A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Archive for the ‘teaching’ Category

“learn Arabic like a spy”

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 13, 2009

I know how much you love Lebanese spam, H emailed me the other day. After forwarding me a gem of an ad from his Gmail account, H emailed me again.

Look what just came up as an ad on my Gmail toolbar, he wrote.

World’s leading Arabic method.
Same course used by FBI & CIA.

Oh, Google AdWords. Once again, your sense of targeting and timing is so close – and yet so far. H doesn’t need to learn Arabic, and he certainly isn’t aiming to be “like a spy”.

Nor, to be honest, do many of us who have spent time in the region have any confidence that speaking “like a spy” implies any degree of fluency. Or even proficiency.

When I looked into the “Pimsleur Approach”, I must confess that I was a bit disappointed. Apparently “Learn like a spy” is Pimsleur’s generic tag line, although I’m not sure that its as successful with other languages. To me, “Learn Spanish like a spy” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

In any case, if you’re looking to learn Arabic, I suggest you think twice before paying for any program that promises to help you speak “like a spy”. How about a program that teaches you to speak “like a native”? After all, one major trouble with being mistaken for a spy is that your reception among native speakers is likely to be less than welcoming 🙂 .


Posted in advertising, Americans, Arab world, Arabic, humor, politics, teaching | 8 Comments »

teaching the commoners: adventures in mis-translation

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 25, 2007

Well, I hope this is a mis-translation. I came across this intriguing little article today:

Japanese NGO to open ‘terakoya’ school for Iraqi kids in Syria 

The Japanese nongovernmental organization Peace On is planning to open a small private school for children of Iraqi refugees in Syria, modeled after the ”terakoya” temple schools in Japan’s Edo period that taught reading and writing to children of commoners. The Tokyo-based group has found that support for refugees in the area of education is poor compared with food, housing and medical care, its leader Yasuyuki Aizawa said.

On the one hand, I appreciate Peace On’s commitment to drawing upon Japan’s rich historical traditions. On the other hand, the Edo period (1603-1867) was a long time ago. Surely Syria’s Iraqis – commoners or no – would like their children to be educated in a manner that will allow them to navigate the difficult world that they may face.

Posted in childhood, education, Iraq, Japan, Syria, teaching, time, words | Leave a Comment »

career opportunities with the Axis of Evil

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 24, 2007

If you are starting a 24 hour English language news channel designed to break Western media’s “stranglehold” on the world, where do you look for news correspondents? Beirut, of course!


Well, this advertisement is looking for Beirut correspondents, but … its tempting to imagine the specter of fear that might be raised if Press TV were hiring all its correspondents in Lebanon. Shi’ite news crescent, anyone? 

Press TV will be the latest in a line of state-run or state-affiliated global news channels to open in the past year or two, including France 24 and Russia Today as well as Al Jazeera’s international channel.

UPI’s article on the channel describes Mohammad Sarafraz, deputy head for international affairs of the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, as saying that the station springs “from the need to counter misinformation and mudslinging about Iran”. Accordingly, its news will focus primarily on the Middle East and the United States – apparently some “international events” are more newsworthy than others.

The channel is meant to launch on July 2, which gives its HR staff two days to sort through the CVs it receives from this advertisement. They must be powerhouses of efficiency. I’m going to add “presstv.beirut” to my list of gmail contacts and see how often the address is active!

Posted in advertising, Americans, economics, Iran, media, news, politics, teaching, television, words | 2 Comments »

difficult palindromes: man, a plan, … Amman?

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 10, 2007

I am in Jordan for the weekend – the Lebanese weekend (Saturday- Sunday), which overlaps only partially with the Jordanian (Friday-Saturday).

Naturally, I forgot to pack my camera, but even since my last visit (in July 2006 – I returned home to Beirut just in time to unpack and settle in before the war began) I can see changes in Amman – and not just the number of Iraqi license plates. The neighborhoods past seventh circle are now almost as thickly settled as the heart of the city – and the westward growth continues.

In lieu of current photos, I am posting a few from a delightful trip down to Wadi Rum that I took with my friend M, her friend S, and his brother S in June 2005. Yes, Wadi Rum in June. It was beyond hot, but still beautiful.


The famous “bridge” of Wadi Rum, photographed by me and twenty million other tourists.


