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39 Things Only Americans Who Study Arabic Will Understand

Ma3lish, habibi. Welcome.

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13. Then you probably went abroad and realized that there really are over 50 regional dialects and you would be in a permanent state of confusion for the next five months trying to use the fusha you learned back in America.

15. There were the expected awkward language moments, like the time the your friend asked the waiter for extra piss (تبول) instead of spice (توابل).

18. But it's all OK because you fell in love with the language's context — the wonderful people, places, and traditions that are so much more than simple stereotypes. Except for the shisha smoking part.

29. Then there's that neverending conversation with your parents about your professional goals with Arabic.

HBO / Via

Or maybe try this: "Who needs a job? With my broken Arabic plurals I get free dessert at any Middle Eastern restaurant!... Anyway, all my Arabic class friends are now unpaid interns in D.C. think tanks."

33. And they share that sense of pride when you know trivia questions like what Al Jazeera, Al Shabaab, Qatar, and Latifa (of Queen Latifa) actually mean.


Spoiler: Latifa can mean kind or beautiful, which she is. And who knew they say bismillah in "Bohemian Rhapsody"?

Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor

Contact Miriam Berger at

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