Friday, April 4, 2008

Lesson 10: توبة

New Vocabulary

tooba (توبة) - never again, I'll never ... again
aah (آه) - expression of pain, anxiety or distress
uw3a (أوعى) - god forbid, don't you dare, don't ever
barDuh (برضه) - also, too, nevertheless, even so, really, surely
mahma (مهما) - no matter what/how much
kull ma (كل ما) - whenever
raaH (راح) - going to
aHsan (أحسن) - it's better that..., better off
nooba (نوبة) - time, instance
marra (مرة) - once, one time, instance
bukrah (بكره) - tomorrow
salamtak (سلامتك) - get well soon!
'udaam (قدام) - in front of
Hatta (حتى) - even, not even
wagh (وجه) pl. wuguuh (وجوه) - face

SaHHa (صحّى) - to wake someone up
wa33ad (وعّد) - to promise
Sadda' (صدّق) - to believe
kaddab (كدّب) - to call a liar, to deny, to contradict, to refuse to believe
xaaSim (خاصم) - to fight with, to quarrel with
SaaliH (صالح) - to make good with, to reconcile with
DiHik (ضِحِك) - to smile, to laugh
baka (بكى) - to cry

In Lesson 9, we heard from Asmahan, one of the great female singers of modern Egyptian history. Now we'll hear a song from perhaps the most famous male singer in the history of Arabic music, Abdel Halim Hafez. Abdel Halim's career spanned over 2 decades, during which he became a cultural icon. He first rose to fame just as Egypt was gaining independence in 1952, and thus became a beloved symbol of the new nation. Like Asmahan, he died somewhat prematurely in 1977 at just 47 years of age. For this reason and of course his countless classic songs and wonderful smile and charm, he is often compared to Elvis Presley. His nickname was "al-3andaliib al-asmar (العندليب الأسمر)" which means "the dark nightingale."

This is one of Abdel Halim's earlier works, from the 1955 movie "ayaam wa layaali (أيام وليالي)." The title, "tooba (توبة)," means "Never Again." Watch and listen, and try to catch some of the dialog in the beginning.



توبة توبة
توبة إن كنت أحبك تاني توبة
بس قابلني مرة وتبقى دي آخر نوبة
وبعدها توبة

توبة إن كنت أخاصمك وأرجع أصالحك تاني
ياما البعد سقاني وياما القرب ضناني

وإن فات طيفك يوم في منامي وجهه صحاني
برضه أصالحك بس أهي نوبة وبعدها توبة

توبة إن كنت حصدق تاني كلامك
مهما حتسأل مش راح أصدق حتى سلامك

بس وعدني أوعى تبكي وأنا قدامك
أحسن أكذّب روحي وأقول أهي نوبة وبعدها توبة

آه من حيرة قلبي وآه من دمعة عيني
كل ما أقول أنساك توحشهم نارك وتصحيني

أجري وأسأل عنك قبل ما انت تجيني
أضحك نوبة وأبكي نوبة وبعدها توبة


Hope you got something out this snapshot of Egyptian film in the 1950s. Before we talk about the song let's talk about the dialog in the beginning. The girl obviously rebuffs Abdel Halim, who is persistently confessing his love. You hear her friends say that the hospital's visiting hours are over. Apparently Abdel Halim has somehow ended up in the hospital. Notice that as she leaves Abdel Halim shouts "hashuufik bukra (حشوفك بكره)." This is a very important phrase meaning "I'll see you tomorrow!" Her reply is "salamtak (سلامتك)," which means "get well soon." Learn these useful phrases.

Now try to get the catchy chorus stuck in your head. Let's see what he's saying:

توبة توبة
توبة إن كنت أحبك تاني توبة

Like we said, "tooba (توبة)" means "no more" or "never again." Never again what now? "in kunt aHibbak tani (إن كنت أحبك تاني)." After "tooba (توبة)" you use a word like "in (إن)" or "iza (إذا)" that means "if" and a phrase as you an see here. Take this to mean "never will I love you again."

