My Lebanese cousins are here for the weekend for the first time in almost 10 years, which is a whole lot of time, especially as they are teenagers. Anyhow, although the Lebanese have a stronghold over the Arabian media, although Lebanon is a Levantine country, and although these cousins are half Palestinian, I am finding it really hard to communicate with them.

Typically, the communication barrier is language, especially as their second language is French and not English. You’d think that adding an “-ay” to the end of every word would help them understand me and vice versa, but no, their vocabulary is a completely different set from mine. Then, when I want to explain to them what the word I just used means, for example “faye3”, I can’t resort to English because they don’t speak a word of it and I don’t speak a word of French! It happens with even simpler words, like “awa3i”(clothes). They don’t know what “awa3i” means, and I’m terrible with languages, so it is literally impossible for me to remember that the Lebanese equivalent is “tyeib” (but seriously, I understand where “tyieb” comes from, but what’s the etymology of “awa3i”?)

It’s just really ironic how I find it so much easier to converse with my American cousins. How sad is it that I find it demanding to communicate with the Lebanese in Arabic? Lebanon, a 3 hours cruise from Jordan! The Lebanese, with their monopoly over Arabic media! Cousins, whose mother is my father’s sister!

Sadder still is the case with other Arab regions, like North Africa and the Gulf. During the few times that I had the opportunity to communicate with North Africans, I could never get past hello, and although I lived in Saudi Arabia for most of my life, the Gulfian words I understand are “tsolfein”, “kobri”, and “ja7dah”.

I know that it is too late to change anything, especially as the Arab world is vast and spread over many lands. I also can’t really complain because I’m guilty of a much more drastic linguistic sin- I never had any real Arabic schooling!

Wow, I just realized I can say all of the above in 6 concise lines:

Roba says:
my aunt and her kids are here from Lebanon
Roba says:
yey 3al 7aki il lobnani
Roba says:
wala bafham 3aleihom eshi
Roba says:
and i cant explain in english..
Roba says:
cause they only speak french
Roba says:
its horrible