Transportation: نقل

Some time ago a friend of mine on Twitter told me that she’s enjoyed this blog but never realized that I was the person who had written it, and said she wished I kept it more active. I explained that these language posts are time-consuming for me and I’ve just had a hard time finding the time apart from my regular writing to work on them. But then I realized, they don’t really have to be that time-consuming, do they? I don’t have to talk about grammar and context and all the other stuff that bogs me down when I write them, at least not all the time. Sometimes a list of vocabulary is good enough. So here’s some basic vocabulary about the various ways people get around:

  • car: سيارة (sayārah), عربة (ʿarabah)
  • truck: شاحنة (shāḥinah), meaning something capable of carrying freight
  • motorcycle: دراجة نارية (darrājah nārīyah)
  • bus: حافلة (ḥāfilah), باص (bāṣ), أوتوبيس (ūtūbīs)
  • train: قطار (qiṭār), قطر (qaṭr, Egypt)
  • plane: طائرة (ṭāʾirah), you might also encounter طيارة (ṭayārah)
  • boat: سفينة (safīnah), مركب (markib, Egypt), قارب (qārib)
  • ship: سفينة (safīnah)
  • ferry: عبارة (ʿabārah) or معبر (maʿbar)
  • bicycle: دراجة (darrājah), also cognates like بيسيكليت (bīsīklīt)
  • taxi: there is an Arabic translation for this, but I think you might get chuckled at if you use anything other than “taxi,” تاكسي
  • walking (verb): مشى (mashá)
    • “a walk”: مشي (mashī) or نزهة (nuzhah); the latter is more like “stroll”
  • running (verb): ركض (rakaḍa)
    • “a run”: ركضة (rakḍah)
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Extreme weather and natural disasters

Following on from last time, let’s see what vocabulary we’d need if the weather got a little rougher.

  • storm: عاصفة (ʿāṣifah)
  • thunderstorm: عاصفة رعدية (ʿāṣifah raʿdīyah)

    • thunder: رعد (raʿd)
    • lightning: برق (barq) OR صاعقة (ṣāʿiqah)
  • monsoon: ريح موسمية (rīḥ mawsamīyah, literally “seasonal winds)
  • flood: طوفان (ṭūfān) OR فيضان (fayaḍān)
  • tornado: إعصار (iʿṣār)
  • blizzard: عاصفة ثلجية (ʿāṣifah thaljīyah, “snow storm”)
  • hurricane (tropical cyclone): زوبعة (zawbaʿah)
  • sandstorm: عاصفة رملية (ʿāṣifah ramlīyah)
  • drought: قحط (qaḥṭ) OR جفاف (jafāf)
  • volcano: بركان (burkān) OR جبل النار (jabl al-nār)

    • volcanic eruption: ثوران بركاني (thawrān burkānī)
  • earthquake: زلزال (zilzāl)
  • tsunami: تسونامي (tsūnāmī)
  • avalanche: انهيار ثلجي (inhiyār thaljī)
  • landslide: انهيار أرضي (inhiyār arḍī)

طقس (weather)

Let’s look at some basic weather-related vocabulary. Obviously some of these phenomena aren’t going to be easily encountered in most of the Arab-speaking world, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, right?

  • weather: طقس (ṭaqs) in the abstract, but جو (jaww) if you’re talking about specific weather)

    • sun: شمس (shams); “sunny” is مُشمِس (mushmis) or شامس (shāmis)
    • clouds: غيم (ghaym), one cloud is غيمة (ghaymah); “cloudy” is غائم (ghāʾim) or مغيم (mighayyim)
    • rain: مطر (maṭar); “rainy” is ممطر (mumṭir)
    • fog: ضباب (ḍabāb); “foggy” is ضبابي (ḍabābī)
    • snow: ثلج (thalj); “snowy” is مُثَلَّج (muthallaj)
    • hail: برد (barad), a single hailstone is بردة (baradah)
    • wind: ريح (rīḥ); “windy” is رَيِّح (rayyiḥ — aren’t Arabic short vowels just the best?)
    • breeze/gust: نسيم (nasīm)
  • temperature: حرارة (ḥarārah), “heat”; “degree of temperature (heat)” is درجة الحرارة (darajat al-ḥarārah)

    • cold/cool: بارد (bārid)
    • warm: دافئ (dāfiʾ)
    • hot: حار (ḥār)
  • humidity: رطوبة (ruṭūbah)

    • humid: رطب (raṭb)
    • dry: جاف (jāf)

“How’s the weather?”: كيف الجو (kayf al-jaww) or كيف الطقس (kayf al-ṭaqs)

“It’s sunny”: الجو مشمس (al-jaww mushmis); adapt for other conditions

OR alternatively you can use دنيا or “world” instead of جو or “weather,” like so:

“It’s sunny”: الدنيا مشمس (al-dunyā mushmis); again, use whatever word describes the right condition

“It’s raining”: يمطر (yumṭiru)

“It’s snowing”: يثلج (yathliju)

“It’s cold today”: الجو بارد اليوم (al-jaww bārid al-yawm)

The Day of Atonement

Today (at sundown, to be precise) is also Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year for Jews. I bring this up first to wish any Jewish readers an easy fast, but also because linguistically it’s a quick and easy way to highlight the common Semitic roots of both Arabic and Hebrew. “Yom Kippur” (which is, I hope, יום כיפור in Hebrew, because if it’s not then I’m afraid I just offended somebody) literally translates into Arabic as يوم غفور (yawm ghafūr). “Yawm,” or “yom” means “day,” obviously, and there’s some common Semitic root for the idea of “forgiveness” that developed into GH-F-R in Arabic and K-P-R in Hebrew. The relationship between “f” and “p” is so close that there’s an actual linguistic law about it, albeit one developed in the Indo-European context, and “gh” and “k” are similar enough sounds as well.

I should note that يوم غفور is not how you’d actually say “Yom Kippur” in Arabic. You might want to use عيد الغفران (ʿīd al-ghufrān), the “festival of forgiveness,” though calling it a “festival” when you’re supposed to be fasting strikes me as a little odd. يوم الغفران (yawm al-ghufrān) is also acceptable, and may actually be a little preferable, though I honestly am not sure on this one.