adventures in Arabic: stuck on the wrong word
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 6, 2007
The worst part of my 3SL (Arabic as a Second Language) skills is that they desert me when I least expect it – and often, when I most need them.
Sometimes they abandon me entirely, and I am left to smile mutely at whomever I had previously been conversing.
At other times, I simply get “stuck”: I am searching my memory for one word, while another one sticks itself irritatingly in my mind and won’t let go.
Such was the case the other morning, as I discussed with my cab driver the best entree into downtown and the building I needed to get to.
(Its a bit trickier these days thanks less to the protesters than the barbed wire and military checkpoints. Its not difficult, but if you choose the wrong drop-off point, you can be in for a bit of a walk and a series of less-than-helpful chats with well-meaning but often uninformed army personnel.)
What I wanted to say was: in my experience, the Omari Mosque is a good place.
“Experience” is “tajriba”. It was a rather English-Arabic sentence to begin with – I could have just said in my opinion, which would have been the simpler and more Arabic expression.
Instead, I got stuck.
I couldn’t remember the word for experience. The only word that came to mind was “tijara”.
Tijara means “business” or “trade”.
I couldn’t very well say: In my business, the Omari Mosque is a good place.
Well, I could have, but it would have been terribly confusing for the driver. After all, what could my business be – the sale of prayer rugs?
“Tajriba” came back to me ten minutes after I exited the cab. Oh, so frustrating!