So, I took a cab to AUB today–like I always do. Now, I’m usually used to a short, quiet drive to my destination but I’m no stranger to the talkie types.
This was a talkie type. After commenting on a couple of random stuff, to which I replied to normally, he casually remarked, “Lahijtik masriyyeh. Inteh min Masr?”
Translation: You have an Egyptian accent. Are you from Egypt?
That…was a first.
I realize my accent in Arabic indicates I’m not terribly fluent, and that it may be less than standard. But do you know how vastly different the Lebanese and Egyptian dialects are? I mean, we understand each other very well, but I’m talking almost poles apart. Our words, tense forms, and speech rhythms don’t have a lot in common.
Case in point:
English – “What is this?”
Lebanese – “Shoo hayda?”
Egyptian – “Eh dah?”
I almost laughed out loud since it was such an odd remark. He insisted I spoke like an Egyptian even after I told him I was Lebanese, and born and raised in Canada. (Only half-true, but I’m not about to spill my life story to a random cab driver). He even asked if both my parents were Lebanese, just to be sure. It was weird.
By the way, I have absolutely nothing against the Egyptian dialect or being Egyptian in general. I actually wish I could at least imitate them, because I link their accent to quick, witty, and hilarious people. But anyone can tell you that my attempts at trying to talk like one are laughable at best.
Upon hearing the story, my mom quirked an eyebrow in amusement and said, “The guy’s never heard Egyptian in his life if he thinks you speak like one.”
I can’t disagree, but it’s odd as hell if it’s true. Anyone can tell you that 99% of the Arabic movies on TV (as well as a huge chunk of songs on the radio) are in that dialect. It takes an astounding level of ignorance to not be able to pick it out correctly.
I have to admit though, it was a refreshing change of pace from the usual, “You were living outside right?” and—the less often but far more relevant—“Are you Jordanian?” questions I seem to get on a regular basis.