Syrian Arabic Lesson

I was going through my unsubmitted posts today.  Most of them are things that I started on by then got sidetracked or didn't feel like finishing them, but then I found this post.  I meant to post it over a year ago, but for some reason didn't. This is an excellent transcript of a very funny Syrian show called بقعة ضوء (spotlight).  The episode is called إمرأة سيئة السمعة which means "woman with a bad reputation".  Czarek, a reader and commenter here, wrote out the transcript and I did the translation and explanations.  This is definitely useful for people interested in اللهجة الشامية (Levantine dialect). This show is much more like how authentic Arabic is spoken than the dubbed Turkish soap operas that speak very clearly and without much slang. Also, it's a comedy show and if you are able to understand complex jokes in a language it's a good indicator that you have mastered the language. So why not practice on the hardest part of the language?

(Dialogue starts at 1:06 and here is the link to the YouTube video.)



نعم حبيبي
Yes, baby?

Are you asleep?

(Literally, "Have you slept?")

عم حاول نام بدك شي؟
I'm trying to sleep.  You need something?

لا لا ,بدي اسألك سؤال بس ما في شي
No, no.  I want to ask you a question but it's nothing.

اسألني تقبرني اسأل
Ask, my love, ask.

لا لا خلاص بعدين عادي يعني. بلا ما طيّرلك هلق النوم من عيونك
No, no.  Don't worry about it.  I don't want to wake you up.

(Literally, "I don't want to make the sleep fly from your eyes.")

 اسأل حبيبي انا اصلاً مو جاييني النوم
Ask, baby.  I can't fall asleep anyway. 

(أصلاً here is "anyway", not "originally".  The word أصل literally means "origin", but in my experience with dialect it is rarely used to mean that.  It's more of a filler word like يعني.  Also مو جاييني نوم literally means "sleep is not coming to me".)

 حبيبتي يعني ,قبلي ,قبل ما ادخل حياتك كان في شي حدا غيري بحياتك؟
Baby, I mean, before me, before I came into your life, was there anyone other than me in your life?

(Notice that it's قبل ما ادخل not قبل ما دخلت .  You use the present tense of the verb when you're using قبل even though in English you would use the past tense.)

حبيبي رئيفو كم مرة صرت سائلني هالسؤال؟ عشرين مرة سألتني ياه وقت الخطبة ,و جاوبتك انه لا
 Raeefu, how many times have you asked me this question?  20 times you've asked me it when we were engaged.  And I answered you no.

(The guy's name is رئيف .  She calls him رئيفو as a pet name.)

ماشي خلاص. أنا آسف يعني ,يعني آسف
Ok, fine.  I'm sorry.  I mean, I'm sorry.

معقولة رئيف,معقولة تسألني هيك سؤال و نحنا بأول يوم من شهر العسل
Really, Raeef?  Really you ask me this question while we're on the first day of our honeymoon?

(معقولة means "does it make sense" or something like that.  عقل means "mind".  The best way to translate it though is "really?!" or "are you serious?!")

لا,طبعاً انا عن جد انا "اوبين مايند" و "فري" و عندي ثقة مطلقة وعمياء فيكي بس يعني بصراحة انا سمعت شوية طراطيش حكي
No, of course (not).  For real I am "open mind" and "free" and I have absolute and blind trust in you, but, I mean, frankly I heard some rumors and talk.

حكي شو؟
What kind of talk?

يعني سمعت انك كنت تحبي ابن الجيران
I heard that you used to love the neighbors' son.

لا حبيبي ,مو انا الي كنت حاببته ,هو كان يحبني
No, baby.  I'm not the one who loved him.  He loved me.

بالله؟ و شو فرقت؟
Really?  And what's the difference?

(The phrase بالله is literally "by God", but it isn't translated like that.  It is used often when you are taken aback by something and is said with surprise.)

