Saturday, August 27, 2011


"it is yours"
Enjoy your listening

The above message is not English.  It is what passes as English here in Egypt.  I call it, "Arablish".  You understand it.  You kinda get what they mean but it's missing something.  In this case, it is missing the correct pronoun, capitalization for the first word, punctuation, and the idiomatic phrases are off. 

The message was tucked in with my free headphones when I traveled out of Cairo on EgyptAir. I kept it and kept looking at it during my stay in America.  Maybe I was reminding myself how much I am needed over here as an English teacher and editor. 

What would I have written instead?

First of all, headphones are plural.  Sure, they look like one thing, but like pants, scissors, and eyeglasses, they are talked about in the plural.   

Even so, I would not have said, "They are yours."

I would have written, "Enjoy these complimentary headphones."

However, I love Arablish!  I love it when the Arabs get it wrong.  It is a surprising moment and I always feel a sort of invigoration when I read English done incorrectly; whether it's on T-shirts

on products

(Everything is spelled correctly on this next candy packet, but it's not the right name for the flavor)

or on signs.

                                                                                                                       photo credit:  Khadijah J.

That last one still cracks me up!

Though I don't have a picture of it, the photo studio where I get my pictures printed specializes in

Weeding Photos

I have thought about telling them but I don't think they'd change their expensive sign out front.  It's just a little studio anyway so no harm done.

On the other hand, this message about the headphones in Arablish was coming from one of the largest corporations in Egypt.  It did make me wonder how many staff members viewed it and signed off their approval.

Maybe it was it actually worse before...

"Can you look at this message for the headphones?"

"Let me read it,
 'here good
take away' 

No, I don't think that makes sense.  How about

"it is yours"
Enjoy your listening

"Wow!  That's great!  I guess that's why you're the boss!"

There is so much near perfection in the world.  Seeing Arablish gives me hope for my little imperfect corner of the world to remain unscathed by progress.


Umm Aaminah said...

Hahaha! So funny, I love the mess-ups too. :-)

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Umm Aaminah,

Glad you liked it. I thought we needed a little laugh.

Asalamu Alaykom Salma (UmRainbow)

Got your message. Can you write to me again and be more specific? I'd appreciate that. Thanks!