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11/6 I will zayd...

Today's Quote Of The Day:

"I will zayd and return."

(Tip: zayd is the Arabic and Tamazight word for add, and like most Tam words, has broad idiomatic meanings beyond its obvious literal one.)

It was said by a buddy of mine as he stood up to leave. A group of us had been hanging out for quite a while, and my buddy had drunk everything he'd brought to drink, and now wanted to return to his nearby accomodations and pick up a refill.

It's common enough for us (PCVs) to drop words of Arabic and Tam into our English conversation. We mostly hang out with Volunteers from our own regions, who are therefore likely to understand the words we use. When I was a newbie, I found it helpful, actually, because it gave me a context for learning new vocab words.

So it's common for one Volunteer to say to another, "Yeah, I do that mrra mrra," (sometimes), or, "Hey, can you nuqs the volume a little?" (reduce, lower, subtract), or "It's so cold riding afla the transit!" (on top of), etc.

But this time, the speaker caught himself, and realized that not only had he swapped out an English word for an Arabic one, but that he'd actually used Arabic syntax.

"'I will zayd and return'??" he echoed to himself, as dismayed as Baby's echoing her own, "'I carried a watermelon'?!?"

"Whoa... I not only can't speak English anymore, I can't even use English structures in my sentences," he muttered to himself.

I thought about it. How would most Americans say what he'd meant? Something like I'm going to grab a refill and be back, maybe, or I'll go bring more, a little more formally. But his structure made perfect sense to my ear. Ad-dugh ad-zaydgh. Ad-3aydgh is how I'd express it in Tam: "I will go. I will add more. I will return." Three future-tense verbs, lined up and conjugated in neat parallelism. "I'll go get more and return" is a more idiomatic translation, but it loses the tidy construction of the Tamazight.

But "I will zayd and return," though it falls easily from Arabic-speaking lips, lands oddly on American ears.

Ever since this conversation - and I'm typing this up over a month after the fact - I've been more conscious of the way my speaking patterns have changed since coming here. I read enough English and talk enough to other PCVs that the changes are minor, but they're real. My habit of sprinkling my conversation with Tam and Arabic words is one of the most obvious. (I can't even tell you how many times I've stopped myself from peppering my blog with them.)

But in five months, I'll end my service here in Morocco, inshallah [oh, yeah, that's another one - I can't make declarative statements about the future without saying inshallah], and move to a community where Tamazight is not the dominant language.

Walayni, dghi, makain l-mushkil. Iwa, ur nni ad iqim digi. But it's not a problem now, so I won't worry about it. (Literally: But now, there's no problem. Therefore, I won't let it sit in me. <--See, Tam is fun!)

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