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Sirine Demachkie

20 questions for: Sirine Demarchkie (#10)

Episode #10 of my series “9273 roots”: 20 questions for the woman who writes books for bilingual kids (Arabic-English): Sirine Demarchkie

Last updated: 5 months ago

Lisān al-‘Aarab (لسان العرب), the famous dictionary of Classical Arabic, contains 9273 roots (and 4,493.934 words). A huge playground for people who are passionate about Arabic such as…

Sirine Demachkie

سيرين دمشقية

The woman who writes books for bilingual kids (Arabic-English)

Sirine Demachkie
Sirine Demachkie: “My happy place is when I'm mixing up Arabic and English (Arablish) to bring stories to life.”
photo credit: Sirine Demachkie

How would you introduce yourself to someone who doesn't know you?

“Hi, I'm Sirine.” :)

What was your first Arabic grammar book?

I can't recall, and I would also say, yet to be discovered :) Naughty me, didn't continue my Arabic education when I was younger!

What is your favorite Arabic book (novel, etc.)?

The Prophet

The prophet by Khalil Jibran (English version ;)

Jibran Khalil Jibran (جبران خليل جبران) was a Lebanese-American writer and poet (1883-1931). is his most famous work. It is a book of 26 prose poetry fables written in English. It is one of the most translated books in history.

What is the story? The prophet, al-Mustafa, has lived in the city of Orphalese and is about to board a ship to go home. He is stopped by a group of people, with whom he discusses topics such as life, love, freedom, pain, frienship, etc.

How much time does a native speaker of English need to master Arabic?

I would say about a year with consistent exposure to acquire the ability to communicate colloquially in an Arabic dialect. I think mastering Arabic is an ongoing quest.

What is your favorite Arabic word?

One favourite is, نُور (light). I think it sounds quite beautiful and love the breathiness of the ‘o' as you say the word.

Which Arabic word do you like least?

None that come to mind.

Sirine lives in the suburbs of Sydney in Australia.
photo credit: pixabay (falco)

Which Arabic dialect do you like best?

I am of Lebanese heritage and love my Lebanese dialect. However, the Egyptian dialect is awesome!

What is your favorite Arabic colloquial word or expression?

Na'eeman. A tricky one to translate. The closest would be congratulations. A cultural expression, like giving blessings to someone after they get a clean shave, a haircut, or take a shower.

What is your favorite Arabic quote or proverb?

Kan ya ma kan, fi qadeem el zaman (ِكانَ يا ما كانَ، فِي قَدِيمِ الزَّمان)

It means: Once upon a time, in the old past. This reminds me of my childhood. Every night I would anticipate bedtime story time where mum would tell me a traditional fairy tale in colloquial Arabic and always starts with, Kan ya ma kan

Sirine Demachkie
Sirine Demachkie writes books in colloquial (Lebanese) Arabic for kids.
photo credit: Sirine Demachie

What is the best thing that was ever said about the Arabic language?

For me, there are pieces in this article that capture the greatness of the Arabic language:

“Arabic is one of the world's great languages. Spoken by more than 400 million people, it has been the vehicle of many significant contributions to the development of science and culture, from the earliest odes of the pre-Islamic poets through to the cutting-edge research of the philosophers and mathematicians of Islam's golden age, to the novels of Nobel laureate .” (source: British Council)

What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Find your vocation.

Which three people would you like to invite for dinner?

, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), and Morgan Freeman.

What was the last great meal you had?

Mum's mloukhiyeh with rice. Yum!

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What is your favorite city?

Beirut (Lebanon) and my own little home town in Padstow, Sydney.

Which book would you give to a dear friend?

shadow of the wind

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz-Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind (Spanish: La sombra del viento) is a 2001 novel by Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón and a worldwide bestseller.

The story is about a boy's quest through the secrets and shadows of postwar Barcelona for a mysterious author whose book has proved as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget.

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What is your all-time favorite movie?

Ooh, this is a hard one! I have many all-time favourites! Okay, I'll say, Casablanca.

What music do you listen to?

These days, anything that's tuneful to my ears really, and in any language. I'll also say that I am an 80's baby, so 90's R&B and Funk are still favourites.

One of Sirine's books: A young girls adventure playing hide and seek with her parents. Where can they be hiding?!

The perfect first step for families who wish to communicate with their children in the everyday Lebanese-Arabic language spoken at home.

Includes QR code for read along in Arabic and English.

When were you happiest?

I'm generally always happy, except maybe when I'm hungry :)

What is your greatest fear?

Losing faith.

What is your life motto?

Patience my friend, patience!

Sirine Demachkie, thank you for your time.

CALL FOR SUGGESTIONS: Who should we interview soon?

Do you know an interesting person who has a special relationship with the Arabic language? Then click yes below and tell us why we should interview this person!

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