Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Libyan Arabic

After spending 8 months in Tripoli, I managed to pick up a fair amount of Libyan Arabic. There are very few resources to learn it so I hope this helps. I have given a link for a PDF book at the bottom of the page.

Probably the most typical Libyan word is باهي  'bahi', meaning ‘ok' or ‘good’. Tunisians also use this word but less often. When people ask how you are, they will say شن الجو؟ shin ajjou but it often is abbreviated to شجو؟ Sh’-Jou and you can answer باهي bahi or مليح maleeh, or مية مية mia mia or تمام tamaam. 

Probably the most important Libyan dialect verb is ‘nibi’  نبي 

  • Ana nibi أنا نبي - I want
  • inta tibi - أنت تبي - You want
  • huwa yibbi- هو يبي - He wants
  • Hiya tibbi- هي تبي - She wants
  • Hum yibbou - هم يبوا 

For past tense, it’s common just to combine any of the above with the relevant of كان 

Another important verb is  دير ‘deer’ meaning ‘to do’.

Present tense third person singular
past tense third person singular
present tense first person singular
Past tense first person singular
Present continuous

 أنا درته Anay dirthu- I’ve done it/ I did it -

You will notice immediately that in Libyan Arabic (as in Tunisian), people use the letter nun ن 'n' to start verbs that are used in the first person pronoun 'I'. So, you would say 'Ana nibi nishri'- 'I want to buy', and 'ana nimshy'- 'I'm going'.

An important thing to remember in Libya speech is that the first person pronoun (‘I’) ’ana’ is pronounced ‘anay’, whilst the first person plural (‘we’) is pronounced ‘ihnay’. Likewise ‘they’  becomes ‘hinnay’ and 'who' is 'mini' and 'so/ like that' (MSA هكذا) is 'hayki'.

.'There is the common question ‘shin daayir’- ‘What are you doing ’ شن داير؟

.'When you what to say 'what' to ask a question, it is either 'shin', 'shini' or 'shinu
.Shin Tibii- what do you want
The word 'why' is 3laash- علاش 

Another extremely typical Libyan word is qa3maz meaning to sit. This word is used a lot. Remember that Libyans pronouns the letter qaaf as a hard g so it is pronounced ga3maz. The verb qa3d which is used in most other Arab countries for 'to sit' is used is Libya to mean 'still'. People will more likely use 'ma zaal' though as in Standard Arabic. 

A word you will constantly hear is  ‘tawa’ meaning ‘now’. This is clearly from the Standard
 Arabic but notice that 'alaan' is seldom used

One of the most common words you'll need is غادي 'ghaadi' meaning 'there' (as opposes to here).

Also, the word 'halba' هلبة is one you will hear a lot, meaning 'lots/ many'. You can use it in all kinds of situations such as:
في ناس هلبة بالسوق the market is full of people.
In the Western region (Benghazi) people also use 'waayid' as in Kuwait. 

Another common work that is very typically Libyan is birouh’ followed by a pronoun-  بروحك 
       By yourself/ alone
- on its own i.e. ‘Would you like anything else?’ ‘no thank you, just this’بروحه

One of the most common Libyan nouns is ‘hawsh’ meaning House- حوش

A common word on emotions- متكنتي ‘mitkunty’ meaning upset or annoyed.

When people park a car, they use the verb 'darrasa' which is exactly the same as the Standard Arabic word for 'to teach' but is of course unrelated. 

To say 'tomorrow', Libyans say 'ghudwa' which is closely related to the Standard 'ghadan'.

When people ask someone to do so something, they will say 'bi-llahi alayk' بالله عليك such as 'billahi alayk deer lee nuskha'- could you please make me a copy.
When people say 'thank you', it is very common simply to use 'shukran', but people also use 'baraka allah feek'  بارك الله فيك. If someone offers you a piece of 'briosh' (any kind of breakfast pastry) but you don't want any, you can simply say 'baraak allah feek

yadwi To speak- ana adwi- ‘I speak’
kallim to speak (to) huwa kallimni- ‘He spoke to me’. Ana nibi ukallemak- I want to talk to  you.
maleeh- good
rud baalak- to aware of
brouhak- by yourself

dahy eggs
barreeza socket
haush house
imta3ee- mine (imtaa3ak etc)
mitkunti- upset/ pissed.
tawa- now
raaqed sleeping
darras to park
q3miz to sit
drez to send
mini who
shin tibee
q3d still
gadaash- how much?
Sh-Jou- how are you
shin/ shini- what?
ghaadi- there/ over there
ghudwa- tomorrow 
sebta- belt, but not seatbelt.
hayki- like that/ so
3laash- why?
louta- down/ downstairs/ on the floor
ishbah to see
shukran- thank you
brioch- any kind of pastry that is popular for breakfast
billah ala3k
khush- to go in/ enter
samafro- traffic lights (from the Italian)
bambino- sometimes used to mean baby or small child (from the Italian)
halba- lots/ many
shir to buy
nibi- I want
hawayij- clothes

Below is a further list. I found these a long time ago online but can no longer find the link to give credit. Here there are:

More Resources-

PDF- Spoken Libyan Arabic,  Eerik Dickinson http://www.dunwoodypress.com/148/PDF/Spoken_Libyan_sample.pdf

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