Updated on August 3, 2015
It’s useful for every archaeologist to know just a little arabic if they’re going to be working in a Middle Eastern country. Of course, the words you pick up sometimes don’t always have anything to do with archaeology…
And your milage on these words may vary.
Mish kwayis: Not good.
The first is used when the workers are teasing someone. The second is used when the workers are teasing you.
I figured since, “fail” had long stopped being a verb and has made the transition to a noun in English, it was only fitting that it do the same in Arabic.
Mafi mushkala: No problem.
You want me to smash up that boulder? Mafi mushkala. You want me to do another top plan? Mafi mushkala. You want me to climb 850 stairs on the way up to the Monastery in Petra? Mafi mushkala!
Yalla yalla: Let’s go!
No seriously. Move it.
Shway shway: Slowly, slowly.
My workers are no longer allowed to say this to me while I’m carrying something. The second they say it, I fall down, trip, or otherwise show how clumsy I can be.
Ana tabana: I’m tired.
Ana nasana: I’m sleepy.
Interchangeable and honestly, I may have those backwards. Used from 4:00 am onwards.
Habibi: My beloved.
Used for close friends and best when shouted across the dig site.
Best when used in frequent succession, interspersed with, “aiwa,” (meaning yes). Must be made to sound like a chicken. Laaaaaaaa!
Shouhada: What is this?
Generally used in the place of, “WTF??” Spoken with a lot of emphasis because there’s always something going on to make someone say, “Shouhada??”
Really, you could say yes (aiwa) or no (laa), but saying mumkin is better just because saying mumkin is more fun. Muuuuumkin. Muuuuummmmmmmmkin. Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmkin.
While sometimes used in reference of barely legal boys (see previous post), it’s generally used all the time. You just finished eating? Hafla! You just walked down the street? Hafla! There are more gufaf to be sifted? Hafla!!!