The focus of this first Arabic lesson will be on bread. Why bread, you ask? Because bread is the staple of the Arabic diet, often doubling as an edible utensil. Many Arab meals start with mezzah, hummus, babaghanoush (or mutabbal), tabbouleh, fattoush, kibbeh, yogurt with garlic and cucumber, and the list goes on; particularly in the Levant (or Bilad ash-Sham), which includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, as well as northern Iraq, and a portion of southern Turkey. Mezzah dishes are scooped up with Arabic pita bread with nary a silver utensil in view. Now, westerners like me typically buy our pita bread from local grocery stores like Mega Mart or Carrefour, but Qataris and other Arab nationals often buy their bread from bakeries in town. A Jordanian friend pointed out one such bakery to us recently, and I decided to go inside to see an Arabic bread bakery “up close and personal,” which will provide the source of inspiration for our first Arabic lesson.
So, here comes the Arabic lesson, but before we start, there are a few caveats I need to mention. There are some good sites on the internet that provide translations from English to Arabic, however, the translations are in formal Arabic like what you hear on Arab newscasts and such. What I’d like to do with my Arabic lessons is to provide the translation in the vernacular, or everyday language. I’ve looked into taking classes in Arabic, but found the formal Arabic not to be entirely useful. So, I’ve turned to my husband, Bishara, a native of Lebanon, and fluent Arab speaker, to help me in my pursuits to learn “conversational” Arabic. Another thing I should mention; I will be providing the translation phonetically in English, as this has helped me in my study of Arabic. Also, keep in mind that Arabic script is written from right to left. (It was strange when I first saw a book written in Arabic, and the front cover was on the back of the book.) The English phonetics in this lesson, though, will be written from left to right. . .
. . . So, here we go. To set up the scene I am in a bread bakery talking to the baker about buying some bread.
Me: I would like to buy some bread.
ANA BEDDEE ASHTREE KHUBOZ. .انا بدي اشتري خبز
TAIEB. . طيب
Me: Is the bread fresh?
HADA ALKHUBUZ TAZEJ? هدا الخبز طازج؟
Baker: Of course, our bread is always fresh from the oven.
TABHAN, KHUBZUNA DAYMAN TAZEJ MEN ALFURUN.
. طبعا, خبزنا دايما طازج من الفرن
Me: How much does it cost?
KUM HADA? كم هدا؟
Baker: It costs ten riyals per kilogram.
KUL KELOGHRAM YUKALEF ASHARA RYALAAT.
. كل كيلوغرم ييكالف عشرة ريالات
Me: Okay, thank you.
TAIEB SHUKRAN. . طيب شكرا
ANNA = I
BEDDE = WANT OR WOULD LIKE
ASHTREE = TO BUY
KHUBOZ = BREAD
TAIEB = OKAY
HADA = THIS
ALKHUBUZ = THE BREAD (“AL” is THE)
TAZEJ = FRESH
TAHBAN = OF COURSE
KHUBZUNA = OUR BREAD
DAYMAN = ALWAYS
ALFURUN = OVEN
KUM = HOW MUCH
KUL = EACH
YUKALEF = COSTS
ASHARA = TEN
SHUKRAN = THANK YOU
Sites for translation from English to Arabic:
http://translate.google.com/ (provides sound recording)