شنو حدا؟ ليمون

Moroccan Arabic being “non-standard” and non-standardized has a certain amount of variation in its lexicon. Here you can find a table containing different translations for the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, black, and white from five different Darija books in their masculine, singular form, as well as the MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) words for each. To see how they change according to gender and case, I recommend looking at the Peace Corps Moroccan Arabic Textbook, page 85. I have included recordings of my resident Moroccan Arabic speaker saying each color in the most common form.

It is worth noting that the Chekayri book seems to keep the MSA spelling where the Darija word comes directly from MSA. The transcriptions in the book, however, were closer to the spellings of the other books (e.g. though red is written احمر in the Arabic script, its transcription was حmer rather than aحmer).

Additionally, here are some interesting (to me) facts about the names for purple:
*”حمامي” comes from the word for pigeon, referring to the purple color often found on their breast.
*”مْنِيّل” is now almost exclusively used in the deep South. It refers to the powder used to dye cloth.
*”مدادي” comes from the word for ink.

Color MSA Chekayri (2011) Peace Corps (2011) Sakulich (2011) Muñoz-Cabo (2009) Harrell (1963)
Red أحمر احمر حمر حمر حْمَر حْمَر
Orange برتقال ليموني ليموني، لتشيني رَنْجِ
Yellow أصفر اصفر صفر صفر (in Tetouan حميسي) صْفَر صْفَر
Green أخضر اخضر خضر خضر خْضَر خْضَر
Blue أزرق ازرق زرق زرق زْرَق زْرَق
Purple بنفسجي مدادي حجري، مدادي مدادي، حمامي، موڤ حْمَمِ مْنِيّل
Pink زهري وردي وردي وردي، حميسي وَرْدي وَرْدي، فَنِدِ
Brown بنّيّ قهوي قهوي قهوي قَهْوي صْمَر، قَهْوي
Black أسود اكحل كحل كحل كْحَل كْحَل
White أبيض ابيض بيض بيض بْيَض بْيَض


Bahhadi, Myriem, Laïla Gadouar, Farid Aitsiselmi & Lahsen Taibi. Parler l’arabe en voyage. Harrap’s, 2014.

Chekayri, Abdellah. An Introduction to Moroccan Arabic and Culture. Georgetown University Press, 2011.

Harrell, Richard S. A Dictionary of Moroccan Arabic: English-Moroccan. Georgetown University Press, 1963.

Muñoz-Cobo, Bárbara Herrero. Vocabulario Español-Árabe Marroquí. Universidad de Almería, 2009.

Peace Corps Morocco. Moroccan Arabic Textbook. 2011.

Sakulich, Aaron. Moroccan Arabic: Shnoo the Hell is Going on H’naa?. Collaborative Media International, 2011.

Even more Darija resources!

Since I last wrote about what Darija resources I was using, I have added quiiiite a number of new books and sites to my rotation. (You’d think I’d be much further along then, wouldn’t you? But, of course, possessing things is not the same as making use of them.) In any case, here’s a rundown of what I’ve since come across:

Books (Instruction)

  • Abdel-Massih, Ernest T. Advanced Moroccan Arabic. MPublishing University of Michigan Library and Center for Near Eastern and North African Studies: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, 2011. [Available for free from the University of Michigan library (link), it is a reprint of a 1974 edition. It contains over 30 texts with accompanying questions. It does, however, use its very own system of transcription. I’ve only used it a little bit, but I appreciate its existence greatly. I just wish it also contained Arabic script. ]
  • Alami, Wali A. Moroccan Arabic Intermediate Reader. Intensive Language Training Center Indiana University – Bloomington, 1969. [This is an amazing, free resource for those who have already mastered a fair amount of Darija and/or proficient MSA speakers. I wrote more about this resource here.]
  • Jalaly, Az Eddine. Initiation à l’arabe parlé au Maroc. L’Harmattan, 2012. [This French-language instruction book comes with a CD and is written purely in transcription. I’ve included a track from the CD for you to check out.]
  • Muñoz-Cobo, Bárbara Herrero. ¡Habla Árabe Marroquí!: Método para principiantes. Universidad de Almería, 2010. [A Spanish-language resource with a set of 3 CDs. It definitely uses the Northern Moroccan variant for grammar/vocabulary/accent, but is a great resource if you speak Spanish. It mostly uses its own transcription system, but all conversations are also written in Arabic script. I quite like the CDs, but the Spanish can throw me — I sometimes only understand the Spanish through the Darija…. Nevertheless, I think the audio exercises are excellent. I’ve included a track from the CD for you to check out.]
  • Muñoz-Cobo, Bárbara Herrero. Gramática de Árabe Marroquí para Hispano-hablantes. Universidad de Almería, 2010. [A grammar book for hispanophones — I haven’t really used this except for “fun” reading.]
  • Muñoz-Cobo, Bárbara Herrero. Vocabulario Español-Árabe Marroquí. Universidad de Almería, 2010. [Transcribed rather than written in Arabic script, I only use this as a last resort.]

