Klmatic Monologues: BZAF

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: BZAF / بزاف

One of the things I love most about learning Darija is how simple it can be sometimes.

I know, I know. You’re like, WTF JULIE ARABIC IS EASY???

Oh, don’t you worry… I am not saying Arabic is easy! I still struggle with it every day. I get by just fine with the horrible Arabic I already know, but I won’t ever be truly fluent in it. And Arabic FusHa is definitely not easy! BUT. Darija is a different beast sometimes.

What I mean is that Darija has way less vocab words, synonyms, and word variations than English. I’ll demonstrate by talking about one of the most prevalent Darija words: bzaf.

In Darija, “bzaf” means: much, a lot, a great deal, too much, very, very much, many, too many, very many, numerous, a large quantity, so much, and sooooooooooooooooooo much.


couscous bzaf

Bzaf has bzaf meanings.

In English, we have all these synonyms to express the same idea. Furthermore, they don’t all have the same meaning. There are differences that are difficult to explain to English language learners. The difference between “so much” and “too much,” for instance. We say “too” when we mean it in a negative way, if the quantity is undesirable or otherwise contemptible.

“That kid is too clever for her own good,” we might say about a troublemaker. “He has too much time on his hands,” we might say to criticize a lazy person who isn’t doing anything. “He gave me too many books,” we might say while trying to lug home a library haul that’s slightly more heavy than we can handle. “I ate too much food,” we might say after a Moroccan meal—a concept Moroccan mamas might not completely understand.

In Darija, no matter what, you can use “bzaf” to mean A LOT.

And you can use it for countable nouns, uncountable nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and even propositions!

3ndhum floos bzaf! (They have a lot of money!)

Kayn shimisha bzaf lyum! (There’s a lot of sunshine today!)

Ana mrida bzaf… (I’m very sick…)

Hiya zwina bzaf. (She’s very beautiful.)

Kayn l-Hut bzaf f had l-wad. (There are a lot of fish in this river.)

Sloughi kaytmmsha bswiya bzaf (The sloughi–a breed of Moroccan dog–walks very slowly.)

Kanbghik bzaf! (I love you a lot!)

In English, the meaning changes depending on which word you pick. (Ex. I have a lot of food vs. I have too much food.) But in Darija, there’s only one word for it all. I think it’s simple because in English, if you pick the wrong term, the sentence is grammatically incorrect. (I love you much = INCORRECT … They have very many money = INCORRECT … There’s very fish in this river = INCORRECT) When you’re learning English, it’s sometimes hard to know which one to use! But for us Darija learners, this part’s a snap. Sahil bzaf! (Very easy!)

You can even sometimes replace “bzaf” where “too” is implied. Example:

Instead of “bkri” (early)–

Host mom: You’re leaving now? Stay!

Us: We can’t! We have to go to sleep now.

Host mom: Why? What time are you getting up tomorrow?

Us: Eight in the morning.

Host mom: Ahhhhhhh bzaf!!!

One of my fave uses of “bzaf” is in combo with “swiya.” Swiya is the opposite of “bzaf.” It can mean any version of “little bit of.” Sometimes, people will say “swiya bzaf” or “bzaf swiya” and we think it’s hilarious. But it makes complete linguistic sense! After all, in English, we say things like “a little too much” or “very little.” It’s used the same.

Sorry, sorry… rambling on too much here! But what can I say? I’m a linguistic nerd!

We hoped you learned bzaf swiya from this post! We hope your day is wonderful bzaf!

Yours Truly,

Robert & Julie


2 thoughts on “Klmatic Monologues: BZAF

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