MSA and Lebanese, Eating Healthy During Holidays

This 45 second clip is from the MTV 8pm news.  The anchor is speaking in MSA, but the reporter and the lady she interviews are speaking Lebanese dialect.  While it is Lebanese dialect it isn't slang.  It's basically MSA with a little Lebanese added.  Like the word نبلش (let's begin). 


في الخاص, كيف نحافظ على صحتنا و ما نسبة كميات الاكل المسموح بها في موسم الاعياد.

Special (report), how do we maintain our health and what is the proportion of the amounts of food allowed in the holiday season.

 بفترة الاعياد الناس بيستهلكو كميات كبيرة من الاكل العالي الدسم.  الامر الي بيسبب بضرر صحي اضافة إلى زيادة بالوزن.  شو هي الطريقة المعتدلة لناكل وجبات شهية و نحافظ بالوقت نفسه على صحتنا.

During the holiday period people consume large amounts of high fat foods.  This causes damage to health as well as weight gain.  What is a moderate way for us to eat satisfying meals and to maintain our health at the same time?

هلق الطريقة هي الاعتدال.  الاعتدال يعني حتى و لو كان عندنا وجبة ثقيلة ممكن نبلش بالخضراء بالاجمال يعني نبلش بالسلطة, ننتبه على 

المشروبات لانه بالمشروبات كمان في نسبة سعرات حرارية مهمة و اذا كتير الاكل دسم نخفف الكمية.

Now the way is moderation.  Moderation means that even if we have a heavy meal we can start with greens mostly, I mean start with salad.  Pay attention to the drinks because in drinks there is also a large amount of calories and if the food is very fatty we can lessen the amount.


There are a few things I'd like to mention that might help with some confusing parts of the transcript.
موسم الاعياد (mawsim al’ayad) – The holiday season

الاكل العالي الدسم (alakl al’aali aldasm) – high fat foods.  To tell you the truth I don’t know why they said it like this and I listened to it several times to make sure.  I would think that اكل عالي الدسم would have been correct but I’ve learned better than to correct native speakers at their own language.  Anyway, those three words, whether they’ve got the definite ال or not, they mean high fat foods.

وجبات شهية (wajbaat shahiyi) – satisfying meals

حتى و لو كان عندنا (hatta wa law kaan ‘andna) – Even if we had.  This is an important phrase.  If you don’t know it then it would be good to remember.  It comes in handy a lot when trying to express yourself.  The words حتى و لو (even if) are good to know.

وجبة ثقيلة (wajba thaqeela) – heavy meal.  You’ll notice that she actually says wajbi ta’eeli.  That’s the Lebanese way of saying it, changing the th to just a t and the q to a hamza (glottal stop).  You get used to it when you listen to enough of it.

مهمة (mhimi) – Important.  99% of the time this word would be translated as important, but here I went with “large amount of calories” instead of “important amount of calories” because the latter sounds strange.  Just to be clear.

سعرات حرارية (su’araat haraariyi) – calories.  

اذا كتير الاكل دسم (iza kteer alakl dasm) – if the food is very fatty.  You’ll notice that she put كتير before الاكل which, if you’ve studied MSA you know is not the way they do it in proper Arabic, but in Lebanese they do this.  They will sometimes put the adjective before the noun.  Most of the time it will still be اذا الاكل دسم كتير though.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for another great post!

the reason it is الأكل العالي الدسم is because it is an إضافة غير حقيقية which is a grammatical construction that includes phrases like "tall of stature" طويل القامة (the adjective grammatically modifies the noun that precedes it, but conceptually describes the noun that follows it in the construction.) These sound archaic in English but it seems they are more normal in Arabic. One of the weird rules for these constructions is that the adjective can be definite to fit into the sentence, while the word after it still must be definite -- resulting in a phrase that is really not an إضافة but so it goes.
الرجل طويل القامة
the man is tall of stature
الرجل الطويل القامة
~The tall-statured man.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog post ArabicStudent, it's great to see you back!

Anonymous said...

Nice to see you back, I was really missing your clips in my Levantine Arabic studies

John said...

I think the first response about the high-fat-food pretty much nailed it, but just wanted to add that this construction is called "false idafa" bilingliizi.

Keep up the good work, regards from Jordan

uri ben-ari said...

Thanks a lot for this insight into one of life's everyday themes. It had me pondering the interviewee's exotic (french?) pronunciation or accent when saying such words as "t'qeele", "kamaan" and "kameeah". Where does this originate?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it would make sense to translate mhimi to 'significant' amount of calories, which would make sense in the sentence and also reflect its usual meaning of 'important'

parviziyi said...

