Yalla yalla, habibti, khalaas!

Without doubt, language and culture are inseparable and more so in this region as the  Arabic language is considered to be central to the Islamic faith. So no wonder that some of the words you might hear from Arab speakers have a reference to God. The most frequent ones are:

  • ‘Insha’llah’: means ‘hopefully’ and the literal English translation is “God has willed it”.
  • Ma’shallah’: is generally said upon hearing good news and translates literally as “God has willed it”.
  • ‘Al’hamdu’lil’lah’: translates into “all praise and thanks to God” and is often added after someone giving the answer to “How are you?”. It is similar to the Hebrew word Hallelujah.

You’ll also hear:

  • ‘As-salam’alaykum’: this is an Arabic greeting. It translates to “the peace be upon you” and is considered the equivalent to “hello” or “hi” as a greeting.
  • ‘Habibi’ or ‘habibti’: are words of endearment meaning “my friend” (m. and f.).
  • ‘Khalaas’: meaning ‘done’, ‘over’, ‘finish’ or ‘that’s it!’.
  • ‘La’: means “no”. When used repeatedly it simply means “no, no, no”.
  • ‘Mabrook’: this word means ‘(you are) blessed’. It is a commonly-used word said to someone who has received something good.
  • ‘Shwai-shwai’: translates to ‘slowly’ and is very often used in conjunction with an erratic hand gesture with your fingers pointed upwards.
  • ‘Yallah’: expresses a “c’mom” or “let’s go”.
  • ‘Yanny’: is literally, “it means”. It is used as a filler giving the person time to think about what he wants to say next. Similar to the English word ‘like’, when used without context in between phrases.

This leaves me with: ‘ma’asalaama’ or ‘Good Bye’!


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