Friday, November 07, 2014

You say "Potato" and I say...

...something you don't recognize!

It turns out there is quite a difference between Sudanese Colloquial Arabic and the Egyptian Arabic spoken in Cairo.

We thought we would be OK using the limited Arabic we learned 20 years ago in Sudan but that is not the case. We've forgotten a lot, to be sure, but there is a lot we remember too and we were excited to start using it again.

It has been a bit of shock to learn that while most of the consonants are consistent with what we remember, a lot of the vowel sounds are different. So, the other day, when we were at the take-out counter of a restaurant ordering water we were stunned to see that the proprietor very obviously didn't understand us. Water! Moya! (This was Conrad's first word in any language. We all know how to say it.) After the panic and the deer-in-the-headlights look, we asked our friend who came with us and we learned that it is pronounced "mya".

All is not lost. There is still a lot that we DO know and quite a bit that we understand, but this whole vowel thing is going to drive us crazy before too long!