Lebanese Lesson from Dr. Hala

Dr. Hala (مسلسل دكتور هلا) is a drama that airs on MTV Lebanon about love and relationships. It might not be your cup of tea, but it will help you learn the language. The dialect is Lebanese and the show has actors that appear in many Lebanese TV series. Among them are Rita Barsona (ريتا برصونا) and Peter Semaan (بيتر سمعان). There are only so many Lebanese actors and actresses so you will see them again and again.

This clip from the show is 1 minute 45 seconds long. Below the clip is the translation and explanations of words I felt might be new or difficult. The English translation is in blue below the Arabic and the explanations are below that.

غادي : انا ما بشوف انه الفن بعده مثل أيام زمان و انه و ما بيطعم خبز و الواحد لازم ياخده كهواية مش كمهنة. و هالاخبار إللي ربّونا عليها انه الفن بعبع. اوعى يا بابا تفكّر انك تطلع فنان و اوعى يا ماما تفكّري انك

Ghadi: I don't see that art is still like it used to be and that it doesn't put bread on the table and that one must take it as a hobby and not as a profession. And this news that we were raised on that art is a boogy man. Don't think about becoming an artist, son! And don't think, daughter, about...

بعده - "Still". Ghadi doesn't think that art is "still" like it used to be when you couldn't make a living at it.

بيطعم خبز - literally "to feed bread", but a better translation is to figuratively "put food/bread on the table".

بعبع - "boogy man" or "monster". Art was a "boogy man" in that no parent wanted their child to become an artist.

ايام زمان - this is a phrase that means "back in the day", and often "back in the good ole days" when someone is reminiscing about days past.

اوعى - "beware!" or "don't!". اوعى تروح بنص الليالي - don't to go out in the middle of the night!

يا بابا و يا ماما - It might seem strange that he's literally saying "Mom, don't become an artist." and "Dad, don't become an artist.", however, in Arabic countries a mother will call her children "mom", and the same thing with a father. He'll call his kids dad sometimes when speaking to them. It's strange at first, but you get used to it. I didn't translate it as "mom" and "dad" because it wouldn't make sense. He's pretending that he's a dad and then a mom talking to their children.

غسان : شو لكان انه صار الفن هلأ عم يطعم خبز؟

Ghassan: So what then? Art now is able to put bread on the table?

شو لكان - Here this means something like "what are you talking about?" or "so what then?" لكان is a word you get a feel for after hearing it used a lot. Used alone it can mean "of course." If Ghadi replied to Ghassan's question with لكان , that's what it would mean. "Of course."

غادي : يعني القصة منها قصة خبز. اصلاً ما بقى حدا ياكل خبز. الكل عالدايت و التوست

Ghadi: I mean it's not about bread. Actually no one eats bread anymore. Everyone's on a diet and toast.

منها - "It is not." This is spelled exactly like "from it", من ها , but this is different. Here منها means "it isn't." The ها refers to القصة

اصلاً - People will tell you that this means "originally", and in MSA is does most of the time, however a better translation here is just something like "I mean" or "actually". It doesn't literally mean "originally."

بقى - Here, the بقى translates as "anymore".

غسان : ببلادنا أكيد مش لازم الشب او البنت يعملو فنانين. اصلاً انا اذا بجيب ولاد أكيد ما بخليهن يطلعو فنانين

Ghassan: In our country, of course young boys and girls shouldn't become artists. I mean if I have kids I definitely won't let them become artists.

بلاد - It's the plural of بلد , but Ghassan still means "country" and not "countries". He's talking about Lebanon. Even though this is the plural, it's best translated as "country". You might also go with "in our lands", but that sounds like something from Lord of the Rings.

هلا : اوف اوف اوف! عم بتحكي جد غسان؟ اول مرة بعرفك ضد الفن و الفنانين

Hala: Oof, oof, oof! Are you serious Ghassan? This is the first time I've know you are against art and artists.

اوف - word that expresses surprise or being fed up

جد - seriously

البنت : يعني لو انا اختك ما كنت بتخليني غني؟

Girl: I mean, if I were your sister you wouldn't let me sing?

غسنان : أكيد لا. و لا بخلّي ليون يطلع بس موسيقي

Ghassan: Of course not. And I wouldn't let Leon become just a musician.

ليون : شو قصدك بموسيقي و بس؟

Leon: What do you mean by "just a musician"?

شو قصدك - "what do you mean?" If someone says عن قصد it means "on purpose".

