The Love Turkey

We have graduated out of CBT (community based learning)!!! We had our language tests last week—which is called an LPI (Language Profiency Interview). Tyler and I passed!!!! Wahoo! We will have another LPI when we have been here for 6 months- which will be in September, right now that seems sooooo far away!


With this post I wanted to mention the difficulties of the language—however beautiful Darija (Moroccan Arabic)- has a lot of different aspects to it.


1)   Darija is only* a spoken language—I might have mentioned this to some people. There exist no books or newspapers of any kind that are written with the Darija language. In schools, when they teach children to read and write… they use standard Arabic.

2)   When they use standard Arabic to teach students—they use standard Arabic words and script—so the Darija that everyone speaks, is never seen written in script, even by those who are learning it. This was really difficult to explain to our families when they saw Tyler and I reading Darija (in transcripted English) out of our notebooks. Our host dad told everyone that came over, that we had a notebook that was both Darija and English. The visitors would NEVER* believe him

3)   Darija has a few less scripted letters than standard Arabic—and they have created script for letters that the French infused into their language, like the ‘p’ and the French ‘r’ that sometimes can sound like a ‘g’. And there are some same words – piano, taxi, eject. It is always a relief when we are given one of the those!

4)   The one REALLY tricky aspect comes with sentence structure. Sometimes, you can start to feel comfortable and try some sentences and then halfway through… you realize you are just throwing in words that you know to make it sound like an English sentence—and it makes absolutely ZERO sense to the person that you are talking to. Although there are some similar sentences, for the most part the structure is pretty different. Tyler and I still have a ton* to learn with that aspect.

5)   The reason that this post is called the Love Turkey is a theory that I had for awhile—I was trying to make sense of the language and there is a word “habibi”  (ha-bee-bee) that can be used affectionately for friends or your loved one. But* the word “hobb” means love and “bibi” (bee-bee) means turkey, so I was convinced that at one time the words were thrown together to make “love turkey” and it had been said for so long, that people had forgotten what the direct translation was! Well, as much as I love to think that people are calling each other the love turkey- my LCF (Language and Culture facilitator) informed me that Darija does not work that way- they do not just put two words together to make a new one like “Bluetooth” or “hot dog”. The similar words in Darija come out of verbs… like the verb “to gather” is the root for the word for university, association, mosque and Friday. It just happens to be a hard verb to say and so ALL* of those words are eerily similar.

To wrap this up— children also learn French and some English in school. And in the North, have the option to learn Spanish. We have seen the news in standard Arabic, French and Spanish while we have been here. Another aspect is added in when the community is Berber-  then the Berber dialect is their first language, Darija their second and then standard Arabic, French and some English is taught in school. There is a movement to have the Berber dialects taught in school as well. Our host sister did NOT* believe me when I said that everything was in English- news, schools, government, regular communication, movies… etc. To think about all of this, we have it pretty easy.


In other news, we HAVE OUR FINAL SITE! On Thursday we will be moving to a city called, Larache. Larache is a northern port city about 3 hours from Rabat and 1 hour from Tanger.  Or about 85 miles from Rabat, 42 miles from Tangier and about 80 from Gibraltar, Spain! Other than the that we really don’t have a lot of information about the city—so I am sure we will be learning a lot over the next couple of weeks!


 We will have about two weeks with another host family before we begin to search for our own apartment! We do not have formal teaching anymore—so a lot more will be put onto us to practice our Darija and get better at it (we are also given money to find a tutor).


Until next time!!!!


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