Thursday, November 3, 2011

Camel Arabic and Carabao English

It's been a while since my last post here. I work on a broken shift so it's kinda difficult for me to still find time to blog. But since it's Hajj next week here, I hope I can post an article or two.

Hajj, by the way, is the largest pilgrimage in the world. It is a religious duty by Muslims who can afford to go to Makkah or Mecca. But for us non-Muslims here, Hajj means vacation from work and school.

It is also my short break from learning Arabic. Yes, I'm trying to learn a bit of this country's language. I learned to read Arabic numbers on my third week here. I had to learn because I need to layout a charge slip with code numbers written in Arabic. Though most of the materials here are also translated in English, I think knowing how to read numbers in Arabic will still benefit me someday.

My second week in Saudi Arabia, in one of the parks
in Dammam. I don't know a single Arabic word that time!
I mentioned break from learning Arabic because the two company drivers teach us Arabic whenever they have the time. Most often, when they're having tea in the afternoon, they would translate in Arabic whatever word we ask them. I only want to learn Arabic words that people use here everyday. Like "How are you?" or "Where are you going?" But as days go by, as I get to talk with other Arabic-speaking nationalities, I am learning the language more than I wanted to.

In return, those Sudanese drivers learn English from us. They speak Carabao English and sometimes, I find myself speaking that way, too! That's because they understand us more if we only use the important words. Instead of saying, "Don't pick me up today. I'm not feeling well, I won't go to work." I just say, "Don't pick up, ana ma iji. (I'm not coming.)" (No need to say you're not feeling well.)

I learned from Fred those ana ma iji words. Ana is I, ma is not, and iji is coming. But Fred said that what he teaches me is Camel Arabic. They're not complete sentences or grammatically correct. But I think no one cares. Since we are now in a place where people don't speak fluent English, speaking Camel Arabic doesn't matter. As long as people get the message across, it's enough. :)