Team Nisreen: ‘Already’

No direct equivalent to ‘already’ exists in Arabic, which is probably why a growing number of speakers familiar with English (and even some who aren’t!) use the borrowed form orredi (or older speakers in Lebanon deeja). This is not yet widespread enough or unstigmatised enough to recommend using, though, so for the moment let’s have a look at some of the partial equivalents you might want to familiarise yourself with instead. Each of these can be used in some of the circumstances ‘already’ can be used in.

من هلق mén halla2 

Literally ‘from now’. Often used to mean ‘from now on’, this is also used to translate a specific, present sense of ‘already’ which expresses surprise at or the unlikeliness of what you’re discussing. This is perhaps not a particularly helpful description, so here’s a couple of examples:

من هلق جعت وعطشت وبلشت نق, عن جد الصيام متعب كتير
mén halla2 jé3@t w 3aTash@t w ballash@t né22, 3anjadd éSSiyaam mét3ib @ktiir
I’m already hungry and thirsty [= got hungry and thirsty] and [I’ve already] started complaining, fasting really is very tiring!

 خلص المسلسل, مين راح يشتاق؟ انا من هلق اشتقت
khéleS élmusalsal, miin ra7 yéshtaa2? ana mén halla2 @shta2@t
The series is over – who’s going to miss it? I miss it already 

The meaning of ‘already’ comes pretty straightforwardly from its literal meaning of ‘from now’, and like the translations of ‘just’ we discussed last time prevents it from being used in non-present contexts.

سبق و saba2 w

One option quite commonly used in Syrian is the fuSHa-esque (but Shami-pronounced) saba2 w-. This literally means something like ‘it previously happened that’, and so can be used in circumstances where ‘already’ can be replaced with ‘previously’ or ‘formerly’:

في داعي روح شخصيا علما انو انا سبق ورحت مرتين واخدو بصمات الاصابع؟
fii daa3i ruu7 shakhSiyyan 3ilman énno ana saba2 w ré7@t marrteen w akhadu baSamaat él2aSaabe3?
Do I need to go in person, given that I’ve already been twice and they’ve taken my fingerprints?

سبق وقلتلك انو كتير صعب قراءة الفيديو بهادا اللون
saba2 w 2éltéllak énno ktiir Sa3b qiraa2t élviidyo bhaada lloon
I’ve already told you (I told you before) that it’s very difficult to read the video in this colour

صرت + resultative participle

An active participle with resultative meaning (e.g. كاتب  ‘having written’) can sometimes be used in conjunction with the verb صار ‘to become’ with a meaning similar to a certain use of ‘already’. It is much less common than ‘already’ in English, however, at least in Syrian – although it seems to be used more in Palestinian. It usually gives a connotation of weariness or frequency, comes along with a number (usually of times) and from personal experience it occurs most frequently by a long way with قال (but perhaps people have to repeat themselves at me more than the average person):

انا كم مرة صرت قايتلك ومفهمتك هي الحركات الولدنة بلاها
ana kam marra Sér@t 2aayéltak w @mfahhémtak hayy 7arakaat élwaldane balaaha!
How many times have I told you – stop it with this childish nonsense [= movements of childishness, without them!]

صرت شايف نفس الصورة شي عشر مرات
sér@t shaayef nafs éSSuura shi 3ashar marraat
I’ve seen the same photo about ten times already…

من الاصل, بالاصل bil2aS@l, mn él2aS@l

This one literally means something like ‘to start with’, but in some specific contexts it can translate ‘already’:

لا يلي بالاصل حلو ومو عامل تجميل بيبقا حلو
la2 yalli bil2aS@l 7élu w muu 3aamel tajmiil byéb2a 7élu
No, the ones who are already pretty [= pretty to start with] without getting surgery are still pretty


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