The noun بال

Levantine Arabic contains many different expressions using the word بال, which means “mind”. As you will notice in the examples that below, there will be times when speakers of Levantine Arabic use “أجى عبالي” (aja 3abaaly) to signify “I think” when the phrase literally translates to “it came to my mind”. So if you were to say “أجى عبالي أكل” (aja 3abaaly akul), it would translate to “I think I’ll eat.”

دير بالك/ديري بالك (deer baaluk/deeri baalik) is a phrase that you’ll often hear used in Jordan and Palestine and it translates to “be careful” or “watch out” with the literal translation being “direct your mind”.

طول بالك/طولي بالك (Tawwel baaluk/Tawweli baalik) is also a phrase that you’ll hear used pretty frequently, with the meaning of the phrase being “be patient”. The literal translation is “lengthen/extend your mind”.

شو جابه عبالك؟ (shu jaabu 3abaaluk?) translates to “what gave you that idea?” or “what made you think of that?” The literal translation would be “what brought it to your mind?”

بيجيش عبالي أكل منه (beejeesh 3abaaly akl minnu) translates to “I don’t want to eat it” or “I don’t feel like eating it”. Notice how rather than saying ما بدي/ما بديش to signify “not wanting”, the phrase بيجيش عبالي is utilized instead. The literal translation of the sentence would be “it does not come to my mind [that] I eat from it.” Also note that this is in line with “أجى عبالي”, which was mentioned above.

اسم الشارع راح من بالي (ism as-shaar3 raa7 min baaly) is another example of using the noun “بال” to signify an action. The sentence translates to “I forgot the street name” or “the street name slipped my mind” with the literal translation being “the name of the street went from my mind.”

إذا بده هيك، أنت شو عبالك؟ (iza biddu heyk, enta shu 3abaaluk?) translates to “if he wants that, then what do you care?” This once again highlights the flexibility of بال and more specifically “شو عبالك”.  The literal translation would be “if he wants that, you, what’s on your mind?”

ولا عبالك (wala 3abaaluk) translates to “not at all” or “far from it”, with the literal translation being “and not on your mind!” An example of a conversation in which this is used would be something along the lines of one friend saying to the other “يا رجل، صرت كسلان” (ya rajul, Sert kaslaan), which translates to “man, you got lazy!” In response, the other friend might reply with “لا كسلان ولا عبالك” (la kaslaan wala 3abaaluk), which means “I’m not lazy in the least!”. The literal translation of لا كسلان ولا عبالك would be “[I’m] not lazy and [don’t have that] on your mind!”


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