All dialects/MSA: yes

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by SofiaB, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia
    Some observation of colloquial Arabic:
    Yes = Written نعم , إِي
    spoken نعم, إِيوة
    aywa=from Tunisia east / eewa= parts of Morocco and Algeria
    simple yes = aywa. Yes in response to an order/request /or to ask someone to repeat what was said = نعم.
    Is this correct? Does it vary from one place to another?
    Please give comments from natives and learners.
  2. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Ahlan Sofia
    the إى is not very common in written Arabic, I'm not even sure it means yes. But I found it mentioned only one time in the Quran : قُـلْ إِىْ وَرَبِّي إنَّهُ لَحَقٌّ (Surat Yunus 10, verse 53).
    This made me think that the "iyy wa rabbi" became iywa-->aywa (in some Egyptian cities, while rural places mainly pronounce it iywa). This is just a guessing of mine, I'm not sure how iyy became iywa/aywa.

    As for the usage, I'll speak of what we say in Egypt, other Arabic speakers would talk about their colloquial Arabic :
    - Aywa is a yes for a simple yes/no question.
    - In response to an order/request we say : 7aader حاضر or sometimes تحت أمرك but this is mainly by shoptenders, or from an employee to his/her boss...
    - To ask someone to repeat what was said : afandem أفندم؟
    :) sometimes we say نعم in sort of "threatening" tone when we didn't like what we heard, as if to "scare" the speaker to change their mind :D
    - We use na3am نعم when someone calls us. (and sometimes "aywa?" (the question mark is intended to mark the tone), sometimes also "afandem?" in the same situation.
  3. Conchita57

    Conchita57 Senior Member

    Madrid, Spain
    Spanish - Spain/French - Switzerland
    In the Lebanese dialect (in case someone is interested), both 'aywa' and 'naam' are used. Yet what people mostly say is simply 'eh'. Incidentally, 'no' is 'lah'.
  4. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    you are always so good in this forum. for yes. Conchita Sofias post seems to want info from everyone so your answer is needed.
    I have heard all of the uses posted so far but can not give regional info. Sorry. also iywa is not limited to M/A as per Cherine.
  5. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Thank you so much for the nice words Marc :)
    Also thank you for the link you gave, it lead me to a very interesting definition of the "letter" Iyy from Lisaan al-'arab (a major monolingual Arabic dictionary) :
    إِيْ حرف جواب بمعنى نَعَمْ ولا تقع إلا قبل القَسَم وإذا قيل إيْ والله ثُم أُسْقِطَتْ الواو جاز سكون ياء إيْ فيلتقي ساكنان على غير حدّهما وجاز فتحها وحذفها وقول العامَّة أَيْوَهْ قَسَمٌ أصله إيْ واللهِ وقد تُبدَّل همزةُ إيْ هَاءً فيُقال هيْ
  6. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Palestinian Arabic:

    *To give an affirmative answer to most yes/questions, we usually say آه (pronounced "aah.") This is by far the most commonly used word. Some people say نعم to be emphatic, and أيوة is possible but can express slight irritation.

    *In response to an order/request, we can say حاضر or تحت أمرك (or just أمرك), but I agree with Cherine that these are used in formal situations (in other situations, they sound a little dramatic). A less formal alternative is على عيني or the more dramatic على عيني وراسي. In informal situations, we would say طيّب (pronounced Tayyeb).
    By the way, it should come as no surprise that we don't use any of the words for "yes" in these situations; even in English one would say "ok," "gladly," "sure," etc. or at the very least "yes, sir/ma'am."

    (Unless the dialogue is something like
    -"Could you take out the trash?"
    but I would place that in the first category. In Palestinian Arabic we would also say آه here although we'd probably follow it up with طيّب or حاضر.)

    *To ask someone to repeat what he/she said, we say نعم؟, which can have the other connotations Cherine mentioned. We do not say أفندم؟, which sounds very Egyptian. :D

    *When we are called, we respond with نعم. If we're irritated, we might say أيوة.

    Additional notes:

    *On the phone, if we have to go do something for a few minutes and come back while the other person waits on the other end of the line, the common thing to say when you come back to let the person know you're back is أيوة.

    *We also use أيوة to cheer someone on, like at a sports game or whenever they're doing something we would like them to continue doing.

    *If we want to express that something is completely out of the question, we could answer with a rhetorical أيوة؟ intonated like this: "ay-wá?"

    -Ra7 tiijii 3al 7afleh? (Will you come to the party?)
    -Aywá? (No way!)

    *We can also use أيوة - intonated áàywá (in a kind of singsong voice) - to express surprise, amusement, disapproval, interest, etc. rather akin to the English "Well, well..."