My grateful thanks to The Arabic Student for this and his other rich resources on Levantine Arabic at this site.

I spotted some errors. At time 0:15 in the video I hear the speaker say بسبب بضررا be sabib be darra , not بيسبب ضرر be yesabib darr , which is semantically the same but grammatically different.

At time 0:21 the speaker says وجبات wajbaat = "meals". The Arabic Student types this incorrectly as وجبهات and then in Notes he types it again incorrectly as جهبات .

At time 0:25, I believe the word spoken is على not هلق , with على in context meaning "by, through, on the basis of". It's cheeky of me to believe that, because I'm way behind The Arabic Student in knowledge.

At time 0:34 the speaker says بالجميل bil ijmeel = "high quality, delicious" and does not say بالاجمال bil ijmal = "mostly". This is clear from the semantic context as well as the pronunciation.

At time 0:39 the speaker says the calories in drinks are كمين kameen = "hidden, concealed". The Arabic Student completely missed that.

Once again my thanks to The Arabic Student for this tutorial, which was very instructive overall.

The Arabic Student said...

You're right that I misspelled وجبات. The rest though isn't correct. The بيسبب ضرر should be بيسبب بضرر so neither of us was perfectly right on that one. The هلق is right, the بالاجمال is right, and she says كمان, not كمين. The way the Lebanese pronounce alif seems to be throwing you off. They will pronounce things like بالاجمال like بالاجميل and كمان like كمين. I'll fix the وجبات.

parviziyi said...

Thanks to The Arab Student for the reply. I no longer have the cheek to think he's wrong. But I'm still having trouble hearing what he's hearing.

In the following video there's a Levantine Arabic speaker in Beirut saying كمان (meaning: "also") and here it is pronounced kemen | kamen, with the second vowel short. The speaker says the word at times 0:53, 0:57, 1:58, 2:11, 3:04, 3:18, 3:31, 3:36, 3:37, 3:40, 3:58. The video is the one entitled "At the Butcher Counter" at http://langmedia.fivecolleges.edu/culturetalk/arab_levant/ar_everyday_lebanongrocer.html .

In the following video at time 0:27 there's a Levantine Arabic speaker in Tripoli saying كمان (meaning: "also") and here it is pronounced kamin, rhyming with English win and min; and not pronounced kameen. The video is accompanied by a text transcript in Arabic text, plus an English translation. The video is "A Pastry Shop in Tripoli" at http://langmedia.fivecolleges.edu/culturetalk/arab_levant/ar_food_sweets.html.

In the following video at time 0:33 there's a Levantine Arabic speaker in Aleppo saying كمان (meaning: "also") and here it is pronounced kaman. At time 0:43 the word crops up again from a different Levantine Arabic speaker, who slurs it, abridging it into the next word, clearly not treating its second vowel as a long vowel. The video is "Famous Foods in Aleppo" at http://langmedia.fivecolleges.edu/culturetalk/arab_levant/ar_food_dishes.html.

In contrast to those examples, in The Arabic Student's video at time 0:39 the speaker utters kameen with a long second vowel. The Arabic Student transcribes this speaker's words at time 0:39 as "لانه بالمشروبات كمان" . As I listen to the three supposed alifs in those three adjacent words, it is very hard to convince myself that the third one represents alif.

(Cf dictionary definition of كَمِين kameen).

The Arabic Student said...

Lebanese people don't always pronounce the ا as a ي , but a good portion of them do. If I come across another example of this I'll link to it here.

David said...

Lebanese has a large part of its grammar and vocabulary from aramaic/syriac language which was widely spread among the middle east before arab expansion. That's why they put the adjective before the noun.

Z said...

This is a cool post

Just curious, what colleg/university do you/did you go to?

Anonymous said...

Small note.

iza ktir al-akl dasm gives the sense of "too" fat, whereas iza al-akl dasm ektir gives only the sense of "very" fat. Making ktir come early in the phrase gives this sense usually.

Very nice blog. Bravo.

Quran Learning said...

nice article and post

Moniur said...

very nice blog and very beneficial.
Great work.

Get Fluent In Arabic said...

A very beneficial blog for students wanting to get fluent.

Thank you and great work!

Anonymous said...

Hey, i'm a native speaker :)

الاكل العالي الدسم is right 100%.

it is like when we say: الغرفة الكبيرة
we understand from this that there are other rooms, but we are referring specifically to the big or the biggest one.

think about the difference between :
"a big room" and "the big room". The same thing here.

They said الاكل العالي الدسم because they are describing specifically the high fat food, not another type of food.
It is like the difference between "the high fat food" and "a high fat food".

I hope my comment is helpful.