Sociable camel passing by to say saba7h alkheir and “you are welcome in Jordan”.


a classically ‘touristic’ scene


even at 8 am, the temperature was high enough to produce this heat haze …


… which strangely enough did nothing to deter S & S (a doctor and civil engineer, respectively) from racing one another up this hill and then sliding down it, despite the burning sands.

Men really are from Mars – even when they are from Canada.

Posted in Americans, Amman, Canada, Canadians, film, friends, Jordan, photography, teaching, tourism, travel, words | 5 Comments »

praising God in the Middle East

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 9, 2007

I subscribe to a daily Bible verse, reading from the Bible, and “living lectionary” devotional email service offered free from the American Bible Society. (I keep looking for something similar with daily ayas and suras from the Qur’an, but – aside from an organization in Britain that charges for the emails – have found nothing.)

Ordinarily, I must confess, I read the Bible verse most attentively (its short), the reading with a rapidly decreasing attentiveness (after the first paragraph my thoughts wander), and the living lectionary gets a mere eyeballing.

This week’s lectionary had a more “local” flavor, though:

This week we remember to pray for the work of the Bible Societies in:

Gulf States (Mideast) –

With thanks to God for the Year of the Family 2006 campaign which emphasized the importance of the Christian family in today’s world, and with thanks to God that three new Bible outlets were inaugurated in 2005 and 2006, providing better facilities and access to the Scriptures, and with prayers for the development of Bible Society work in Qatar and for the Arabic Scripture program;

Iraq –

With prayers for peace in that nation and for the Bible Society team, with thanks to God for the miraculous work in difficult circumstances and for the steady growth in demand for Scriptures, and with prayers for the Kurdistan region, for Bible work there and for the opening of a new Bible Society branch in Erbil, and with prayers for the new shop in Mosul operated in collaboration with the sisters of the Chaldean Catholic order;

Syria –

With thanks to God for the freedom to distribute God’s Word and for the joy expressed by those who receive it, and with prayers for the completion of the new Christian Resource Center in Damascus which will contain Christian literature and multimedia materials.

I am very curious to know under what auspices the ABS operates in Qatar; certainly it is not allowed to proselytize. I know (from having attended services there, with my aunt and uncle!) that churches are allowed to operate there, and understood (also from same) that a new “church souk” (my totally un-official name for it) was being erected to house all the expatriate churches. How far along, and how fully realized, that project is now though I do not know.

I am also quite delighted to see the mention of Syria, as I am still stewing over Joseph Farah’s characterization of Syrian Christians as living lives of dhimmi oppression. His views came to the fore this fall in the columns he wrote criticizing Pastor Rick Warren for his visit to Syria. In them he described Syrian Christians’ lives as follows:

The only way Christians get along with Muslims in an officially Muslim country is by accepting the role in Islam known as “dhimmi.” Think of the dhimmi life as religious apartheid. It’s a good analogy. Christians are not free to evangelize Muslims. In a civil dispute between a Muslim and a Christian, the Christian’s word is worth less than nothing.

Rick Warren demonstrates his complete ignorance of the subtle repression Christians face in the role of dhimmi.

(Full article available here.)

As an American accustomed to the rule of civil law, I would say that my Syrian Christian friends are oppressed by the antiquated religious laws of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which govern “personal status” issues (marriage, divorce, custody of children, etc.). They are certainly not oppressed by the Syrian government – or, at least, no more oppressed than their fellow citizens.

Posted in Americans, Arabic, Beirut, Damascus, Islam, Lebanon, Qatar, religion, Syria, teaching | Leave a Comment »

finding one’s way: a map of Damascus

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 25, 2007

Somewhere out in the world of the internet, a person is wandering, looking for the streets of Damascus.

Instead, as WordPress’s “search engine referrals” remind me, their searches keep sending them to this blog. The third time of searching is indeed a charm: I am here to help.

A very good, clickable street map of Damascus can be found online at Syrian Tours’ website.

Shari3a al-3Abed, also known (for obvious reasons) as Shari3a Majlis al-Niyabi, is the street that runs next to the Parliament building. It can be found at C2 on the map mentioned above.

Tijara is a Christian quarter north of the old city, towards Tichreen Park. It is not listed on the map. Among expats, Tijara is known as the home of the tiny resto/bar Kasabji. If you are going there, call for directions (445.1208), as it is a small place off the Corniche and not at all known among taxi drivers.

