Arabic is a remarkably expressive language in which many words and phrases often have no English equivalents by virtue of their reflection on the values and wisdoms specific to speakers of the language. While many are available and vary from one Arabic speaking country to the other, many acquire a cross-border popularity. In addition to the many quirks and humorous expressions used by Arabic speakers, there are also several wonderfully expressive phrases most particularly heard and used in Egypt. Whereas we tend to think of generosity as entailing more materialistic gestures, these phrases denote a different type of generosity- that of the spirit.
1. Na’eeman (نعيماً):
Usually said to someone after they shave, get a haircut or take a shower, the term is derived of the Arabic words ne’ma (نعمة) and na’eem (نعيم) (blessing and paradise) and is used to sort of congratulate someone on looking cleaner or fresher.
2. Nom Al-Awafi (نوم العوافي):
Where nom means sleep and awafi “wellness,” the term is used to wish someone a sleep free of the type of anxiety or illness that prevents one from a peaceful rest.
3. Kol Sana Wenta Tayeb/ Wenti Tayeba (كل سنة وإنتا طيب):
A phrase said on birthdays as well as religious and seasonal holidays. It translates into something akin to “may you remain well each year.”
4. Ghali W Al-Talab Rkhees (غالي و الطلب رخيص):
Whereas ghali (غالي) and rkhees (رخيص) (literally meaning expensive and cheap) are antonyms, the term is used when one is asked for a favor as a way of saying that any favor is affordable for the sake of a person as valuable as you are.
5. Rabena ye5aleek (ربنا يخليك):
This phrase literally translates into “may God keep you” or preserve the goodness one sees in you.