غسان : يعني تتكل عالموسيقى و بس. لازم تشتغل مهنة مهمة و بأوقات فراغك بتدق موسيقى

Ghassan: I mean relying on music alone. You have to work an important profession and in your free time you can play music.

تتكل - "rely on". Heard a lot as تتكل ع الله "rely on God".

ليون : أوقات فراغي؟ تعرف قديش لازم تدرس سنين و سنين و تتمرن ايام و ليالي تتصير موسيقي مهم؟

Leon: My free time? You know how long you have to study, years and years, and practice days and nights to become an important musician?

تتصير - "in order to become". The ت at the beginning of this word may seem out of place. The Lebanese shorten حتى sometimes to just ت . They get rid of the rest of the word. So what he's saying is حتى تصير موسيقي مهم "in order to become an important musician". As far as I know this is Lebanese only. Even other Levantine countries don't do this.

غادي : هيدا اذا ضل عندك وقت فراغ لما تكون عم بتشتغل بشغلة مهمة هالقد. أنا مش من رأيك دكتور. أنا بشوف لو طالما الفنانين ببلدنا ما بيمتهنو الفن ما رح نتطور بشكل كبير. و كمان الراضية اذا بيشتغلو شو ما كان بنهار و بيجو عاشية تيلعبو ماتش فوتبول ما رح تزبط معنا. كلنا رح نضلنا هاويين و مش محترفين

Ghadi: That's if you have free time when you're working such an important profession. I'm not of your opinion, Doctor. I see that as long as the artists in our country don't take art as a profession, we won't develop in a big way. And also the athletes, if they work whatever job in the day and come in the evening to play a game of soccer, it's not going to work for us. All of us will stay hobbyists and not professionals.

هالقد - "this much". In this sentence is translates to "such" as in "such an important job" شغلة مهمة هالقد

طالما - "as long as". This is MSA as well.

شو ما كان - "whatever it is". I translated this a "whatever" in the sentence. If the athletes work "whatever job" or "some job" in the day time.

تيلعبو - "to play". This is the same thing as earlier. It's really حتى يلعبو but they shorten حتى to just ت

ما رح يزبط - "it's not going to work". The MSA spelling is ضبط . The ض changes to ز in Levantine dialects.

هلا : مزبوط. كل إللي عم بتقوله مزبوط غادي

Hala: Right. Everything you're saying is right, Ghadi.

غسان : عن جد؟ و ليش حضرتك استاذ بتشتغل شغلتين؟

Ghassan: Really? Then why, sir, do you work 2 jobs?

حضرتك - a polite way of saying "you". It's something like "sir". Ghassan is being sarcastic here though. A polite way of saying "me" is محسوبك

غادي : لانه بحب الشغلتين كتير و ما كان بدي اترك وحدة كرمال التاني. بس بالأساس شغلتي الاساسية صحافي و اعطيها تلت رباع حياتي

Ghadi: Because I love the 2 jobs a lot and I didn't want to leave one for the sake of the other. But really my main job is being a journalist and I give it 3/4 of my life.

كرمال - "for the sake of" A synonym you might hear is فدا

تلت رباع - three fourths

غسان : ع كل حال ما رح نضل لكل السهرة نتشارع بهيدا الموضوع لأنه ما رح اقتنع. خصوصاً اني شايف المثل الواضح قدّامي. شب و بنت بيحبو بعضهن, إمتهنو الفن, و بعدهن لهلأ ما معهن يمشو

Ghassan: Anyway, we're not going to keep arguing all night about this matter because I'm not going to be convinced. Especially because I see the clear example in front of me. A guy and girl who love each other, they took art as a profession, and even until now it hasn't worked for them.

ع كل حال - anyway

قدّام - "in front of"


Akdeniz said...

Nice job, keep up the good work man. Looking forward for some more.

Anonymous said...

this is amazing man can you do more of these Lebanese Lesson from Dr. Hala? It's so helpful

Anonymous said...

also, would you mind putting up the link to that youtube video? I can't figure it out and I would like to convert it into an mp3 file so I can listen to it on my ipod! shokran ktir habibi

LT SCHLEP said...

this is fantastic - when does your textbook come out?

Nandi said...

@LT Schlep

Ha seriously though it would be much better than any of the books I've allegedly "learned Arabic" from... There should also be a lexicon, and maybe even a list of dialectical nuances(e.g. 'sometimes last letter of verb becomes a sheen'), even if they are a random list.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much, your blog is very very precious

Anonymous said...

i think in the last dialogue it
should be نتشارك instead of نتشارع

what d u think?