Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic] podcast

Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic]

Nesrin Amin

Bilmasri is a podcast and blog ( dedicated to the Egyptian dialect. It is for learners of Arabic (ideally anywhere between lower intermediate to advanced level) who have so far been focusing on Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), who may or may not have some knowledge of another Arabic dialect, and who would like to understand how the Egyptian dialect works.
The starting point of most blog posts and podcast episodes is a text in Modern Standard Arabic – a news story, an excerpt from a work of fiction, or another form of text – which has been adapted into Egyptian Arabic. In the first part of each podcast episode, I will slowly read out the Egyptian version of the text. In the second part, I will take you through (in English) one or more aspects of the language just heard: this could be the pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, idioms, etc., with a particular focus on the differences and similarities between Egyptian and MSA.

28 Episoden

  • Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic] podcast

    سيد درويش: الأغاني (2) – قوم يا مصري


    In this 3rd episode on Sayyed Darwish, let's look at one of his most famous songs, قوم يا مصري, once again written by بديع خيري - a "patriotic" song with a difference. In it, Egypt talks to the Egyptians ahead of the 1919 revolution, reminding them of past glories, and reprimading them for what they have done to it in recent times. The version we'll listen to excerpts from today is sung by Mohammed Mohsen (pictured). As usual, all verses are explained in English. As you may know by now, Bilmasri is now on YouTube, so you can listen to this episode while reading the Arabic and English text on screen here, or alternatively, go the old pdf/ audio route, whichever works best for you! Download pdf here
  • Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic] podcast

    سيد درويش: الأغاني (1)


    As I said in the only just published Episode 25 (on the life of Egyptian composer and singer Sayyed Darwish), I have now launched Bilmasri on YouTube, and I think this episode in particular is worth watching on there. That's not to say you should abandon the podcast!! But because this episode is about extracts of Sayyed Darwish songs, having the songs, the lyrics and the explanations all in one place in the video clip is particularly convenient, in my opinon. In this episode, I play extracts from some of my favourite Sayyed Darwish songs, which are songs which he sings from the perspective of a working man - here, a builder and a waiter - addressing other workers and society in general. I find these songs and their lyrics quite exquisite. All three songs I picked for this episode (الحلوة دي, شد الحزام and الجرسونات were written by Badie Khairy. As I said in the previous blogpost, this is probably the first of two such episodes, and in the next one, I intend to focus on some of Sayyed Darwish's love songs and patriotic songs. As this is a new format, I look forward to hearing from you what you thought of it, and if you have any feedback or suggestions I can take on board for the next similar episodes. Should I do more song episodes? Let me know! Download pdf here
  • Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic] podcast

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  • Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic] podcast

    سيد درويش


    Sayyed Darwish 1892-1923 - his Biography With this episode, I'm very excited to be launching Bilmasri on YouTube! As I explain in the podcast, how and where you use Bilmasri is up to you (of course :)). Some may find it works best for them to listen to the podcast on the go, or to listen to it while reading the text in the blogpost, but others may find it more convenient to watch the YouTube clip where the text appears on the screen. Anyway, as you see, I've worked on two episodes simultaneously - I was just too excited to get the YouTube channel populated! :) In this episode, I read from my مصري version of a فصحى article on the life of Egyptian composer and singer Sayyed Darwish (1892-1923). It's a relatively short episode as I don't follow it with a discussion of the language. For one thing, because the language is relatively straightforward, and also, I added a glossary column to the text below this time. Then in the next episode, which is already online, I play extracts from some of his songs and talk about the language in these. This is probably the first of two such episodes - so watch this space. As this is a new format, I look forward to hearing from you what you thought of it, and if you have any feedback or suggestions I can take on board for the next similar episodes. Should I do more song episodes? Let me know! Download pdf from here
  • Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic] podcast

    لهجة قنا


    In this third episode dedicated to regional Egyptian accents, I chat with Moustafa Maghraby from the southern Egyptian city of Qena. Qena lies just to the north of Luxor, and as Moustafa explains, both accents are very similar (although the north of Qena bears more resemblance to the city of Sohag). Thank you Moustafa for the informative chat! As with previous chats on regional accents, I have to note that the conversation is conducted between two native speakers in their regular talking speed, so please note that these episodes are, I think, more suited for people who are already quite confident speakers of Egyptian Arabic. Also as before, the overview includes timestamps of the topics and words/ expressions we talk about. I end our conversation with Moustafa's recording of his own poem لحظة التلاقي - the text of which is at the bottom of the overview. Enjoy, and let me know if you have any comments or questions! On an unrelated note: I've been bringing out a bit more episodes than usual since the start of the year - this is to make up for quieter/ busier times past and future - and one such busy time is coming up, from now until the end-ish of June. I may not disappear completely during that time but it will get a bit quieter around here. I have a lot more planned though so watch this space! :D Download file here
  • Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic] podcast

