Team Nisreen video: ماشي حدي (Walking Beside Me)

As a student of Arabic it is only a matter of time before you encounter Lebanese pop star and feminist icon Nancy Ajram. Nancy (as she is generally known) is probably the most omnipresent icon of the Arab Pop scene, outselling even the equally Lebanese Najwa Karam, Elissa Khoury and Haifa Wehbe (that last one is… well, you could write a whole dissertation on that song).Thanks to Lebanon’s thriving trade in plastic surgery (عمليات تجميل) it can be sort of difficult to tell them all apart, but Nancy’s face is instantly recognised – and adored – worldwide. Wherever there is a grimy shisha café playing Rotana Clip on a wall-mounted TV, there Nancy will be in the midst of them.

Since around her second album, the allure of Egyptian maSaari (in case you wondered, yes – the root is the same) has meant she mainly sings in Egyptian, she also has a few hits sung in her native Lebanese, including this one, Maashi 7addi (walking alongside me). The story is a classic one of an inattentive vapid idiot of a boyfriend inducing swoons in passing women even as his ultimately very successful girlfriend is walking alongside him. I like to think of it as a Lebanese equivalent of Avril Lavigne’s 2010 classic Sk8er Boi.

ماشي حدي وبعينيك
maashi 7addi w b3ayneek
You’re walking alongside me, and with your eyes

ماشي – the active participle of méshi yémshi, means ‘walking’. The ‘you’ is implied.

حدي – literally ‘my border’ or ‘my edge’, but obviously ‘next to me’. Used a lot in Lebanese and Egyptian, less I think in Syrian.

عينيك – the observant among you will notice that this seems to be a dual, and not only a dual but a dual losing its final nuun before a pronoun suffix, just like MSA! But in fact, although this looks like a dual, it isn’t really, at least of the normal kind – the proper dual suffix in colloquial never loses its -n. Some body parts which come in twos, like 3een (or 3ayn as Nancy pronounces it) have plurals descended from the dual form which lose their final -n before suffixes.

 مدوب الكل حواليك
@mdawweb ilkéll @7waaleek
You’ve melted everyone around you

مدوّب – the ism faa3il or active participle of dawwab ‘to melt’ (transitive, so it only ever means ‘cause to melt’ – the intransitive ‘melt’ is daab yduub). Nancy’s occasionally somewhat limited lyrical range makes a lot of use of the imagery of making women melt – she also uses it in another famous song and the first I ever encountered by her, Sheekh esh-Shabaab. Mdawweb probably doesn’t have a continuous meaning here but approximately means ‘in the state of having melted’.

الكل – ‘the all’. Other un-Englishy colloquial ways of saying ‘everyone’ include كلّه kéllo ‘all of him/it’ (?????? more evidence for secret universal pantheism – did il-maasooniyye do it ?????).

حواليك – a number of prepositions have strange forms in colloquial when pronoun suffixes are attached. 7(a)waaleek does not, as you might assume from MSA 7awaali, have the meaning ‘approximately’ but means the same as MSA حولَك ‘around you’. Damascenes pronounce this 7awaaleek, but people from some areas, including Aleppo and parts of Lebanon, drop the first unstressed a in words like this.

نظرة هيك وغمزة هيك
naZra heek w ghamzi heek
A glance like this, a wink like that

Heek is approximately equivalent toهكذا  in MSA and means ‘like this’, ‘in this way’ (Egyptian keda). naZra is obviously the ism marra (noun of a single instance of the action described by the verb) of naZar and means ‘glance’ or ‘look’.

غمزة ghamzi – this is the ism marra from ghamaz yéghmoz ‘to wink’. Nancy has a sort of traditional Lebanese accent – possibly put on, I’ve never listened to her speaking – similar to Marcel Khalife or Feyrouz which turns final -e into -i. In Damascus this would be pronounced ghamze.

ولا حلوة بتفلت منك
wala 7élwi btéflot ménnak
No pretty girl escapes from you!

ولا حلوة wala 7elwi – again the accent. Wala (not to be confused with wélla ‘or’) means ‘no’ or ‘not a single’ and is often combined with negative verbs: ما شفت ولا شي maa shéf@t wala shi ‘I didn’t see nothin’.

بتفلت – falat yéflot mén we’ve already encountered in that song about the camel that you could literally build a textbook around. It means ‘slip out of’ or ‘slip away from’ or in this case ‘escape from’.

وناسي اني بغار, بجن
w naasi énni bghaar, bjénn
You’ve forgotten that I get jealous, I go crazy

ناسي – the active participle of ‘forget’, so ‘having forgotten’. The ‘you’ is implied.

