Palestinian Jokes Explained in English

So there's this show on the Jordanian TV channel Roya (رؤيا) called نكت شوارع (Street Jokes) where this guy Mohammad Lahham (محمد لحام) goes around to different locations and asks people to tell him a jokes. There have been 2 seasons of the show thus far and he's been to many places in both Jordan and Palestine. I'd like to see the show branch out to Lebanon and Syria in the future. For me, the ability to understand jokes in a foreign language is the epitome of mastering the language which is why I really like to watch Arabic comedy and joke shows. They have the hardest type of speech to understand.

One thing I've noticed from watching shows like this is that every country has a city whose people they consider stupid and who they make fun of in jokes. In Palestine it's people from الخليل (Hebron), in Jordan it's people from الطفيلة (Tafilah), and in Syria it's people from حمص (Homs). I can't remember which Lebanese city gets made fun of, but they make fun of people from Homs too. This is all in fun though, they don't really consider the people from these places dumb. It's like old Polack jokes in the US. No one really thinks all Polish people are stupid.

For this post I've taken a few jokes from the Ramallah episode of Street Jokes. I realize that explaining jokes makes them not funny, but this is about learning the language better. The jokes are told in Palestinian dialect and they aren't so easy to understand, but having the text makes it easier.


في واحد بيشعر حاله كلب. فراح عند الدكتور النفساني. يقله يا دكتور أنا بشعر حالي كلب. قاله كيف تشعر حالك كلب؟ قاله لما أحك حالي... بضل أحك في حالي زي الكلاب, بضل أعوي زي الكلاب. قاله الدكتور من ومتى تشعر حالك كلب؟ بيقله من و أنا جرو

There was a guy who thought he was a dog so he went to the psychiatrist.
He says to him, "Doctor, I feel like I'm a dog."
He said to him, "How do you feel like you're a dog?"
He said to him, "When I scratch myself... I'm always scratching myself like dogs, I'm always barking like dogs."
The doctor said to him, "How long have you felt that you are a dog?"
He says to him, "Since I was a puppy."

The hard part of this joke for me was understanding how he was saying "how long" at the end of the joke. I knew it had to be something like that from context. The way he says it sounds like "min wemta" من ومتى. Instead of "mata" متى (MSA) or "emta" امتى (most other Levantine dialects and Egyptian).

جرو - puppy
حك - to scratch
عوى - to bark
ضل - to keep on doing something, to stay


في أربعة سمر سمر سمر. حطو عليهم حذام أحمر. ليش؟ عشان دعاية لكيت كات

There were four very dark guys. They put a red belt around them. Why? For a Kit Kat ad.

The kid says حذام. I'm assuming he means حزام for belt.

دعاية - advertisement, commercial
حط - to put


مرة جاجة تحممت بشامبو جونسون. باضت بيضة بلا قشرة

Once a chicken took a bath with Johnson shampoo. It laid an egg without a shell.

Often jokes will start with مرة which is "one time" or "once". In Palestinian and Jordanian they say جاج or جاجة instead of دجاجة. This joke may have gone over some heads. It's a pun. The word قشرة means "shell" and also "dandruff". On shampoo bottles it will say ضد القشرة (anti-dandruff). So when the chicken took the bath with the shampoo it got rid of the egg shell, not the dandruff.

بلا - without
قشرة - shell, dandruff
باض - to lay an egg


واحد بيضل يحط بالشامبو دودة. ليه؟ لأنه مكتوب عليه دعه لثواني معدودة

A guy kept putting a worm in the shampoo. Why? Because it had written on it, "Leave it for a few seconds." (Leave it for a few seconds with a worm.)

The reason this joke is funny is because the word معدودة (a few) sounds just like مع دودة (with a worm).


مرة واحد خليلي بيبيع في دكانة فإجا واحد صيني بده يشتري 10 قناني كولا. الاول الصيني بيقله يسشتينسشتينسشتينسش كولا؟ و الخليلي بيقله بدك 10 قناني شو؟

Once a guy from Khalil was selling in his shop. A Chinese guy came and wanted to buy 10 bottles of cola. First the Chinese guy said to him (Chinese impression) cola? The Khalili says, "You want 10 bottles of what?"

This is funny because the only thing that the Khalili didn't understand was the word "cola" which the Chinese guy said in Arabic/English. Somehow he understood all the Chinese.

دكانة - a shop
إجا - to come
قناني - bottles


الخاروف لما تقطع رجليه شو بيصير؟ غيمة

What does a sheep become when you cut off its legs? A cloud.

Pretty self explanatory. A sheep is fluffy like a cloud. :)


Anonymous said...

i never cease to learn here

Smart Student said...

Haha! Really useful stuff! Especially since I am travelling in Palestine at the moment!

Jeremy Palmer said...

Wow. I've just discovered your blog and this is really helpful. I have been studying Arabic for years and I'm learning stuff here! Keep it up! Jeremy

Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog yesterday and I am terribly impressed with your level of 'aamiya particularly with this jokes post. Keep up the brillant work! I'm going to use you as an example for my students if you don't mind. :)

Abu Nu7 said...

Thanks for this, really helpful. the first joke raises a question for me, which maybe u or other readers can help me with: what's the difference in usage between "ana b7es" and "ana bsh3r" ? Both mean "feel", right?

The Arabic Student said...

Abu Nu7, yes, انا بشعر and انا بحس both mean "I feel".

Abu Nu7 said...

Thanks. Bass, i was wonderin. . .are they pretty much interchangeable? Is one used more often tha another do you know? Sorry!

Daniel Mackey said...

I think in the first joke for "How long" he says لوينتا

this is used in some of DLI's levantine materials to mean how long. Hope that is correct!

Aisha said...

I just want to say that I am super impressed by you! Good job! :)

Anonymous said...

Is there a direct link to this video alone? I would like to send it to a Palestinian friend. Thanks!

Hassan Salame said...

Excellent stuff!
i just discovered this channel
too and wished for exactly this -
text and translation. you are awesome! maybe you can do the exact same for some more episodes?