Klmatic Monologues: SAFI vs BARAKA

Klma = Word. Klmatic Monologues is a semi-regular series on words in Moroccan Arabic (Darija). Note 1: I am neither a linguist nor a native speaker, so this should be taken as amateur antics. Note 2: Darija is not a standardized written language, like Modern Standard Arabic (FusHa) or Standard English, so my Latin letter transcriptions are subjective. In other words, spelling will always be questionable.

For more Klmatic Monologues, go here.

كلمة: safi / صافي & Baraka / باركة

In Moroccan Darija, “safi” and “baraka” both mean “enough.”

Sometimes, they are interchangeable, but they have subtle differences for different contexts.

For example, if you are eating a meal at a Moroccan family’s house, both of these words can come in handy. At one point, you will reach the stage where if you consume anything else, you will literally burst. “Eat, eat, eat,” your hosts will continue to insist. “Please! Take more! You haven’t eaten anything! Eat!”

“I’m full,” you’ll say. But the insistence will continue. At this point, you can employ the “enough!” (Remember to say it several times, along with lots of “Hamdullahs”—Thanks be to God—for it to stick. ) “SAFI, SAFI, thank you, BARAKA, BARAKA, SAFI, SAFI, SAFI!”

“Safi” is a super-common word in Morocco. Everyone uses it in pretty much every other sentence. That’s because it also doubles in meaning as “OK” or “alright.” To me, it seems even more prevalent than “wakha,” (or “waxxa,” as the Peace Corps Language textbook spells it) which also means “OK.” Safi also means “that’s it. period.” You’d add it on after a sentence that you want to emphasize. Just like English conversations are littered with these affirming phrases, Moroccan Darija coversations are chock full of “safi.”

On the other hand, “baraka” cannot mean “OK.” But it does have a few other meanings besides “enough.” It can also mean “blessing.” For instance, we often say “baraka llah fik” (God bless you) as a thanks. I use it most often during friendly business exchanges—if I buy something from a shop, open a contract with the internet provider, or ask the youth center key holder for the projector. “Baraka” can also denote a kind of spiritual flow that connects divinity to humanity—this last meaning I don’t know much about. You’ll have to ask an expert.

I didn’t make this connection until fairly recently. When we first arrived in Morocco, a series of sad events happened with family friends. We attended a few funeral feasts in those first months. Because of this, we learned that when someone passes away, you say “baraka f rask” to them.

“Enough in your head”…? I thought it strange, but also quite compelling. Maybe like you were telling people, “I hope the sadness in your mind is finishing up.” Unfortunately, I’ve used it several times since we first learned it. Only recently did I realize it actually probably means “blessings on you.” I was thinking too literally, as many foreign language learners do.

If we say them together, “safi baraka,” it often is akin to “alright, we are finishing this up.” It can be used at the end of almost any conversation. Doesn’t matter if you’re just calling your host mom to tell her you miss her, or if you’re asking your boss about a new program, or if you’re just buying some peaches off a cart.

So… safi, baraka. See you later!

Yours Truly,

Robert & Julie


3 thoughts on “Klmatic Monologues: SAFI vs BARAKA

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