Daily Archives: August 19, 2009

The Sunglasses are in the Potatoes

So, I’ve taken 4 years of Arabic now including 1 year of Jordanian dialect, so I’m hoping to really work on my Arabic while I am here. Not much has happened yet and my other posts were boring, so I thought I’d share some funny stories that I wrote when I was here 2 years ago (after 2 years of Arabic and 0 of Jordanian dialect). At the time, I was teaching a sixth grade ESL class to around 10 hilarious sixth graders.

“It’s really interesting knowing a lot of Arabic because I can totally see why they make mistakes where they do. For example, the word for “watch” and “hour” are the same in Arabic, so when one kid came up and told me that he broke his hour, I eventually figured out that he was talking about his watch. Also, to say “what’s the date?” in Arabic, you say “how much is the history?” so I also figured out that they weren’t trying to purchase my family records or something. Along with teaching them English, I have been learning a lot of Arabic. I can really understand a lot better than I could before, even though I can’t understand that much now. They think it’s the funniest thing when I say something in Arabic and when they teach me words and I use them later.

One day, I heard “el-naTHaara jowa el-baTaTa النظارة جو البططة and I was pumped because I understood what the kid said. He said the sunglasses are in the potatoes. Then I paused and said to myself, sure I understood the words but surely that doesn’t make sense. So I turned around and saw a kid trying to fish his sunglasses out of the french fries. I was very amused.

But the thing that the kids like to teach me most are insults. They are (usually) fairly harmless, like “bitashrab majari بتشرب مجاري (you drink sewage), or “imshee thubban امشي ذبان(shoo fly), so it’s all in good fun. The problem came when a few of my buddies were so excited that I could speak some Arabic that they wanted me to speak Arabic with their parents at the final day celebraition. I tried my hardest, but I didn’t have much to say considering all I had really been taught were playground insults, which aren’t appropriate with people who trusted you with their children for a few weeks.”

Well, that’s from last time, but hopefully there will be more to come about this time, as I’m far better prepared to pick up the dialect now.