ya3timid


Marilyn? Impostor with mustache? ya:timid




















Sometimes there's no easy answer to questions in life. I'm not talking million dollar questions here. What about the humble, but inescapable: "what shall we have for dinner?" maadrii ("I don't know") might be the typical answer. But if a few options spring to mind, it's more accurate to say ya:timid.

A friend comes to lunch and stays all afternoon. When he leaves the room for a moment, Maryam asks Hashim, "raaH yDHul Hag al-:ashaa?" - will he stay for dinner?

"ya:timid, maybe he's got other plans," says Hashim. 

The friend returns and Maryam says to him: "DHul Hag al-:ashaa!"

Before he can answer, Hashim yells: "nuTur-ay, Maryam! I'm not sure we have enough meat!"

The friend gets up to leave but Maryam stops him: "ig:ad!"

She turns to her husband. "There's no problem, Hashim, I can go to the butchers now. Why don't you offer your friend a drink?"


Martin Parr, 'Bored Couples' (1993)
















DHul, unTur, ig:ad are all examples of the imperative. 

Imperatives are words which come with exclamation marks in tow because they are an order or command.

In Arabic the imperative is made by finding the 'he form' of a verb in the present tense and removing its prefix 'y.' What am I talking about? shuuf-aw ! :



yDHul he stays DHul ! stay !
yunTur he waits unTur ! wait !
yiga:ad he sits ig:ad ! sit !
yshuuf he looks shuuf ! look !


khallii, unTur, ig:ad and shuuf are imperatives addressed to a male. If you are a woman reading this, and I have been so rude as to heckle these orders as if you were a man, let me correct the error immediately:

DHul-ay !
nuTur-ay !
gi:ad-ay !

If you're addressing a group of two or more people, whether male or female, or both, say the following:

DHul-aw !
nuTur-aw !
gi:ad-aw !

Negative imperatives, as in "don't do something!" are not formed this way. They are easier. You simply use the word laa (which means no) and the 'you' form of the present tense with the appropriate endings for male, female and plural:

laa tHaatii ! - don't (you) worry!
laa tHaat-iin ! - don't (you, female) worry! 
laa tHaat-uun ! - don't (you, plural) worry!