MSA “Base” to competence in Algeria part III: Talking about family, hobbies, and buying things in stores

See previous post for more on this topic.

Key point:

North African Dialects are not as  incomprehensibly “different” as they are often made out to be by many in the Arabic studies field.

If you have built up a strong MSA base, and have spent a decent amount of time speaking in any Dialect (250+ hours), you are in a good position to approach the differences rationally and “convert” your skills in a reasonably short amount of time (one month or less).

Three transcripts from Algeria.

Describing One’s Family


(1) Different verb used to describe your job in Algeria ( يخدم) than is used elsewhere but the meaning should be immediately grasped from the context.  And just memorize the slightly different Algerian usage.

(2)  The Algerian version of ( غير).

(3) ( شا يديرو ) as “to do.” Having spent my formative Arabic years in Egypt, my first instinct when I heard this is “what do you manage?” But for whatever reason, someone  in Algeria a thousand or so years ago, used the word differently. Yet as you can see from the at least 50 different definitions listed in Hans Wehr, it’s clear MSA:

A full page of Hans Wehr

(4) Another example of the Benefits of Reading Spoken.  I mentioned in previous posts that (حداخر  )  this was a word I didn’t know. It’s funny – I was staring straight at the word and somehow didn’t notice that the word for  (أخر  ) or “Other” was staring right at me.

I thought maybe I could find the meaning by working backwards, so I typed “Other” into Google to see if (حداخر  )  somehow came up, and that’s when the presence of ( أخر  ) hit me.


(5) ( هو جنيور )  for Engineer.  Yet if you say (مهندس  ) you will always be understood.

(6)  Note how someone who “studies” something is someone who ( يقرا  ) in Algeria. That’s not the case in Egypt. Yet this is consistent with similar variations between English and the US vs UK.  For example, I always used to get confused when I heard that someone in the UK was a  “reader” of a subject. From a US perspective, this sounds like all they do is sit and read about a topic, not a formal job title.  But obviously it has a different meaning in the UK.

(7) See point 2.

Friends Talking About Hobbies


(8) Same way you’d say this nearly everywhere.

(9) “Blow Your Mind.”  I had never heard this word before but straight out of Hans Wehr:


(10) Listening to the audio it seems clear this is an Algerian way of saying ( غير).

(11). Classic Fusha term used as core way of saying “I want” in several colloquial dialects. Equal equivalent of (بد  عايز أريد  ) any of which would also be understood. But for a big  and common word like “want” I would suggest you say this one the Algerian way.

(12) Classic Fusha.


(13) As to believe = (ما أمنتنيش). Was unable after 10 minutes to find the obvious Fusha root.  Although, doesn’t matter for those trying to convert an MSA base to Algerian.  Just memorize the new term.

Going Shopping

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(14) Same as point 13. I spent 10 minutes  unsuccessfully looking through the dictionary to see what or if the MSA root is. Again – doesn’t matter for day to day practical usage. Just memorize.

(15) I wouldn’t have thought of the word  (  خاصني )  before seeing it like this as “a person’s need” but it’s clearly consistent with the meanings of the word.

(16) Nothing uniquely Algerian here with ( مبقاناش ) – roughly the same way this would be said in Egypt.

(17) Different way of saying it than elsewhere, but again, comes straight from the same MSA roots.

(18) Pure MSA

(19) Same structure of how you would negative something in other Colloquials.  Unsure of what verb this is though.

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