Then what:

بس قابلني مرة وتبقى دي آخر نوبة
وبعدها توبة

Remember "bas (بس)" means "but" or "just." So he says "tooba (توبة)," "never again," and then "bas (بس)," "but" so we know something's coming here. "'aabilni (قابلني)" is a command, saying "meet me." "marra (مرة)" is no different than in Standard Arabic, meaning "once" or "one time." The word "nooba (نوبة)" is another word meaning "time" or "instance" that rhymes a bit nicer with "tooba (توبة)." So "tib'a di aakhir nooba (تبقى دي آخر نوبة)" means "this'll be the last time." See how the verb "ba'a (بقى)" is being used here? Finally, Abdel Halim pledges "wa ba3adaha tooba (وبعدها توبة)," meaning "and after it, never again."

First verse:

توبة إن كنت أخاصمك وأرجع أصالحك تاني

Looks like more regrets for Abdel Halim. The verb "xaaSim (خاصم)" means "to fight with" or "to quarrel with" and the verb "SaaliH (صالح)" is its opposite, "to make good with" or "to reconcile with." So he's saying, "never again will I fight with you then come back and make good with you again."

Next line:

ياما البعد سقاني وياما القرب ضناني

This line means "oh how the farness watered me and oh how the closeness exhausted me." You gotta just do your best to understand what is meant by this, it's not worth dwelling on here.

Next line:

وإن فات طيفك يوم في منامي وجهه صحّاني

"in (إن)" means "if," like the word "low (لو)." Do you remember the word "Teef (طيف)" meaning "specter" or "image" from the last lesson? "manaam (منام)" means "sleep" or the "sleep state." The word "wagh (وجه)" is important here. It means "face." Finally the verb "SaHHa (صحى)" means "to wake someone up." Put all of this together, and he says "if your image passed by one day in my sleep, its (your) face would wake me up." Break down the sentence to see what's going on there.

برضه أصالحك بس أهي نوبة وبعدها توبة


The word "barDuh (برضه)" comes into Egyptian Arabic from Turkish and has several related meanings. Firstly, it means "too" or "also" or "after that." In addition, it means "nevertheless" or "even so" or "all the same." Finally it can be used as an intensifier like "really" or "surely." Figuring out what "barDuh (برضه)" is supposed to mean is not easy hardly ever, but get a sense for it because it's a common word in Egyptian Arabic. Did you get the sentence using what we've learned so far?

After the chorus we get Abdel Halim swearing off some other stuff:

توبة إن كنت حصدّق تاني كلامك

As we've learned "Sadda' (صدق)" means "to believe." So he says, "never again will I believe your words."

مهما حتسأل مش راح أصدق حتى سلامك

"mahma (مهما)" is a great word meaning "no matter what/how much." "mish raaH aSadda' (مش راح أصدق)" means "I'm not going to believe." "raaH (راح)" is an alternate way of marking the future, and we can see why, given that is also the verb "to go." "Hatta salaamak (حتى سلام)" means "even your peace," but remember, "salaam (سلام)" is also used for saying hello, so here it means like "not even your greeting."

بس وعّدني
أوعى تبكي وأنا قدامك

"bas wa33idni (بس وعّدني)" means "but" or "just promise me." "uw3a (أوعى)" means "god forbid you..." or "don't ever" or "don't you dare!" You use it with a present tense verb to forbid someone from doing something. The verb "baka (بكى)" of course means "to cry" and "'udaam (قدام)" means "in front of." So he says "don't ever cry when I am in front of you," or in better English, "don't ever cry in front of me." See how the "wa (و)" phrase creates the sense of "when" or "while?"