Hope this helps :-).

Posted in Damascus, food, friends, home, Syria, teaching, tourism, travel | 1 Comment »

a watched coffeepot never boils: adventures in Arabic

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 9, 2006

Thursday was my last day of teaching for this semester. These students have made so much progress – the questions they ask now are as muc about usage and expression as about words and spelling.

Still, though, they left a few gems with their exercises. When asked what the father in their listening exercise does in the evenings, one responded:

he watches the coffee.

of course, he meant: he drinks coffee. yashribu, not yushAhidu.

however, knowing how seriously people take their coffee in the Arab … and Mediterranean … and Eurasian … and European … parts of the world, I can see coffee-watching as a totally legitimate evening activity.


Posted in Arabic, teaching | 2 Comments »

the new public blogosphere

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 21, 2006

Conversations about the ‘public sphere’ are hugely popular with academics – particularly those interested whether a relationship can be found between new media and broadened or more active publish sphere. The term comes from a Jurgen Habermas work, and its application to new media is usefully discussed online in an article by Georgetown professor Denis Gaynor entitled “Democracy in the age of information: a reconception of the public sphere”, which can be found at http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/bassr/gaynor/intro.htm.

I will quote a bit from a more general analysis, UCLA professor Douglas Kellner’s “Habermas, the public sphere, and democracy: a critical intervention” (http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/papers/habermas.htm) , which explains Habermas’ work as follows:

Jurgen Habermas’s The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere is an immensely rich and influential book that has had major impact in a variety of disciplines. It has also received detailed critique and promoted extremely productive discussions of liberal democracy, civil society, public life, and social changes in the twentieth century, among other issues. Few books of the second half of the twentieth century have been so seriously discussed in so many different fields and continue, almost forty years after its initial publication in 1962, to generate such productive controversy and insight. While Habermas’s thought took several crucial philosophical twists and turns after the publication of his first major book, he has himself provided detailed commentary on Structural Transformation in the 1990s and returned to issues of the public sphere and democratic theory in his monumental work Between Facts and Norms. Hence, concern with the public sphere and the necessary conditions for a genuine democracy can be seen as a central theme of Habermas’s work that deserves respect and critical scrutiny …

Habermas’s focus on democratization was linked with emphasis on political participation as the core of a democratic society and as an essential element in individual self-development. His study The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere was published in 1962 and contrasted various forms of an active, participatory bourgeois public sphere in the heroic era of liberal democracy with the more privatized forms of spectator politics in a bureaucratic industrial society in which the media and elites controlled the public sphere. The two major themes of the book include analysis of the historical genesis of the bourgeois public sphere, followed by an account of the structural change of the public sphere in the contemporary era with the rise of state capitalism, the culture industries, and the increasingly powerful positions of economic corporations and big business in public life. On this account, big economic and governmental organizations took over the public sphere, while citizens became content to become primarily consumers of goods, services, political administration, and spectacle …

The bourgeois public sphere, which began appearing around 1700 in Habermas’s interpretation, was to mediate between the private concerns of individuals in their familial, economic, and social life contrasted to the demands and concerns of social and public life. This involved mediation of the contradiction between bourgeois and citoyen, to use terms developed by Hegel and the early Marx, overcoming private interests and opinions to discover common interests and to reach societal consensus. The public sphere consisted of organs of information and political debate such as newspapers and journals, as well as institutions of political discussion such as parliaments, political clubs, literary salons, public assemblies, pubs and coffee houses, meeting halls, and other public spaces where socio-political discussion took place. For the first time in history, individuals and groups could shape public opinion, giving direct expression to their needs and interests while influencing political practice. The bourgeois public sphere made it possible to form a realm of public opinion that opposed state power and the powerful interests that were coming to shape bourgeois society.

“Habermas’s concept of the public sphere thus described a space of institutions and practices between the private interests of everyday life in civil society and the realm of state power. The public sphere thus mediates between the domains of the family and the workplace — where private interests prevail — and the state which often exerts arbitrary forms of power and domination. What Habermas called the “bourgeois public sphere” consisted of social spaces where individuals gathered to discuss their common public affairs and to organize against arbitrary and oppressive forms of social and public power.

