Have a little shame! - إستحي على دمك

I've got 2 phrases for you today that are pretty cool. They are إستحي على دمك and إحترم نفسك . The first is used in Levantine countries and I'm not sure where else, and the second is used everywhere as it is MSA. I've got some clips that illustrate the usage of these phrases as well as a video I made for You Tube.

  • إستحي على دمك (istahi 'ala demek) - Have some shame!
To set up the context for this clip, this girl has been walking around everywhere getting hit on by every guy and finally she gets into a taxi where she thinks she's safe and the taxi driver starts ogling her. The clip is from the Syrian comedy show بقعة ضو (spotlight).


و بعدين معك انت؟ خلاص بقى! إستحي على دمك! حاج البصبصة - And with you too! Cut it out now! Have some shame! Stop ogling!

- بعدين - This word usually means "later" or "afterward", like بسوّيها بعدين "I'll do it later". Here it's used for some emphasis. The sentence would mean the same thing without it.

- خلاص - You say this when you want something to be finished. Like if your mom and dad are arguing and you get fed up with it you can yell خلاص (khalaas) for them to stop.

- بقى - This word is used a lot for emphasis. In MSA it means "to stay" or "to remain" بقينا في الفندق ل3 ايام means "We stayed at the hotel for 3 days." In dialect they use ظل or ضل (same word) to mean "to stay". I guess you can compare بقى to the word "now" in English. For instance. We say "come on now" or "cut it out now" but not really mean for it to be done literally "right now". We say it for emphasis. The word بقى is the same way.

- إستحي - Someone who is shy is مستحي . This word can mean "have shame" or "be shy". Shyness is more accurately خجل though. I knew an old Iraqi guy who would jokingly tell girls to إخجلي when they were being a bit too racy for him :D. It's not appropriate for girls to joke about sex and stuff in Arab cultures.

- حاج البصبصة - The word حاج here means "stop". You'll also see حاجة . It's not like the Egyptian word حاجة which means "something". And بصبصة is ogling.

  • إحترم نفسك (ihtarim nefsek) - respect yourself

In this next clip we have Saddam Hussein being tried. He goes off on a tirade calling the trial a farce and the judge says إحترم نفسك. And without missing a beat Saddam comes up with the quick witted response إحترم نفسك انت "YOU respect yourself!". I don't know how he came up with that one on the fly like that. And the judge responds in Iraqi dialect, آني محترم نفسي . "I do respect myself."


"Respect yourself" is used when you want to say that someone is making a fool of themself.

Here's another example clip for احترم نفسك . This is from the show الاتجاه المعاكس which is a debate show that always ends in arguing and yelling. The guy on the left is saying how bad of a dictator Saddam Hussein was and the guy on the left is supporting Saddam Hussein. The guy on the left just got done saying a bunch of bad stuff about Saddam and the guy on the right isn't too happy about it.


امراً عليك ان تحترم نفسك و تُأدّب ألفاظك جيداً و إلا أسوّي بيك شيء ما تتصور ابداً - I order you to respect yourself and clean up your mouth or else I'm going to do something to you that you can't imagine

This is all MSA except for when he says اسوّي . That's Iraqi.

- تُأدّب ألفاظك - I translate this to "clean up your mouth". ادب is manners (also literature), for example, when someone says that you are قليل الادب it means you are "bad mannered", literally "few manners". لفظ is pronunciation but here he means كلام. So تُأدّب ألفاظك means to "nicen up your talk" or "clean up your mouth" which sounds more natural.

- سوّي - means "to do". This is used in Iraqi and sometimes in Syrian.

- شيء ما تتصور - something that you can't imagine

- ابدا - this means "never", but here you just attribute it to emphasis. I wouldn't translate it as "something you can never imagine!" Personal preference really.

Arabic Gestures and their Meanings

I started making a list of a few different things in Arabic that weren't exactly words or phrases, but that nonetheless carried meanings. In the US we have the thumbs up, the middle finger, the ok sign, and I'm sure a lot more that I can't think of. These have spread and are recognized around the world. Arabs also use non-verbal communication like these which will probably be confusing if you haven't had exposure to them before. In the video I talk about a click that Arabs do which means "no". The first time someone did it to me I thought they were getting an attitude with me because in the US we have a similar click/teeth suck/whatever you want to call it that is fairly rude. It's usually accompanied by someone rolling their eyes. After I had been exposed to this click lots of times, sometimes by really nice people, I began to realize that it wasn't meant to be rude and that it just meant "no". There are sure to be a lot of other gestures specific to Arab countries that I left out, but these are 3 that I have noticed being used a lot that are foreign to westerners.


