Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

What a Difference a “D” Makes

AdventureMan called me, laughing, and said “I just have to tell you what just happened to me.”

He was talking with a Kuwaiti woman who said “You speak Arabic amazingly well, except for one little thing – you say the ‘d’ when you should be saying the ‘Dh’.”

It was all he could do not to laugh. Not because of what she had said, but because it reminded him of a conversation we had, repeatedly.

When AdventureMan took Arabic, I took French. We were on our way to Tunis, I had a small baby, and I already spoke a little French. I made arrangements to study half days, and hoped it would be enough. Thanks be to God, together, we did just fine. In Tunis, most Tunisians spoke French and even those who spoke Arabic switched to French for the numbers. (Things are different now; this was many years ago.) The Tunisians called him “That Lebanese guy married to the French woman.” (He is not Lebanese. I am not French. Most Tunisians spoke a Berber dialect, which was not quite the same as Arabic.)

When I finally started formal Arabic classes, years later, I would say things I had learned from my husband and my dear Qatteri teacher would say “No, that is how those Lebanese people say it, not the way we say it.”

When my husband would correct my Arabic, now I could just cooly look at him and say “That is how you Lebanese say it, but we Qatteris say it this way.”

When he would lecture me on Arabic (I can only absorb about one minute of lecture at a time and them my head starts swimming) I would respond with ” ‘Dh’ AdventureMan, ‘Dh’ ” implying that his “Dh” wasn’t hard enough. It would make him laugh every time, totally crack him up. He can’t lecture me when he is laughing.

So here he is on the phone, laughing and laughing, because the Kuwaiti woman told him his Arabic was fine except that his “dh” wasn’t hard enough. God bless you, dear, whoever you are. 🙂

August 27, 2008 - Posted by | Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Kuwait, Language, Living Conditions, Marriage, Middle East, Relationships, Tunisia


  1. Intlxpatr :

    Here is something peculiar about learning another language , i knew that my English as a second language was good when i started having dreams in which i spoke English instesd of Arabic !!!!!

    Comment by daggero | August 27, 2008 | Reply

  2. Daggero, I had the same exact experience in French. I memorized and practiced, but I experienced so much resistance, and then one day it just melted, I was speaking and not even realizing it, and I was dreaming in French! What a feeling of exhaltation! It’s kind of like dancing!

    Comment by intlxpatr | August 27, 2008 | Reply

  3. hhehehhe – sweet! : )

    Comment by vixenfatale | August 27, 2008 | Reply

  4. Haha (nelson style!) to adventureman! Wow i have never dreamed in anything other than english+arabic. Not even tagalog which i learned as a child.
    Which reminds me, I have to learn an asian or african language when i start school. sighf.
    Visit my blog for more details, i definitely want ur inputf.

    Comment by Mrm | August 27, 2008 | Reply

  5. He is adorable, Vixen (meaning AdventureMan)

    He actually speaks Arabic amazingly well, Mrm, but I have to have something to tease him about now and then.

    Comment by intlxpatr | August 27, 2008 | Reply

  6. Actually Arabic is called “loghat al Dhad” Dhad being the letter for the Dh… and it means the Language of Dh because its the only language with this letter 😉

    Comment by Ansam | August 27, 2008 | Reply

  7. Ansam, you amaze me. I had NO idea! You know so many different things!

    Comment by intlxpatr | August 28, 2008 | Reply

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