    [a man sees his kids on the kitchen floor with lipstick smeared all over their faces.]
    -Áàywá, áàywá. Haada 'l-li kaan naa2eS! (Well, well. This is just what we needed!)

    The above two are very idiomatic usages of the word, and my guess is that they are restricted to Palestinian Arabic, possibly even the Galilean dialect (I'm a Galilean who lives in Jerusalem, and I don't think I've heard these two uses by Jerusalemites). I'd be interested in knowing whether the word is used in a similar way in other dialects.

    *When we finally "get" something after repeated attempts at an explanation, or whenever a "lightbulb goes off in our heads," we can express a prolonged آه, i.e. آآآآآآآآآه (rather akin to the English "Oooooooooooh! (I get it now!)."

    I could go on and on, but the above will have to suffice for now. :)
  7. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    I was going to mention that. This is used a lot in Egyptian Arabic as well, at least in my experiences.
  8. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    لأ شكر على وجيب يا شرين

    I remember in Tunisia children and adults say نعم to parents,elders and bosses.
    إى,إيوة,أيوة,أي to peers.

    Turkish efendi A title of respect or courtesy in Turkey; a man of high education or social standing in an eastern Mediterranean or Arab country. أفندم؟
  9. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual

    Small correction. Also, I don't think that particular expression is fitting here because it suggests that praising Cherine for her amazing contributions (by the way, I couldn't agree with you more about that :)) is your duty. The expression is more commonly used when replying to someone who thanks you for having done him a favor.

    In all contexts??
  10. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    Not in all contexts. When giving an answer to a yesor no question.
  11. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Yes, that's what I meant. :) It seems strange to me that they would use it every time they wanted to answer a yes/no question when speaking with these people.
  12. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

    Same thing in Saudi Arabia,we use:
    1.A boy to his father:
    O!father I want to buy a car.
    --His father:"نعم"???!!!(in a loud tone meaning"what"?.That is, a kind of exclamation)
    2.When I watch my favourite wrestler holding down or leveling his opponent with boxes or fists, I say:
    Iwa ..Iwa "إيوا..إيوا"
    3.Ali is calling Salim:
    4.Salim is asking Ali:
    Salim:"Have you sent the book"?
    5.Colloquial :
    Have you sent the book?
    Iyy"إي"or "إيه"with "ya'" moshaddadah sometimes unmoshaddadah
    6.Are you going to accompany me?
    Iyyih"إيه"with/out "ya' " moshaddadah or unmoshaddadah
    7.people sometimes use it at the beggining as an alternative of a "big sigh"
    إيه!لقد كنت شابا فتياً حينذاك
    8.My brother is looking at me while I am folding the letter:
    My brother:"Have you sent the letter"?
    Me:"Iyy or eeh"إي "or "إيه"the latter with long vowel"ya, mumdodah".It is paradoxically understood.
  13. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
  14. SofiaB Senior Member

    English Asia
    Thanks everyone for your valuable and detailed information.
    Is the formal informal limited to Tunisia?
    In Lebanon both are used are they interchangeable?
    In Saudi Arabia is aywa used or only iwa?
  15. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Yes, that is also the case in Egyptian Arabic (Sorry if someone already mentioned that, I did not reread all of the posts). In addition to "what" you could also say the word "really" or "is that so" in a sly, sarcastic way. This is very common in English.

    "I want to drink some beer, dad."

    "I want to drink beer, dad."
    "Is that so?"

    3aawiz ashrab biira, ya baba."
  16. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    نعم is used the same way in Palestinian Arabic.
  17. Rosa Fernandez Member

    Spanish- Spain
    Hello Sofia,

    In Moroccan darija they say "iyye" or "iyya" for "yes". Well, that's what it sounds like to me. I wouldn't know how to write it in Arabic. And they say "iwa" (not "aiwa") to begin a sentence, meaning "so" (or maybe with no meaning!)

    Hope it helps!

  18. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    Hi all,

    I was wondering whether na°am is derived from a root ن ع م (or another one). If it is, could you give some other examples of words with this root and their meanings? (Please fully vowelize as I don't know Arabic, or give transliterations.)
    Same question for aywa, although cherine's remark below made me think there's no obvious root to connect it to.

    Nice guess. Is it certain that aywa came from iy at all? Wa means 'and', right? Seems like an atypical word to get into a 'yes'-particle but why not. Is there someone who can look this up, or simply knows about the etymology of aywa? Or na°am's?

