Lesson One: خلاص

New Vocabulary
.xalaaS (خلاص) - that's it
3aayiz (عايز) - want
faakir (فاكر) - remembering
taani (تاني) - again, another
bit'uul (بتقول) - you say
bititkallim (بتتكلّم) - to talk
eh (ايه) - what?
mish (مش) - not
illi (اللي) - which, that, that which

gah (جه) - to come
gaab (جاب) - to bring
ba3ad (بعد) - to get far away, to go away
nasa (نسى) - to forget
ba'a (بقى) - to be, to become, to get
3amal (عمل) - to do

For those who are familiar with Standard Arabic or a dialect of Arabic other than Egyptian, this song is ideal for illustrating many of the basic aspects of Egyptian Arabic that can be challenging if you have no experience with the dialect. However, if you learn a few basic points about Egyptian colloquial you will find that is it not so different from the version of Arabic that you know.

Pop music is one of the portals to the world of spoken Arabic. Music of the Arabic-speaking world is typically sung in dialects as opposed to Standard Arabic, and many singers regardless of origin sing in Egyptian dialect of Cairo due to the size of the Egyptian market and the relative familiarity that people have with this dialect. The song "ma xalaaS (ما خلاص)" by Samira Said is a case in point. Samira Said was born in Morocco but has since moved to Egypt to become one of the more successful pop artists in the Arab world today. The song's title, "ma xalaaS (ما خلاص)," contains the very common word "xalaaS (خلاص)," which means "that's it," or "it's over." It has both the connotations as "that's all" and "it's done" just like the phrase "that's it" in English. This word is not explicitly Egyptian but can be found much more in colloquial speech because saying "that's it" is a very idiomatic aspect of speech not found in written Arabic. The "ما" adds emphasis to the phrase to the effect of "it's soooo over" or something along those lines.

Listen to the song and enjoy this video. The complete lyrics are listed below the video:



ما خلاص عايز ايه منى ايه
ابعد بقى عنى ايه
حاول تفهمنى الماضى خلاص انساه

ما خلاص ايه جابك تانى ايه
ارتاح وانسانى ايه
واللى هييجى منك والله مانيش عايزاه

بتقول انا كنت زمان بهواك
بصراحه انا مش فاكراك
وبتتكلم عن ايه

ماخلاص راحت يا حبيبى عليك
عايز تحلم خليك
وعايزنى اعملك ايه

يا سلام بتحايل في ايه
وبتحلم بي ليه
لا اهدى شويه
ده خيالك راح لبعيد

وبلاش يخطر على بالك لا
ان انا راجعالك لا
ما تشوف بقى حالك
ده كلامك مش هيفيد

انت اللى بالبعد بادى
ودلوقتى عادى انى اقسى عليك
كل اللى هاين علي تشوفك عيني ولا تحن ليك

Even if you have lots of Arabic knowledge, you may not have understood much if you are unfamiliar with the Egyptian dialect. Don't worry, there are only some minor differences that interfere with your understanding of the song. Here I will explain line by line the first verse of the song and the chorus. The first line is as follows:

ما خلاص عايز ايه منى

The word "3aayiz (عايز)" follows the familiar pattern of (فاعل) from Standard Arabic, thus making it a kind of active participle carrying the meaning of a present tense verb in this case. So "3aayiz (عايز)" means "wanting," which depending on the context could be "I want," "you want," or "he wants." It takes the place of the standard Arabic verb "أراد," which does not exist as such in Egyptian Arabic. The word "eh (ايه)" is Egyptian for "what," taking the place of both "ما" and "ماذا" from Standard Arabic. As you can see the question word "eh" follows the verb "3aayiz" instead of preceding it. This is a particular characteristic of Egyptian Arabic; the question word almost always is found after the verb and usually at the end of the sentence. From context we infer that the phrase "3aayiz eh? (عايز ايه؟)" means "what do you want?" The last word of the sentence "minni (منى)" is the same as Standard Arabic "from me," but the reader may be confused to see a "ى" in place of the "ي." This is usually the case at the end of the word in Egyptian Arabic so you just have to get used to it. In all, the first sentence means "it's over, what do you want from me?" This may seem to be a lot of explaining for just one line of a song, but it's already illustrated several essential basics of Egyptian Arabic.

