Friday, September 16, 2011

Jordanian Phrasebook

I knew that I had a hard time finding Jordanian Arabic on the internet before I left, so here's some of the stuff I learned there. This is mostly ammiya phrases, which you can think of like a sort of slang, but more widespread, and accepted in any sort of conversations. It is a spoken language only though, the formal written language, called fussa, is written and used in the media, and not really spoken day to day. Keep in mind that these phrases will probably not be understood by speakers of Arabic outside Jordan and Palestine, as they would have a different dialect.

(Also, if you're in a fussa class somewhere, and you use these in class, tell me what happens. I've gotten a few laughs for saying things like "Esh?!" and "Shu yanni?" in a formal Arabic situation, just because I'm used to speaking ammiya, not fussa).

Finally, spelling doesn't matter. Ammiya is not a written language, only spoken. I'm writing these in Arabic and English just to show the pronunciation. So, save the spelling for fussa, ammiya is speaking.


إيش / شو
(Esh / Shu )
These both mean "what," and they're the words that are the most "Jordanian" compared to other dialects, especially "shu." I had a phone interview one time in Arabic and the man laughed really hard when I said "shu" on accident instead of "ma." ("Ma" means "what" in fussa, which is what the interview was in). As far as usage goes, you use them pretty much the same as you use "what" in English. You can start sentences with both of the words, and also use it as a "what?" what you don't hear something or are surprised.

It literally means "I mean," but the best way to explain it is to definite it as the English "like." People say it as an equivalent of "um" or "like," or to approximate something, and in pretty much every other situation imaginable. Sometimes I swear that people just throw is into sentences,  so you'll probably hear it a lot. But beware of overusing it, just as you would not want to say "like" in every English sentence you speak. Personally, I save it for times when I'm actually not sure, like telling someone when I'll arrive, yanni, if everything works out. See?

شو يعني 
(Shu yanni?)
This combines both words so far, and is a very useful phrase for a language learner. This means  "What does it mean," but is the usual way of "What is the translation?" whether it be from Arabic to English or the other way around.

(Keefak (to a male) / Keefik (to a female) )
"How are you?" That's pretty much it. Not much explanation there.

(Kwayyis (describing something male) / (kwayyisa (describing something female) )
This is a common answer to someone asking how you're doing. Some people I've talked to said it's an "old person word," but I've heard young and old people both using it. It literally translates to "OK" and can be used just the same as "OK" is in English. But a warning, it's two syllables - "kway-yis," not "koos," like the Moroccan dish. That dish doesn't exist in Jordan, so don't ask for it. It's vulgar.

There are SO many more, but that's all I'm going to do for now. Overwhelming lists of words are never good. They scare me, and I don't want to scare anybody. So that's all for now!

No comments:

Post a Comment