During a recent Darija lesson, I learned the construction “ما عمّرني” meaning “I have never….” It uses the base word عمّر meaning to fill, with a suffix in agreement with the person (thus, for “I” (first person singular) the suffix is “ني”). Sentences are then constructed by adding the verb you have never done in its completed form (conjugated in agreement with the person). To demonstrate, in order to say “I have never yelled,” we will start with “ما عمّرني” and then finish with yell in its past first person singular form, “غوت” which gives us: “ما عمّرني غوت”. For an example from an actual Moroccan, I found this post from “Humans of Ifrane.” The subject says, “ما عمرني قريت” I have never studied. Another example discovered via twitter: “ماعمرني شفت شي تلفازة” I have never watched any television.
This grammar construction would be a great way to practice past-tense conjugation and agreement. Naturally, you can use this construction for other forms than the first person singular (I/me). These are all of the forms with their respective suffixes:
I have never
You have never
He has never
She has never
We have never
You (pl.) have never
They have never
To make it an affirmative statement (example: I have drunk tea. عمّرني شربت الاتاي), you leave out the ما. To make it a question (example: Have you ever drunk tea? واش عمّرك شربتي الاتاي؟), you add واش to the start.
Here are some further examples found online. Notice how the “action” verb is conjugated in agreement with the person:
I have never watched any television
ماعمّرني شفت شي تلفازة
You have never heard her
ما عمّرك سمعتِها
We have never gone
ما عمّرنا مشينا
You (pl.) have never tried the “Baik” pastries
ما عمركم جربتوا معجنات البيك
They have never visited Spain
ما عمرهم زاروا اسبانيا
The armchair arabist also covered this topic here. Additionally, some kind soul (not me) created a quizlet for practicing.
A major part of speaking any language is knowing the greeting rituals. If you’re just a tourist, just the usual السلام عليكم\و عليكم السلام should be more than sufficient, with perhaps the occasional لا باس (literally “no problems” — it’s used a bit like ça va? in French) thrown in by people excited to hear you speaking Arabic. If you are visiting/making friends/family, however, the typical greeting goes into some greater detail. I was delighted to find this exchange in the book Sarah entre France et Maroc between two old friends, Valérie and Farida:
فاليري! كِيدَايْرَا؟ : F
F : Valérie! How are you?
رَانِي لاباسْ، فَريدَة، انْتِ لابَاسْ عليكْ؟ : V
V : I’m fine, Farida, how are you? (lit. you no problems on you?)
الحمد لله رَاني لاباسْ، و كيفْ حِيَ صَحَّة عائِلْتَكْ في فْرَنْسا؟ : F
F : Thanks be to God I’m fine, and how is the health of your family in France?
كُلْهُمْ لاباسْ وَرَاهْ كَيْبَلْغُو لكْ السَّلامْ : V
V : Everyone is fine and sends you their greetings.
There is an expectation that you should ask how people’s family is and send your own family’s greetings. This short dialogue serves as an excellent outline for participating in these sorts of greetings.
Ouazzani-Joncoux, Valérie & Leïla Louhibi. Sarah entre France et Maroc. Jeunesse L’Harmattan, 2004.
I recently discovered the Moroccan Arabic Intermediate Reader by Wali A. Alami and published by the Intensive Language Training Center of Indiana University – Bloomington in 1969. It is now provided (for free!) through various government agencies, including through ERIC. The reader comes in two volumes — the first with transcription, the second with (handwritten) Arabic script. Volume 1 is the story of Rashid and includes pre-listening drills, notes and translations of the drills. Volume 2 first includes the pre-listening drills of Volume 1 written in Arabic script and then a new series of texts. Despite being from 1969, the recordings are still appropriate for today (and clear and easy to understand).
Volume 1 is available here through ERIC: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED031698
Volume 2 is available here through ERIC: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED031713
Or you can download everything, including recordings through archive.org: https://archive.org/details/MoroccanArabicIntermediateReaderVol.1/
The Arabic script can be… difficult to read. Not only is it handwritten, but it’s written in a veeeery classic script. The ق is written with only one dot up top, the ف is written with one dot underneath and… well… you’ll see.
To get you started, I’ve rewritten the first pre-listening exercises, with their translations.
قالو لي رشيد تبارك الله حصّل على الباكالورية هدا العام I’ve heard that Rachid was successful in the baccalaureate this year.
ايّه، نجح و راه فرحان، لا هو ولا ابّاه Yes, indeed, his success made him and his father very happy.
شغدى يعمل دبة؟ What is he going to do now?
اِوا، سمعت باللّي غدى يدخل لقسم البضاغجي،… وقيلة بغى يولي اُستاد I was told he is going to register in the school of education and become a teacher.
مشي قبيح. شحال فى عمرو دبة؟ That’s not bad.* How old is he now? *According to my resident Darija speaker, this expression is not used very often anymore, but rather مَشي خايِب, recording at the end
تمنطاش لعام بالضّبط He is exactly eighteen.
وليّد نجيب تبارك الله، و دكي A resourceful boy, and intelligent too.
الله يا ودّي There’s no doubt of that.
خلاق حداي غير البارح؛ الدنيا بحال المنام I’ve known him since he was born; it seems to me a very short time ago.