بغار – ghaar yghaar, which conjugates like naam ynaam, is ‘to get jealous’. You bitghaar min someone (‘get jealous, be jealous of someone’) and generally على somebody or something, in the sense of being jealous or jealously protective of them. بغار ع اللغة ‘he is jealously protective of language’ is one way of saying someone’s a bit of a grammar Nazi.

بجن – jann yjénn ‘go mad’, i.e. become a majnuun. Presumably related to jinni ‘genie’ as well. The causative jannan is used both to mean ‘drive someone mad’ بدك تجنني يا كلب ‘you’re going to make me go mad, you bastard’ or, counterintuitively, as a positive thing:  الصورة بتجنن وللهeSSuura bétjannen waLLah ‘the picture’s so beautiful!’
خصوصي لو ضحكولك هن
@khSuuSi law DéHkuu-lak hén
Especially if they laugh for you

ضحكولك – could be ‘laugh for you’, could be ‘laugh at you[r jokes]’. ضحك على  has a negative connotation, meaning ‘laugh at’ (someone for being stupid) – a blow that the fragile masculinity of Nancy’s neglectful boyfriend probably wouldn’t be able to sustain without crumbling.

هن – a ‘reduced form’ of hénne or hénen, the two more normal forms of the pronoun ‘they’, often used at the end of sentences. Used in particular in songs as a device to maintain rhythm.

انت تقبرني بتحن
inte, té2bérni bét7énn
You, my dear, long [for them]

تقبرني – this literally means ‘may you bury me’ and apparently implies ‘I love you so much I hope you die before I do so I don’t have to cope with losing you.’ A common term of endearment used with girlfriends, boyfriends, small children…

وبيوقع قلبك منك
w byuu2a3 2albak ménnak
And you forget you have a heart!

This literally means ‘your heart falls from you’ or ‘you drop your heart’. The meaning is something like ‘your heart hardens’, i.e. he forgets about Nancy. wé2e3 yuu2a3 means ‘to fall’ – we saw a similar sentence in – and I don’t believe I’m referencing it AGAIN – that song about the bloody camel.

وأنا أجمل شب بيتمنى بمشوار يشاركني
w 2ana 2ajmal shabb @byétmanna bi méshwaar yshaarékni
The hottest guys wish they could go for a walk with me

‘And [as for] me, the most handsome guy wishes he [could] come with me on an errand’ (the literal translations are always the sexiest). This use of 2ana is not that weird in Arabic although it seems strange translated literally into English. English also prefers plurals in generic statements like ‘guys’ or ‘Syrians’ or ‘French people’, but Arabic often uses a definite singular:الإنسان ماله قيمة بهالبلد  ilinsaan maalo qiime bhalbalad ‘people have no value in this country’.

بيتمنى – tmanna yétmanna is ‘to wish’, of course, but its syntax is different in Arabic – often yitmanna plus a verb without b- lines up with a sentence like ‘I wish that X… were…’ or ‘I wish that X… [verb]ed…’ For example, you might say: بتمنى الكل يكون متلك ‘I wish everyone was like you’.

يشاركني – shaarak yshaarek b- means ‘participate in’, ‘be part of’, ‘accompany someone in’.

مش متلك انت مضيعني بحركاتك وملبكني
mesh métlak inta mDayyé3ni b7arakaatak w@mlabbekni
Not like you, you’ve lost me and confused me with all your actions

مضيّعني mDayyé3ni – although this could mean ‘have lost my affections’, here I think it means ‘made me get lost’, i.e. really confused me. It’s the active participle of Dayya3 yDayye3, the form II derivation of Daa3 ضاع ‘get lost’.

حركاتك – literally ‘your movements’, obviously, but 7arakaat often means something like ‘sorts of actions’. ما بحب هيك حركات means ‘I don’t like that sort of thing/those sorts of actions’. ما عندي هيك حركات means ‘I don’t do that sort of thing’.

وأنا أجمل شب بيتمنى بمشوار يشاركني
w 2ana 2ajmal shabb @byétmanna bi méshwaar yshaarékni
The hottest guys wish they could go for a walk with me

مش متلك انت مضيعني بحركاتك وملبكني
mesh métlak inta mDayye3ni b7arakaatak w@mlabbekni
Not like you, you’ve lost me and confused me with all your actions

وإذا حلوة بإيدها بتوميلك
w 2iza 7élwi b2iida btuumiilak
And if a pretty girl waves at you

بتوميلك – this is not a particularly common colloquial verb I don’t think. It’s present in MSA, أَوْمي يُومي , and this is the model it’s conjugated on. It means ‘make a gesture to’ or something along those lines. بإيدها is obviously ‘with her hand’.

