As he neared graduation, an Arab boy went to his father.
“Baba, I’ve decided what I want to study,” the boy said.
“What’s that, my son?” the father questioned.
“I want to be an actor!” the boy exclaimed.
The father answered with a laugh: “Oh, my boy, your pronouncing it wrong. It’s DOC-tor!”
My father used to tell me that there’s a lot of truth in a joke and I suppose that the above joke has a lot of truth in it. Parents are always reminding us what’s best for us. They tell us to do our homework, brush our teeth, and generally just try to look out for us the best that they can. This is true not only when we’re young, but I’m a grown man who has been living on my own for over 30 years and my mom still tells me what to do.
And when we’re young, we think to ourselves, “Gosh, I’m never going to nag to my kids like that!”; however, when we do finally grow up, get married, and have kids of our own, we have to laugh at ourselves because we find ourselves saying the exact same things to our kids. This is true around the world whether you grew up in Delaware or one of the Arabic speaking countries.
With that in mind, here are ten phrases that you’ll often hear come out of the mouths of Arab parents
خلي بالك / khali balak / “Be careful”
اهدا / ehda / “Be quiet” (or “Chill out”)
اعمل الواجب بتاعك / eʿmel el-wageb betaʿak / “Do your homework”
كن مؤدب / kun muʾuaddab / “Behave”
اذهب إلى السرير / idhab ʾila al-sarer / “Go to bed”
سأعد إلى ثلاثة / saʾaʿuddu ʾila talatah / “I’m going to count to three”
اغلق التلفاز الآن / iġliq al-tilfaz al-ʾan / “Turn the TV off now”
ماذا قلت؟/ mada qult? / “What did you say?”
لست امزح / lastu amzah / I’m not kidding
ماذا قلت؟ / mada qult? / “What did I just say?”
لا تركضوا بالداخل! / la tarkudua bildahil! / “No running inside!”
هل غسلت أسنانك؟ / hal gasalta ʾasnanak? / “Did you brush your teeth?”
اغلق الباب / igliq al-bab / “Close the door”
أحبك / ʾuhibbuk / “I love you”
If you are a child growing up in the Arab culture or both or either of your parents is Arabic, trying to remember and learn basic Arabic words and phrases such as these will serve you well; after all, you’ll probably be using them yourself one day.
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