    Thanks in advance for any answers!
  19. aya_sofiya Member

    Ile de France, France
    Morocco Arabic
    salam:) .here in Morocco we have different ways to say"na-am",because the spoken language differs from region to another.We say: àh ,iyah ,but na-am is often used when someone is calling for another like if you mother call for you,you say "na-am" or "ashnou" if it is your friend,because "ashnou" is informal.:D
  20. Tariq_Ibn_zyad Senior Member

    In my region we say "wah" as well as in western Algeria.
    I agree for "n3am" which is something like "present!" when someone's calling you.
  21. suma Senior Member

    English, USA
    something about that word looks/sounds suspiciously Persian? (not that that's a bad thing, just an observation)
  22. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    Türkçe (Turkish)
  23. suma Senior Member

    English, USA
    Turkish, that makes sense, considering the Ottoman rule and influence over the area.
  24. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    Yet another question about 'yes' in Arabic (not sure if I should open a new thread for it):

    I read that balaa (بلا / بلى؟) is used as a reply to negative questions to 'overcome' the negation, like si in French. Is this MSA, dialectal (if so, which dialect(s)), or just nonsense :)?

    What is the meaning of balaa and in what other contexts could it be used? As always, I'm also interested in the etymology. Does the laa part happen to be related to the negation particle لا?

    Many thanks in advance!
  25. clevermizo Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish

    I don't think بلا is MSA, but it could be. In Syrian the expression you're thinking of is مبلا mbala. بلا means "without" (cf. بدون) and is probably a straightforward combination of the preposition بـ with the negative لا.

    I don't know the origin of mbala مبلا.

    Edit: The expression بِلا bilaa is listed in Al-Mawrid with the meaning of بدون. So technically I guess it either is or was legitimate in fus7a. But it may not be commonly used in writing.
  26. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    There is a difference between بلا (bila) and بلى (bala). The former means "without" and the latter means "yes" - it can be used to contradict a negative or just as an emphatic yes. Both words are MSA.

    In Palestinian Arabic we use "mbala" like in Syrian. I suspect it is derived from the MSA بلى.
  27. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    بلى is a bona fide, authentic fusHa word. The "colloquial" مبلى is certainly derived from it. The standard rule for negative questions goes like this:

    ألست من أمريكا؟
    answer: بلى (أنا من أمريكا)ا
    or: نعم (لست من أمريكا)ا
    However, in spoken Arabic, نعم has been replaced by لا, and this usage has filtered into written Arabic as well.

    In Arabia, they use إلاّ instead of بلى, except for the Gulf region where they use بلى or مبلى just like in Iraq and the Levant.
  28. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

    بلى : verily
    بلا : without
  29. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    I've never seen بلا (bila) used in the Qur'an (which to me is the benchmark) بغير is the standard Qur'anic way of saying "without", however I do remember a proverb something along the lines of الامرأة يلا زواج كحديقة يلا سياج
  30. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    Thank you all very much for your answers!

    Sorry about the confusion with bilaa بلا, I just wasn't sure how balaa would be spelled in Arabic script. (Now I know: بلى)

    I'm afraid my knowledge of Arabic is confined to the script. But I recognized anaa, and something with America :) (and ألست and لست are forms of laysa, maybe?), so I'm guessing your sentences mean:

    Aren't you American?
    - Yes, (I am American.)
    or: - No (lit. 'Yes'), (I am not American.)

    ... or something, right?
    In any case, I got the message. Na°am (and laa in spoken Arabic) affirms the negation, balaa contradicts it.

    Then it could also be used after a positive interrogative to affirm the questioned proposition?
    (For example:
    'Are you American?!' (with disbelief or amazement to trigger the emphasis)
    - 'Yes!')

    Would you say the meaning 'verily' for balaa بلى is the most common one, and the use of balaa as an answering particle was derived from it? (Because for all I know now, I would.) Could you put balaa in a sentence in which it is not used as an answering particle but as a 'regular' adverb to give me an example of its (more common?) use? (Could you please fully vowelize or transliterate, and give a word by word translation, as I don't know Arabic? Thanks.)

    Any ideas as to where the m- in مبلى might have come from? (Or maybe it's really obvious, but not to me. :))

    Does إلاّ (ilaa', I suppose) have another meaning apart from (emphatic) 'yes'?

    Many questions, I know. :) But thanks again for your help!
  31. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Yes, that's correct.
    I would not translate it as "verily," and I can't think of a sentence in which it would be used as anything but a particle.
    No idea. :)
  32. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Yup. As you probably noticed, the use of "نعم" to affirm the negation is counter-intuitive. However, it is technically correct because the way the old linguists understood the question was "Is it true that you are not American?" (the classical linguists took an almost mathematical approach to systemizing the language). However, even native speakers of Arabic find this counter-intuitive because it makes more sense to use a negative word like "لا" when you're denying something. This is probably why it evolved from نعم to لا.

