Dictionary Finds: Collocations of شقّ


root: ج-و-و / noun / plural: أَجْواء / definition: air, atmosphere

I try to evoke, in my physical spaces, an air of refreshing minimalism.

My bedroom walls, for example, are washed in white and bare, save the two (white) floating shelves and narrow (white) floating desk that quite subtly jut out along one side.

My laptop, on the other hand, has regretfully become an epicentre of hoarding. Don’t ask me to count how many tabs and windows I have open in Chrome, some of which have remained there since close to the dawn of modern time (i.e. one of the however-many pandemic lockdowns…).

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Arabic Observations: “Seeking” in Arabic and Turkish


root: ل-غ-و / nisba adjective / definition: linguistic

I’ve been toying with the idea of writing this Arabic Observations post for a while, but I was unsure whether it’s too small of an observation to be added to this series.

I’ve since concluded, however, that no linguistic observation is too small to be noted. (It also helps that it’s something small this week, as I’m in a bit of a rush to get this posted before heading out!)

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The End, the Middle, and the Beginning


root: ء-ف-ق / noun / plural: آفاق / definition: horizon

Today, I was conducting the Arabic oral exams for my second-year students and it became apparent that I have some residual anxiety from my undergraduate days as I felt nervous for them. They seemed chilled in comparison, which I’m happy about.

This sort of marks the end of my official teaching-related duties for the academic year, and leaves me standing here with open arms to welcome the summer and everything I have planned, and the things I plan to plan.

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Arabic Words for “Eternity”


root: ج-ز-ر / noun / plural: جُزُر / definition: island

I’ve spent the past week reconnecting with my home from home: backpacking around Majorca and reacquainting myself with its beaches and towns, and visiting the school I once attended for a year in our village in the south of the island.

Ah, those irresistible crystal-clear turquoise waters make you want to stay forever. (What I hope don’t last forever, though, are the tan lines I now have around my face and wrists…)

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The Plural of Few and the Plural of Many


root: ق-ل-ل / noun / definition: few

I’m writing this post in between kneading and leaving-to-rise the Cypriot hellimli zeytinli I’m making in the kitchen, and the smell of black olives is stirring up hunger pangs despite the fact fasting is over (!عيد مبارك).

But this post isn’t about halloumi or olives, it’s about plurals. Specifically, two types of plural: جمع القِلّة and جمع الكَثرة.

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Uncommon Arabic Words for Rain


root: م-ط-ر / noun / plural: أَمطار / definition: rain

In our Wehr Wednesdays series, we’ve seen two phrases so far related to rain:

  • #138: سحّت السماء (“it rained cats and dogs”)
  • #180: بغشت السماء (“there was a light shower”)
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Step-by-Step Arabic Literature Translation #12


root: ط-ب-ع / noun / definition: nature

My appointment to reconnect with nature is approaching and it can’t come soon enough. I’ve been feeling sort of anxiously suspended between buildings and roads here in London and—whilst local parks have been somewhat of a refuge from all things grey—sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and sunshine are calling out.

On the topic of nature, I thought we’d take a look at (and translate) an excerpt today from an Arabic novel about humans’ interaction with the environment.

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Unearthed Vocabulary


root: ه-ج-ر / passive participle of form I / definition: abandoned

Anyone who’s visited the Vocabulary page on this blog recently may have found themselves feeling as though they’d stumbled upon a long-abandoned site, with the ominously-hopeful message “More vocabulary lists coming soon!” an echo of a curious past that makes you wonder what came to be of such a promising, flourishing hub of activity.

But fear not, (vocabulary) explorers. Because I’ve very much revived the vocabulary-lists-by-topic collection with a sparkling new list.

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The Wind, and a Wandering Mind


root: ر-و-ح / noun / plural: رِياح / definition: wind

I was watching an episode of Karadayı last week, my favourite Turkish series, and two phrases related to the wind came up in quick succession:

  • Hangi rüzgâr attı sizi buraya? (literally: which wind threw you here? / meaning: what brought you here unexpectedly after so long?)
  • Ağzımdan yel alsın! (literally: may the wind take it from my mouth! / meaning: may what I said never happen! God forbid!)

In these sayings, the wind—whether rüzgâr (a word derived from Persian) or yel (a Turkic word)—appears as an active force, linked to fate.

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Plural of the Plural


root: ف-ت-ح / verbal noun of form I / definition: opening

We’re somehow nearing the end of the second semester and this academic year seems to have zoomed by faster than the time it takes for students to open Arabiyyat al-Naas and flick to the right page.

Writing about semesters again reminds me that my journey as a master’s student has pretty much been documented on this blog via snippets in the introductions of posts from September 2021-22. Like in the post Using مهما, or Another Small But Useful Phrase: جاء في.

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