We spend all day attempting to learn the language. Apparently the word for exhausted sounds something like “mdgdg”. There aren’t really any vowels. However, once in a while a true linguistic gem turns up. I’ve noticed three in the last couple days that I particularly like.
Firstly, there doesn’t appear to be a verb that corresponds with the English “to love”. The verb that’s in common usage translates somewhat to “I want” with the object “you”. This is the same verb that’s used for “I want to sleep”, “I want to use the bathroom”, and “I want to buy toilet paper immediately”. But there’s another verb as well, which appears in our textbook as “to be dying for/ to love”. It’s “maat 3laa”. “Maat” is to die and “3laa” means “for” (sort of). I guess there’s nothing really to be said other than I dig that the verb that most closely captures “to love” literally means “be dying for”.
Another gem is a word ma3lish. This means “sure, whatever, it’s not important, no problem, yeah it’s fine, who cares, etc.” all muddled together at the same time. “M…ish” is a form that negates whatever appears in the middle. This word, ma3lish, negates the word for “why?”. “Ma3lish”, then, is a negation of the question word “why”, suggesting, to me at least, that “there is no why”. Which is totally dope and seems to be an appropriate and healthy response to any and all questions about Morocco, particularly at this point, when communication is painfully limited.
Lastly, there’s an expression “ma fiiya ma ya…..”. This one is tough to explain. Basically, fiiya means “in me”, and a verb follows the “ya”, the sound which acts to conjugate the verb into the third person singular. In this case, the third person singular is the hypothetical pronoun “one”. The “ma”s both function as negation words. Basically, the expression means something like this:
I am unable to imagine myself (or look in myself for the person) as the one who’s doing whatever it is. I look inside myself, try to put myself in that place, but I can’t.
Of course, it’s not as dramatic as all that. If I say “ma fiiya ma yakul”, it just means I don’t feel like eating. But there’s a wealth of insinuation in the structure of the phrase. The concept of “putting oneself in another’s shoes” is inherently built into the grammar. That’s cool.
Hopefully one day I’ll come up with some good Arabic puns, but I think that’s a long way off.