well (verbal filler)

kifaru

Senior Member
English
Most of the books I read do not include figures of speech or opening phrases for Arabic sentences. What I mean by opening phrases are such sentence starters as "Well" and "You see" which both common in English. Figures of speech such as, "over the hill" in English, I assume probably have some common Arabic equivalent. Any help would be appreciated.
 
  • ayed

    Senior Member
    Arabic(Saudi)
    If am not mistaken :

    Well "حسناً"
    you see " ارايت"
    He is over the hill .He is too old for such a duty or a job to do .I for one would say :
    ba'eed al-Amal , bo'd al-thorayya min al-thara
    بعيد عليه بعد الثريا من الثرى
    الثرى:earth
    الثريا Pleiades"star"
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Hello, Kifaru, and welcome to the forums.

    Your question is too vague for us to answer it with any degree of certainty. Such "opening phrases" can be translated sometimes, but not always - it depends on hte context and the connotation that is to be conveyed.

    Also, please bear in mind that these phrases belong to the spoken language, and as such are not necessary in standard Arabic, which is not used for speaking purposes (except in formal contexts, in which "well" and "you see" would not really be appropriate). That said, one may be able to come up with standard "equivalents," but most of the time they'd sound awkward.

    If you give us sample sentences, I'm sure we'd be able to come up with colloquial equivalents - in most cases.
     

    kifaru

    Senior Member
    English
    Thanks Ayed and Elroy. I was under the impression that I would be able to understand spoken arabic after learning written arabic. I may have been studying the wrong subject. Could you please advise me on this.

    To clarify what I was saying about opening phrases, I wasn't so much asking about any direct translation but linguistic equivalents that serve the same purpose in a conversation. For example:
    "Well, I'm not sure if you want me to accompany you to the recital." Well is just a sentence compliment that doesn't take away from the meaning of the sentence but adds a certain "style" to it that makes it less formal.

    "You see, We can't offer you a different price than the rest of the customers. It is against our policy." You see, is performing the function of 'I would like you to understand' or 'You must understand' but it sounds more eloquent and polite.

    I hope I have made myself clear.
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Yes you have. The problem is, as you may find in many threads of this forum, that spoken ArabicS ARE very different from the written one; unless of course in some literary works (novels, theater) where authors prefer using colloquial language.
    Here arise another problem : which colloquial Arabic to choose? And this is completely up to you.
    Please look for the threads about different colloquial Arabics, I hope they'll be useful for you.
    And you can always post your questions here about spoken Arabic, just specify which spoken Arabic you wish to have your aswer in ;)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Or you can ask for many possibilities. :)

    I, too, understand what you mean but the thing is while we do of course have such "opening phrases," it's not like I can say this one means "well" and that one means "you see." It all depends on context - and sometimes there just isn't a good equivalent! :)

    Some of the ones we have in Arabic can't be translated directly into English. For example, we (speakers of Palestinian Arabic) use "Tab" as an "opening phrase" to signal a deduction or conclusion based on something that was said previously. For example,

    -Ana ta3baan.
    -Tab ruu7 naam.

    Translation:
    -I am tired.
    -So go sleep.

    -Ra7 ti3zimi Riim w Sanaa2 3al 7afleh?
    -Sadde2 maa ba3raf. Ittinten sa7baati bas bi7kuush ma3 ba3ad, fa bijuuz ma2a3zimhomesh.
    -U iza zi3lu minnek?
    -U iza 3azamthom ittinten u badu yit2attalu ma3 ba3ad uddaam ilkul?
    -Ma3aaki 7a2. Sad2i inno haay mushkileh 3awiiSa.
    -Shaayef? Tab u iza 3azamet wa7deh minhom wittaanyeh la2?
    -La2 hek maa bisiir.
    -Tab shuu asawwi la3aad?

    Translation:
    -Will you invite Reem and Sanaa to the party?
    -To tell you the truth, I don't know. They're both my friends but they don't speak to each other, so I may not invite them.
    -And what if they got mad at you?
    -Well, what if I invited both of them and they got into a fight in front of everybody?
    -You have a point. I must say this is a difficult dilemma.
    -Isn't it? Ok, what if I invited one of them and not the other?
    -No, that cannot be.
    -Well, what should I do then?

    Notice that "Tab" was translated in three different ways, depending on the context - but in every situation it preceded a statement that was a reference to something that was said previously.

    I don't know if I'm answering your question or just confusing you further...
     