Books (Non-Instructional)

  • García, Francisco Moscoso. Cuentos en dialecto árabe del Norte de Marruecos: Estudio lingüístico, textos y glosario. Universidad de Cádiz, 2007. [This academic book includes eight stories written in the Northern Moroccan dialect (in Arabic script and in transcription, with translations in Spanish). I can’t speak to the linguistic analysis in this as I don’t read Spanish well enough to attempt that. It includes a Darija – Spanish glossary in the back.]
  • Goscinny, René & Jean-Jacques Sempé. Le Petit Nicolas en arabe maghrébin IMAV éditions, 2013. [In Arabic script and a transcription (including a “tableau de transcription), this edition of Le Petit Nicolas includes 9 Petit Nicolas stories in Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian dialects (three stories in each dialect).]
  • نيكولا الصغير بالدارجة

  • Hallaq, Boutros & Yves Gonzales-Quijano. Nouvelles arabes du Maghreb. Langues pour tous, 2015. [This anthology includes two stories by Moroccans — [الشجرة المقدسة] by [محمد زفزاف] and [حكاية الرأس المقطوع] by [محمد برادة] with introductions, notes and translations in French. It also includes a short glossary in the back.]
  • Ouazzani-Joncoux, Valérie & Leïla Louhibi. Sarah entre France et Maroc Jeuness L’Harmattan, 2004. [Destined for children, this book includes vocalizations(!) on its Arabic script. It is a parallel Darija-French text with a few illustrations. It is fantastic for the beginner.]
  • Quitout, Michel. Dictionnaire bilingue des proverbes marocains. L’Harmattan, 1997. [Excellent resource! Moroccans love their proverbs and this is an extensive collection of them. Every entry includes the proverb in Arabic script, a transcription and a translation in French, with equivalent French proverbs where applicable.]


For videos, I really like the 2M channel. Really great, are the short videos Salwa wa Zoubir (سلوى والزبير) produced during Ramadan. They last just 2-3 minutes and feature a couple talking about everyday things. You can understand some things from context even if you don’t know many of the words.

الله مع الصابِرين
God is with the patient (those who are patient).

Listening & Reading Practice: Moroccan Arabic Intermediate Reader

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:
Volume 2 is available here through ERIC:

Or you can download everything, including recordings through

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.

And to finish, two extra recordings:

مَشي خايِب
Not bad!

تَنْتَمْنى ليك التَّوفيق
Good luck!

Websites for learning Moroccan Arabic

To get started, here is a round-up of some of the Moroccan Arabic resources currently available online (both free and paid content).

Learning Darija in English:

Speak Moroccan Arabic
This site has great vocabulary lists and short phrase-based lessons. There is a forum, but seems to no longer be in use (as of January 2016, the last post was from 2014).

The Armchair Arabist
Amazing resource with transcribed and translated videos of naturally spoken Darija.

The Mazyan Bizaf Show
A fantastic new podcast which includes linguistic discussion of Darija in both English and Darija!

The Peace Corps Moroccan Arabic Textbook
Pretty much the best developed free Moroccan Arabic lessons available.

LangMedia Resources for World Languages
This is a wonderful resource of transcribed and translated videos discussing the culture of the speakers (there is material from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya).

Loecsen Free Moroccan Arabic Lessons
Illustrated phrasebook with sound.

Talk in Arabic
This relatively new website offers content in many different Arabic dialects. I cannot speak to the quality of the site, as I have not bought a membership. They do, however, offer some free content, including this song in Moroccan Arabic with transcription/translation.

Arabic Pod 101
I have a yearlong subscription to Arabic Pod 101 and, I have to say, I regret this somewhat. The site/app is highly frustrating due to its lack of clarity as to which materials are available in which dialects. The Absolute Beginner > Survival Phrases are supposed to be focussed on Moroccan Arabic and the Absolute Beginner > Newbie Season 1 also has Moroccan Arabic versions available for every lesson.

Learning Darija in French:

Speak Moroccan Arabic
French version of the Speak Moroccan Arabic site.

Loecsen cours d’arabe marocain
French version of the Loecsen site.