لاحبيبي فرقت كثير ,شلون شو فرقت؟ لو كنت انا احبه كمان ,كان اسمها مشاعر متبادلة ,بس القصة كانت من طرف واحد. ينفلج شو بعمله
No, baby, there's a big difference.  What do you mean "what's the difference"?  If I loved him too then it would be called "mutual feelings", but the story was just from 1 side.  He can do what he likes, what can I do for him?

(انفلج is like اصطفل in that is has the sense of "do what you want to do and leave me out of it".)

 ايه لا مشاعر ولا بطيخ هذا ما بيحبك هاد.هذا واحد دنيئ, واطي, ممسحة, سافل, بذاقة.هذا كان بده يوصل لغايات ثانية باسم المشاعر و باسم الحب
Feelings Schmeelings.  That guy doesn't love you.  That guy is a lowlife, scumbag, mop, shameless, and ill-mannered.  He wanted to arrive at other ends in the name of feelings and love.

(The saying لا _ ولا بطيخ is literally "no _ and no watermelon" sometimes it's بلا _ بلا بطيخ "without _ and without a watermelon".  You can put whatever you want in the blank.  The one used here is لا مشاعر ولا بطيخ which means "feelings schmeelings".  You use this construct when you think something is BS or nonsense.  Also, all those insult words can be translated in various ways.  The important thing is just to know that they are insults.  بذاقة literally means "someone who spits".  You could translate each one of them as "lowlife".  Also, the last sentence basically means "He had other things on his mind.  Not love, but sex.  He just said that he loved you.")

ولك ايه سيدي ينفلق شو ما كانت غايته ما بيطلعله. خلص حبيبي يلا نام وارتاح
Yes, sir, he can do what he wants.  Whatever his goal was he wouldn't get it.  Ok, baby, go to sleep and rest.

لا لا مو جاييني النوم بدي اطلع دخن سجارة و برجع
No, no.  I can't sleep.  I want to go smoke a cigarette and I'll be back.



شو حبيبي لسا ما نمت؟
What, baby, you still haven't slept?

شو كان اسمه هذا الكلب ,الحقير ,الواطي ,الممسحة؟
What was the name of that dog, the lowlife, the scoundrel, the mop?

عن مين عم تحكي؟
Who are you talking about?

عن ابن الجيران اليييييي الي كان يحبك
About the neighbors' son whoooooooo who loved you.

حياتي رئيف شو بدك فيه هلق؟ الله يوفقك نام
My life, Raeef, what do you want with him now?  Please go to sleep.


حبيبي بعمل لك كاسة شاي
Baby, you want me to make you a cup of tea?

لا ما بدي ,هيفا
No, I don't want one. Haifa?


هذا التافه الحيوان كنت تلتقي انت وياه شي
That stupid animal, did you meet with him at all?

عن مين عم تحكي حبيبي؟ عن عماد؟
Who are you talking about, baby?  About 'Imad?

لا تنطقي اسمه! ايه هذا البطيخ كنت تلتقي انت وياه شي؟
Don't say his name!  Yes.  That watermelon (insult).  Did you meet with him at all?

أعوذ بالله لا طبعا حبيبي
God forbid!  No, of course not, baby.

ماشي فوتي نامي
Ok, go in and sleep.

حبيبي اذا بدك بسهر معك بسلّيك
Baby, if you want I'll stay up with you and keep you company. (بسلّيك literally means "I'll entertain you")

لا لا فايت انا هلق نام وراكي
No, no.  I'm coming in to sleep right now behind you.



طالما ما انتو تلتقو مع بعض كيف عرفتي انه بيحبك؟ شو كنت تعلمي بالغيب؟
Since you never met together, how did you know that he loved you?  What, did you read his mind?  (to know something بالغيب is to read someone's mind)

لا ما علمت بالغيب
No, I didn't read his mind.

معناها صار بيناتكن لقاء على الأقل
That means there was at least a meeting between you.

حبيبي ما صار .غير بالشارع ما صادفته ولا مرة
Baby, it didn't happen.  Other than on the street I never came across him, not even once.
(صادف means "to come across/to just happen to see/to bump into (not literally)")

يعني بدك تقنعيني انو قلك ياها بالشارع
So you want to convince me that he told it to you in the street?

