Arabic Language Blog

Arabic expressions about keeping dignity (2) Posted by on Jun 4, 2021 in Arabic Language, Culture, Idioms, Pronunciation, Proverbs, Vocabulary

Welcome to the second part of this blog post where we’re still talking about the concept of dignity مفهوم الكرامة  in Arabic, and learning some vocabulary around it. In the last blog post, we started learning about the word dignity itself and how it used in Arabic. We then studied a set of 3 proverbs, in spoken Arabic, that discuss dignity. In today’s post, we’re going to continue look at another set four proverbs.

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So, let’s move on to the proverb


The first one is the following >>

خد الشر وراح

Xad   iš-šar  w(e)  rA:H


This proverb is in Egyptian Arabic and the first word “Xad” is the Standard ‘axath’ أَخَذَ .


Literal meaning: He took evil and left.

Intended meaning: it’s as if the speaker (person who was left/abandoned) didn’t think the one who left him was good in the first place. So, by saying these words, the speaker expresses his relief that the other eprson left and took everything bad with him!

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The next proverb is also in Egyptian Arabic. It’s as follows >>

الحياة ما بتوقفش على حد

il-Hayaa   ma   b-t-u’afš(i)   ʕala   Hadd


*In Levantine Arabic, it’s pronounced as the following >>

(الحياة ما بتوقف على حدا)

il-Hayaat   maa   b-t-oo’af   ʕala   Hada


Literal meaning: Life doesn’t stop for anyone.

Intended meaning: It’s to say that life moves on and that the speaker is determined to continue with his life and to not left the absence of the other affects him negatively.

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The next proverb is also in Egyptian Arabic. It’s as follows >>



اللي ما يعملنيش كحلة في عينه.. ما عملوش تراب تحت جزمتي 

illi   ma  y-iʕmilnee-š   kuHla  f(i)  e:n-oh ..  ma-ʕmiloo-š   turAb   taHt   gazmi-t-i



Literal meaning: That who doesn’t consider me as kohl (eyeliner) in his eye, I don’t consider him soil under my shoes.

Intended meaning: This proverb is slightly stronger in its intended meaning than the ones mentioned above. It’s usually used when the person was abandoned and hurt very badly or when he/she believes that they weren’t treated fairly by the other person. The speaker here is trying to emphasise his value as an individual.

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The last proverb is as follows >>


من حبّنا، حبّناه.. وصار متاعنا متاعه

Min  Habbi-na   Habbi-na-h..  w(e)   SA:r   mataaʕ-na   mataaʕ-oh


Literal meaning: Who love us, we love him.. and his stuff becomes our stuff.


ومن كرهنا، كرهناه.. ويحرم علينا اجتماعه 

W(e)  min  kireh-na   kireh-na-h..  w(e)  y-iHram   ʕale:-na   igtimaaʕ-oh


Literal meaning: And who hate us, we hate him.. and we’re forbidden from meeting him

Intended meaning: this proverb is quite similar to the previous one, in terms of strength, especially with regard to the use of the word “forbidden”. The speaker here is only willing to keep contact with those who value him or wants him in their lives. However, those who don’t care, the speaker doesn’t even want to be around them or meet them.

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Stay tuned for the final part – it’s coming soon 😉

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About the Author: Hanan Ben Nafa

Hi, this is Hanan :) I'm an Arabic linguist. I completed my PhD in Linguistics - 2018. My PhD thesis was entitled Code-switching as an evaluative strategy: identity construction among Arabic-English bilinguals. I'm also a qualified public service translator & interpreter.