    الأمير الصغيّر


    Today's episode is another collaboration, and this time I was delighted to team up with Hector Fahmy, a fellow "Masri" enthusiast who runs the العالم بالمصري Facebook page, which aims to bring the world to the Egyptian reader (so you could say, the reverse of the direction Bilmasri operates in!) by translating a variety of content -texts, music etc.- into Masri. Hector is in the process of translating a number of literary works as well, and he has already published a Masri version of Le Petit Prince/ The Little Prince - الأمير الصغير, and so of course I jumped at the opportunity to have a Bilmasri episode featuring an extract from this delightful little book. Hector kindly agreed to cooperate and has provided his reading of the small chapters 2 and 3 (with me imposing myself on the role of the little prince! :) ) Update: The Kindle version of الأمير الصغيّر is now available here In the overview below, I put the Masri version alongside the English translation. Obviously, Hector translated from the French original, but it made more sense to use the English version here instead. After the reading, I say a little something about the words highlighted in yellow below. I hope you enjoy the episode! As usual, feedback, comments and questions are very welcome. PS: A couple of notes I wanted to add after uploading the podcast episode: Which words can we start with a ت when preceded by a number from 3-10?In the text, we hear the words تمن تيّام for 8 days, and I explain that in only a small number of plural words beginning with alif, a ت appears at the start of the word when preceded by a number (3-10), which is a remnant from the فصحى - where we would say, for example أربعة أيام (arba'at ayyam) --> أربع تيّامI should have mentioned a few more words that are treated the same way. Here is a small non-comprehensive list - I'm sure there's more!:آلاف: أربع تلاف، خمس تلاف (of all the words in this list, I'd say this is the only one where the ت is "compulsory")أيام: أربع تيام، خمس تيامأشهر: تمت تُشهر (months)أدوار: خمس تدوار (in the sense of floors in a building)أنفار: سبع تنفار (individuals)أجواز: أربع تجواز (pairs)As I said, if you're not sure, its safer to drop the ت - better than putting ت where it's not expected. However if you say خمس آلاف for 5,000 it will sound odd, so make sure you add a ت there always!Which word to use for "which"?Oh. my. God. This is quite embarrassing. A question that I received (in the comments below) alerted me that perhaps the word that I said I use for "which...?" - namely, آني - is not as common as I thought it was. And so I did two things: I asked in my family group chat if they said أنهي or آني and everyone confirmed that they say آني. Then I went on Twitter and asked any Egyptians out there what they say. You can see the result below. Zero for آني. So in conclusion: it's a word that my family invented, or so it seems! It's basically a simplification of أنهي. So please ignore anything I said about آني for "which". I don't want anyone to laugh at you because of me! :D Download here:
  • Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic] podcast

    اللهجة الدمياطي


    In this second episode dedicated to regional Egyptian accents, I chat with Taha Seweidy from the northeastern Egyptian city/ governorate of Domyat (Damietta), who is currently working as a doctor in Brighton. Taha, who also has his own book review podcast كتاب في الخمسينة talks us through the various features of the Domyati accent, while giving us a good idea of when and where you are most likely to encounter such features. Thanks to Taha for the pleasant and informative chat! In the overview below, as with our last Alexandria episode, I have broken down our conversation, giving you the timestamp of the topics we discussed, and the main features of Domyati masri compared to Cairene masri. Enjoy, and let me know if you have any comments or questions! Download here:
  • Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic] podcast



    Today’s reading is from the first few pages of المولودة Al-Mawluda (the newborn) by Nadia Kamel, which was published in 2018 and written entirely in Egyptian ‘aammiya. In this biography-memoir-novel, Nadia Kamel tells the story of her mother in her own words: Naela was born Mary Elia Rozenthal to a Jewish Turkish-Ukranian father and a Christian Italian mother. She eventually converted to Islam and changed her name to Naela when she met and married Nadia’s father, Saad Kamel. The story is written from the mother’s perspective, so the first person “I” which you’ll hear in the extract is Naela/ Mary herself. Naela’s recollections, which are faithfully rendered by her daughter, deal with her childhood, family, friends, political activism, imprisonment and marriage, but they also paint a picture of the multicultural Egyptian society of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. As you might expect, because it was written entirely in عامية there was a backlash from those who feel that books should only ever be written in فصحى (with some exceptions allowed where dialogues are concerned), but Nadia Kamel was adamant that the colloquial is the language that we use to communicate our thoughts and feelings every day, so that it’s appropriate to use it in writing as well. The reading was once again kindly provided to me by Amani Hassan (with whom I collaborated two episodes ago), who also proposed the questions I ask after the reading. And once again my contribution consists in providing the intro, the answers to the questions, as well as the فصحى version of the extract, which you’ll find in the downloadable document below (one row in مصري followed by a row in فصحى, followed by the questions). Hopefully we can make more episodes on this delightful book in the future! You may also be interested in watching the film “Salata baladi” سَلَطة بلدي which Nadia Kamel made of her mother and her chats with her grandson, and their trips to Italy and Israel to visit relatives and reminisce about their past. The film is available on YouTube here. Consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks! Download pdf here
  • Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic] podcast

