White Guy Speaking Sudanese Arabic

I was told of this video of an American guy speaking Sudanese like a native.  I mean if you close your eyes you would think he was a black Sudanese guy.  In the video he's trying to raise money to make a movie called Faisal Goes West about a Sudanese guy who goes to live in the US and the problems he faces.  The film's website is It's pretty crazy how well this guy gets the accent down.  It makes me wonder how long he has lived there, because I imagine that the only way you could get an accent that good is actually living in Sudan.  I mean there aren't many resources to learn the Sudanese dialect online.

I know literally nothing about Sudanese Arabic.  The only way I can understand it at all are from its similarities to Egyptian, but I will write some of it in a transcript.

It seems that in Sudanese a man or person is called زول .  A couple of times in the clip he says اي زول meaning "anyone". 

The parts I put in (()) are my best guesses, don't take them as the truth.

بوه.  المهم أنا قبال 3 شهور كنت في مطار الخرطوم.  في واحد جنبي لابس جلابية, طاقية, مرقوب, أي حاجة.  يعني سوداني سوداني كده.  قاللي بانجليزي... بانجليزي خلي بالك.  قاللي
"Yo what time the flight comin' in."
يعني الطيارة دي جاية الساعة كم.  عجبت مرة.  يا زول انت, خلي نعلن الخواجة يتكلم عربي, انت تعلمت انجليزي للدرجة دي وين؟  قاللي في امريكا.  في دالاس.  ....ده مولود فوق. شرحلي و قاللي تربى هناك و درس هناك كلية و جامعة و اي حاجة. المهم الازمة الاقتصادية, الامور في امريكا بدا صعبة شوية.  قرر خلاص يرجع عالسودان. المهم قلتله يا خي انا كتبت عنك فيلم

He starts out saying بوه or "boh".  I don't know how spell it, but I guess it means "ok" or طيب.

Ok.  The important thing, about 3 months ago I was in the Khartoum airport.  There was a guy next to me wearing a robe, knit cap (like a yarmulke but covers more of your head), slippers, etc.  I mean he was really Sudanese looking.  He said to me in English, in English mind you, he said, "Yo what time the flight comin' in?" Meaning, "What time is the flight coming in?"  I was taken aback. Man, you... ((I'm not 100% on this part, something like "let's let him know that this white guy speaks Arabic" or something)).  Where did you learn English so well?  He said to me, "In America. In Dallas.".  ((couldn't understand anything except what I wrote, ده مولود فوق which I imagine means "he was born over there", but in any Arabic I've learned it means "he was born up above" or "north"))

He explained to me and told me that he was raised there and studied in college and university etc (there).  What's important, (with) the economic crisis things in the US became a little difficult.  He decided to return to Sudan.  What's important, I told him, "Brother, I wrote a film about you."



Anonymous said...

Here's a version of the video with the same guy speaking English:

The بوه at the beginning sounds exactly like the way people use "bon" in French. Literally, it just means "good", but people use it at the beginnings of sentences as a sort of filler word, sort of like saying "okay, ..." or "so, ..." in English.

Anonymous said...

LOL, yay my sudanese is getting better. I've found that I understood what he was saying, but not enough to translate it to someone.

Anonymous said...

Digging around to find out more about the film, it seems the guy speaking moved to Chad when he was young and has been living there for many years (although originally from TX). That would explain his near native accent, although not sure if the Chadian accent is different from the Sudanese one.

Tom said...

One question:
و اي حاجة
It sounds like he's saying "wa aya haaya".
Would this be pronounced differently in Egyptian or Levantine?

Thanks much,

Jeremy Palmer said...

In Egypt it would probably be aya (ayya?) Haaga. In the Levant the use شي (shee).

Abu Miriam