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3/3/9 Yen Yid

Whenever I go into SouqTown, I spend the night. At four hours each way in the tranzit, and with the last home-bound tranzit leaving at just 2:30pm, doing a one-day round-trip isn't feasible. So I stay over.

I've virtually always stayed in the same little hostel. Whether I'm there alone, with a room to myself, or sharing a 3-bed or 4-bed room with other PCVs, the price is always the same: 30 Dh. Checkout is simple; you return the key (or explain that you left it in the lock upstairs - the better option if you're leaving while the cleaning lady is doing her rounds) and hand over 30 Dh for every night you stayed.

Last week, as I was leaving, the manager looked up at me and said, "Yen yid?" The context and tone of voice made it clear that he was asking, "How many nights did you stay here?", but the words didn't seem to match. I've gotten used to missing words, though, and just responding to context clues and nonverbal signals, so I cheerfully responded, "Ghas yun gid." Just one night.

I wasn't consciously thinking about the manager's words, but somewhere in the back of my head, I was trying to process them. I still hear lots of words and expressions I don't know in the course of a conversation, but quick little exchanges like this rarely surprise me anymore, so some part of me was working to parse it. And suddenly it all clicked.

In this region, g and j and y are interchangeable. (As are sh and k, and r and l, and, well, there's a lot of reasons that lots of words sound the same.) And the word I learned for night, gid, is therefore pronounced "geed" (like "good" but with a different vowel sound) in SouqTown, "jeed" (where the j is the zh sound of the s in "pleasure") in Berberville, and "yeed" whenever somebody feels like it. And "yen" and "yun" are just regional variations for the Tamazight word for "one".

So what he had said, "Yen yid?", and what I'd said, "Yun gid," were actually identical in meaning. Without even understanding the words of his question, I'd answered it clearly. I guess this nonverbal communication thing works! Plus, it's reassuring to know that yes, after a year in-country, I have, in fact, mastered the most rudimentary vocabulary. In multiple accents, no less. Lhumdullah!


  1. Great posting, my friend, great! I loved this posting and this blog.
    Have a nice day!!!


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