Syrian Lingo – Monkeys & Gazelles

Arabic is today spoken by over 310 million people as their first language; another 270 speak it as their second language. In Vienna alone, over 40,000 people (or 2% of the population) are estimated to speak Arabic.

We compiled some of the basics – and some Syrian (or Levantine) sayings that are lots of fun.

Marhaba

مرحبا

(Hello)

Kifak?

كيفك؟

(How are you)

Ana mneeh wa inta?

انا منيح و انت؟

(I’m good and you?)

Ana kaman mneeh.

انا كمان منيح

(I’m also good)

Ma’aa el salameh

مع السلامة

(Goodbye/ go with safety)

Allah ysalmak

الله يسلمك

(answer to Goodbye/ may God protect (save) you)

Funny Syrian (Levantine) Sayings

“The monkey is a Gazelle in his mom’s eyes.”

Said when a mom always says that her son is the best, even when he’s not.

“Turn the jar on its mouth and the daughter will be like her mama.”

Said when the mom and daughter share a lot of behaviors or looks.

“If your friend is made out of honey, don’t lick all of him.”

Said when a friend is abusing your generosity. 

“Do good and throw it in the sea.”

 Usually said when you do a good deed, but no one gives you credit.

 “Those who have shame have all died.”

 Said when someone does something bad and shows no shame for his actions.

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Majd Nassan
Majd Nassan currently works at the International Centre for Migration Policy Development, dealing with data and migration dialogues between Africa and Europe. He holds a Bachelor in Political Studies from Beirut and a Master in International Affairs from Vienna. He is an avid Beethoven fan and lives in Vienna with his dog, Diego.

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