Jordanian Dialect Lesson

I mentioned the You Tube comedy channel بث بياخة (bathbayakha) a while back and in this lesson we'll be disecting one of their songs. It's in Jordanian dialect, but this dialect is very similar to the other Levantine dialects (Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian) so if you're learning one of those, then this lesson will help you. One simple way to distinguish Jordanian dialect from the other dialects in the Levantine family is from the way they pronounce the letter qaf ق . They pronounce it as "g" as in "goal" just like the Gulf and Iraqi dialects. You'll notice that a lot in this song. I wrote the translated lyrics in blue so you can pick them out more easily from among the explanations.


  • اسمعيني - Listen to me
  • فتحي دينيكي- Open your ears
He says اسمعيني because he is talking to a girl. He would say اسمعني if he were addressing a guy. And دينيكي is literally "your two ears". They don't use the plural of ears when referring to a person's ears. They use the dual. In MSA "your (2) ears" is أُذُنَيكِ. In many dialects they change ذ to د or ز. You can see that they changed the ذ to a د in this case.

  • انا و انتي صارلنا سنين متجوزين و بنينا عيلة من يوم عرسي و انا متاكد ان حياتنا شنق ليلة - You and I have been married for years and we've built a family. From my wedding day I was sure that our life would be great.
صار means here "it has been". Another example would be قديش صارلك بلبنان -"how long has it been for you in Lebanon". صارلنا is literally صار لنا -"it has been for us". It isn't all one word, but most of the time it is typed that way. I know I used to get very confused by stuff like that, thinking that the little add-ons were part of the root of the word. "I can't find the 4 letter root صرلن anywhere!!!"

عيلة is عائلة which means family in MSA.

شنق ليلة is a phrase I had to ask about. It's specifically Jordanian. It literally means "choking the night", but figuratively it means "awesome" or "really great".

  • كل شي كان عسل حتى لو انك ماكلي بصل - Everything was honey even if you ate onion.
This is a figurative phrase. Not literal, obviously. It's just a way to say how nice his life was. That is... before... she did something terrible!

  • بدي منك تسمعيني اكمل كلمة ككلمة - I want you to listen to me say what I have to say.
Literally اكمل كلمة is literally "complete a word" but "let me say what I have to say" gets the idea across better.

  • بتذكر بعد العرس لما رن جرس البيت فتحتي الباب حكيتي كلمة لواحد ازعر قد الحيط - I remember after the wedding when the doorbell rang and you opened the door and spoke to some lowlife.
The word is تذكر. So, I remember would be بتذكر and you remember would be بتتذكر. Don't think that the ت in the word in the sentence indicates "you". It's just part of the word. The word رن is just like our word "ring". It's an onomatopoeia which is when a word sounds like its meaning.

ازعر is a negative word to refer to a guy. I chose to go with "lowlife". قد الحيط is something that confused me and I asked several places about it. Everyone told me that it means someone who is really big which is what you would get when you thought about the definition. It literally means "as big as the wall". However, that doesn't make sense here as the guy she sees at the door isn't huge. Maybe he's just exaggerating like in the rest of the song. But I have it from many sources that قد الحيط refers to someone who is very large.

  • عامل حالي مش عارف بس انا فاهم كل الطبخه - I pretended like I didn't know, but I understand everything that's happening.
عامل حالي is how you say "I pretended to be". I pretended not to see would be عامل حالي مش شايف . "I make my condition not the seer."

انا فاهم كل الطبخة - I understand everything that's going on. "She's cooking something up." الطبخة is used in kind of the same way we'd use it in English. طبخة is literally a plate of food or something being cooked.

  • صاير وضعك مش طبيعي شو؟ شايفتيني لطخة؟ - You've changed. What? Do you think I'm stupid?
صاير وضعك مش طبيعي - "Your condition has become unnatural" is a literal translation, but "you've changed" sounds better.

شايفتيني - You see me

لطخة - stupid

بتخونيني - You betray me.

Also could be translated as "you cheat on me".

  • كومستير - I found you out.
I had to ask about this one too. This is a word that is shouted in Arabic hide and seek, which is called غُمَيضة, when you find someone. It makes sense to call the game that because the root غمض means "to close your eyes". كومستير is not an Arabic word and it must have been taken from somewhere else. We don't yell that in the US when playing hide and seek as far as I know. The word sounds Italian to me. Anyone know?

