One of Morocco’s selling points is that it is highly multicultural, in terms of languages. The most widely spoken language is Arabic, which is usually what can be heard when walking around the streets of Morocco’s cities. Further towards the mountains, are found the historically renowned Berbers, descending from the Almohad nation. Their official language is Amazigh, which is taught in 15 percent of Moroccan schools. Finally, due to its proximity to France, and the French colonies until 1956, French is broadly used for business, diplomacy and government matters, and is taught in all primary schools. However, it is always beneficial to have some knowledge about a country’s official language, that being Arabic. Villanovo will guide you through the Arabic dictionary to facilitate your adaptation to Morocco on your future trip!
>>>Learn more about Morocco’s ‘French history’
Common expressions in Arabic
Morocco, the ‘land of hospitality’ was voted the 3rd most welcoming country in the world. When wandering around a city, it is not unlikely that random locals will invite you into their homes to share a cup of fresh mint tea
or even a tagine. Their distinguishing culture puts emphasis on greeting people, which should always be with a handshake, and on introducing yourself properly. For example, it is considered disrespectful not to ask questions about one’s life. An excellent host in the Moroccan tradition must know how to converse impeccably without crossing any limits, thus, being able to include some Arabic words in a conversation will please them. Here are the basics of politeness in Arabic:
- Salam Alekum / Msal'khir - Good morning/evening
- Labass - how are you?
- Labass hamdoullah - Fine, thank you, and you?
- Tbarkellah - ‘in God’s name’ ( which should be said after complimenting something)
- Choukran bezaf - Thank you very much
- Smahli - sorry
- Bsslama - goodbye
Vocabulary for commercial purposes
If you are embarking on a trip to Marrakech, it is highly likely that you will pay a visit to the renowned and colourful Souk
, in the Medina. It is important to note that the merchants there have excellent business skills, therefore, quintessential vocabulary will be of great use, in order to negotiate your final price. Furthermore, having some arabic language knowledge will give the locals a good impression of yourself as you will stand out from the crowd, which inevitably will increase their hospitality and probability of bargaining, consequently allowing for a more wholesome experience. When going to a traditional restaurant which serves fine, local cuisine
, such as Nomad, the latest project of young morrocan entrepreneur Kamal Laftini, it might be appropriate to engage with the waiter in Arabic. Here is Villanovo’s selection of helpful words and expressions in Arabic:
- Bch-hal - How much is it?
- N-kass taman afak - Can you lower the price?
- Brit nchri hada ! - I would like to buy this one!
- Aâjabni / Ma aâjabnich - I like/don’t like
- Faatura- the check