The principles of the public sphere involved an open discussion of all issues of general concern in which discursive argumentation was employed to ascertain general interests and the public good. The public sphere thus presupposed freedoms of speech and assembly, a free press, and the right to freely participate in political debate and decision-making. After the democratic revolutions, Habermas suggested, the bourgeois public sphere was institutionalized in constitutional orders which guaranteed a wide range of political rights, and which established a judicial system that was to mediate between claims between various individuals or groups, or between individuals and groups and the state.”

“Kellner cautions that “Many defenders and critics of Habermas’s notion of the bourgeois public sphere fail to note that the thrust of his study is precisely that of transformation, of the mutations of the public sphere from a space of rational discussion, debate, and consensus to a realm of mass cultural consumption and administration by corporations and dominant elites,” which latter Habermas understood as the state of the sphere in the twentieth century.”

All the above is merely an introduction to what follows – a mention of the panel I attended yesterday evening, one of many at the annual Middle East Studies Association (MESA) of North America conference, currently taking place in Boston. I like to think of us as hummus-flavored nerds, rather than the generic variety found at other conferences.

Yesterday evening’s panel promised a discussion of blogging, the Middle East, and the possibility of a new public sphere:

SPECIAL SESSION–Blogging the Middle East: A New Public Sphere?
Organized by Leila O. Hudson

This session will consider how the new genre of online weblogs has changed the relationship of Middle East studies to public opinion, journalism, and policy making and reshaped the public sphere within which the MESA community works. Among issues to be addressed, are: blogging and the wartime public sphere, blogs and the traditional media, blogs and policy-making, adversarial and attack blogging, blogging readership communities, blog censorship and control.

Chair: Leila O. Hudson, University of Arizona

Juan Cole, University of Michigan (http://www.juancole.com)
As’ad AbuKhalil, California State University, Stanislaus(http://angryarab.blogspot.com)
Helena Cobban, Contributing Editor, Boston Review (http://justworldnews.org)
Joshua Landis, University of Oklahoma (http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/L/Joshua.M.Landis-1/syriablog/)
Marc Lynch, Williams College (http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/)

(http://mesa.wns.ccit.arizona.edu/annual/session9.htm )

Josh I know from Damascus, the Angry Arab I read frequently, Marc Lynch teaches at my alma mater, Helena Cobban I know from her work as a journalist, and Juan Cole of course both for his prominence as a blogger-turned-media authority on Iraq and for the vicious ad hominem attacks he receives because of that prominence (and, I would argue, which he facilitates by allowing photos such as

Juan Cole

to circulate publicly, giving anti-Middle East studies folk like those at Campus Watch ample visual support for their rabid critiques).

In the end, none of the panelists spoke much about a new public sphere. Most spoke anecdotally about their personal experiences, while Cobban raised the very sanguine point of gender in the blogosphere (there are more male bloggers than female, which I would push further by noting that the ‘authoritative’ blogs – blogs to which readers go for information and analysis, rather than personal narratives – are almost exclusively male written). The panel was lively and the panelists dynamic, but for the most sophisticated analysis of the public sphere vis-a-vis new media and the Middle East, I suggest Lynch’s very old media format book: Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today.

update, November 22, 2006

Marc Lynch has posted his take on the panel on his Abu Aardvark site. He has this to say:

“… I focused on two things: why there aren’t more MESA bloggers, and the relevance of Arab bloggers rather than just American academics writing about the Middle East. At least I think I did – like I said, I was freestyling and talking real fast. One point which I forgot to throw in was about the competing demands of different audiences: what impresses other academics will not be the same as what impresses policy audiences or wider general blog-reading publics or readers from the countries you’re writing about, and scholar-bloggers have to think carefully about who they are trying to reach and why.

I pointed out out that all of us on the panel had started our blogs by fall 2002. Why hadn’t a new generation of Middle East studies bloggers emerged to replace join us? Maybe because the critics of MESA are right, and Middle East studies scholars just don’t have much to add to the public debate. I don’t think that’s true, though – I know how much quality knowledge about the region was at the conference, and in the room, and how much they could add to the blogosphere if they chose to. Maybe they’ve all just got better things to do, but – I argued – the internet is of growing importance in shaping public debate and even policy in areas we care about, and if experts don’t engage then they just cede the field to others with less (or different) expertise. Or, more bluntly, they can’t cry about the state of public debate about the Middle East if they refuse to take part in that debate.

