I Got 99 Problems and Arabic Is Definitely One


I’m in the middle of a sentence and the pause comes. “Wait, how do you say that in Arabic?”

I frantically think. Brain freeze. Shit, what’s the word? I can’t believe I can’t remember. Fork. How do you say fork in Arabic? Come on Ghufran, this is an easy one. Brain will not cooperate.

“Momken tedeeny the fork?” Ugh, cue the sarcastic comments.

“Fork? Fork ya Ghufran? hahah esmaha shokaa.”

Shokka. How can my mind go blank on that one? Cringe. I laugh it off.

I’m sure we’ve all had to face variations of this situation at least once in our life. We’ve grown up surrounded with so much English that Arabic (supposedly our mother tongue) slowly seems to be fading away into the background. We’re living in a Western-dominated culture, smack in the center of the Middle East.

Whether the schooling, movies, shows or music is to blame, at the end of the day you’re the one who can’t remember how to say “fork” in your native tongue, and you’re the only one who’s to blame – kind of tragic if you ask me.

Don’t get me wrong, having the ability to speak, write and read ever so fluently in English is a blessing I have never taken for granted. However, when a three paragraph Facebook post written in Arabic holds the same feeling as being called into the principle’s office – that’s when I start to worry.

I have never read a full Arabic book, front to back, in my entire life, nor have I ever written anything longer than one page (Ta3beer days made me do it) – and I say this in the most ashamed way possible. It truly saddens me that I am incapable of reading the novels great Arabic writers have put forth for us to enjoy.

Using Google translate from Arabic to English rather than the opposite, having Egyptian Idioms fly right over my head, asking my mother what my father just said and having trouble signing into work with my “Arabic” signature are all situations that shouldn’t be acceptable to someone of my age and upbringing.

Practice makes perfect, yes, I am aware of that. But, am I really that inspired to change the fact that my future award-winning novella will have to be in Latin symbols? Probably not. Which is sad.

Arabic is as (if not more) important than getting your English right, guys. Jot that down for the future generations.

…generations? What’s that in Arabic?

WE SAID THIS: Wait, how do you say that in Arabic?