If we move to the next line:

ابعد بقى عنى

We find the word "ib3ad (ابعد)" meaning "get away!" or literally "go farther away." The next word "ba'a (بقى)" may sound strange, but actually it is the same word as the Standard Arabic verb "بقي" which means "to remain" or "to stay." The pronunciation is different because in Egyptian Arabic the "qaaf (ق)" is usually pronounced as a glottal stop, the equivalent of "hamza (ء)" in Standard Arabic. While the verb retains some aspect of its meaning "to remain," it is much more versatile and idiomatic in colloquial, taking on the connotations sometimes of the verb "to get" like "get away!" or also the verb "to be." Here it comes as a command, coupled with the verb "ib3ad 3anni (ابعد عني)" with the general meaning of "get away from me." "ba'a" is not easy to translate in Egyptian Arabic but know that it has the general connotations of "to be" but not always in the same sense.

The next line:

حاول تفهمنى الماضى خلاص انساه

Should not be terribly difficult for the Standard Arabic knower. "Haawal (حاول)" is the command "try" and "tifhamni (تفهمني)" means "you understand me," altogether meaning "try to understand me." Notice that the verbs are not bridged by the connector word "an (أنْ)" as in Standard Arabic. This word does not exist in colloquial and is not necessary. "al-maaDi xalaaS insaah (الماضي خلاص انساه) of course means "the past is over, forget it." Pay attention to the pronunciation of "insaah" and note the the direct object particle for "it" has no vowel after it. In colloquial all case markings have been dropped from words so they are not pronounced.

The following line:

ما خلاص ايه جابك تانى

May appear strange but is actually not very different from the basic standard Arabic that any beginner would know. The verb "gaabak (جابك)" is comprised of the verb "gaab (جاب)" and the direct object marker for you (masculine) "ak (ك)." For you (feminine) the marker would be "ik." Notice that in Egyptian dialect the "jiim (ج)" is pronounced as an English "g" sound. This is always the case, except for in a select few verbs imported from other languages containing a "j" sound. So the verb "gaab (جاب)" actually comes from the Standard Arabic "جاء ب" meaning to "come with" but really "to bring." When she says "eh gaabak? (ايه جابك؟)," we can now say that this means "what brought you?" "taani (تاني)" is the same as Standard Arabic "ثاني" meaning "second." The "thaa (ث)" is not pronounced in Egyptian Arabic. It usually becomes a "ta" in common words or older words, but newer words re-imported from standard or the outside usually us the "sa" pronunciation in place of "tha." "taani (تاني)" has many meanings in colloquial including "second," but in this case it means again. Hence, the line means "what brought you (to me or here) again?"

The next line is fairly straighforward:

ارتاح وانسانى

"irtaaH (ارتاح)" is a very common verb in Egyptian colloquial meaning "to be comfortable" or "to be at ease" or "to relax" or "to be content," maybe even "to take it easy" in the sense of "to calm down." Here she commands her ex-lover "irtaaH wa insaani (ارتاح وانساني)" to the effect of "relax and forget me," or something along these lines.

By contrast, the following line may not appear to even be Arabic, but when dissected you will see that it is in principle the same:

واللى هييجى منك والله مانيش عايزاه

"illi (اللى)" is actually the same word as the standard "الذي," except it is not conjugated for gender or number. It means "which" or "that which." "hayiigi (هييجي)" is comprised of "ha (ه sometimes ح)" which is the future marker similar to "sa (س)" in Standard Arabic and the verb "yiigi (ييجي)" which of course means "he/it comes." Notice that the "hamza (ء)" has once again been dropped and a long vowel "ي" has been inserted before the "giim" for ease of pronunciation. Put it all together and "illi hayiigi minnak (اللي هييجي منك)" means "that which will come/is coming from you." This could be what he is going to say or what he is going to bring or do. The second part of the line contains the very familiar phrase "wallahi (ولله)" meaning "I swear" or "I swear to God." "maaniish (مانيش)" sounds crazy, but actually is the equivalent of Standard Arabic "lastu (لست)" meaning "I'm not" or "I don't." It is comprised of "ma (ما)" meaning not, "ana (انا)" meaning "I," and the "sh (ش)" at the end. This "maa -x- sh" combination is used often for negation in Egyptian Arabic, and especially with verbs. This way of expressing "I'm not" can be used for all other pronouns as well. Finally, "3ayzaah" can be seen to be comprised of the now familiar "3aayiz (عايز)," only this time conjugated for feminine, and the direct object "ah (ه)" referring to the aforementioned "اللى هييجي منك." In total the sentence is revealed thusly to mean "and that which will come from you, I swear to God, I don't want it."

