Our Top Five Most Used Arabic “God Phrases”

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.

This is a special edition of Klmatic Monologues, fueled by the Blog Challenge! You can’t learn any dialect of Arabic, the language of the Quran, without learning about God phrases. Living in a Muslim majority country means that our everyday conversations are peppered liberally with references to Allah. As Arabic language learners, we find that God phrases are incredibly useful and dynamic. We’re sharing five of our most-used God phrases—it’s pretty much impossible to have a conversation in Moroccan Arabic without using at least one of these!

1. Tbarkallah

“May God grant you grace”

Used as a “congratulations” or “good job.” And just like the English phrases, yes—it can be used sarcastically. (Yes, we’ve combined tbarkallah with a slow clap.)

2. Alhamdulilah (most often shortened to Hamdullah)

“Praise be to God” / “Thanks to God”

Used to express that all is well for any occasion. You can use it to express happiness or contentment or gratitude in any form. Some common times to break out the hamdullah: during greetings (you can use it by itself to answer “how are you?” questions), after you burp, after you finish a meal (especially if a Moroccan mama is insisting you eat more! Invoking the hamdullah often—though not always—stops the urging).

3. Bismillah

“In the name of God”

Used at the start of anything or before you begin any activity. Before you start a meal, before you eat or drink anything. Before you exchange money. Before you read something. Before you start on an adventure. Before a new work project. Before you start studying for an exam. Before you start an exam. Before you start a car (heard very often from taxi drivers). It’s also the first word of the Quran.

4. Inshallah

“God willing”

Used for any sort of future tense. Things will happen only if God wills it. Even as nonbelievers, we’ve come to really respect inshallah. After all, it’s true—no human can really know the future. We can have all the intentions in the world to see our friend later, to go the event, to start the work project—but still, things happen that we can’t control. Plus, inshallah is the perfect cover for things you don’t reeeaaallly want to do.

“Come over for lunch next week!” says someone we don’t like very much. “Inshallah!” we say in jaunty unison.

“Next time, I’ll pay,” Robert tells a friend who treated us to coffees. “Inshallah,” she replies. We look at her suspiciously.

We use inshallah so often that even when a character in a movie or TV show says “see you later,” we whisper under our breaths, “…inshallah.”

5. Llah yrHm l-walidin

“God bless your parents.”

When we first learned about this phrase, we were told by our teachers and our textbook that it’s used when asking for a service/information or to express gratitude to someone. For example, when you’re lost and ask someone for directions, you can throw in a “llah yrHm l-walidin.” This is true, but it wasn’t until much later that we learned about the other side of this phrase. After we had passed the fifth or sixth shouting argument in which we heard this phrase screamed, we realized that in certain contexts, “God bless your parents” can also mean “SCREW YOU.”

Yours Truly,

Robert & Julie

Blogging Abroad's Boot Camp Blog Challenge: Starting January 2015


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