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!”


The noun سوء/أسواء

I wanted to mention the noun سوء/أسواء (soo’/aswaa’), meaning badness or evil, because in colloquial Arabic, you’ll come across it pretty often, most notably in the word “unfortunately”.

لسوء  الحظ، هو مات (lisoo’ ilHazz huwwe maat) translates to “Unfortunately, he died.” The Arabic word for “unfortunately”, literally means “to the badness of [the] luck” with الحظ translating to “luck”.

Other words or expressions that you might find سوء in are:

سوء النية (soo’ in-niyye), which translates to “bad intent”, with the literal meaning being “badness of the intent”

سوء تفاهم (soo’ tifaahum) translates to a “misunderstanding”, and if you want to say there was a misunderstanding, you can add صار or كان هناك before the noun. Therefore, صار سوء تفاهم (Saar soo’ tifaahum) and كان هناك سوء تفاهم (kaan hunaak soo’ tifaahum) both translate to “there was a misunderstanding”.

هاي نتيجة سوء الإدارة (haay neteejet soo’ il-idaara) translates to “this is the result of poor management). Be mindful that since the noun نتيجة is feminine, you can use هاي (haay) or هادي (haadi) to mean “this”. If the noun is masculine, you would typically find هادا (haada) used.

The difference between فراطة and باقي when dealing with money

I wanted to give a brief explanation about the difference between the words فراطة (fraaTa) and باقي (boggy) when dealing with everyday monetary transactions.

فراطة (fraaTa) refers to spare change or any small change that one might have while digging through their pocket/wallet. It can also have the secondary definition of being unimportant or worthless.

معك فراطة؟ (ma3ik fraaTa?) translates to “do you have any change on you?” Notice how the word “معك” is used as opposed to “عندك”. While “عندك فراطة” will still be universally understood in the Arab world, you’ll find that “معك فراطة” will be predominantly used.

ما معيش فراطة (ma m3eesh fraaTa) translates to “I don’t have any change on me”.

حكي فراطة (Haaky fraaTa) translates to “idle chit-chat” or “idle talk”.

ناس فراطة (naas fraaTa) translates to undesirable people or basically people who you’d want to avoid.

باقي (boggy) in the context of money refers to the change that one would receive after paying for something, however its primary definition would be the remainder or the rest of something.

الباقي إلك (il-boggy iluk/ilik) translates to “keep the change” after making a payment. Note how “إلك” is used as opposed to “معك”.

وين يحط الباقي؟ (wayn ya7uT ilboggy?) translates to “where should he put the rest [of the things]?”

أنت عملت إللي عليك و الباقي على الله (inta a3milit illy 3layk wa il-boggy 3la allah) translates to “you’ve done what you could and the rest is up to God”. The literal translation will be “you did what was on you and the rest is on God.” Remember that عليك or عليكي or عليكم/عليكو means that “you need to…”

باقي الناس أكلو بالمطعم (boggy in-naas akaloo bil-maT3am) translates to “the rest of the people ate at the restaurant.”

The noun ضو/أضوا

For those who want to use colloquial Arabic for more practical uses (perhaps around the house), it’s important to be familiar with the word ضو/أضوا, which is “light/lights”. In Modern Standard Arabic, you’ll find that there is a hamza following the singular and plural form of the noun, however you’ll rarely hear the hamza pronounced out on the streets.

اضوي الضو (iDwee id-Daww) translates to “turn on the light”, which should not be too difficult to remember since both words stem from the root “ض-و-ى”.

اطفي الضو (iTfee id-Daww) translates to “turn off the light”, and these two phrases are two of the most common phrases you’ll encounter around the house.

قطعت و الضو أحمر (gat3at wid-Daww a7mar) translates to “I ran the red light” while literally translating to “I crossed and the light [was] red”.

The noun قلب/قلوب

In this post, I wanted to go over the Arabic word قلب/قلوب (galb/guloob) and all the expressions that are attached with the noun. قلب, meaning “heart”, is very frequently used and you’ll notice that the Arabic expressions are much in line with expressions that we use in English as well.

قلبه طيب (galbu Tayyib) translates to “he’s got a good heart”; a common English phrase.

ماليش قلب أذبح الحيوان (maleesh galb adhba7 il7ayawaan) translates to “I don’t have to heart to kill the animal.

قلبي انحرق (galby in7araq) translates to “my heart bled”. Note that the word انحرق literally means “to be burned”.

قلبها مليان عليه (galb-ha malyaan 3laayh) translates to “she’s upset with him” although the literal translation would be “her heart is full on him”.

اليوم القلوب تغيرت (ilyom il-quloob taghayyarat) translates to “people feel differently these days” while the literal translation is “today the hearts have changed”.

The noun جدية/جد

You’ll  hear the word “جد” spoken in Levantine Arabic pretty frequently, most notably in the phrase “عن جد” (a3n jadd), meaning “seriously!” or “really!” Alternatively, it can be used in the form of a question. For example, if your friend just informed you of something that seemed improbable, you could respond with, “عن جد؟” or “بتحكي جد؟” (bti7ki jadd?), both of which mean “are you serious?”

The term جدية (jiddiye or jaddiye), like جد, means “seriousness”. You may use the word with “ب” to denote that a particular task needs to be done with a sense of seriousness. For example:

“لازم تدرس بجدية” (laazim tudros bi-jiddiye) translates to “you need to really study!” or “you need to seriously study!”

“أخذت الفكرة بجدية” (akhadt il-fikra bi-jiddiye) translates to “I took the idea seriously”.

If you want to say that something needs to be taken seriously, you can use the verb “بد”, which means to want. For example:

“هدا ألسؤال بده جدية” (haada as-suwaal biddoo jiddiye), meaning “this question needs to be taken seriously”. Note that while in Modern Standard Arabic, “this” would be the word هذا, in Levantine Arabic you will find people pronouncing it as هدا. Please note that the word هدا is just one of the ways that someone might say “this” in colloquial. The Levant is a rather large area comprising of a handful of countries and so there are different variations of the same word.

The noun خلاف/خلافات

The word خلاف/خلافات (khilaaf/khilaafaat) refer to a dispute, disagreement, or a difference of opinions. It can also be used to mean a “conflict” of sorts, however it’s not as intense as the “صراع” meaning of the word, which usually alludes to a conflict in the context of war or violent struggle.

To note that there is a dispute, one could say “بصير فيه خلاف” (biSeer fi khilaaf). If you would like to state that there had been a dispute previously, then you would just simply use “صار”. For example, “صار فيه خلافات بينهم” (Saar fi khilaafaat bayn-hum) would mean that they used to have some disagreements.

A verb that’s commonly used to “end” disputes is أنهى/ينهي (anha/yinhi). When paired with خلاف/خلافات, you might find sentences such as: “لازم ينهو الخلاف” (laazim yinhoo il-khilaaf), in English, “they need to end the conflict.” In the past, you could say “أنهو الخلاف” (anhoo il-khilaaf) or “فضو الخلاف” (faDDoo il-khilaaf) for “they ended the dispute”. As a side note, the verb “فضى/يفضي” (faDDa/yifaDDi) means to empty something, and therefore to end a dispute could also literally be translated as to “empty” a dispute.