Converting the MSA base into Algerian competence Part II: Friendship, Hotel Rooms & Academic Advising

A follow up from my last post.

Key Points to Remember:


  • You don’t need to aim to perfect or even  to “speak” Algerian Dialect. You will be understood if you mix Fusha and other common Dialects. I suggest a 60-40 combination of MSA and the local Dialect.
  • Understanding spoken Algerian is very important. 100% of Algerians are going to speak to you in Algerian, at least at first. So to be competent in Algeria, you have to be very good at listening comprehension.

Click on the titles to hear the audio.

 Talking About Friendship


(1) Great example of how reading Spoken Arabic like this is such a helpful exercise. Why?  Because it gets you thinking about roots of words that you wouldn’t otherwise. For example, I learned ( زوج ) many years ago and never thought about it having a meaning of “two” until now.


But when I think about it more and read the dictionary again – I even remembered that I’ve heard this term used for mental heath issues especially in the context of “bipolar.” So it’s not surprising then that in Algeria ( زوج  ) has a connotation of two as in the number two.

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(2)  ( كيف  = كفاش ) > another example of interchangeability between MSA and Dialects. If you say (كيف ) to someone in Algeria you will be understood. Listen to a few of these dialogues, and you will easily internalize the difference in how Algerians say it.

(3) (  بصح  ) seems to have same exact function as (بص) in Egyptian.

(4)  More interchangeability. Showing possession  (  الدين تاعي  ) this is basically how you would say it in Egypt, with only a minor technical change.

Conversation in a Hotel



(5) I hadn’t heard room “available” say this way before. Having spent my formative Arabic years in Cairo, I would be used to hearing ( فاضي / موجود ). If you say either of those two, you will be understood. And it goes without saying –  with a  strong Fusha base you should immediately be able to recognize its meaning in a hotel context.

(6) How much for a room  as (شحال لليلة ).  The pattern and word order is exactly the same. Just put (  شحال) on a flash card to = among other things ( بكم ).

(7) ( عنداش  ) must you leave? Just break it down (عند ) + the ( ش ) clearly emphasizing “by.” In a conversation about hotel rooms – if you have spent a good amount of time speaking Arabic in any country, you should immediately get the meaning here.

(8) ( إيه كاين ) as “is there.”  It’s the exact equivalent of (  ?في حمام   ) in Egypt which would be answered with ( في ).  Or (هناك) in formal.


(9) ( شكون  ) for “who” was the person who rented to you. In context, you understand the meaning if someone spoke to you in this exact term in Algeria. And again – it’s a simple matter of mastering the basic rules of the usage, something that can be knocked out in a few hours.

(10) (  كرا  ) for rent. This was a new word for me.But a flip through Hans Wehr and it’s clearly another verb for Rent. Who knows – a thousand years ago somebody used this  verb for rent compared to the choices in other countries.


(11) Out of curiosity I spent some time looking through Hans Wehr to find the roots of where  ( حدخرى  ) is coming from.  After 10 minutes I couldn’t find anything.  In practical terms, it doesn’t really matter though. In such a situation, the overall meaning of what is being said to you is still clear. And something that can be quickly comprehended with a few Algerian lessons.


Chatting with an academic advisor


(12) Mild difference in usage of ( قريتي ) for study compared to the words that would be used elsewhere.  Noted.

(13) A word  (لدروك )  I am unsure of the deep roots in this context. But see point 11. It doesn’t necessarily matter as long as the big picture is understood and like with point 11, something that you can quickly learn.

(14) First time seeing ( كنت نحب )  as “I liked”, emphasis on the ( ن ).  Elsewhere it would be ( بحب or  تحب).  A technical difference.  A case where you can understand the meaning, you don’t necessarily have to produce the same idea exactly as an Algerian would say it.

(15) (الأساتذة توعها) – see point 4 above. Same formulation with only a minor Tweek compared to Egyptian.

(16) See point 2 above. If you have read this far, and knew nothing about Algerian Arabic before reading this point, you should already know what this means.

(17) Difficult being (صعيب  ) – slightly different way of saying the word as said elsewhere. Noted.

(18) (  النقاط توعك  ) – again, same thing as Points 4 and 15.

(19)  ( راني باغية نكمل و ندير  ). Direct interchangeability with verb like ( بد /عايز  ). The student doesn’t have to learn anything new. It’s just memorizing one technical new term. Once memorized, it’s memorized.

But other than these 19 or so not fundamental differences, this is Fusha with an Algerian flavor. It’s not nearly the radically different dialect that is sometimes made out to be.

PS – If you thought this was helpful, please  consider passing it along to your Arabic student and teacher friends. 

And – if you want more content like this, get posts Via Twitter at @nathanrfield1 or by signing up in the email box in the Upper Right Hand corner. 






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