I am an Anglo-Moroccan Muslimah who loves languages, books, tea and Islam.
This here is a collection of all (read some of) my random musings and interesting finds.
“Lit. To have the devil (stuck to) the body/ To have the devil in the flesh.”
To be furious (a), or to be “furiously” excited (b).
“Après avoir appris que son mec l’avait trompé, elle avait le diable au corps : elle hurlait partout.”
“After having been told that her boyfriend was cheating on her, she was furious : she was yelling all around.”
“Ce cheval a le diable au corps, on ne peut pas l’arrêter.”
“This horse is crazy, we can’t stop him.”
”Il n’a pas vu sa femme depuis un mois, il a le diable au corps.”
“He hasn’t seen his wife for a month, he’s super horny.”
“Beyoncé a le diable au corps sur scène.”
“Beyoncé is spectacular on stage.” (via awesomefrench)
Bs7a wa ra7a - (May you be blessed) With good health and comfort.
Bought a new outfit? Bs7a wa ra7a!
Perhaps some new trainers? Bs7a wa ra7a!
Heck, maybe just a new haircut: iwaa, bs7a wa ra7a!
Ah weeli: Oh, my woe!
Oftentimes, in the presence of Moroccans, especially - but not exclusively - in all-women gatherings, you will hear a phrase that, to the average English-speaker, sounds very much like, “Ah, weeli!”
Amazing ! I hope you do more of these :) I loved the bit about the gestures that accompany it and the “staghfirullah” bit as well, because I kept forgetting what it meant (people seldom use it to say “God pardon me” but more often to express disapproval so I was confused) and I finally got it when thinking of “God pardon me for what I’m going to do because I’m so crossed” haha
Also there is an equivalent in yiddish :
אױ װײ‘ז מיר
which is transliterated as “oy vey iz mir”, and there’s a shorter version “oy vey” and an even shorter version “oy”.
And it can be used whenever someone makes our life hard — most likely your kids — who still are your kids even when they’re 50 — “oy vey iz mir, qu’est-ce que j’ai fais pour mériter des enfants pareils !”
“Oy” can be used any time really, like a sigh, or a one-word complain, or a kind of “rolling my eyes” punctuation.
Which also makes me think of this “kleine kinder, kleine tsures, groise kinder, groise tsures” which translates as “small children, small worries, big children, big worries.”
Parents. Always wondering what they’ve done to deserve kids like us.
I’ve heard “Oy” and even “Oy vey” being used (mostly in films, tbh) and it’s clearly used out of exasperation, lol, but I never knew the entire phrase. Does it have a literal meaning? Also, is Yiddish read from right to left, like Arabic, or vice versa, like English?
I’m also probably gonna be using “Oy” a lot more when I get back to work on Wednesday. I’ve had a blessed week and a half away from customers and I’m not looking forward to going back… :(
Today I will “show” you some of my favourite idioms for “it’s raining cats and dogs.”
Arabic: Kab Min ‘Ind el Rab - it’s pouring from heaven
sounds beautiful. :)
Afrikaans: Ou vrouens met knopkieries reen - it’s raining old women with knobkerries (clubs) “I googled a bit more and it seems that ‘oudewijven’ is based on legends of old women in heaven, whom performed a variety of tasks: shaking out the bedsheets (and thus causing snow to fall on earth) or baking pancakes (which results in rain while the sun still shines) and so on.
Even more back into time, oudewijven referred to an old woman water spirit, with white hair. I can kind of see how it evolved to the raining thing..”
Chinese(Cantonese): 落狗屎 (lohk gáusí) - dog poo is falling (inf)
Czech: Padají trakaře - it’s raining wheelbarrows
Danish: Det regner skomagerdrenge - it’s raining shoemakers’ apprenticies
Dutch: Het regent pijpestelen - it’s raining pipe stems
Estonian:Sajab nagu oavarrest - it’s raining like from a beanstalk
French: Il pleut des grenouilles / des cordes / des hallebardes / des clous / à seaux / comme vache qui pisse - it’s raining frogs / ropes / halberds / nails / buckets / like a pissing cow
Bonus: A cute little French joke about the rain (la pluie) :
Mama Cloud and kid Cloud are wandering in the sky, when kid Cloud moves away.
