The verb خربط/يخربط

The verb خربط/يخربط (kharbaT/ikharbeT) is one of those rare verbs that you’ll find that is comprised of a 4 letter root as opposed to the typical 3. According to Hans Wehr dictionary, the verb means “to throw into disorder, to disarrange, to confuse” and that’s similar to the Levantine colloquial meaning, though in colloquial you’ll also hear it used to mean “to talk in a confused manner or to ramble on about something”. You’ll find the verb conjugations below:

أنا اخربط/خربطت (ana akharbeT/kharbaTit)

أنت تخربط/خربطت (inta tikharbeT/kharbaTit)

إنتي تخربطي/خربطتي (inti tikharbeTy/kharbaTiti)

هو يخربط/خربط (huwa ikharbeT/kharbaT)

هي تخربط/خربطت (heya tikharbeT/kharbaTat)

إحنا نخربط/خربطنا (i7na nikharbeT/kharbaTnaa)

إنتوتخربطو/خربطتو (intu tikharbeTu/kharbaTetu)

هم يخربطو/خربطو (hum ikharbeTu/kharbaTu)

A few examples of how the verb can be used:

هادا بخربطني (haada bikharbeTni) translates to “that confuses me” or “I’m befuddled by this”. The explanation for this is pretty simple: هادا is the colloquial term for “that” and then it’s followed by the verb itself (with the ب prefix)

هي مخربطة (heya mikharbeTeh) translates to “she’s confused”. With verbs such as خربط or ترجم (to translate), the active participle is achieved by just adding the letter م. Thus مخربط will translate to “confused” and مترجم will translate to “translator”.

!منشان الله! خربطت الأوراق (minshaan Allah! kharbaTit il-awraaq) translates to “Oh for God’s sake! I mixed up the papers!” The expression منشان الله is similar to how you would use “for God’s sake” in English and in this instance, the verb خربطت refers to throwing the papers into a state of disorder — basically mixing them up.


The idiom باكله بدون ملح

I wanted to make a short post about a Jordanian idiom that I was introduced to a few days ago, باكله بدون ملح (bakloo bidoon milH), which literally translates to “I eat him without salt”. In terms of when to use this particular idiom, it’s used in the context of a competition and has the effect of “I’m going to dominate you” or “You have no shot against me”. It can be used while playing or watching sports, video games, etc.

For instance, I was first introduced to the phrase when speaking with a longtime Jordanian friend, Rashed, about the ongoing NBA finals. We were talking about a potential matchup between Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors and Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, which we expected to be a mismatch. Hence, Rashed could say:

غرين رح ياكله بدون ملح (Green ra7 yakloo bidoon milH), which translates to “Green will dominate him” or “Green will eat him alive”. Note that when using the future tense, you utilize the رح followed by the present tense verb without the ب letter.


The expression ياريت

The expression ياريت (yarayt) in Levantine Arabic means “I wish that…”, “I hope that…”, or “if only…”. While in Modern Standard Arabic, you might come across أتمنى أن (atamanna an) to express “I hope that…”, you’ll find that in colloquial Arabic, ياريت is frequently used.

With this particular expression, you need to use the past tense for both past events (obviously!) as well as conditional sentences while you use the present tense (without the ب) to signify the present and future. Let’s look at some examples and go over all the different permutations in which you can use the example:

ياريت أشتريه (yarayt ashtireeh)

ياريتني أشتريه (yarayt-ni ashtireeh)

ياريت أني أشتريه (yarayt anni ashtireeh)

All three sentences above mean the same thing: “I wish that I could buy it!” As you’ve noticed, you can use ياريت by itself, add a أن after it, or add a suffix after it. Regardless, the meaning remains the same.

ياريت أعرف (yarayt a3rif)

ياريتني أعرف (yarayt-ni a3rif)

ياريت أني أعرف (yarayt anni a3rif)

To give another example, the above 3 sentences mean “I wish I knew.”

ياريت يكون هيك (yarayt ikoon hayk) translates to “I hope that’s the case” or “I hope that’s the way it’ll turn out”. The literally translation is “I hope it will be like that”.

ياريت أثلج اليوم (yarayt atlaj/athlaj il-yom) translates to “if only it snowed today” or “I wish that it would have snowed today”. The ث in أثلج can be pronounced as either the regular “th” or a “t”.

ياريت كنت بقدر (yarayt kunt bagdar) translates to “I wish I could have” or “if only I could have”. Recall how I mentioned above that you use the present tense without the ب to indicate the present and future. In this instance, you are using the past tense (كنت) and the present tense (with ب) to indicate a conditional.



The adjective فاضي

The adjective فاضي (faaDy) can have various meanings depending on the context. It’s also a verb that is used both in Levantine Arabic as well as Modern Standard Arabic. Its definitions include being empty, vacant, unoccupied, not busy, or unoccupied.

