Communicate, understand each other…
Exchange words, gestures and, above all, smiles! Moroccans love that and are naturally multilingual! In this glossary, we will try, with humor, to give you a few keys in order to decode an Arab or French vocabulary and sentences you will probably hear during your stay in Morocco.
A word must refer to a precise idea or thing. But behind it, there is often a hidden meaning. What is behind the words we hear in the streets of Morocco?
If you call “Abdou” in the street, do not be surprised if almost every man’s head turns: as a matter of fact, this is short for all names formed with ABD which means “servant” and is attached to one of the 99 names of Allah: Abdallah, Abdelaziz, Abdesslam, Abdelatif, Abdelhakim, Abdelfattah, Abderrahmane, Abdelkarim, Abedmajid…
But take it easy, there are many other beautiful Moroccan masculine names: Younes, Aziz, Redouane, Omar, Brahim, Mehdi, Youssef, Ahmed…
“ACH BGHRITI?” [ACHBRITI]
“What would you like?”. They will often ask you this, in order to fulfill your wishes.
In a medina the streets (trek), the alleys and the derb (plural drouba) have names: Derb El Hammam, Derb El Ferran, Derb Jdid…well this is theory!
Actually, you will rarely find a sign to indicate them. In Marrakech medina, it is often a difficult mission to find an address. When you finally discover the right derb, you think it is ok. But the game is not finished. Now the number! There are no even and odd sides. The numbers follow one another until the end of the street then come back. Getting lost in the alleys of the medina is not a big deal!
Just go on, nose in the air, a child will finally tell you “it is closed!” ; It means it is a dead end street and you have to turn back.
The most important about addresses is the name of the district and the landmarks; a post office, a mosque, a shop, the colour of a door… We are always opposite…next to…behind…something! If you are obsessed by punctuality, you will have to make your principles more flexible!
“Please”. In order to illustrate the talk, you can kiss your fingers o put your hand on your heart.
AMAZIGH OR BERBER
Amazigh is the Berber name of the original people of North Africa. They were also called the Moors, the Numidians, the Libyans…they have lived the various conquests until the conversion to Islam. The majority of the Moroccan population, 60 per cent, has Berber roots. The Tamazight language has several dialects. They are known to be strict, honest and proud. The Berber identity, language and culture have been nationally recognized for a few years.
That is the word for the Moroccan mint tea. It is made with green tea, sugar and fresh mint leaves. According to the season, other herbs or spices can be added. Preparing mint tea is a genuine ceremony! You need a specific metal teapot, sometimes silvered, which can bear fire.
The art of pouring it from a height allows to aerate it and to enhance the flavours and creates the foam. It must be “as bitter as life, as bubbling as love and as sweet as dead”. It is the emblematic elixir of the country and its hospitality. However it appeared only in the 19th century, but do not tell it. The British imported it, of course.