To remember

I simply can´t remember his name.
shuu-ma ba3mel maa-li 3am ´idzakkar ´ismo.

  • I suspect that shuu-ma ba3mel means ¨whatever I do¨ or ¨no matter how hard I try¨ … which raises the question, how would I express that in fus7a? Probably مهما would be the start of the phrase (I formally would´ve been like, على رغم من or بصرف النظر عن but those probably aren´t quite natural here). I´m thinking of مهما كانت الصعوبات which once I saw translated as ¨come hell or high water¨
  • I guess -li is part and parcel of the negating maa…Hm.
  • 3am indicates present continuous? ¨I´m not remembering his name¨?
  • Where that ´d´ in the verb come from? Weird. Does that happen in other amiyyified form V´s?
  • Actually the apostrophe at the start of ´ismo is a bit weird since in fus7a it´s a rare example of nouns beginning with hamza waSl.
  • Still plenty of question marks on this one, but that´s ok. Note to self, keep an eye out for the meaning of maa-li

At first; at random

At first we didnt like the town.
bil-´awwal maa 3ajbitna l-balad.

  • You can start with an adverb. But honestly, even in fus7a you could start with في بادئ الأمر … Maybe I was thinking too strictly in terms of always putting adverbs / adverbial phrases in the very end of the sentence.
  • أعجب is form IV, and is apparently more popular than أحبّ (also form IV? well… It can be IV or I, and I forgot the difference in meaning between them. My gut says it´s not a cause of causative IV, though, and that أحببتها in fus7a simply means I liked/loved her.)
  • Oh man… why is balad treated as feminine? What´s the deal with the t in this past tense verb? Even in fus7a I always get confused by أعجب in its active and passive usages. I think it means something like to impress, and أُعجِبت بها means something like I was impressed by her. Might be wrong. So anyway, what´s the deal with that t… Who knows.

He chose a glass at random from the shelf.
snaawal kaase 3al-3imyaani min 3ar-raff.

  • What the heck is snaawal? Does it come from fus7a or is it a purely amiyya alternative to the hollow form VIII verb اختار? (Side note, I just officially learned from AK3 that in fus7a, the maSdar of hollow form VIII takes that added ي which is kinda funky.)
  • Shelf is رفّ just like fus7a.
  • from is translated into like 1.5 prepositions… من على –> min 3a. By the way, one of my lingering questions was what happens when you contract على to 3 and also have sun letter assimilation in the subsequent noun. Here we see it… See how much is deleted in pronunciation: 3ala-alraff (and then the r is doubled, er… geminated? I think that´s the official term.)
  • So I guess من is from like from within, whereas من على clarifies that the glass was upon the shelf, not magically suspended within the material of the shelf.

Can I take a message?

He´s not in. Can I take a message?
huwwe muu hoon. bitriid ballgho shii risaale?

  • a message = shii risaale; Damn, I always forget to use shii for the indefinite like this.
  • ballgho is from fus7a. The o = indirect object. But who is the subject of ballgho? What tells me it´s in present tense? I guess in another context it could probably be ¨he informed him,¨ but in this case that makes no sense. Past tense for ¨I¨ in amiyya sometimes (often?) seems to resemble past for ¨she¨ in fus7a. But it may not always have that little helping vowel – shuft/shift for example, rather than shufit. Does anyone say shufit for ¨I saw¨? Hm…
  • Negatives: Muu vs. mish vs. mush. People on HelloTalk are sometimes like, ¨Hey, muu is better for Lebanon/Syria¨ but actually I heard mish on 7elwe w Kezebe.
  • Bitreed flies in Syria, I guess, but in Jordan I never heard it – instead, biddak. But can you use biddak preceding a verb? Or can it only precede nouns (e.g., shii taani)?
  • Note that ballgho is Form II, and seemingly present tense, yet two of the key markers of Form II are gone: the Damma and the kasra. Only the shadda is left, which almost makes me second guess saying it´s present tense. But contextually, surely it is…
  • Personally, I use يمكن and ممكن way more than is natural, I think. I have it in my head that they are the first choice anytime there´s a ¨maybe¨ or a ¨can¨ . But musn´t forget bi´dar and, in this case, making the other person the subject and using a different verb accordingly. Tldr; cut down on the yumkins dude.


I saw him only recently.
m´axxaran shifto ; maa-li zamaan shifto

  • the ضمة of مُأخراً is gone, so I guess your mouth doesn´t open for the م
  • But contrary to what I expected, the tanween fat7a stays! Yeah, sometimes it does.
  • Wait, what is maa-li? I still don´t know. What could it mean? Probably the maa has some negating role, for instance, ¨It hasn´t been a long time [since] I saw him¨ — in that case, I suppose li is the bigger mystery.
  • Shifto or shufto? My gut says the former (with kasra) is very typical of, like, Beirut and Damascus. Urban North-Levantine… I wouldn´t be surprised if Jordanians and Palestinians, or more rural folks in general, tend more towards shufto. But this is all just a hunch basically.

For the sake of

They went back to each other for the children´s sake.
rij3u la-ba3Don kirmaal l-ewlaad.

  • kirmaal is from إكرامًا له\لي\لنا\الخ according to WordReference. So the tanween goes away, that shouldn´t be too surprising. But also, إكراما would have a sukun on the ك, whereas here I guess a helping vowel is added, and the ر  is saakin!
  • -on instead of -hom ! I suppose I already knew that though.
  • I´m not sure a good way to notate the upside-down e (a helping vowel?) that the dictionary sticks before wlaad, and I´m too lazy to look it up right now.
  • إلى turned into la-, which is something I sometimes struggle to remember.

In exchange for

I gave him a cigarette case in exchange for his lighter.
3aTeeto 3ilbet sigaaraat 3awaaD ´addaa7to

  • 3aTeeto: sounds like fus7a ¨I gave¨ but it´s actually ¨I gave him.¨ Note that this is an indirect object being attached directly to the verb, coming before the direct object. If we used a pronoun for the direct object, would both be attached at once? Not sure.
  • 3ilbet sigaaraat sounds pretty much like what you´d expect from fus7a. The transliteration accounts for the way taa marbuTTa gets pronounced at the end of the muDaaf: untied, as ´t´
  • 3awaaD… I guess it has to singlehandedly mean ´in exchange for´. [60 seconds later] عِوَضاً عن \ من شَيْءٍ do indeed mean ¨in exchange for something¨ in fus7a, according to Oxford. A slight, unexpected difference seems to be that the amiyya version has an alif after و instead of a mere fat7a.
  • ´addaa7to actually had a qaf-turned-hamza in the original transliteration in the dictionary, but I like writing those as apostrophes so I remember how to pronounce them. Does qaddaa7e قدّاحة mean something in fus7a? [60 seconds later]  sure enough, it is the fus7a word for ¨lighter¨