Algerian Arabic dialogues from 1847 part 1

avatarMille Larsen
9 mins read

Language samples of the Derdja, or Algerian Arabic spoken in 1847's Constantine

I've been on the lookout for useful material that I can use to learn the Algerian dialect of Arabic for a long time. Good sources are hard to come by, but recently I found an old book online called Guide de la conversation française-arabe written by a "J. Honorat Delaporte" who was an interpreter for the French army when the book was published in 1847. The book is basically a thorough phrasebook for French soldiers, needing some kind of command of the Algerian dialect in order to communicate with the Algerians in what was then a French colony. Algeria later regained its god-given independence, but this book still exists, and I am told that the Algerian phrases within correspond quite well with the Derdja that is spoken in Algeria today. In another edition the introduction explains that the language samples within are based on the Derdja of the Algerian city of Constantine.

The book consists of 39 dialogues dealing with various subjects. For each phrase in French, there is a translation in Derdja written in Arabic characters, the equivalent written with the Roman alphabet and a hyper-literal translation. I have translated the French phrases as well as the hyper-literal translations into English as well as transcribed the text from the original scan for the first dialogue that you can find below. I hope to eventually do the rest of the book. Please let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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Here are the other dialogues from the book that I have published so far Algerian Arabic dialogues from 1847 part 2

