Quick Syrian Dialect Lesson

This clip is from the Syrian show رومانتيكا (Romantica) which aired during Ramadan 2012.  The words aren't really hard in this clip.  The speed is the thing that may trip you up.  When I was first learning Levantine dialect it was always the speed and the accent.  I found that I knew pretty much all of the words but just needed to get used to people speaking it.  In this clip I wouldn't have understood where she says وقعت if it were 3 years ago.  It's a bit odd because she pronounces the qaf as a hamza in that word, but then right after that she says بنقذك and she pronounces the qaf as a qaf.  Arabic is fun, huh?

  • بتخاف ما؟  ما بتعرف تسبح (bitkhaaf maa?  ma bta'rif tisbah) - You're scared, right?  You don't know how to swim.

  • ايه عادي.  في كتير ناس بتخاف من البحر (Ay 'aadi.  fi kteer naas bitkhaaf min albahr) - Yeah, what's so strange about that?  There are a lot of people who are afraid of the sea.

- The word عادي just means "normal".  I didn't translate it that way because it wouldn't sound right in English.  Also notice that ناس is a feminine word since he says بتخاف with it.

  • طيب لا تخاف.  اذا وقعت انا بنقذك (tayyib la tkhaaf.  iza wa't ana banqizak) - Ok, don't be afraid.  If you fall I'll save you.

- Notice when she says وقعت.  Some of the hardest words to understand when starting out with the Levantine dialect are ones that have a ق and ع right next to each other, especially if the qaf is pronounced as a hamza.  Literally she says "if you fell I'll save you".

  • بالله؟!  ايه بلا حكي فاضي و خليّنا ندوّر ع الزلمي (balla?  ay bila haki faadi wu khalleenaa ndawwir 'a azzalami) - Really?!  Quit BSing and let's look for the guy.

- The expression بالله is literally "by God", but it's used to mean something like "Really?!".  You can usually tell from context what the person means when they use it because it's a word that is usually accompanied by emotion or some gesture.  بلا حكي فاضي literally means "without empty talk".  خليّنا is "let's". ندوّر is "we look for".  زلمي is "man" or "guy".  They are looking for somebody by the sea.


Anonymous said...

7elu. shukran arabicstudent 3la rassna wallah

very very grateful for these wonderful posts

keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Great blog, I'm really finding it useful. Just wondering, do you ave a syrian dialect dictionary that you use when you're translating this sort of thing? And if so, what's it called?

The Arabic Student said...

Thanks. No, I don't have a dialect dictionary. The ones I've tried out haven't been very good. Google is your best resource, but even the internet doesn't always have the answers.

I was listening to a Lebanese joke show yesterday and heard the phrase طلع حليب النوَر . There were some results for the phrase, but I still couldn't really tell what it meant. I think literally it's "the gypsy milk appeared", but I don't know how it is used.

Denise said...

I have been following your blog and I learned so much about Arabic dialects so I want to thank u first.
And I also hope you could help me out-
I saw a horrible video today and it was apparently the bodies of the Syrian government soldiers and the people who surrounded the body were shouting عا دي عادي"
And I couldnt really understand what they were trying to say.
Could it mean that killing these soldiers were the right thing for them or does it mean the death of soldiers are common these days?
Please help me out and thank you again!

Mike said...

Your posts are great. I'm studying Syrian dialect right now and your blog is one of the best resources I've found. Thanks for all the hard work. It is definately appreciated!

Bernie said...

She pronounces the ق as a voiceless uvular stop /q/ (the original pronunciation) because the word انقذ، ينقذ is a classicism. For the same reason the ذ is pronounced as ز instead of د.

Anonymous said...

بتخاف ما؟ ما بتعرف تسبح

About the interrogative (MA)at the end of a phrase.........

Although most colloquials feature a similar "final" word (or phrase) as an interrogative, I've never run across this MA? Is it specifically Syrian?

I've also never heard it discussed or presented in any lessons I've studied. But I had no difficulty understanding it when I heard it before reading your translation.

It could be especially difficult because the immediately following word is also (MA) but here with a different function.

(It's also interesting to note that this MA at the end of a sentence/phrase is exactly how a question is formed in Mandarin Chinese....[Ni Hao Ma? How are you?])

Anushirwan said...

Hi Sir,

I praise you for your work, keeping up this blog for so many years is a quite a feat - the standard life expectancy of an Arabic learning blog is way much shorter, sadly.

I'll try to contribute by helping you with the phrase (طلع حليب النوَر), that is, unless you have already solved it yourself in the time elapsed since your comment.

If you take a look at this page: http://johnnyhage.wordpress.com/tag/%D8%AD%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B1/

you'll find the idiom you mention at the 8th line, and from the context it is easy to see that it translates as 'his anger erupted'. It might also be found as (فاض حليب النوَر) which is more classical-sounding. See here:


It has something to do with the notion that a gypsy's revenge must be very nasty. As in the previous article, which tells how some furious gypsies set fire to some of their fellows tents in a certain encampment in Lebanon. The hard life of gypsies...

Yours, FLB

Anonymous said...

what does "3a2lak teres" mean?