“Ou vas-tu, Touffu ? (Where are you going, Fluffy ?)” Mama says.
“Je vais faire pluie-pluie (I’m going to do a pee-pee(pipi in French))”.
Frisian: Frisian: it reint âlde wiven (it rains old wives), hynste-eagen (horse eyes).
Faroese: Tað regnar av grind. - “It’s raining pilot whales.”
Finnish: Sataa kuin Esterin perseestä. The direct translation (apparently) is “It’s raining as from Esteri’s ass,” but a better interpretation is “It’s raining like Esther sucks,” which can be used for both rain and snow. The origin is disputed here, but the phrase comes either from an old brand of water pumps used by firemen, or a goddess Esteri who has mostly disappeared from history except for in this idiom.
German: Es regnet/gießt Schusterjungs / junge Hunde / in Strömen / wie aus Eimern/Kübeln - it’s raining/pouring cobbler boys / puppies/ in streams / like out of buckets
Es regnet Bindfäden - it’s raining strings/cords/threads
Greek: Βρέχει καρεκλοπόδαρα (Brékhei kareklopódara) - it’s raining chair legs
Haitian Creole: Chyen ap bwe nan nen - dogs are drinking in their noses
Hebrew: (yoréd mabúl) יורד מבול - a flood is coming down
Hungarian: Úgy esik, mintha dézsából öntenék - it’s raining as if it were poured from a tub
Icelandic: Það rignir eld og brennustein / Það er eins og hellt sé úr fötu - it’s raining fire and brimstone
Irish (Gaelic): Tá sé ag caitheamh sceana gréasaí - it’s throwing cobblers knives
Italian: Piove a catinelle Piove a dirotto Piove che Dio la manda - it’s raining like from basins / excessively / [as if] God sends it
Irish: Tá sé ag caitheamh sceana gréasaí - It’s throwing cobblers’ knives
Japanese: 土砂降りである (doshaburi de aru) - earth and sand are falling
Kannada: ಹುಛುಛಗಿ ಪಲೆ ಬರ್ಥ ಎದೆ (huchuchagi male bartha ede) - it’s raining like mad
Korean: 비가 억수같이 쏟아진다 - rain is pouring down like a torrential downpour.
Latvian: Līst kā pa Jāņiem - it’s raining like in Jāņi
Norwegian: Det regner trollkjerringer - it’s raining female trolls
Polish: Leje zabami / jak z cebra’ - it’s raining frogs / like from a wooden bucket
Bonus: “psia pogoda” (dog’s weather) means very unpleasant weather.
Portuguese: Está chovendo a cântaros / canivetes / barba de sapo / Chove como Deus a dá - it’s raining jugs / penknives / toads’ beards / It rains like God gives it
Serbian: Пада киша уби миша (Pada kiša, ubi miša) - the rain falls and kills the mice
Slovak: Padajú traktory - Tractors are falling
Spanish: Está lloviendo a cántaros / a cubos / a chuzos / a mares / a torrentes
it’s raining in jugfuls / buckets / pikes / seas / torrents
Estan lloviendo hasta maridos - It’s even raining husbands
ARGENTINA: Esta lloviendo caen soretes de punta - It’s raining dung head-first
Swedish: Det spöregnar / ösregnar / Regnet står som spön i backen - it’s raining like rods / ladles / the rain stands like rods in the hillside
Bonus: When it’s only raining a little, we say “det regnar småspik” – it’s raining small nails (the ones you hammer, not the ones on your fingers).