But most of the answer, I suggested, was that the first five speakers had presented an overly rosy picture of academic blogging. Now, I’m as big a fan of blogging as anyone, and blogging has been very good to me, but it’s important to have a balanced perspective on the risks and costs, as well as benefits, of academic blogging. I mentioned the various rounds of intense public criticism that Juan and Josh had received, and the ways in which blog-fed firestorms could threaten scholars, especially junior scholars without tenure, or at least consume huge amounts of their time and energy. I mentioned the very real time commitments that blogging entails – no matter how many synergies you can create between your research and your blogging (and I create a lot of them), time spent on blogging is time spent not doing other potentially productive scholarly activities. Bloggers’ energies can be diverted into policy-relevant work which isn’t conducive to long-term research projects. Even the best blogging just doesn’t rate compared to a peer-reviewed publication… and probably shouldn’t. Blogging often means writing fast, and that can mean making mistakes – horrors! – especially if you venture outside your areas of expertise… and academics sometimes live in fear of making such mistakes. Bottom line: I feel uncomfortable advising junior scholars, who I think are probably best placed to become great bloggers, to take those risks.”

In his talk, Lynch mentioned bloggers IN the Middle East, which no other panelist did, and had this to say on his blog:

“The other major thrust of my talk was to point to Arab and Iranian and other bloggers from within the region. I spent a lot of my time at the podium urging the audience to pay attention to Arab bloggers, many of whom offered sharp, savvy political analysis in both English and Arabic. These folks can represent themselves and speak for themselves, and don’t need North American based scholars to do it for them – what they need is for people to pay attention to them, which is why I try to link to them as much as I can and why I spent so much of my talk touting them.”

Lynch’s full post, followed by a thoughtful and reflective series of comments, can be found at: http://abuaardvark.typepad.com/abuaardvark/2006/11/mesa_blogging_p.html#comments.

Posted in Americans, Arabic, blogging, friends, Iraq, Lebanon, media, politics, research, Syria, teaching, time | Leave a Comment »

the cure of hearts.

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 1, 2006

I get the same question from scholars, practicing Muslims, and Islamophobes alike: have you read the Quran?

well, no – not in its entirety. I’ve read the marquee suras, pored over various 100 hadith qudsi collections (serious ones – not just the ‘Muhammad and onions’ type), translated (poorly) a few asbab al-nuzul, and dipped into the sira. but I’ve never picked up the Quran and read it ‘cover to cover’ – nor am I convinced that I would get as much this way as from a more focused reading project. However, I did agree that more, and better, reading was in order.

I do well with emailed readings, so I searched online for some type of ‘sura a day’ or ‘Quran in context’ email program. (Meanwhile I decided to broaden my interest in deepening my knowledge of the faith to include the ahl al-kitab, and found a bible verse and scripture email service as well. My gmail account now brims with as many religious emails as news alerts.) I found one I liked on google: http://groups.google.com/group/understandquran. Like many da`wa and faith deepening outreach initiatives in the Muslim world, this one is undertaken by Muslims from the sub-continent.

For me, the downside of this short course in understanding the Quran was that it was a sequential program, rather than an ongoing series of faith and knowledge deepening lessons. I joined at lesson 22, I believe – five from the end. The upside was the five lessons I did receive – and especially the loving, compassionate letters written by the course’s instructor.

last week’s lesson, lesson 27, was accompanied by a letter and a turn of phrase I found particularly evocative. The letter began:

Dear Brothers/Sisters!


Muslims in general have a big confusion about guidance contained in the Qur’an. They equate it with rules and regulations, such as those of prayers, zakat, hajj, inheritance, or in general, the Islamic system of life. But rules do not constitute even 10% of the Qur’an. What then does the remaining 90% talk about? It is addressed to the mind and more importantly the heart. It is the heart that needs to be guided. “And if any one believes in Allah, (Allah) guides his heart (aright) [64:11]. Qur’an is the cure of hearts [10:57].

One of the scholarly truisms sometimes martialed to characterize differences between Islam and Christianity is that Islam, like Judaism, is a religion that prioritizes praxis over faith. follow the rules, adhere to the bodily practices – food proscriptions, societal regulations, prayer – and you are a good Muslim or a good Jew. Christians on the other hand privilege faith – Christ made all things clean for them, but requires that they believe in his resurrection as the son of God.