أحسن أكذّب روحي وأقول أهي نوبة وبعدها توبة

Starting a sentence with "aHsan (أحسن)" carries the meaning of "it's better that" or "better off." The verb "kaddab (كدّب)" comes from the root "kadab (كدب)," "to lie," and means "to call a liar," "to contradict or deny" or "to refuse to believe." So he says "It's better for me to refuse to believe my soul and say it's once and after that never again." He doesn't really wanna say "tooba (توبة)," he just knows it's in his best interest.

Final verse:

آه من حيرة قلبي وآه من دمعة عيني

"aah min (آه من)" something means literally "ouch from" but it means like "that thing hurts" or something along those lines. "aah (آه)" expresses exasperation, stress and suffering in Arabic. Then he saying "Oh the confusion of my heart, oh the tears of my eyes."

كل ما أقول أنساك توحشهم نارك وتصحّيني

As we learned "kullima (كل ما)" means "whenever." The verb "waHash (وحش)" is a little tricky to explain. It is used to say "I miss you," except the "I" is the object and the "you" is the subject like in French "Tu me manques." So here "tawhashum (توحشهم)" means "they miss you," referring to his eyes and heart. "naar (نار)" means "fire" or "hell" and it is grammatically feminine, and we already learned what "SaHHa (صحّى)" means earlier in the song. Unpack all that and he says, "whenever I say I'll forget you, they (I) miss you and your fire wakes me up." See how he's suffering?

Next line:

أجري وأسأل عنك قبل ما انت تجيني

"sa'al 3an (سأل عن)" means "to ask about." "'abl (قبل)" means "before," and the "'abl ma (قبل ما)" is used in conjunction with a verbal expression. "I run and ask about you before you come to me."

Final line:

أضحك نوبة وأبكي نوبة وبعدها توبة

The verb "DiHik (ضحك)" means "to laugh" or "to smile." Put it together with what we know and he says, "I laugh once, cry once and after that never again!"

I probably explained a lot more for you in this song than you really needed with all you've learned thus far. I can't help it, it's just so hard to see you doing things on your own now! It's like you don't even need me. From now on I'll try to be more hands off in the explanations while guiding you through more and more songs. Go back and review and then go onto the next lesson, Lesson 11: خليك جنبي

4 comments:

yasar said...

Dear Chris,

Re: typo

Near the bottom of the page.

You have typed شالinstead of سال عن

Kind regards

Keep up the good work

Yasar

Soda-Jerk said...

Hi: In the line:
كل ما أقول أنساك توحشهم نارك وتصحّيني

I'm interested in the phrase
[KULLIMA]

Your translation says it means WHENVER (which makes sense in the context)......but I thought it meant WHATEVER.

If [KULLIMA] in Egyptian means WHENEVER, how do you say WHATEVER in the same dialect?

Thanks.

sodajerk22@yahoo.com

Chris said...

thank you for your comment soda-jerk.

There is not a straightforward answer for your question because this is one of the aspects of language that is extremely complex, and there are always problems translating the concepts of whenever, wherever, etc. I will explain very briefly how to express these ideas through a class of words that we have available.

كلما has two meanings really. It means both "whenever" and "the more," i.e. it has the connotations that each time a repeated action is done, something (the second part of the clause) increases. Thus it might be appropriate to translate this line either as "the more I say 'i'm done with you" or "whenever I say i'm done with you."

to express the meaning of "when" without this added meaning it is better to use لما (lamma).

as to how to say whatever, there is no one-to-one translation as different words would be used in different contexts. the word مهما (mahma) means whatever, but in the sense of "no matter what." for example, the phrase مهما صار means whatever happens, and is used to express the idea that no matter what happens, something will be the case. for example مهما صار حفضل جنبك (no matter what happens, i'll stay by your side).

in Egyptian we have the word زيما (zayma), which could be translated as "however" and would be used in a phrase such as زيما انت عايز which you could translate as "however you like" or "whatever you want."

while we're on the topic, the phrase طولما (Tuulma) means "so long as" or "as long as."

hope that helps

Rain_Drops said...

It may be worthy saying that tawba literally means Repentance, so we use "I repent" means I'll never do. :)