شو هاي؟
What's that?

كلمة بحبك
The phrase "I love you". (They will sometimes refer to something that is more than 1 word as a كلمة like he does here.)

لا حبيبي ما قلي ياها بالشارع. بعت اخته و اخته قالتلي انو هو حاببني
No, baby.  He didn't tell me it in the street.  He sent his sister and his sister told me that he loved me.

يعني انت عفرتي عن طريق اخته
So you knew via his sister?

ايه طبعاً
Yes, of course.


يا ربي دخيلك شو هل الليلة؟
Please Lord, what's with this night?


شو حبيبي قررت تنام؟
What, baby, have you decided to sleep?

المراسلات بينك و بين هداك التافه كانت تتبع عن طريق اخته ما هيك؟
The correspondences between you and that moron were carried out via his sister, right?

مراسلات شو حبيبي؟ ما كان في مراسلات. هي مرة وحدة اجيت اخته قالتلي ياها و خلاص
What correspondences, baby?  There were no correspondences.  It was one time, his sister came, she told me it, and it was done.

و الحيوان اقتنع بهالشي؟ ولا ضربه صراع على موقفه؟
And was that animal convinced by this?  Or did he get mad about it?

شو بيعرفني؟ ما عاد انفتح هيك موضوع
How should I know?  The subject never came up again.

يعني انت ما عدتي سألتي اخته شو صار معه؟
So you never asked his sister what happened to him?

لا طبعا ما سألتها منشان شو بدي اسألها
No, of course I didn't ask her.  Why would I ask her?

و اخته ما عاد فتحت الموضوع و خبرتك شو كان رده؟
And his sister, she never again brought up the subject and informed you what his response was?

لا حبيبي ما عاد فتحت الموضوع
No, baby, she never brought up the subject again.

ماشي نامي
Ok.  Go to sleep.


شلون ما شفتي لهالحيوان غير بالشارع؟ ممكن تقنعيني؟
How did you only see that animal on the street?  Could you convince me?

بشو بدي اقنعك؟
What should I convince you of?

يعني طالما كان في زيارات متبادلة بينك و بين اخته, تروحي لعندها و تزوريها و تجي لعندك و تزورك.ما التقيتي فيه ولا مرة ببيتهن؟
I mean, since there were exchanged visits between you and his sister, you'd go to her place and visit her and she'd come to your place and visit you, you never met with him even once at their house?

من قلك انه كان في زيارات متبادلة بيني و بين اخته؟
Who told you that there were exchanged visits between me and his sister?

يعني بس اخته كانت تجي تزوركن؟
So only his sister would come to visit you?

لا هي كانت تجي تزورنا ولا انا كنت روح زورهن
Neither did she come visit us nor would I go visit them.

لكن هيك من هالبلكون خبرتك انه اخوها كان يحبك؟
Then just like that from the balcony she informed you that her brother loved you?

لا حبيبي اجيت هالمشوار خصوصي منشان تخبرني و خلص ما عاد اجيت بعدها
No, baby, she made a special visit to inform me and that was it, she didn't keep visiting after it.


يا رب
Oh Lord.



حبيبي شو بك؟؟
Baby, what's wrong?

هيفا ارجوكي,لا تخبّي علي شي
Haifa, I beg you, don't hide anything from me.

شو بدي خبّي عليك؟ شو بدي خبّي؟
What would I hide from you?  What would I hide?

يعني ما في اية بنت او شب اللي بيمر التجربة بعمر المراهقة. هذا شي طبيعي. عادي. خليكي" اوبن مايند" خليكي فري
I mean there's no girl or boy who passes by this experience in the teenage years (meaning relationships/sex).  This is something natural.  Normal.  Be open minded, be free.

طيب, طيب شو؟
Ok, ok.  What?

قوليلي كوني صريحة معي
Tell me and be frank with me.

With what?

هدا الكلب,الحيوان ,الحقير,السافل,المزبلة.ما حاول شي مرة يعزمك او يطلع هو وياكي؟
That dog, animal, lowlife, scumbag, trash, never tried ever to invite you out (to a meal) or that he go out with you?