That's a lot of work for one little verse of a song. Now let's move on to the chorus:

بتقول انا كنت زمان بهواك

"bit'uul (بتقول)" is the equivalent of Standard Arabic "تقول" meaning "you say." Once again we see the the "q" becoming a glottal stop sound like "hamza." The "b- (ب)" is added to the beginning of verbs in the present tense verbs in Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. But what does he say you ask? "ana kunt zamaan bahwaak (انا كنت زمان بهواك)" means "I used to love you at one time" or "I used to love you in the past." "zamaan (زمان)" means time but here means "a time" that is now past. "bahwaak (بهواك)" is of course the combination of present tense marker "b- (ب)" and the verb "ahwaak (اهواك)" meaning "I love you." "ana kunt (انا كنت)" means "I was," just like in Standard Arabic, giving the meaning here of "I used to." What we notice here, however, is we do not know exactly what this means. After "bit'uul" there is no "inn (إنّ)" like in standard Arabic. We don't know if she is saying that he said the quote "I used to love you" or she says that he says that she used to love him. Here we infer the latter because it is he who wants her back, but still the grammatical ambiguity remains.

The next line:


بصراحه انا مش فاكراك

Here we find one of the most important words in colloquial Egyptian, "mish." She says "ana mish fakraak (انا مش فاكراك)," meaning "I don't remember you." We already saw "maaniish (مش)" meaning "I'm not" and here is another variation. "mish (مش)" means "not" and is the equivalent of standard Arabic "ليس," but actually, is not conjugated for person or number. Thus "ana mish," "anta mish" and so forth. "fakraak (فاكراك)" is comprised of "faakir (فاكر)" the participle form once again meaning "to remember," and the direct object marker for "you." This literally means "remembering you" but in the discourse of love it has the connations of "thinking of you" or "still being in love," juxtaposed with "naasi (ناسي)" which means "forgetting" or "no longer loving." Altogether the line "bi-SaraaHa ana mish fakraak (بصراحة انا مش فاكراك)" means "quite frankly, I'm not remembering you," and while not easily translated the meaning is clear, she's done with him!

The next line may be easily understood now:

وبتتكلم عن ايه

We see "b- (ب)" + "titkallam (تتكلّم)" meaning "you are talking." This verb is the same as in Standard Arabic, but make note of the stress difference in the word "titkallam" vs. "tatakallam." Also we can see she says "bititkallam 3an eh? (بتتكلم عن ايه؟)," meaning "what are you talking about?"

The next line contains a useful colloquial idiom:

ماخلاص راحت يا حبيبى عليك

"raaHat (راحت)" is from the verb "raaH (راح)," which means "to go" or "to leave." This verb is sometimes found in standard Arabic but is more common in colloquial Arabic, completely replacing the verb Standard Arabic verb "ذهب," which for all intents and purposes does not exist in Egyptian Arabic. Samira says "raaHat ya Habiibi 3aleek (راحت يا حبيبى عليك)," meaning "you've lost it and you will never get it back" or "you missed your chance." Of course "raaHat 3aleek (راحت عليك)" literally means something like "it left on you" but just know the idiomatic meaning of this phrase. So the whole line means something like "it's over, you missed your chance."

The next line:

عايز تحلم خليك

Here "3aayiz taHlam (عايز تحلم)" meanings "you want to dream," however, we can see from context that it is a question, something like "you wanna dream?" "xalliik (خليك)" is a very important colloquial word, meaning "let you," or "may you." "xalla (خلى)" can be attached to any noun to mean "let (someone/something) be/do (something)." For example "xalliini a3iish (خليني اعيش)" means "let me live." In this case "xalliik" means "may you" like "go ahead." So, the whole line altogether means "you wanna dream? may you" or "you wanna dream? go ahead."

The last line of the chorus:

وعايزني أعمل لك ايه؟

Contains the familiar standard Arabic verb "عمل." However, this verb does not mean "to work" in colloquial, but rather, "to do" replacing standard Arabic "فعل." Thus when Samira says "3aayizni a3mal lak eh? (عايزني أعمل لك ايه؟)" it means "what do you want me to do for you?"

So, we can see that in Egyptian colloquial some letters have a different pronunciation and some words have different but related meanings. Other words have been completely replaced by new words specific to the dialect. Also, we can see that question words tend to be found at the end of the sentence as opposed to the beginning. Negation has been changed and simplified, and verbs have different tense markers. However, despite these myriad differences, the core vocabulary and structure of the language remains the same. Listen again and try to understand the second half of the song as well, see how much you've learned. Probably close to nothing, right! That's because there's still lots to learn about Egyptian Arabic. And for more vocabulary, just visit Egyptian Arabic VocabularyBut after a couple more songs, you'll see how fast you can begin to learn.

For more, go onto the next lesson, Lesson Two: "laazim a3iish (لازم أعيش)" by Sherine

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