المدرسة فاضية اليوم (il-madrasa faaDiya il-yom) translates to “the school is empty today”. Since the noun, المدرسة, is feminine, then you change the gender of the adjective as well. Don’t forget that in Levantine Arabic you would pronounce the ta marbuta as “eh” rather than “ah”, which is how you would pronounce it in MSA.

هات لي قنينة فاضية (haat li ganiina faaDiya) translates to “bring me an empty bottle”.  هات is a command to bring or to fetch and لي reflects who to bring it to, who in this instance is oneself. قنينة can be pronounced with a “g” replacing the ق, which is how men typically pronounce it. Alternatively, it can be pronounced as “aniina” with a hamza replacing the ق, which is how women typically pronounce the ق. As an aside, I’ve heard men pronounce their ق as a hamza, but I’ve never heard a woman pronounce the ق as a “g”.

هسا أنا مش فاضي لك (hessa ana mish faaDy lek) translates to “I don’t have time for you right now”. You can use هسا or هلق (hella) to denote “now” and by adding the لك at the end, it changes the meaning of the sentence from “I don’t have time now” to “I don’t have time for you now”.

هو بيحكي كلام فاضي (huwa bi7ky kalaam faaDy) translates to “he talks a lot of nonsense”. The literal translation is “he speaks empty words”, however the figurative meaning of كلام فاضي is “nonsense” or “rubbish”.

ليش بتحكي عالفاضي؟ (leysh bti7ky 3alfaaDy) translates to “why are you talking without any thought?” In this instance, عالفاضي refers to speaking off the top of one’s head or without much thought.

أنا رحت لهناك عالفاضي (ana ru7it li-hunaak 3afaaDy) translates to “I went there for nothing”.  In this instance, عالفاضي connotes a waste of time.

The verb سلم/يسلم

Hi everyone. My apologies for not updating the site for the past 3 months — I’ve been quite busy but alas I’ve found some free time to talk about the verb سلم/يسلم (silem/yislam), which is a verb that you’ll hear very often in Arabic expressions of good will. The literal meaning of the verb is to be safe, to be well, to be unharmed, etc. Please note the verb conjugations below:

أنا أسلم/سلمت (ana aslam/silemt)

أنت تسلم/سلمت (inta tislam/silemt)

إنتي تسلمي/سلمتي (inti tislami/silemti)

هو يسلم/سلم (huwa yislam/silem)

هي تسلم/سلمت (heya tislam/silemat)

إحنا نسلم/سلمنا (i7na nislam/silemnaa)

إنتو تسلمو/سلمتو (intu tislamu/silemtu)

هم يسلمو/سلمو (hum yislamu/silemu)

تسلم/تسلمي (tislam/tislami), which translates to “be well” is one of the many expressions for “thank you” that you’ll hear in the Levant. I’ve heard this expression used more frequently than شكرا (shukran) when indicating thanks.

يسلمو إيديك//إيديكي (yislamu yidayk/yidayki) is also an expression that’s often used when purchasing something. The literal translation would be “may your hands be well”. After the vendor hands you the item that you’ve purchased, you can simply reply “يسلمو إيديك” or “يسلمو إيديكي” to express your gratitude for the service.

سلم عليه/عليها/عليهم (sallem 3alayy/3alayyha/3alayyhum) translates to “say hi to him/her/them” with the literal translation being “be well on him/her/them”. If you want to alter the sentence to say “say hi to him for me” then you could simply add a “لي” after the command — “سلم لي عليه”.

يسلم راسكم (yislam raaskom), which means “may God preserve you in good health”, is said when you want to offer condolences to a family. The literal translation is “may your head be well”. On the topic of condolences, you could also say “الله يرحمه/يرحمها” (Allah yir7amu/yir7amha), which translates to “God bless him/her” or “May God have mercy on him/her”.

يسلم تمك (yislam tummuk) should be said to show appreciation for a song, story, poem, etc. The literal translation is “may your mouth be well”.

مش كل مرة تسلم الجرة (mish kull marra tislam il-jarra) is a proverb that literally translates to “the pitcher does not remain intact every time,” meaning that one should not repeat a risky action too often or push his or her luck too far.

The word بلاش

The colloquial word بلاش (balaash) is formed by adding the words بلا (balaa), meaning “without” with شي (shi), meaning “thing”. In terms of how it’s used in colloquial Levantine Arabic, you’ll find that بلاش will be used in three different contexts:

1.) بلاش can mean “nothing”, which you’ll find in a phrase such as أحسن من بلاش (a7san min balaash), which means “better than nothing”.

2.) بلاش can also mean “free”, in the context of getting an item for free. Whereas in Modern Standard Arabic the word for “free” is مجان (majaan), in Levantine Arabic, you can say أخدتها ببلاش (akhudt-ha bibalaash) which means “I got it for free,” with the literal translation being “I took [it] for free.”

يلا يا بلاش (yalla ya balaash) is a phrase that you may hear vendors in the region yell to signify that their items are a bargain. The phrase would translate to “come on, it’s free!”

