Arabic is the official language of Egypt, and the Egyptian dialect is the mother tongue of 92 million Egyptians, making it the most widely spoken Arabic dialect. Thanks to the Egyptian movies and media industry, it also understood by almost all of the 300 million Arabic speakers around the world. As a result, it’s no wonder that many people who want to learn Arabic prefer to study it in the Egyptian dialect. If you are thinking to study Egyptian Arabic, here is a guide to some of the resources available to get you started.
“Lisaan Masry” (The Egyptian Tongue) (http://eg.lisaanmasry.com/)
Sure, you can use Google translate to find an Arabic word, but that won’t help you much if you’re looking for the word in the Egyptian dialect. Instead, why not head over to Lisaan Masry, a free online Egyptian Arabic dictionary that comes with many benefits. First, every word is organized into categories and subcategories, so it’s kind of fun to click through categories and see all the other words/phrases grouped along with the expressions or words you might be looking up. The audio is superb and includes every word in its natural sounding Egyptian accent. They also give you some sample sentences, though it’s not quite complete for every word yet. They even pop up automatically on the mobile app (Oh, did I forget to mention they have a mobile app, too?), but not so much on the website.
Desert Sky (https://arabic.desert-sky.net/index.html)
Don’t let this webpage that looks like a throwback to the ‘90s fool you, it’s more of a webpage of lists, but oh what lists! They are including lists of expressions, idioms and common phrases written in Arabic with an English transliteration. It also features lists of gems such as multiple ways of saying the same thing and careful distinctions about when to say different things. Look at this sample on what to say in Egyptian Arabic when somebody sneezes:
The sneezer says: الحمد لله (il-Hamdu lillāh) – lit. “Praise be to God”
Someone else: يرحمكم الله (yarHamkum illāh) – lit. “May God have mercy on you (pl.)
The sneezer replies:يرحمنا ويرحمكم (yarHamna wa-yarHamkum) – lit. “May He have mercy on us and you”.
Optional addition: ويغفر لنا ولكم (wa-yaġfir lana wa-lakum) – lit “And forgive us and you” an additional expression that some people say.
Looking through the website, I couldn’t help but be amazed and wonder where this website was when I first started to learn Arabic.
Sing Along with Amr Diab
Out of all the Arab music to learn from, for sure Egyptian music is the most fun and this website doesn’t disappoint. There are 15 courses taught through songs, and the author does a great job explaining them through the meaning of vocabulary words, lyrics, translation, and annotations. I mean, just look at all of what you can learn from just the first line of one song:
“ما خلاص عايز ايه منى”
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The word “3aayiz (عايز)” follows the familiar pattern of (فاعل) from Standard Arabic, thus making it a kind of active participle carrying the meaning of a present tense verb in this case. So “3aayiz (عايز)” means “wanting,” which depending on the context could be “I want,” “you want,” or “he wants.” It takes the place of the standard Arabic verb “أراد,” which does not exist as such in Egyptian Arabic. The word “eh (ايه)” is Egyptian for “what,” taking the place of both “ما” and “ماذا” from Standard Arabic.
As you can see, the question word “eh” follows the verb “3aayiz” instead of preceding it. This is a particular characteristic of Egyptian Arabic; the question word almost always is found after the verb and usually at the end of the sentence. From the context, we infer that the phrase “3aayiz eh? (عايز ايه؟)” means “what do you want?” The last word of the sentence “minni (مني)” is the same as Standard Arabic “from me,” but the reader may be confused to see a “ى” in place of the “ي.” This is usually the case at the end of the word in Egyptian Arabic, so you just have to get used to it. In all, the first sentence means “it’s over; what do you want from me?”
Heck yeah, that’s a lot of information, but look how much Egyptian Arabic you’ve already learned. Fun all around!
These are just a few of the resources you can use to learn the Egyptian dialect in Arabic. If you would like to learn more, visit us at kaleela.com. And if you really want to learn the Egyptian dialect, keep an out for our new Arabic language learning app (including lessons on the Egyptian dialect) launching in the next few days!