Thursday, February 23, 2012

Language update

The Peace Corps recently asked me to participate in a focus group consisting of volunteers along with directors of the Youth Centers in which volunteers work. The meeting was run by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the division of the Moroccan government with which the Peace Corps works, and was intended to help Peace Corps and the government work together to develop a countrywide curriculum that supports shared goals and objectives for Moroccan youth. 

I was very excited to be involved in the project because I want to get involved in the strategy behind our programming, and I want to help provide resources for Peace Corps volunteers in meeting our goals and objectives. My excitement waned a little (okay, a lot) when I found out a crucial piece of information: The focus group would be held entirely in Darija (Moroccan Arabic). These days I have no problem using Darija in my classes, when I go to the market, greeting people on the streets, or just hanging out with friends - but I'm pretty sure that there is a whole branch of the language starting with the word "curriculum" that I have never used before.

We did have a bit of translation help in the meeting fortunately, but even without it, I ended up feeling really grateful for the experience. Why? Well, it got me out of my everyday language rut ("I'll have 1 kilo of tomatoes, please") and forced me both to use my language in a different way, and to listen carefully and even learn a few new words. Here are a few new additions to my vocabulary:
The focus group experience, while daunting at first, motivated me to find ways week to week to get out of my comfort zone, learn new vocabulary, and use my language in new and interesting ways. In the spirit of learning new things, I thought I would teach a few words in Moroccan Arabic that I most commonly use. If you recall from this early blog post, I included a few greeting words, so this is Lesson #2!

- Shnu smitk? - What is your name?
- Smiti Layla. - My name is Layla. (That's my name here, since it's easier to pronounce than Lauren. It's starting to grow on me!)
- Mtshrfeen. - Nice to meet you.
- Shukran. - Thank you.
- Aefek. - Please.
- Bslama! - Goodbye!
- Dar Shabab - Youth Center (this is where I work)
- Mudir (if a male), Mudira (if a female) - the Director of the Youth Center
- B Shwiya eafak - Slowly please (this is one we use a LOT!)

So study up on your Darija (particularly Mom and Dad Weinrich and Mom and Dad Bernstein who are visiting us in the upcoming months)... I'll be quizzing you on these soon!!


  1. How do you say, "I miss you!"? ;)

    1. I know this one!! Written phonetically, it is "Tu Hish Tik". And I'll add a "bzzaf" at the end which means "I miss you very much!"