بتلحقها وبتتركني
btél7a2a w btétrékni
You go after her and leave me behind

بتلحقها – this (lé7e2/yil7a2) is a very useful verb to learn. It not only means ‘follow’ or ‘go behind’, it also means ‘make it to’ (as in ‘be on time for’): ما رح تلحق ‘you won’t make it’.

ماشي حدي وبعينيك
maashi 7addi w b3ayneek
Walking alongside me, and with your eyes

 مدوب الكل حواليك
@mdawweb ilkéll @7waaleek
You’ve melted everyone around you

نظرة هيك وغمزة هيك
naZra heek w ghamzi heek
A glance like this, a wink like that

ولا حلوة بتفلت منك
wala 7élwi btéflot ménnak
No pretty girl escapes from you!

وناسي اني بغار, بجن
w naasi énni bghaar, bjénn
You’ve forgotten that I get jealous, I go crazy

وصدفة لو على هالطريق
w Sédfi law 3ala haTTarii2
And if only, by chance, on this road

صدفة – this is similar to  فجأة faj2a in, yeah, that song about the camel in that it’s a noun appearing in an adverbial usage that in MSA would require an –an. You could equally say Sudfatan, but this would be more formal. صدفة literally means ‘chance’ or ‘coincidence’.

لو law here means ‘if only’. You can tell because it’s paired with a verb without b- in the next line. You can also hear this law in this great song ‘oh, if only you knew’.

هالطريق – this is a weird narrative use of ha- that doesn’t really line up with anything in English. You can hear it here in the line irkhii-ha bi ha-ssaloon ‘put my feet up in the front room’ (ignore the rest of the steadily-declining sketch show and pay attention to the introductory song). It generally lines up with ‘the’, but sets the scene for a narrative.

يسلم علي شي رفيق
ysallem 3aleyyi shi rfii2
Some friend of mine would say hi to me

يسلم علي – sallam 3ala probably originally meant ‘say assalaamu 3alaykum to’ or ‘wish peace on’ but now it means ‘say hi to’. Sallémli 3ala baaba means ‘say hi to dad for me’. Here I think ysallem has no b- because it’s being used with ‘law’.

دغري رح تمعل تحقيق
déghri ra7 ta3mel ta72ii2
Straight away you’d interrogate me

There’s no conditional construction here explicitly, but it’s required by the English. A lot of Arabic hypotheticals only have a conditional construction in the ‘if’ clause or its equivalent and are then followed by clauses which standing alone would look declarative.

تعمل – note that in Syrian and Lebanese, 3émel and 3éref both have a in all their prefixes in the present tense (ta3mel, ta3ref) rather than, as would be more regular, é. This is not the case in Palestinian or Jordanian, where the first person singular has a as in all verbs (ba3mel, ba3raf) but the other forms have i (ti3mel, ti3raf).

دغري déghri – this is a Turkish loanword, I think. It means ‘straight on’, ‘directly’, or ‘straight away’ and is basically a synonym of 3ala Tool. It can also be used in directions.

تحقيق – literally ‘interrogation’.

تسألني وتحاسبني
tés2alni w @t7aasébni
Asking me and holding me to account

Neither verb has a b- because they’re coordinated with ta3mel, i.e. it’s as if she was saying wra7 tés2alni w ra7 @t7aasébni.

تحاسبني – 7aasab y7aaseb is a useful word that means ‘hold to account’, ‘settle accounts with’ and thus ‘pay the bill’ or ‘pay someone back’. You will probably have someone tell you at some point بكرا بحاسبك ‘I’ll pay you back tomorrow’, and you might say before you leave a café ثواني, بدي حاسب ‘give me a sec, I need to pay the bill’.

مين ووين وكيف وليش
miin w ween w kiif w leesh
Who, and where, and how and why

رفيقي هو ومن قديش
rfii2i huwwe w mén 2addeesh?
Whether he’s my friend, and for how long

Literally ‘is he my friend, and since how long?’

دوب وتعذب معليش

duub w @it3azzab, ma3leesh
Get annoyed, oh well!

دوب – literally ‘melt’.

تعذّب – the passive of عذب. This literally means ‘torture’ and is used in that meaning too, but is also very common in the meaning ‘annoy’ or ‘bother’ or ‘cause trouble’. بدي سيارة ما تعذب  ‘I want a car that won’t annoy me’.
صرلك عمري معذبني
Sarlak 3omri m3azzébni!
You’ve been annoying me my whole life!

صارلك – this literally means ‘has become for you’, but it is frequently used in the sense of ‘you have been’. Only the final pronoun changes in its conjugation: Sarlak, Sarli, Sarlo, Sarlon etc.

معذب – the active participle of ‘torture’ or, in this sense, ‘bother’ or ‘annoy’.

[after this it carries on repeating itself]