First dialogue

Greetings and common expressions

Hello sir صباح الخير يا سيدي Ssbahh el-khir ia sidi
Morning the-good oh, sir
I salute you سلام عليكم Salamou âlaïkum
Salute on you
I salute you back عليكم السلام Âleïkum es-salam
On you the-salute
I haven't seen you for a long time قدّاش ما شفتك شي Qaddache ma chouftek chi
How-long I haven't seen you not
How are you? اش انت Ach nta
How you?
Good, thanks to god. بخير الحمد لله Bkhir el-hhamdou lillah
With-good, the-paise to god
I'm glad that you're well رانى فرحان بلّى انت بخير Rani ferhhan belli nta bkhir
I am happy that you with-good
And you, how are you? وانت واش حالك Wa nta wach hhalek
And you what your-state?
Not very well, I'm a little sick. ما في حالي شي راني شويّة مريض Ma fi hhali chi, rani chouiia mridh
Not in my-state not, I am a little sick
The heat is suffocating me السخنة غمتني Es-skhana ghommetni
The heat is suffocating me
What? The dessert wind doesn't blow today كيف اش القبلي ما خدم شي اليوم Kif ach el qabli ma khedem chi el-ioum
Like what the sirocco (hot desert winds) don't work today
May your day be happy نهاركم مبروك Nharek mebrouk
Your day, happy
I kiss your hands راني نبوس بيدك Rani nbous byaddek
I am i kiss with your hand
How are things at your place? كاش راهي داركم Kach rahi darkoum
How is your house?
Good, may god hold you dear بخير الله يعزك Bkhir allah iâzzek
With good, god hold-you-dear
May god bless you الله يبارك فيك Allah ibarek fik
God bless dans you
How did you sleep tonight? كاش رقدت الليلة Kach rqodt el-lila
How you-slept the night?
Very well. And you, how did you sleep tonight? مليح بالزاف وانت كاش رقدت Mlihh bezzaf ou nta kach rqodt
Well very. And you how you-slept?
I haven't slept very well ما رقدت شي مليح Ma rqodt chi mlihh
Not i-slept not well.
Why haven't you slept well? Do you have worries? اعلاش ما رقدت شي عندك شي هول Âlach ma rqodt chi, àndek chi houl
Why not you-slept not, have-you worries?
Not at all, but the thunder has kept me from sleeping لا لا الرعد ما خلّاني شي نرقد La la, er-raâd ma khallani chi norqod
No no, the thunder not have-let me not i-sleep
Ja haven't heard it انا ما سمعته شي Ana ma smâtou chi
Me, not i-heard it not
I have had a nightmare the whole night الليلة كاملة بوتلّيس معي El-lila kamla boutellis maâïa
The night, entire, nightmare with-me
I had a bad dream نمت منام ما منه شي Nomt mnam ma mennou chi
I dreamt dream bad
I thank god that you aren't (feeling) bad الحمد لله ما عندك باس El-hhamdou lillah ma ândek bas
The praise to god, not you have bad
How is your father? واش حال باباك Wach hhal babak
And what sate your-father
He's well راه مليح / حاله مليح Rah mlihh / hhalou mlihh
He is well / his-state is-well
He is not well ما في حاله شي Ma fi hhalou chi
Not in his-state not
He has a bad cold مريض بالسعلة بالزاف Mridh besâla bezzaf
Sick with-coughing much
He has a headache and a toothache راسه يوجعه / سنانه مراض Rassou ioudj-oû / snanou mradh
His head hurts-him / his-teeth sick
He can't leave his room ما ينجم شي يخرخ من البيت Ma inedjem chi iokhereodj men el-bait
Not he-can not he-goes-out of the-house
I feel bad, beause he doesn't deserve it. والله يعزّ بي الحال اعلاش ما يستاهل شي Wallah iâzz biia el-hhal âlache ma ysthal chi
By god feel-bad with-me the-state which not he-derserves not
It'll be nothing, god willing. لا باس ان شأ الله La bas in cha allah
Not bad, if wants god
May god cure him الله يشفيه Allah ichefih
God cures him
May the lord protect him ربي ما يورّي له باس Rabbi ma iouarri lou bas
Lord not he sees of him bad
It's been a long time since I last saw him قدّاش ما شفته شي Qaddach ma chouftou chi
How-much not seen-him not
If it doesn't bother him, I'll go pay him a little visit اذا ما اخذ شي في خاطرة نخي نطلّ عليه Ida ma khda chi fi khathrou nji ntholl âlih
If not take not in his-willing I-come I-visit on-him
He'll be happy to see you. ماذا به تجيه يشفك Mada bih tdjih ichoufek
How-much with-him you-come-to-him he-sees-you
Excuse me, I can't go see him today. اسمح لي اليوم ما ننجم شي نروح له Esmahh li el-ioum ma nendjem chi nrouhh lou
Excuse to-me today not I-can not I-go to-him
At what time do you think that I could go to him tomorrow? اش من وقت تقول نمشي له غدوا Ach men waqt tqoul nemchi lou ghoudwa
What of time you-say I-walk to-him tomorrow
In the morning, at the time that you prefer. الصباح الوقت الّي حبّ حاطرك Ess-ssabahh el-waqt elli hhabb khathrek
The-morning the-time that want your-willing
Say hi to your brother from me سلّم على اخوك من عندي Sellem âla khouk min ândi
Salute on your-brother from my-place
Good, I'll not forget it. مليح ننسي شي Mlihh ma nensa chi
Good, not I-forget not
We'll see each other again in good health if god wants it. نتلاقوا ان شأ الله بخير Netlaqaou in cha allah bkhir
We-will-meet if god wants with-good
May god help you الله يعونك Allah iâounek
God will-help you
Be well ابق على خير Abqa âla khir
Stay on good
Go in peace امشي بالسلامة Emchi bes-salama
Walk with-the-peace
May god preserve your health الله يشدّ لك صحتك Allah ichedd lek ssahhtek
God hold to-you your-health
May god preserve you الله يحفظك Allah ihhafdhek
God conserves-you
Prosper تربح Terbahh
May god make you meet prosparity ربي يلاقيك بخير Rabbi ilaqik bkhir
My-lord make-you-meet with-good
May god accompany you الله يكون معك Allah ikoun maâk
God will-be with-you
May god give you all kinds of good الله يعطيك كلّ خير Allah iâthik koull khir
God gives-you all good
May god forgive you الله يسمح لكم Allah iesmahh lek
God forgives to-you
I pray god that he'll accomplish your desires. نطلب من الله يعطيك كلّ ما تشتهي Nothlob men allah iâthik koull ma techtechi
I-ask from god he-gives all what you-desire
May god preserve you from all bad things ربّي ما يورّي لكم باس Rabbi ma iouarri lek bas
My-lord not make-see to-you bad
Good evening, good night. مسا الخير Msa el-khir
Evening the-good
Hello اهلا و سهلا Ahlan ou sahlan
In-the-way-of-family and facility
The prosparity has paid us a visit (when recieving visitors) زارتنا البركة Zaratna el-baraka
Has-visited-us the-prosperity
Take a chair خذ كرسي Khoud kursi
Take chair
Sit down a little اقعد شويّة Oqôd chouiia
Sit a-little
Impossible محال Mouhhal
What's wrong? Are you in a hurry? اش بك راك مغاول Ach bik rak mghaouel
What with-you you-are in-a-hurry
Yes, I have to go to the judge to transfer a deed نعم لازم نمشي في دار القاضي نجوز واحد العقد Naâm lazem nemchi fi dar el-qadhi ndjououez wahhed elâqad
Yes, must I-go to house the-judge I-transfer a deed
I will return as soon as I have finished نرجع من هنا شويّة كيف نخلص Nerdja men hna chouiia kif nkhalless
I-return from here little like I-finish
Don't forget, because I have some things to tell you ما تنسى شي عندي واحد الحاجة نحبّ نقولها لك Ma tensa chi ândi wahhed el-hhadja nhhabb nquoulha lek
Don't forget not I-have one thing I-want tell-it to-you
In two hours, I'll be back, نجي في ساعتين من زمان Ndji fi saâtin men ez-zman
I-come in two-hours from time
Promise me تعمل لي مزيّة tâmel li maziia
you-make to-me favour
No reason for thanking me ما كان حاجة Ma kan hhadja
Not is thing
I will prepare the coffee and a pipe ماشي نطيّب قهيوة و نوجّد سبيسي دخّان Machi nthaïieb qehioua ou nonedjdjed sbissi doukhkhan
I-walk i-cook little-coffee and I-prepare little-pipe tobacco
May god grow your good deeds (thank you) الله يكثر خيرك Allah ikettar khirek
God increase your-good
Don't make such efforts ما تشقا شي Ma techeqa chi
Don't you-make-efforts not
It's regretful that you're leaving انت مشيت و قلبك خلّيت Nta mchit ou qalbek khallit
You walk and your-heart you-leave-behind
In leaving, I take your heart with me انا مشيت و قلبك ادّيت Ana mchit ou qalbek eddit
I I-go and your-heart I-bring
May your day be happy, and may the prayers be on the beloved prophet. نهارك مبروك يومك سعيد الصلاة على النبي الحبيب Nharek mebrouk ioumek sâid ess-ssalat âla en-nabi el-hhabib
Your-day blessed your-day happy the-prayer on the-prophet the-beloved
May your morning be prosperous and may the sultan kiss you, may he put a rose on your head, and may a hundred female camels stay in your park صباحك رباحك و السلطان باسك و يرشق لك وريدة في راسك و مية ناقة و ناقة تسرح في مراحك Ssbahhek rbahhek ou es-solthan bassek ou ierchaq lek ourida li rassek ou miet naga ou naga tsrahh fi mrahhek
Your-morning your-gain and the-sultan kiss-you and place to-you rose to your-head and hundred female-camels and female-camel free in your-park (place where camels are kept)