on 9 February 2014
I really don’t like when Arabs do this, when they talk about the differences in our spoken language with simplistic nonsense rather than discussing the nuances and variety. So I can’t let this go without comment.
Firstly, this post assumes that in each of these countries, there is literally only one way to say, “What are you doing?” Obviously this isn’t true; for example, the Lebanese/Syrian forms are also common in Palestine and Jordan, and vice versa.
Secondly, this post ignores the West/East division between Arabic varieties. I speak an eastern form of Arabic and I have no trouble understanding any of the above examples that are from what is traditionally called the Middle East, even if I don’t use them in my dialect. On the other hand, the North African varieties (i.e. Tunisian, Algerian, Moroccan) would indeed be difficult to understand, but that’s because the spoken Arabic has had its own trajectory that includes strong Tamazight influence. Pretending there is as much difference between the Kuwaiti and Lebanese versions as there is between the Syrian and Moroccan versions is ridiculous.
Finally, Somali is not Arabic. Let me repeat that: Somali is not Arabic. It is an entirely separate language. The last time these two languages were mutually intelligible was some 5,000 years ago. Please cure your ignorance and stop treating it like it’s some “weird” form of Arabic.