10 June 2012

God Phrases in Moroccan and Omani Dialect

In many Muslim countries, or Muslim communities in non-Muslim countries, it's quite important to have to correct God phrases in social situations.  In Morocco we learned how to say them, and then they became natural for me to say them.  They became so natural, in fact, that I started translating them into English, and saying them to friends and family, both to fill the empty "manners" space I felt was missing in my English conversation, and to make people give me a second look, or ask, "What the heck are you saying?"

It's really interesting to me when I use God phrases, because some of them sound perfectly reasonable in English, and it makes you realize that this connection to God used to be part of our language too.  I notice a lot of Christians as well as older people use more God-centric speech in their everyday language.  It also makes me think back to many lessons we had in Sunday school about not "taking the name of God in vain."  I used to wonder about this in Morocco, and I think I've come to some kind of conclusions.  I would guess that people used to say "Oh my God!" as a way of calling on God for help in a difficult situation - Moroccans say "Ya Allah" or "Ya Rbbi" (Oh my Lord) when they're surprised, or tired, or hurting, all the time - and the invocation of God's name would not, in that context, to be taking God's name in vain, but the way the meaning has changed contextually over time, the meaning became (much) more profane, and thus, was no longer appropriate in the eyes of some upper echelons of some church's hierarchy.

Here in Oman, I've felt the a hole in my conversation because I didn't know the correct God phrases to say.  As usual, my assumption that all Omanis use them was slightly off.  Today during our daily evening tutoring hours, I caught our dialect teacher, Ustad (teacher) Salah صالح, and grilled him about the uses and similarities and differences between "adab" (الادب, manners) in Oman and in Morocco.  The following is a sampling of what our dialect teacher told us, but there are many things that Moroccans say that Omanis don't say.

After a haircut or a shave or a shower or working out:
Omani: na'aeeman (نعيماً) - meaning "paradise or bliss" (Naim is a Muslim name too)
Maghrebi: bssah oo raha (بصحة و راحة) - meaning "by/to (your) health and relaxation"

The response:
Omani: Allah yna'am a'aleek (الله ينعم عليك) - meaning "may God give you bliss/paradise"
Maghrebi: 'llah a'atik saha (الله يعتك صحة) - meaning "may God give you health"

When you know a person has bought something new:
Omani: ma sha allah, mabrook a'ala ________ (name of the thing) (ماشاءالله، مبروك على هذا ــــــــــــ) -
literally meaning "by God's will" but said for anything new or beautiful, and then "mabrook" is congratulations
Maghrebi:  bssha oo raha/mabrook

The response:
Omani: Shokran (شكرا), Allah yaeebarak feek (الله يبارك فيك) - meaning "thank you" and "God bless you" (like how the name "Barack" actually means "blessing")
Maghrebi: To "bssha oo raha" the same as above, and to "mabrook" the same as the Omani response.

After a meal:
Omani: Saha wa al-a'afiya (صحة و عافية) - meaning "health and wellness"

Maghrebi: bssha oo raha

The response:
Omani: Allah ya'afeek (الله يعافيك) - meaning "God make you better"

Maghrebi: 'llah a'atik saha (الله يعتك صحة) - meaning "may God give you health"

If someone is sick:
Omani: Allah yeeshafeek (الله يشفيك) - meaning "God heal you"

Maghrebi:  the same!

The response:
Omani: jameea'an (جميعاً) - meaning "(may God heal) us all"

Maghrebi:  Amin (آمين) - meaning Amen

What do you all think?  What other God phrases do you know? 

1 comment:

[ جَــوهرةٌ مَـكنونة ] said...

زينب الجميلة..!

كلمتكـِ ( أنا متفائلة ) جعلتني أفكر كثيرا كيف أكون أقوى و مثلكِ متمسكة بما يُـسمى التفاؤل.!
سـعيدةٌ جداً لأني سأصبح إحـدى ضيوفكِ هنا.