لا ما حاول
No, he didn't try.

هيفا رجاء اذا حاول خبريني خليني عارف منك احسن ما أعرف من العالم ,خليكي اوبن مايند,خليكي فري شو بيك؟
Haifa, please.  If he tried, tell me.  Let me know from you rather than me find out from the world (other people).  Be open minded.  Be free.  What's wrong with you!

ما حاول والله ما حاول
He never tried.  I swear he never tried.

ما حاول ولا مو متذكرة؟
He did try or you don't remember?

ايه فهمنا بقى رئيف. فهمنا. عشرين وحدة بحياتك قبلي انا اللي لازم افتح معك تحقيق مو انت
I get it, Raif.  I get it.  There were 20 girls in your life before me.  I'm the one who should open an investigation, not you!

(فهمنا بقى is like saying "enough already!")

ايه ايه لا تعيطي خلص خلص نامي ريّحي نامي
Yeah, yeah.  Don't yell.  It's through. It's through.  Go to sleep.  Relax.  Go to sleep.


Anonymous said...

wow this is an awesome post - please keep the syrian transcripts coming! amazing thank you :)

Cunnilinguist said...

Dude, I really appreciate your posts and videos. I have been studying Arabic for 2 years and have had great difficulty until I found your blog. Please continue doing what your doing!

Anonymous said...

Great stuff!

First questions:

in "ايه لا مشاعر ولا بطيخ هذا ما بيحبك هاد"
can I assume "had" at the end of the sentence is a synonym of "bil marra" or "bnoob"?

Also, in the phrase "ولك ايه سيدي ينفلق شو ما كانت غايته ما بيطلعله"

what does ينفلق mean exactly? I'm not finding it in fus7a... I assume it means something like "ma biyfruq", ie, "it doesn't matter"?

Mark Jacobsen said...

Sorry to spam the post, but I couldn't find an e-mail link for you. Have you seen this resource?

I just discovered it... it's an entire web-based video series, following a group of friends in Beirut. The entire thing is in authentic Lebanese Arabic, and it's fully subtitled in English.

The Arabic Student said...

Anon2, the هاد is referring to the guy, like "that guy".

ينفلق here is like "he can do what he wants". He can beat his head into a wall forever and he still won't get with this woman, basically.

The Arabic Student said...

Mark, I have see that show. Kind of along the same lines as Shankaboot. I really like it because of the subtitles and the fact that they speak like people speak in real life.

Anonymous said...

Since the guy is pissed off, is speaking to an amazing speed, one sentence looking like a single word... This post is quite a serious training.

Anonymous said...

Hi there! Your website is simply amazing.
I have a question: How can one watch the MBC shows? (I just returned from a year abroad in Oman, and I would love to watch it again!!)

Tony Galán said...

The show is terrible, but your post was terrific!!!

Many thanks from a Spanish fan. Please, keep posting, I love your blog and I learn a lot!

Best wishes

Lawand said...

I am from Syria and I think you did a great job translating the transcript, especially noticing sarcasm and such. I feel sorry for any non-native speakers who want to learn Arabic since it's in such a messy state: filled with local dialect-specific words and slang :)

Here are some (really minor) corrections, I just thought I'd post.

The sentence "و الحيوان اقتنع بهالشي؟ ولا ضربه صراع على موقفه؟" is actually "و الحيوان اقتنع بهالشي؟ ولا ضل مصر على موقفه؟" and it means something like: "And was that animal convinced by this? Or did he persist and not change his mind?".

And in this one: "يعني ما في اية بنت او شب اللي بيمر التجربة بعمر المراهقة. هذا شي طبيعي. عادي. خليكي" اوبن مايند" خليكي فري" it's actually "إلّا" not "اللي".

Finally, when you translated "بالله؟ و شو فرقت؟", you were right about what the phrase بالله meant but you should add that he was being sarcastic and that he wasn't actually surprised by what she said...