    MarcB

    Senior Member
    US English
    Arabic experts can مَثَلَ ,على فكرة و يعني be included here? I often hear them used as conectors to start a sentence related to a previous one. If I am not mistaken they are used in several countries if not all.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    MarcB said:
    Arabic experts can مَثَلَ ,على فكرة و يعني be included here? I often hear them used as conectors to start a sentence related to a previous one. If I am not mistaken they are used in several countries if not all.
    I don't know if I qualify as an Arabic expert, but I'll give it a go...;)

    مَثَلاً (notice the spelling) means "for example."
    على فكرة means "by the way."
    These two are used pretty much exactly like their English equivalents.

    يعني literally means "it means." In Palestinian Arabic, this word is used so frequently it is almost like a "filler" (think English "um").

    As a "connector," it means something like "and that means"; that is, it introduces an explanation.

    For example,

    Li-tren ra7 yit2akhkhar rube3 se3a. Ya3ni ma3aak wa2et itruu7 3al 7ammaam.
    The train will be fifteen means late. So you have time to go to the bathroom.
    (i.e. the fact that the train is late means that you will have time to go to the bathroom)

    A good English equivalent might be "that is," as in the following example:

    Riima bitfakkiresh illa b7aalha. Wala marra bti7seb i7saab illi 7awaleha. Ya3ni wa7de ktiir ananiyye.
    Rima thinks only of herself. She never takes into consideration those around her. That is, she is a very selfish person.

    ...except that the English "that is" sounds too formal. Colloquially, one would more likely say "I mean" in the above example.

    I hope that helps answer the question. :)
     

    MarcB

    Senior Member
    US English
    Elroy you are an expert! I was familiar with the examples you gave and hoped someone like you could supply them for kaifaru and other forum readers. Are the examples from Ayed, Elroy and me usable in all countries? Can they be used in fos7a even though as Cherine says they are not necessary?

    Kaifaru look at the resourses stiky for examples of various forms of Arabic.
    مَثَلاً connector: just two of my many spelling errors.
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Great examples Elroy, really fascinating. Bravo 3aleik :thumbsup:
    MarcB said:
    Are the examples from Ayed, Elroy and me usable in all countries? Can they be used in fos7a even though as Cherine says they are not necessary?
    Yes, they are widely used in Egypt (I speak of what I know)

    Did I say they're not necessary ?! I only said that the spoken language is only written in fiction works by some writers. Sorry if I mis-expressed my idea.

    The "tab" example is fascinating Elroy, I've never thought about translating it, but you did a great job with the examples. (by the way we use this word the same way here in Egypt)
    The Lebanese singer Ragheb 3Alameh (in Egyptian Arabic) that says : طب ليه كده تشغل بالى... (why are you "occupying" (?) my thoughts)

    Ya3ni is also used this way, and as Elroy said it's sort of "filler", there are people who even use it when they speak foreign languages :)

    We also have the word بُص which is used like "look" even when we don't really want the person to look at something but just to attract their attention to listen to us. There's even a song starting with بص بأَى عشان تبأَى عارف ألبى نسيك ورجعلى خلاص (=look now, my heart has forgotton you and now it's all mine) (the singer is called Cherine :D ) the whole expression of "boss ba2a, or boss ba2a 3ashan teb2a 3aaref" is also widely used.

    As for using such expressions in Fus7a, Ayed's examples are valid : we say 7asanan (=well)
    there's also :
    you see كما ترى/ترون/ترين
    by the way بالمناسبة/ على ذكر كذا

    I think there are a lot more.
     

    MarcB

    Senior Member
    US English
    أسيف يا شرين
    Sorry Cherine, I did uderstand but I did not express myself well.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    cherine said:
    The Lebanese singer Ragheb 3Alameh (in Egyptian Arabic) that says : طب ليه كده تشغل بالى... (why are you "occupying" (?) my thoughts)
    That's a great example too. :thumbsup: I would throw in a "so" in the translation ("So, why are you occupying my thoughts this way?") because the implication is that the singer is reflecting on what is happening around him and asking this (perhaps rhetorical) question in response to the situation.

    We also have the word بُص which is used like "look" even when we don't really want the person to look at something but just to attract their attention to listen to us. There's even a song starting with بص بأَى عشان تبأَى عارف ألبى نسيك ورجعلى خلاص (=look now, my heart has forgotton you and now it's all mine) (the singer is called Cherine :D ) the whole expression of "boss ba2a, or boss ba2a 3ashan teb2a 3aaref" is also widely used.
    We don't use this word (بُص is a very distinctively Egyptian word! :)) but I do understand its usage.

    As for using such expressions in Fus7a, Ayed's examples are valid : we say 7asanan (=well)
    there's also :
    you see كما ترى/ترون/ترين
    by the way بالمناسبة/ على ذكر كذا

    I think there are a lot more.
    I'm sure there are. However, I don't think they're as useful as their colloquial counterparts because the standard ones are less likely to be used. (Maybe that's what you tried to say earlier?)
     
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