So I’ve decided to do song-based Arabic lessons, and here is the first one! I have yet to come across such a thing whether online or in printed material. Sometimes you can find song lyrics with translations or explanations, such as at Arabic Song Lyrics and Translation or The Arabic Student. But posting lyrics and translation is not the same as preparing a full listening exercise and lesson.

In general I intend to showcase some of the Arabic music you’re less likely to hear. Today’s lesson is from a song by Tania Saleh, who sings in Lebanese Arabic in a kind of alternative rock style.

Step 1—Blocking Vocab:

Match the words on the left with their translations or synonyms on the right. Answers are located beneath the table (don’t cheat!):

 1. مَحَلّ maħall  A. threatening (noun)
 2. تِهْدِيد tihdīd  B. crying (noun)
 3. لَحْظة laħa  C. be useful
 4. بِكي bikī  D. moment
 5. نَفَع، ينفَع nafaʕ, yinfaʕ  E. مكان (place)
 6. مَطْرَح maṭraħ  F. بدا (begin)
 7. بلّش ballaʃ
 G. مكان (place)
 8. باقي bāqī  H. remaining
 9. دولاب dūlāb  I. trace
 10. أَثَر ʔaθar / ʔasar  J. tire (for a car)

(Answers: 1E  2A  3D  4B  5C  6G  7F  8H  9J  10I)

Note that the plural of دولاب is دواليب dawālīb.

Step 2—Gist Listening

While listening to the song for the first time, have this question in mind:

Q. Does the singer seem upset that “love has gone,” or does she seem relieved?

Step 3—Detailed Listening

Listen to the song again, and fill in the blanks for the incomplete lyrics below:

راح الحبّ، راح ______ بعيد
ما رح ينفع لا البكي ولا التهديد
راح الحبّ، راح ______ بعيد
صار لازم ______ من جديد
راح الحبّ، راح _______ تاني
كان إلو قلب بلحظة ينساني
راح الحبّ، راح _______ تاني
وعلى شو عم ببكي وزعلانه
ما كان بدّو يروح بسّ راح…
_____ راح الحبّ، مش باقيلو
في شي انتهى في شي خلص انكسر
_____ راح الحبّ، مش باقيلو
بحكايتنا بدّو يعيد النّظر
ما كان بدّو يروح بسّ راح…
_____ راح الحبّ، الله مع
_____ راح الحبّ، ما في شي بيرجع
… ما كان بدّو يروح بسّ

Step 4—Lyrics and Translation

راح الحبّ، راح عمحلّ بعيد

ما رح ينفع لا البكي ولا التهديد

راح الحبّ، راح عمحلّ بعيد

صار لازم بلّش من جديد

راح الحبّ، راح عمطرح تاني

كان إلو قلب بلحظة ينساني

راح الحبّ، راح عمطرح تاني

وعلى شو عم ببكي وزعلانه

ما كان بدّو يروح بسّ راح…

راح الحبّ، مش باقيلو أثر

في شي انتهى في شي خلص انكسر

راح الحبّ، مش باقيلو أثر

بحكايتنا بدّو يعيد النّظر

ما كان بدّو يروح بسّ راح…

راح الحبّ، الله مع دواليبو

راح الحبّ، ما في شي بيرجع بيجيبو

ما كان بدّو يروح بسّ…

Love has gone, gone to a faraway placeIt’s no use crying or threatening

Love has gone, gone to a faraway place

I’ve got to start anew now

Love has gone, gone to another place

It had a heart, but forgot me in an instant

Love has gone, gone to another place

Why am I crying and upset?

It wasn’t going to go, but it’s gone

Love has gone, not a trace of it left

Something ended, something broke

Love has gone, not a trace of it left

In our story it wants to take another look

It wasn’t going to go, but it’s gone

Love has gone, good riddance!

Love has gone, nothing’ll go and get it

It wasn’t going to go, but it’s…

 

Step 5—Some Explaining

A couple things you may have noticed include:

1. Dialect doesn’t use إلى for the preposition “to” but instead it uses على which is sometimes shortened to just َع.

2. “Why” is usually ليش \ ليه (lēʃ / lēh) although in this song على شو (ʕalā ʃū) is also used.

3. The letter ث is pronounced like ت in basilect words (e.g. تاني = ثاني), but it’s pronounced like س in Classicisms (e.g. أسر = أثر).

4. The phrase الله مع دواليبو (allāh maʕ dawālību) literally means “God be with its tires.” This is based on the phrase الله معك (allāh maʕak) meaning “goodbye.” It’s basically a way of saying “good riddance” or “get out of here.”

5. The participle عَم (ʕam) is used for the present continuous, e.g. عم ببكي (ʕam bibkī) is “I’m crying.”

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