Sunday, 13 March 2011

You know you study Arabic when...

A light-hearted piece.

You know you study Arabic when....

You are familiar with Maha and Khalid’s escapades from the Alkitab textbook series

You use Alkitab or Hans Wehr as a door stop

You secretly dream of being co-opted by your country’s intelligence agencies

You have a slight reverence for Hans Wehr but despise it at the same time

People ask you if you can write in Arabic too, and are in awe of you

You wonder whether Arabs can actually speak Fusha

You are conversant, thanks to Alkitab, in such lines as ‘there is dampness in my room’ and ‘my father works at the United Nations’ في غرفتي رطوبة and والدي يعمل في الأمم المتحدة

You are aware that you will never fully master the Idafa or mamnuu’ min aSSaf

People ask you if you write backwards

You are suspected of being a terrorist

You know your exam question will be about the Hijab

You use such phrases as ‘the duck’s offspring are afloat’ فرخ البط عوام (like father like son)

Your teacher gives you a new word; you ask if it has a ح or a ه in it, a س or a ص

You have given up trying to learn the case endings for numbers

You say ‘can we have an استراحة now please?’(‘break’) half way through the class

You secretly bought a Hezbollah flag on your year abroad

Your are most likely pro-Palestine

You wonder how many westerners have actually mastered Arabic

You get frustrated when Arabs say إن شاء الله (God willing) because in reality it means ‘no’

People meet you and say ‘wow, you could get an amazing job with Arabic!’, and you say ‘that's what they said’

Your friends say, ‘it just looks like squiggles and lines to me’

You know your university’s Arabic department is the best in the country

You actually know what ‘Jihad’ means

You chuckle when you remember finding تهتلر in Hans Wehr (‘to be like Hitler’)

You have been to Edgeware Road in London and smoked shisha/ arghila

You are privy to the phrase ما بعرف

You say شغل العداد  (turn on the meter) upon entering a taxi but expect to get ripped off anyway

You understand that expletives about your interlocuter's mother are crucial to male dominated speech patterns

You have referred to George Bush as غبي or حمار at least once

You do not bother to tell your Arab host that you are a vegetarian, you know they will offer you chicken

You are aware that the word 'hashish' simply means grass, and is the origin of the word 'assassin' 

You attribute Shakira's fame and notably her dancing abilities to her Lebeneseness and not her Columbian-ness


  1. It's ColOmbian-ness. ColUmbia is the university. I just have to say it