  • شفتك لما دخلتي عند ابو سامح تبع الخضرا - I saw you when you went into Abu Samih's vegetable shop
ابو سامح تبع الخضرا - Literally, this is "Abu Samih of the vegtables" تبع is a strange word. My book - الكتاب تبعي

  • وزنلك كيلو بطاطا و انا عارف كان نفسك خضرا - He weighed a kilo of potatoes for you and I knew you wanted vegetables.
نفسك means "you want". This is used a lot in Egyptian, but I haven't heard it in other Levantine dialects. I was surprised to hear it in Jordanian.

  • و مرة عالاشارة لما اجاكي ذاك الشب بده يبيعك حبة علكة تعطر تمك تروي القلب - And one time at the stop light when that guy came up to you. He wanted to sell you a piece of gum to freshen your breath and quench your thirst.
تعطر تمك - means literally "to give your mouth a good smell". The noun عطر means "perfume" and it's believe that's where we got the word "odor" which has come to mean "a bad smell" even though in Arabic it means a good one. If you didn't know that عطر meant "perfume" you could have just typed it into Google and looked at the images.

The root روى is MSA and means "to quench thirst". I don't think I've ever heard that gum "quenches thirst" in English, but you get the idea. "To satisfy you" might be better.

الاشارة - stoplight

ذاك الشب - that guy

  • قلتيله شكراً حبيبي. حبيبي؟؟؟ - You said to him "Thank you, habibi." Habibi???
Habibi literally means "my love", but it can be used in a very platonic way which is how the girl was using it. Something similar in English would be "thanks, hunny". It can be meant for your boyfriend or anyone at all. The singer of the song just gets jealous very easily :).

  • مالك؟ مش عارف. بظن في اشي محلق بزوري - What's wrong with you? I don't know. I think there's something stuck in my throat.
You'll notice that he says إشي instead of شي . You can distinguish that someone is Palestinian or Jordanian if they use إشي . I was standing in line at the airport and heard a girl taking on her phone in Arabic and she used this word. I asked her, انت فلسطينية مو هيك؟ (you're Palestinian, right?) and she was so surprised that I knew that :P.

محلّق بزوري - stuck in my throat

  • جاجة ورا ثلاجة و جاجة راكبة دراجة و جاجة ورا جاجة وين؟ فوق الثلاجة و جاجة - A chicken behind the fridge and a chicken riding a bike and a chicken behind a chicken. Where? On top of the fridge. And a chicken.
There is no deeper meaning to that chicken stuff. :) The guy singing is just supposed to be random and funny. I thought it meant something or was a joke only Jordanians would understand but after asking around, nope.

  • و انت كمان يا صاحبي واقف معي شو ما يصير بتخاف علي اكيد و ع مرتي اكتر بكتير. اكيد! - And you, my friend always stand with me no matter what happens. You worry about me, for sure, and about my wife so much more. For sure!
بتخاف علي - means more like "you look out for me"

  • كان لازم و انا مسافر و انا بعيد قلبي اتطمن من بعد العيشة معك بكون حمار لو ما بتعلم - I had to make sure when I'm traveling and far away that my heart is at ease. After living with you I'd be a donkey if I didn't learn.
The و here doesn't mean "and". It means "when". You'll hear people say انا و صيغر . It doesn't me "me and little". It means "when I was little".

There's a saying that says التكرار يعلّم الحمار (repetition teaches the donkey). So if he didn't learn from all the times she's "cheated" on him, he'd be a donkey.

إتطمن means "at ease". Often someone will say طمّني عليك. It means, let me know how it's going. Literally "put me at ease about you". In MSA الإطمئنان is tranquility, peace of mind, calmness.

  • اضطريت اوصي صاحبي بغيابي يضل معكي و بالليل جنبيكي نام يحط ايده حواليكي - I'm forced to instruct my friend in my absence to stay with you and at night to sleep next to you and put his arm around you.
اوصي means to entrust, charge with, etc.

ضل or in MSA ظل means "to stay".

ولو - Naturally!

ولو can be translated different ways. Here, "naturally" is a good translation. You might also put "of course". It's often used in the following situation. If you ask someone for help (some money or something) and they feel offended that you thought they might not help you they could say طبعاً بساعدك ولو "of course I'll help you". I've heard this word used many many times and still have trouble pinning down a good definition and exactly where to use it. There really isn't a perfect equivalent in English.

  • حواليكي؟ حواليها؟ - Around you? Around her?
  • بتخونيني - You betray me.
  • فيثاغورس - Pythagoras
Because it's a love triangle and Pythagoras is the triangle guy in math.