3.) The third definition of بلاش would be the phrase “never mind”.

إذا ما فيه، بلاش (iza ma fi, balaash) translates to “if there isn’t any, then never mind”.

طيب، بلاش (Tayyib, balaash) translates to “Ok, never mind”.

ما بدك؟ بلاش (ma bidduck? Balaash) translates to “you don’t want to? Fine then.”

يا هيك يا بلاش (yaa heyk yaa balaash) translates to “if it’s not going to be this way, then I’m not interested”. The literal translation is “either this or nothing”. Keep in mind that whenever you see a phrase that uses “yaa [this] yaa [that]”, then it translates to “this or that”.

4.) Other uses of بلاش

متاخر ولا بلاش (mutaakhir wala balaash) translates to “better late than never”. The literal translation is “late, not without”.

بلاش may also be used as a negative command. If you wanted to command someone not to cry, then you would say بلاش تبكي (balaash tibki). If you wanted to command someone not to run, then you would say بلاش تركض (balaash tirkuD).

The uses of قعد/يقعد/قاعد in Levantine/Jordanian Arabic

For those who are studying Arabic or traveling in Jordan, be sure to keep an ear out for the permutations of قعد/يقعد/قاعد (ga3ad/yug3od/gaa3ed) being used in everyday life. Though in Modern Standard Arabic, you’ll see it used frequently as “to sit”, in Levantine colloquial, and more specifically the Jordanian dialect, you’ll see other definitions attached to the word. To begin, you can find the verb conjugations for the present and past tense of قعد/يقعد below.

أنا أقعد/قعدت (ana ag3od/ga3dit)

أنت تقعد/قعدت (inta tug3od/ga3dit)

إنتي تقعدي/قعدتي (inti tug3odi/ga3diti)

هو يقعد/قعد (huwa yug3od/ga3ad)

هي تقعد/قعدت (heya tug3od/ga3adat)

إحنا نقعد/قعدنا (iHna nug3od/ga3dna)

إنتو تقعدو/قعدتو (intu tug3odu/ga3ditu)

هم يقعدو/قعدو (hum yug3odu/ga3du)

In terms of the usage of قعد/يقعد, its primary definition is “to sit/sit down”.

فات على غرفته و قعد على التخت (faat 3la ghurftu woo ga3ad 3la at-takht) translates to “he entered his room and sat on the bed”.

لما فتت، كان قاعد على التخت (lamma futit, kaan gaa3ed 3la at-takht) translates to “when I entered, he was sitting on the bed”. Note that the term قاعد is the active participle of قعد. Later on in this section, I’ll explain an important secondary meaning for the word قاعد.

بدك تقعدي؟ (biddeck tug3odi?) translates to “would you like to sit?” when asking a female. If you are speaking to a male, you would instead ask بدك تقعد؟ (bidduck tug3od?) If you were to say أقعد/اقعدي (ug3od/ug3odi), it would be telling him or her to sit.

خليك قاعد/خليكي قاعدي (khaleek gaa3ed/khaleeki gaa3edi) translates to “please stay seated” or “don’t get up”.

هو قاعد على نار (huwa gaa3ed 3la naar) is an expression that translates to “he’s really antsy or impatient”. The literal translation is “he is sitting on fire”, which as one might imagine, would probably cause someone to be a little antsy!

قعد/يقعد can also mean to stay or remain, as noted in the following example:

قعد خاطب تقريبا سنتين (ga3ad khaaTib tagreeban sanateen) which translates to “he remained engaged for two years”.

The verb can also mean to start or begin an action. For example, if you were to say قعدت تحكي معي (ga3adat tiHky ma3y), it would translate to “she started talking with me”.

The active participle قاعد (gaa3ed) is frequently used in Jordan and Palestine as a means to  signify an action that’s taking place at this very moment (e.g. I am reading, he is eating, they are talking).

أنا قاعد أحكي معهم (ana gaa3ed aHky ma3hum) translates to “I am talking with them”.

الطلاب قاعدين بستنونا (it-Tulaab gaa3edeen bistanunaa) translates to “The students are waiting for us”.

شو قاعد تاكل؟ (shu gaa3ed takl?) translates to “what are you eating?”

Some of you may be wondering “how do I know when to follow قاعد with a verb that begins with “ب” rather than the regular present tense form of the verb?” The truth of the matter is, there isn’t really a set rule concerning this. I’ve seen it used both ways (e.g. أنا قاعد أحكي/أنا قاعد بحكي). That’s one of the fun things about colloquial Arabic — there really isn’t that many stringent grammatical rules.

And I also forgot to mention that different countries use different words in lieu of قاعد. For example, in Syria you’ll find the عم used. So if you were to ask someone in Syria what they were saying, you would ask “شو عم تحكي؟” Since I resided in Jordan for a short period, that’s the dialect that I decided to focus on for this particular lesson.