Moroccan Arabic Lesson: What are you doing? (VIDEO)

Here is a clip from the Moroccan romantic comedy: A Berber Guy who Love a Fessi Girl. Here we see Rachid talk to Ma3allim 3ddi, an old builder, in his town. Rachid is an architect and doubts Ma3allim 3addi's credibility. Rachid's father appears towards the end of the clip to try to set his son straight.

This clip is a great example of conversational Moroccan Arabic, featuring good small talk and several useful phrases and vocabulary terms.

Click below for a word by word translation of this video and an explanation of key vocabulary words.

المعلّم عدّي آش كتدير؟ داك البني واش بن آدم للي غيدخل ليه أو لا البهايم؟
Rashid: lma3allem 3addi, ash katdir? dak lbni wash bnadam lli ghaydkhul lih aw la lbhayem?

al-ma3allim 3addi, what are you doing? Are people going to go through that door, or will animals?

شتي آش غنقولك أ سي رشيد. بن آدم للي غيدخل ليه ماشي البهايم
Ma3allim: chti ash ghangoulik a si rashid, bnadam lli ghaydkhoul lih, mashi lbhayem

You see... what am I going to tell you rashid? It's people that will use it, not animals.

و علاش صغّرتِه هاكاك؟
Rashid: w 3lash saghghartih hakak?

Then why did you make it so short like that?

الباب ملي كيكون صغير كيكون محترم. و للي دخل منه يتحنّى. و دبا فاش جابك الله، شد هنا. مزيان، هاكاك، هاكاك، هاكاك
Ma3allim: lbab melli kaykon saghir, kaykon mo7taram. w lli dkhal menou yt7nna. w daba fash jabek Allah, shedd hnna. mzian, hakak, hakak, hakak…

When a door is short, it is respected. Whoever goes in through it is bowing. And now, if the Spirit moves you, hold this there. Good, like that, like that, like that...

المعلم عدى، أ راك غير كتروّن و ما عارف والو
Rashid: lma3allim 3addi, a rak ghair katrowwen, w ma 3aref walo

Ma3allim 3addi, you're fooling around, and you don't know anything.

 أنت للي ماتعرف والو. أما المعلم عدي، عارف شغله. عرفتِ هاد الدار للي تولدتِ فيها؟ و قاع ديور ديال الدوار، أ راه بّاه للي بناهم
Father: anta lli mat3rif walo. ama lma3allim 3addi, 3arif shughlho. 3rafti had dar lli twlidti fiha, w ga3 dior dial duwwar, a rah bbah lli bnahom.

You're the one who doesn't know anything! As for l-Ma3allim 3addi, he knows his work. You know the house that you were born in and all the other houses in the village? It was his Dad who built them.

ِأما أنت؟ آش بنيت؟
Rashid: ama anta? ash bniti?

(to al-ma3allim) And you, what have you built?

أنا للي بنيت sette etage ديال سنيما سلام ماتاحوش في زلزال ديال أگادير
Ma3allim: ana lli bnit, sette etage, dial Cinema Salam, mata7osh fi zilzal dial Agadir.

Well, I've built the six story Cinema Salaam that survived the Agadir earthquake.

Rashid: hmmm…

Ma3allim: iyyeh

That's right.

هي هاد البني anti seismic؟
Rashid: hiya had lbini anti-seismic?

Was that an anti-seismic building?

Ma3allim: huh?

شكيتِ فيه؟
Father: shkkiti fih?

Do you doubt him?


