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September 10, 2008 Cross-talk

I’m understanding cross-talk!

Tonight, while I was having l-fdrt with my host family (or “drinking soup”, as they’d call it, since harira – soup – is the centerpiece of the Ramadan fast-breaking meal), I asked them about the fasting exception for travelers, which Moroccans seem to ignore.

This led to a debate between Ama and Baba; Baba was arguing that anyone traveling on foot is allowed to eat or drink as much as they need, but Ama was saying that they can only drink water. But both agreed that it only applies to people who are walking, not folks riding in a car/bus/etc.

I loved the debate, not only because I like learning the subtleties of the intersection of religion and culture in Morocco, but because I COULD UNDERSTAND IT! Ama and Baba were talking to each other, at full velocity, using all the contractions and slurs of regular conversation…and I followed it! After they’d settled it between them (well, really, after Baba decided to stop arguing his point, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t convinced), Ama turned to me and explained, slowly and clearly, with hand gestures, that People. Who. Are. Walking. Can. Drink. Water. This is the way she’s always spoken to me (for which I’m deeply grateful, because it’s sooo much easier to understand that way) but what thrilled me was that I didn’t need it! I didn’t tell her that, though – I’m not ready to fly without a net just yet.

Later on, Little Bro asked Ama for permission to go hang out with his friends, and she put some conditions on it – and again, I understood it! This “cross-talk” – conversation between other people – is something I’ve been listening to for three months now, and which has been an ongoing struggle, because I usually can’t pick out more than a word per sentence or so. Or so it’s always felt. But tonight, for whatever reason, the veil was lifted, and I understood!



  1. Salaam Alaykoum, I was searching for something online and came across your blog. I am from Morocco but live in Portland, OR. I thought your blog was hilarious as I can totally relate. I hated the butagaz LOL. DO you mind if I add you to my blog list?

  2. Marhaba! I'm honored that a Moroccan is interested in reading my blog. :)

  3. I am so excited for you that you can understand cross-talk now! I never got there in French, even after living in Paris for a month and a half. I know that you have been in Morocco much longer, but Tamazight has really no relation to English, unlike French, which really does. I'm very proud of this major accomplishment.


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