    اللهجة الإسكندرانية


    In this first of hopefully a series of episodes, I wanted to introduce you (and myself!!) to a number of regional Egyptian dialects. Because - let's face it - Bilmasri isn't really bilmasri if it stays as Cairo-centric as I am! And so I'm teaming up with Egyptians from across the country to talk about their dialects/ accents, and how their sounds, words and structures differ from the Cairene. But at all times we want to emphasise that the similarities remain much greater than the differences. In the first of this series of episodes, I am chatting with Fatema Shokr* a freelance Arabic teacher from Alexandria. We talk about how, being a large city, there are regional variations within it, how Fatema's accent changes depending on whether she is talking to her family and friends or to her students, and how it changes when she loses her nerves! :) She then takes me through a number of interesting features of the Alexandrian dialect/ accent. In the table below, I have broken down our conversation, giving you the timestamp of the topics we discussed, and the an overview of the main features of Alexandrian masri compared to Cairene masri. Please let me know what you think of the episode and its format! *If you want to find Fatema, this is her "Fatema's Arabic Class" Facebook page, through which she remotely teaches Arabic to non-native speakers. My sincere thanks to Fatema for this very enjoyable interview! PS: This is a fun and clever song shared with me earlier, set to the tune of "Let's call the whole thing off" (the potayto-potahto song), but between an Alexandrian gentleman and a Cairene lady. They mention some words that we haven't addressed in the podcast, and so I've added these to the end of the table in the overview below! Link to download document
  • Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic] podcast

    نوال السعداوي


    Earlier today, we lost one of Egypt's foremost feminist writers and political activists, Dr Nawal El Saadawi (born 1931). A uniquely courageous woman who inspired so many, women as well as men, to stand up against their oppressors. Her outspokenness landed her in prison under Sadat's regime, and this is where in 1981 she wrote "مذكراتي في سجن النساء" (Memoirs from the women's prison <- link is to the translation by Marilyn Booth). And in today's episode, I read extracts in masri from her (fusha) introduction to this book. As we did last week, I ask some comprehension questions after the reading, so you can listen to the question, pause, try to answer, before listening to mine. Below, you can see the فصحى original followed by my بالمصري version, and below that, a glossary (with words such as زفة، شلة and دوشة), and the comprehension questions. Enjoy! :) Download text here Download glossary and questions here
  • Bilmasri [in Egyptian Arabic] podcast

    تاكسي – 2


    2nd reading from Khaled Al-Khamissi's "Taxi" Today we revisit Al-Khamissi's delightful compilation of conversations with Cairo taxi drivers, the 'aamiya/ fusha book "Taxi" from 2006 (I had previously read a chapter from it back in June). This episode is slightly different from past ones, in that the reading was very kindly contributed by Amani Hassan*, senior Arabic lecturer at New York University. Her recording features a male voice in the role of the taxi driver, which works very well I think! Below, you will find the original text, and after every section, I have provided my fusha "translation" of the bilmasri text. All except for the final paragraph, which was already written in fusha (narrator's voice). The other thing that's different, and which I intend to do more often in the future, is that Amani has also provided me with some comprehension questions on the text, which she has used with her students. After you listen to the chapter, I ask those questions, and replay the relevant part of the story. You can then pause the recording to try and answer it yourself, before listening to my proposed response to the question. I hope you find this a useful addition! In the end I explain a few words and expressions that come up in the text: لا مؤاخذة، بالعافية، كله كوم و... كوم، يمد إيده، كلها كام سنة . More vocab is provided in the glossary at the bottom of this page. As I've been doing for the past two episodes, the text and any additional material are now available as downloadable pdfs - links below. Enjoy, and as usual, please let me know if you have any questions or comments! --- *Just a quick erratum: I'm sorry for mispronouncing Amani's surname, which is حسّان not حسن, but in my defense it's an easy mistake to make, as both are written the same way in English!! :D

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