Is Fluency Possible?

Last Fall, my good friend Aaron and I spent many hours in the kitchen cooking and baking. We loved to cook a big tajine and invite our Moroccans friends over to see how our fare compared to their mothers' and grandmothers'. This was fun, but we knew it was a game we knew we couldn't win.

Though our friends, being good friends and all, would rave about our cooking (sometimes deservedly), we both knew that after only a year learning Moroccan cuisine we had grasped only the very basics. How could we compare to people who grew up in the kitchen and made cooking their life?

We couldn't. And we accepted that. But that didn't deter us; we knew that we were always learning, always progressing. And though we realized may never reach that level of consummate knowledge and ability, we knew could still be pretty good, even excellent.

To me, language fluency is similar in many ways.


The Beats of Morocco's Young Islamists

Chekh Sar, "Poor, Muslim and proud of it", and not happy with the current state of Morocco. (From his Facebook page)
Chekh Sar is a young Moroccan rapper who, as my friend Said says, "speaks the truth." His song, "Wasted Time (Part II)", laments Morocco's morally and ethically corrupt society. Though he is clearly an Islamist, Moroccans of all stripes echo many of his complaints.

Below is the video, which is long, but worth watching to see the breadth of his and others frustration. Commentary follows which highlights some of the song's more poignant verses and criticisms.

The Morphology of Moroccan Street Talk

Like the other Arabic dialects, Moroccan Arabic exhibits many similarities to Standard and Classical Arabic. Among the most entertaining is the use of the diminutive, which presents itself most often in street talk, or zanqawiyya. As we'll see, in Moroccan street talk, making someone 'smaller' makes them more dear to you.
At least in theory, all Arabic words possess a diminutive form called tasghir التصغير. This form is used to express a 'smaller' version of said word. You may be familiar with the -ito suffix in Spanish, which signifies the diminutive. In Spanish, papa means 'father' and papasito means 'little father'.

The Arabic dimunitive is formulaic. It involves pronouncing the first short vowel as a 'short u' sound, or damma, and adding a long vowel between the 2nd and 3rd root letters. A good example of this is Hasan and Hussein. Hussein is the diminutive form of Hasan, so literally 'little Hasan'. In Arabic you write it like this: