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?
It is called “Khmissa” in Morocco. It means five, like the 5 fingers and the 5 words of the protective formula Basmala (see Bismillah)
The palm of the hand protects against the evil eye and acts as a return to sender.
« BISMILLAH »
« Bi ismi illâh ». Litterally « In the name of God… » It is the contraction of the Basmala formula which has 5 words and introduces every surah of the Coran.
In the daily life, it is pronounced before undertaking every action, before eating or drinking, when getting into a car, when entering a mosque, a house, and acts as a protection against the evil eye.
The bread, the staple food.
We find many different sorts of bread, natural or with sesame seeds. Moroccans eat a lot of bread with every bite of a tagine or any other course. It is a small round bread, mostly home made and cooked in the public wood-fired oven, then delivered to the groceries. The Berber bread, larger and very flat, is delicious!
This is a real Aladdin’s cave! In those numerous very small grocery shops you can buy almost everything. Food, of course, but also phone chargers, shaving foam, single cigarettes, tools, sim cards, pencils, extension cords, ice rocks, kitchen utensils…and everything else! They are genuine supermarkets on 20 sq ft. They are opened until late in the night, and are the meeting point for the locals. The owner can give news about anyone, knows the last gossip of the district and sometimes everyone’s secrets.
« LABES ? »
“How are you?” “How is it today?”
When you meet someone, even ten times a day, you will be asked “labes?”! You answer “labes”!
« INCH’ALLAH »
“See you tomorrow at 15.00, Inch’Allah” A rational mind can stay confused. But “Inch’Allah” does not mean “maybe”. A Moroccan only reminds you that tomorrow is another day, that anything can occur meanwhile, that is is God’s will. Unless events dictate otherwise, the appointment will be maintained.
BABOUCHE or SLIPPERS
In Moroccan language BELGHA. Wether “climatized” or not, it is an emblem of the country. Traditionally it is made of yellow leather. The babouche is still worn for all occasions, by all generations and all social backgrounds. Always trendy, never inappropriate. A few designers also try to change the form, the colour, the material. The price is naturally different accordingto the quality of the leather, of the comfort… A label, like a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) has been created to guarantee a reliable quality and to protect against counterfeits.
“LALLA ” and “SIDI”
A polite and respectful phrase like “Madam” and “Sir”
Primary meaning “my brother”. As we are all brothers, it is normal to call eachother like this.
Means “my friend” A phrase to show respect and friendship.