    To my knowledge, the usage I explained above is about the only way "بلى/مبلى" is used in both spoken and written Arabic.

    It seems to be a function of the accent. In other words, the way people put the emphasis on the first letter made it sound like there was an "m" there. This is not uncommon. In Iraq, أعطيني (a'teeny, lit. "give me") is often pronounced أنطيني (anTeeni) - a pronunciation that was not unknown 1200 years ago. Also, in Iraq, you'll commonly hear "لاع" instead of "لا", another phenomenon recorded by the old Arabic linguists. In Egypt and Hejaz لا become لأ with a glottal stop.

    Yes, its primary function in both written and many spoken forms of Arabic is exclusion. For exmaple:
    جاء الطلاّبُ إلاّ ليلى.
    Jaa At-Tullab Ella Layla
    (The students came, except Layla)

    In limited cases, إلاّ occurs in the Quran with the meaning of "but rather" or "but instead", which the old linguists say was from the dialect of a certain Arab tribe. I can't remember any examples of this usage off the top of my head, unfortunately.
  33. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Nothing is certain of course, but the most plausible explanation is that "eewa" (in Hejaz) and "aywa" (Egypt and Yemen) are derived from إي (Ee, or Iyy). إي is still alive and well in central and eastern Arabia, and means "yes", though it sounds more like إيه (Eeh). "نعم" is also used if someone calls out your name or if you would like to add emphasis.

    "Aywa" is not alone in Egypt, though, because it exists alongside "Aah" (آه), which is also the word used in the Levant. The link between "Aah" and "Ee" is a bit more tenuous.
  34. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    Riiight, I should've been able to deduct that myself, having seen لا إله إلا الله.

    Thank you very much for the additional answers, elroy and Wadi Hanifa. Very enlightening indeed!
  35. kifaru Senior Member

  36. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    Many of those words in that article are definitely Turkish, but some are definitely not. For instance he lists "Tamaam" and "Khalaas" which are clearly Arabic.
  37. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I just remembered that إلا (illa) is used in the Galilee to mean "But of course (what else could it be?)." In Jerusalem we say ولا (willa).
  38. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Yes, I forgot this also; in FusHa as well as in many dialects, "wa illa" can be used to mean "or else". In Arabia, it can also simply mean "or", and in Iraq it has evolved into "لو".

    Example: (أحمر ولاّ اخضر؟) or (أحمر لو أخضر؟).
  39. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    I read that ايوه is derived from إي والله .
  40. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    We discussed the origin of aywa in this thread. My Egyptian dictionary says it is of Coptic origin and in post #11 I linked to two pages (the first (here) being quite scholarly in scope) that explore this idea. Suffice to say, I am of the camp that says أيوه is of Coptic origin.
  41. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    Interesting link.
  42. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    What about the Hejazi "eewa" (إيوا)?
  43. Abu Bishr Senior Member

    Afrikaans, South Africa

    This "إلاّ" is actually a contraction of "إنْ لاَ" [(and) if not], e.g.

    "اجتهد في الدراسة وإلا تندمْ" (Work hard in your studies, otherwise / if you don't / if not, you'll regeret it) The complete sentence would be as follows: (اجتهد في الدراسة وإن لم تجتهد تندمْ) . Notice how "لا" replaces the "لم" .
  44. Abu Bishr Senior Member

    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Is'nt (إي والله) still commonly used even in colloquial Arabic esp. Egyptian?
  45. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    But you mean it was supposedly contracted before Islam, right?
  46. Abu Bishr Senior Member

    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Yes, this is a classical linguistic rule and was already established and in vogue before the advent of Islam, I would assume. I don't know of new grammatical usages that came into existence with the coming of Islam.

    ps. I just remembered the following instance of the usage of the contracted "إلاّ" in the Qur'an:

    (إلاّ تنصروه فقد نصره الله ) (If you do not assist him, then Allah has indeed assisted him already).
  47. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    I don't think Egyptians say إي و الله but rather آه و الله.
    However, إي و الله is still part of the everyday speech of Arabia, and of bedouins outside Arabia as well.
  48. Abbassupreme

    Abbassupreme Senior Member

    California, U.S.
    United States, English, Persian
    How does that look/sound Persian?

    I STRONGLY suspect that this is coincidental, but a formal way to say "yes" in Persian is "baleh".
  49. SarahBeth Member

    English, USA
    In Lebanon, we say بلا (without) as "bala" and not "bila".
  50. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    We do too. :) "Bila" is the MSA pronunciation.

    Nice to see you in the forum again! :)

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