard before. But I get the idea. I'm pretty sure it's, "I wouldn't be able to live" or "I couldn't live happily". Something like that. If anyone wants to chime in (if anyone stuck with the lesson this far :P) and shed some light on that phrase I would be thankful.