The verb استغنى/يستغني

استغنى/يستغني (istaghna/yistaghni) is a verb that is utilized in both Modern Standard Arabic as well as various dialects. The meaning of the word is to be rich (enough without), to do without, to have no need for, to manage without, etc. You get the drift. It is often used with the preposition “عن”.

For Levantine Arabic, you may find examples below for the word’s usage:

“بتقدر تستغني عنه؟” (btigdar tistaghni 3ano) – Whether you are referring to an individual or an item, the definition of the sentence essentially translates to “Can you manage without him/it?”

Another example of its usage:

“‘اليوم فيه ناس كتير استغنوا عن الكلمات الأجنبية، مثلا بيقولو ‘حاسوب’ مش ‘كمبيوتر” (il-yom fi naas ikteer bistaghnu 3an il-kalimaat il-ajnabiyye, mithilaan bigoolu “7aasoob” mish “kambyuter”) – This sentence translates to “There’s a lot of people today who can manage without using foreign words — for example they say “[the classical Arabic word for computer]” and not “computer”.

Keep in mind that with Levantine Arabic (as well as other dialects), the “ال” is pronounced as “il” rather than “al”. In addition, the letter “ق” [qaaf] is pronounced as either as a “g” [as in the English word golf] or as a glottal stop [as in the ‘uh’ in the phrase ‘uh oh’]. Typically you will find that many men use the former pronunciation while females use the latter… Apparently pronouncing the “qaaf” as a “g” is regarded as manlier than the alternate glottal stop.

Levantine Arabic – لسا

In Levantine Arabic, you will often hear Arabs use either “لسا” or “بعد” when indicating “not yet” or “still”. “لسا” is what I’m used to hearing and it is the term that is predominantly used, however Arabs in Lebanon and Galilee might use the term “بعد”.

In terms of the “not yet” context, you will find examples such as:

“أنت أكلت ولا لسا؟” (anta akalit wala lissa?), translating to “Have you eaten yet?” If one was to respond “not yet”, then they would simply say “لسا”. Another example might be something like “قال لي إنه أبوك رجع” (gaaly inno abuuk rija3), meaning “he told me that your father had come back.” A response of  “لسا” would indicate that the father has not returned yet.

“لسا ما شفتهاش” (lissa ma shuft-haa-sh), translates to “I haven’t seen her yet” while “لسا ما كملتش” (lissa ma kammalt-esh) means “I haven’t finished yet”.

In addition to meaning “not yet”, “لسا” can also express that someone is “still” doing something. “سمعت من الشركة ولا لا؟” (sami3t min ash-sharika wala la?) — “Did you hear from the company yet?” “لا، لساني  مستنى” (la, lissaani mustana) — “No, I’m still waiting”.

You can also alter “لسا” to reflect the corresponding pronouns:

لساني or لساتني for أنا

لساك or  لساتك for إنت

لساكي or لساتك for إنتي

لساه or لساته for هو

لساها or لساتها for هي

لسانا or لساتنا for إحنا

لساكم or لساتكم for إنتو

لساهم or لساتهم for هم

Some examples of the terms from above might be something like: “لساكم هون!؟” (lissaakom hoon?) — “You guys are still here?!” or “لساها مريضة” (lissaaha mareeDa) — “She’s still sick”.

I hope this post helps those who might be confused about “لسا”. Questions are always welcome.

Levantine Arabic

The process of learning Arabic is quite unlike the process of learning many other languages due to the fact that one must distinguish between Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and colloquial Arabic. The former is utilized in news broadcasts, newspaper articles, etc. while the latter is the essentially the language spoken at home.

I highly recommend that those seeking to study Arabic tackle Modern Standard Arabic prior to any sort of colloquial Arabic for the simple reason that MSA can assist with building a solid foundation through which one can expand his or her knowledge. Just think of MSA as being the trunk of a tree while Egyptian Arabic, Maghrebi Arabic, Levantine Arabic, Gulf Arabic, etc. as being the ancillary branches. With that said, I am most familiar with Levantine Arabic and thus I do want to provide some words and phrases from the dialect that some might find useful. As an aside, many of these words are also found in MSA as well (although the colloquial words might be pronounced differently depending on the region). So without further ado:

نحس

The word “نحس” refers to bad luck, misfortune, or a jinx. Since you tend to find a lot of idioms in colloquial Arabic, if you were to associate someone with bad luck, you might want to say:

“إيده نحس” (eedo naHs), which literally translates to “his hand is bad luck”, but essentially means that the person is unlucky. In addition, one might say:

“وجهه نحس” (wujho naHs), which literally translates to “his face is bad luck”, but basically means that the person is a jinx.

شك

“شك” means doubt or suspicion and it often may be used in the phrase:

“ما فيه شك” (ma fi shakk) or “بدون شك” (bidoon shakk), meaning “no doubt”. Alternatively you could say something like “لا شك أنك رح تيجي” (la shakk anek raH teejee), which translates to “there’s no doubt that you’ll come”.

So those are just a couple words (and the phrases that might accompany them) for those who are interested in Levantine Arabic.