Vocabulary Review

  • al-ma3allim - المعلّم - literally "master" in the sense of a master craftsman, but commonly used as a title or honorific, either sincerely or sarcastically. In this clip, al-Ma3allim 3addi is a craftsmen, and though Rashid doesn't think he knows anything, he still refers to him as 'al-Ma3allim'. Anyone who practices and craft or skill can be called ma3allim, as well as teachers or learned people.
  • ash katdir - آش كتدير - "what are you doing?" or "what's up?".
  • dak - داك - demonstrative pronoun meaning "that". Read about pronouns in Moroccan Arabic here.
  • bnadam - بن آدم - "people", literally "Adam's sons/tribe". Islam considers all people to be descendants of Adam, the first man, and his wife Eve. Words like al-nas and al-bashr are also used to mean "people", but bnadam is more common and more Moroccan.
  • lli - للي - relative pronoun meaning "those who", "he/she who", "that which", etc. Read more about lli here.
  • albhayem - البهايم - "animals".
  • shtti - شتِّ - idiomatic verb meaning "you see, …". shtti is used idiomatically and always in the past tense, referring to the 2nd person. For example: shtti dba? Do you see now?
  • ash ghangoulik - آش غنقولك - "what am I going to tell you?" or "what can I say?". ash means "what" and ghangoulik is a contraction between nghoulik "I say to you" and the future tense prefix gha. Read more about the future tense in Moroccan Arabic here.
  • a Si Rachid - أ سي رشيد - "hey, (Mr.) Rashid". a is like the "oh" or "hey" we use in conversation in English to indicate who we're talking to. Here, it's mainly rhetorical, but it can also be used literally to get someone's attention as in: a fin a khoya? "hey man, where are you going?" Si is an abbreviation of Sidi, which means "Mister" or "Sir" and is used to address men of a higher rank or older age than a speaker. Si is not as honorable as Sidi, but is still polite, and is used between young people, or by older people to address younger people. For women the term lella is used. The a Si/Sidi/Lella construction is very common in conversational Moroccan Arabic.
  • saghghartih - صغّرته - "made (it) smaller". saghghart is derived from the adjective saghir which means "small". In Moroccan Arabic there are many similar verbs derived from adjectives that follow the same form and describe causing something to be the quality of a given adjective. For example, kabbar كبّر means "to get big" or "to grow old" and is derived from the adjective kbir كبير meaning "big" or "old":
تبارك الله ولدك كبّر بزاف
Tbarak Allah wuldik kabbar bzaf

Congratulations! Your son has grown up a lot!
  • hakak - هاكاك - "like that". This is the same as haik and kada as found in other Arabic dialects, and hakadha as found in Classical Arabic.
  • melli - ملي - "when" or "once". This is the same as 3ndama in Classical Arabic. 
  • yt7nna - يتحنّى - "to be bowing".
  • fash jabek Allah - فاش جابك الله - "when the spirit moves you", literally "once God brings you to me". Here, al-Ma3allim 3addi uses this phrase slightly sarcastically to be patronizing towards Rashid.
  • shedd - شدّ - "to hold" or "to fasten" or "to close". shedd has many different, useful meanings. As we see here, it means "to hold" something in place, but also more generally. It also means "to close", as in: shedd fommek "Shut your mouth!". Similarly, it means "to fasten" something: shedd albab "Close (i.e. lock/fasten) the door". It can also be used with modes of transportation with the meaning, "to take": ghanshedd ltren f lsba7 ma3 l3shra "I'm going to take the train in the morning at ten o'clock".
  • rak - راك - "you are". ra is an article that emphasizes someone's state of being or action. Here it is used with the pronoun k which refers to "you", and can be used with all other pronouns, as we see with rah "he/him" later on. 

  • ghair - غير - "just" or "only". 
  • katrowwen - كتروّن - "you're being a fool"
  • walo - والو - "nothing". walo is unique to Moroccan Arabic and is very common. It has the same meaning and usage as wa la shi as found in other Arabic dialects.
  • twlidti - تولدتِ - "you were born in". This is the passive/reflexive form of walada "to birth", which we know from the initial t. 
  • ga3 - قاع - "all". ga3 also has the many of "at all", as in: makan7ammalhomsh ga3 "I can't stand them at all." In this way it's identical to qatt قط in Standard Arabic. In the video, however, it's used simply as an adjective.
  • duwwar - دوّار - village
  • rah bbah - راه بّاه - "(it was) his Father..." Remember rak? Here we see it in the 3rd person, emphasizing bbah.
  • sette etage - "six stories". Moroccans frequently code switch between their dialect and French. That code switching especially occurs when speaking about modern and technical things, as we see later on.
  • iyyeh - إيّة - "yeah" or "yes". This is one of many ways of saying "yes" in Moroccan Arabic.
  • anti-seismic - "anti-seismic". Another example of code switching into French, and again it refers to something technical.
  • shkkiti fih - شكيتِ فيه - "you doubt him" or "you don't believe him". This is an irregular past tense verb. Read more about irregular past tense verbs here.


Want more? Click here for a list of all of our Moroccan Arabic lessons.

Many thanks to Said Fertate for his input and edits to this post's transcription and translation.