Ma Barif…(I Don’t Know…)

Two of the first words I learned in Arabic were ‘ma’ and ‘barif’, which, when said together mean I don’t understand, no capito, no entiendo, je ne comprends pas!  I took my first Arabic class today. Shit. The students in my class have already taken about 2 months+ of Arabic lessons whereas I’m starting from square 1.   Luckily, They spent about 1 month learning to read and write so they’re not too far along grammar wise. And I’ve been practicing my alphabet with Stephen so even though I read like a  3-year old – Ha…..Bi….Bi……….HABIBI! – I’m not completely lost.

Arabic is not going to be easy. Aside from the writing, there is a strong difference between long and short vowel sounds. So words that sound exactly the same to my untrained ear actually mean completely different things. It’s like ‘pene’ and ‘penne’ in Italian – the first means penis and the second, a type of pasta. And my favorite pasta dish is penne al’arabiatta – spicy pasta. I ordered a lot of spicy penis in Italy. Have a feeling I’ll be making similar cock-ups (No pun intended. Actually, that’s kind of funny – I take it back. Pun intended) here in Jordan.

Not to mention all the new noises. I can pronounce each sound individually…well, sort of…but string them all together and,…well, and nothing. I can’t do that yet.  And the teacher keeps asking me questions and I feel like a fool.

I love that I’m describing all this like it’s something new or unexpected. It’s so much fun though. I don’t know why I’m such a nerd for languages – maybe it’s because I love to talk…

Oh, get this – the word for sunset is related to the word for west. West is ghrarib and Sunset is maghrib (my phonetic spelling sucks – I’d write the words in Arabic but what’s the point if you can’t read it?). So now I’ll never forget that the sun sets in the west! Not that I would anyway, having grown up watching the sun set over the pacific, but still – I love that! See, NERD.

Now time to plaster the apartment with post-it notes. I love that game. I could probably single-handedly keep the Post-It Company in business. Oh yeah, I am that awesome.

Fershayit Snan - Toothbrush

Fershayit Snan - Toothbrush


One response to “Ma Barif…(I Don’t Know…)

  1. The Maghrib is also the region of North Africa bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

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