SUDAN WATCH: A very short lexicon of Sudarabic (Sudanese Arabic) for beginners

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A very short lexicon of Sudarabic (Sudanese Arabic) for beginners

Today I found a link to Sudan Watch in the sidebar of Le monde est si joli, a blog that appears to be authored by an aid worker in Darfur.  With thanks for the link, here is a copy of a blog post from the archives of Le monde est si joli, 15 January 2009 - MOYA:
A very short lexicon of Sudarabic (Sudanese Arabic) for beginners and for your field trips in South Darfur!

Moya = water… that’s usually the first word you’ll hear when starting to list problems with rural communities! An interesting word if you’re a water engineer… or a plumber!

Khawadja = “white guy”… That’s the local equivalent to the Musungu, Obruni and alike! Children especially love to shout the word at you in a passionate and happy way, possibly 10 to 15 times in a row and every day if they have the chance to have you as neighbour!

Donkey = water yard, the local version of a water supply system!

Humar = Donkey… the animal, and Darfur number one transportation system!

Shai = tea… Boil the water on woodfire in an old kettle, mix black tea with as much sugar you can buy and pour in small glasses! Very good against hypoglycemia…

Janjaweed = A politically non correct way that most of people use to describe bunches of bad (bad) guys on horses but a term that most of agencies stopped using! Anyway it’s a bit more complicated than that…

Asiida wa kawal = A local dish, made of mashed lightly fermented sorghum with a greenish slimy smelly sauce based on okra and rotten cow intestines! Don’t wait for the next dish, that’s all you’ll get for the day and no, the smell on your hand will not disappear before a few days…

Other useful idioms common to several Islamic countries…

Maa fi mushkila = No problem… A big hit! Doesn’t really mean that there’s no problem of course…

Mushkila = …Problem! Logically, but funny enough, to the contrary of “maa fi mushkila” this one doesn’t have the opposite meaning, you can actually really expect a problem!

Al’Hamdulillah = Thank God (Allah in this context), well, use that one when you’re happy or when things finally worked out!

Inch’Allah = If Allah permits, a good, polite and easy answer if you want to say “no it will not be possible” or “well,… statistically the probabilities are very low”. The other way round it means you can start doubting that the work will be finished in time!
Le monde est si joli has now been added to the 600+ sites in my newsreader NetNewsWire. I am sorry to have found the blog three weeks before the author is due to leave Darfur. About 3-4 years ago Sudan Watch found itself catapulted from the blogosphere into mainstream media traffic and rarely gets linked by bloggers these days but is visited regularly by every org imaginable. Most days I forget that anyone is reading this.  But when I pay close attention to the visitor stats I never cease to be amazed by how well the archives are used (1,000+ per day) and that subscriptions by email, introduced this year, are now nearing 300 and increasing at a rate of two per day. Thanks to all you Sudan Watch visitors, whoever you are.

Sudan Watch 12.30pm Thurs 16 July 2009
This graph, courtesy of SiteMeter, is a snapshot of the latest 100 visits at Sudan Watch on Thursday, 16 July 2009 at 12.30 GMT. Later on in the day the graph will look completely different due to various time zones. At night time here in England, most visits are from the USA.

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