Arabic Glossary for Dancers

by Jasmin Jahal, April 2000 (back)


Have you ever wished that you could easily learn Arabic? Most oriental dancers form the West do not speak the Arabic language. We become accustomed to listening to lyrics that we fall in love with simply by their pure sound, rather than by understanding exactly what is being said. They lyrics are usually quite lovely and meaningful. Most often the songs are about some aspect of love and probably the most common word is "Habibi," which is a term of endearment. Lyrics are usually written in the masculine sense, even if a man is singing them.

Understanding lyrics could enhance your dancing and choreographies. All you need to do is find a class that teaches the Arabic language, right? Yet, that’s no simple task. Here is a short glossary of Arabic words to which you, as a dancer, will be exposed. By no means is this list all inclusive, but it can give you some insight. At the end of the glossary, there is a short listing of actual titles of popular songs. In the glossary, the Arabic words are spelled out phonetically and offers the basic word, with no conjugations.

WORDS:

AAYN

Eye

AHLAN

Hello

ALBI

Heart

ALLAH

God

AMAR

Moon

AMIR

Prince

AMIRA

Princess

AMOURA

My love

ANA

I

AOYOON

Eyes

ASSAYA

Stick

AWAY

Yes

AWEE

Very

AZIZA

Beloved

BAKSHEESH

Tip

BEHEBBAK

I love you

BELEDI

Of the country

BINT

Girl

BIT TAMAM

Bravo

BOSA

Kiss

BOSS

Look

DALUNA

Coquettish

ENTE

You

ESHTA

Cream

FAKKAR

Think, remind

FALOOKA

Sailboat

FARRAH

Happy, joy

FELLAH

Farmer

GAMEEL

Lovely, pretty

HAB

Love

HABIBI

My beloved

HALAWAY

Sweet

HAREER

Silk

HASSELL

Honey

HAYA

She, It

HELM

Dream

HELWA

Sweet, beauty

HIZZI

Shoulders

HOWA

He

HYETTI

My life

INSHALLAH

God willing

JAREEDA

Newspaper

KEBEER

Big

KWIYIS

OK

LA

No

LALIBA

Firey

LAY

Why

LAYL

Night

LAZEEZ

Delicious

MAASALAMA

Goodbye

MABROOK

Congratulations

MASR

Egypt

MASRI

Egyptian

MAYA

Water

MISH MISH

Apricot

NAR

Fire

NUJOOM

Stars

RAKASA

Dancer

RAKS

Dance

RAKS SHARKEE

Oriental dance

ROHE

Soul

SAEEDA

Happy

SAGAT

Finger cymbals

SAHARA

Desert

SHAMS

Sun

SHAMEDAN

Candelabra

SHOKRAN

Thank you

SHOOF

See

SHWAYA

Little bit

SHY

Tea

SOKAR

Sugar

TAKT

Orchestra, band

TSHARRAAFNA

Pleased to meet you

WALAD

Boy

WARDA

Flower, rose

YALLA

Let’s go

YA SALLAM

Greetings

ZAHRA

Flower


NUMBERS:

WAHID

1

ITNAYN

2

TALATA

3

ARBAA

4

KHAMSA

5

SITTA

6

SABAA

7

TAMANIA

8

TISSAA

9

ASHARA

10

SONG TITLES:

Literal translations are somewhat difficult and never exact, but at least you have the general meanings. Because the Arabic language is so old, it has become quite complicated. Mabrook, if you have gained some appreciation and a glimmer of insight for the lovely music and lyrics to which you perform Raks Sharki. You, as an artist, will continue to blossom, inshallah! Until our next issue, Maasalama!

pyramids

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©2000 Jasmin Jahal