Thai: ฝนตกไม่ลืมหูลืมตา (fǒn tòk mâi luem hǔu luem taa) -it’s raining ears and eyes shut
Turkish: Bardaktan boşanırcasına yağmur yağıyor - it is raining as if it’s leaving the glass
Welsh: Mae hi’n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn cyllyll a ffyrc - it’s raining old ladies and sticks / knives and forks
My personal favourites are… :)
I’ve felt more aware recently of how some people see the Middle East as the “core” of the Muslim world, and other Muslim population centers as less relevant to Islam and even less “Islamic.” The equations “Arab=Muslim” and “Muslim=Arab,” which many people seem to accept, are hard to break. Certainly Mecca is the ritual center of the Muslim world, and Arabic the language of the Qur’an. But this does not mean that non-Arab Muslims are second-class believers, that they are less versed in Islamic sciences, or that they are less central to the trajectory of Islam in the contemporary world.
Arabic grammar is one of the classical Islamic sciences, and I think it is especially important to point out that many non-Arab Muslims can more than hold their own in this area. I think many students of Islam who have not traveled to sub-Saharan Africa might be surprised at the high standard of Arabic that some African Muslim scholars possess. During my field research in Northern Nigeria I routinely met people who spoke flawless Arabic (fusha, typically), even people who had never left Nigeria. This does not mean that advanced Arabic literacy is widespread among the population – although many people possess some ability to, at a minimum, sound out Arabic writing – but people with an advanced religious education, including advanced training in Arabic, are not rare.
One anecdote may help demonstrate the depth of such people’s command of Arabic. In Arabic textbooks in the United States, you will often find that what we call in English the “passive voice” is called in Arabic “al mabni lil majhul,” a classical grammatical term that translates, “the construction for the unknown [subject].” I was sitting with a friend one day when the term came up. He ventured that the “passive voice” would be better rendered “al mabni li ghayr al musamma bihi” – “the construction for the subject that is not named.” After all, he pointed out, just because the subject is not named does not mean that it is unknown. Maybe that won’t seem like a big deal to you, but it blew my mind. This man’s knowledge of Arabic was so deep, and he had spent so much time thinking about the grammar of the language, that he was able to point out an untenable assumption in a common grammatical term. I would put that man up against nearly any native speaker, or grammarian, and expect his knowledge of Arabic grammar to equal or surpass theirs.
How do such people get to that advanced level? Oftentimes, even for people who have university degrees (as he does), what we might call “traditional education” has given them a strong foundation. In the US, we frequently view memorization by rote as the lowest form of learning. We exalt “critical thinking,” as though one can think critically without a foundation comprised of details – details that must be memorized. We also tend to read widely, reading many texts, instead of deeply, reading one text closely or repeatedly. In Northern Nigeria, the memorization of texts is widespread, as is their close and repeated study. Grammarians in the region will often study in depth, and possibly memorize, texts like the Alfiya of Ibn Malik. That memorization can bring a powerful command of the language, especially in its classical form.
The memorization of the Qur’an itself can also offer a tremendous grounding in Arabic. A professor from Maiduguri (which is, or was, renowned as a center for the memorization of the Qur’an), told me once about an impromptu competition he had held in Syria between Syrian students and a few Nigerians who were there. The competition was to write out the fatiha – the opening sura of the Qur’an – from memory without making mistakes in voweling and other linguistic features. He said that the Nigerians were able to reproduce the Qur’anic text perfectly, while the Syrians stumbled. One may disbelieve the story, but it at least shows the confidence that he felt in Nigerians’ command of Arabic and of scripture.
There is much more to say on the subject of outsiders’ perceptions – and the realities – of the depth of religious commitment and religious knowledge among Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa. I plan to return to the subject. But I hope these quick anecdotes have shown that just because a Muslim is not an Arab does not necessarily mean that their Islam – or their command of Arabic – is second-rate.
By Alex Thurston from Sahel Blog
Imam Abu Qadir Al-Amin, a former death row inmate on the importance of seeking knowledge and benefitting society at large.