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Egyptian Arabic: Basics 101

Khan il Khalili

Communicating with Egyptians turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated. Most speak just enough English to get by in basic conversations. However, when traveling to a foreign country that does not use English as its first language, it is only polite to try your best to learn to speak with locals. Learning another language strengthens your social and communication skills, helps fight off Alzheimer’s, and makes you look so much cooler when you get back home.

I have compiled a list of basic Arabic words and phrases specific to Egypt. I sometimes use these words in my stories. If you come across some Arabic in another article of mine, please refer back to this list in order to better understand what you are reading.

Asalam alekum - “Peace be upon you,” used as the standard greeting.

Alekum salam - The response to salam alekum, also wishing peace.

Ze yik (f) Ze yak (m) - “How are you?”

Il hamdu lil’llah - “I’m thanking God.” The formal response to "Ze ik?”

Tmam - “Good.”

Eh da - “What’s this?”

Fe eh - “What’s wrong?”

Shokran - “Thank you.”

Afwan - “You’re welcome.”

Aiwa - “Yes.”

Lah - “No.”

I hope this is helpful. Remember, learning another language is difficult. However, you’ll find that people in Egypt are quite friendly and very willing to help. They also seem to get quite a kick out of listening to Americans attempt to speak in full Arabic sentences.

Until next time…

Follow the Fish

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