This letter suggests that the distinction drawn above is not merely un-nuanced – it is wrong. Instead, it insists, the Qur’an and the religion deriving from it are there to succor humankind – a much more human view than that of a checklist of praxis requirements.

I love the phrase ‘the cure for hearts’. the author of this letter must love it too, as it is a paraphrase rather than a direct quote. The sura itself is less direct, as the Arabic and the lovely Yusuf Ali translation (the standard source for English language scholarship) below indicate:

57. Ya ayyuha alnnasu qad jaatkum mawAAithatun min rabbikum washifaon lima fee alssudoori wahudan warahmatun lilmu/mineena

57. O mankind! there hath come to you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts,- and for those who believe, a guidance and a Mercy.


in Arabic, “heart” is qalb – plural, quloub. 9Sudour, the word used here, means “breasts”, with the same double meaning – the breasts of men and women’s breasts – as in English. I like this idea, that in Islam it is the Qur’an that has charms to soothe the savage breast, by curing the diseases of pride and greed and ignorance that lurk in all of us.

Posted in Arabic, Islam, religion, teaching | Leave a Comment »

al-kalimat al-`Arabiya al-mufaddala: favorite Arabic words

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on October 27, 2006

Taking attendance in university classes is an art form. No instructor wants to go through a checklist of names (and then, what, follow it up by asking who is taking hot lunch and who has brought their own?), but knowing who is present is critical for assessing grades. As a consequence, many at the university have adopted a more ‘adult’ manner of attendance taking: they send around a blank piece of paper, and ask everyone present to sign his or her name.

I think this is a bit dull, so I try to make attendance taking work double, by asking students to answer a question each week (the weekly “poll”). it turns a checksheet into a means of communication – I learn something about each of them, and they learn (I hope) that I am interested in them, genuinely.

Because this is an Arabic class, I try to make my questions course-specific. Last week, I asked them all to tell me their favorite word in Arabic. They don’t yet know all that many words, so the available pool was somewhat limited, but … I love their answers. Many are words that are fun to say, particularly for a beginner. Djaj, which means chicken, is a total hoot – and was the most popular choice among my 90 students. Other words are those that they have heard from friends or visits to Arabic speaking countries, and know are “real” (as opposed to formal) Arabic – but not words that they have learned in class. Habibi, `ayb, and y`ani all fall into this category. Some students choose words that they learn in class, words that either recur frequently in lessons, like the expression fil-haqiqa, which means in reality or in truth and is gravely overused in the text book we use, or that appeal to them for some reason, like hadhihi, the feminine “this” marker. Finally, some students choose words that reflect their faith – several chose Allah or bismallah, or their heritage – one girl wrote Lubnan wa Djibouti, reflecting her Lebanese-by-way-of-Africa family history.

The questions I ask make my attendance sheets special to me. I keep them, folded in half and ordered by date, in a manila envelope, as memories of my teaching and mnemonics for my students.

Poll results: favorite words

autobees (autobus)

waraqa (paper)

bab (gate or door)

jami`a (university)



`ayb (shame)


sabah (morning)

kuliyya (college)

maktab (office)

doktur (used for anyone with a BA … )

Lubnan wa Djibouti

harr (heat/warmth)

raqs (dance)

al-sharq al-awsaT (the Middle East)

Talib (student)

laHam (meat)

shatranj (chess)

masr (Egypt)

al-layl (night)

mustaHeel (impossible)

shams (sun)


bayt (house)


fikra (idea)


khala (maternal aunt)


khubz (bread)

mushmas (sunny)


mutakhasas (specializing)

mabrouk (congratulations)

fi al-Haqiqa

al-Huquuq (law)

ustadh (teacher)

mutaHida (united)

tawla (table)

wajibat (homework)


meshghoul (busy)

sufuuf (classes)

mustimti`a (listener)

siksoukeh (goatee)

shubbak (window)

shurTa (police)


mumtaz (excellent)



ya`ni (an all-purpose expression, literally “it means” and used for “that is”, “I mean”, and other colloquial sentence bridgers like “you know” and “um”)

jar (neighbor)

Posted in Americans, Arabic, teaching, words | 3 Comments »