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Media Arabic Booster December 2023

Media Arabic Booster 12/23

This month (12/23) in Media Arabic Booster: The verb نَعَى and a translation of “Is the Palestinian cause an Egyptian problem?” (al-Ahram)

Last updated: 5 months ago

As a journalist, I read Arabic newspapers daily, especially the opinion section. Every month, I want to share with you on Arabic for Nerds what I find interesting from a linguistic perspective and which vocabulary might be worth learning. I call it the Media Arabic Booster.

A close look at a headline

Headlines in Arabic media are generally easy to understand – but there are also some tricky words.

al-Seyassah: Announcing the death of the Emir of Kuwait

Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad (نَوَّاف الأَحمَد), the Emir of Kuwait, passed away on Saturday, December 16 at the age of 86. Sheikh Meshaal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, 83, is now the new leader, taking over from Sheikh Nawaf, who ruled for three years. Newspapers in Kuwait expressed their condolences and respect by omitting color – all pages were black and white the next day.

Al-Seyassah (السياسة) is a daily newspaper in Kuwait. It was established in 1965. On December 17th, it featured the following headline:

Headline al-Seyassah: Announcing the death of the Rule of Kuwait
Headline al-Seyassah: Announcing the death of the Rule of Kuwait

Now let's take a look at the top line in particular

نَوَّاف الْأَحْمَد… فِي رِحَابِ اللهِ. الدِّيْوَانُ الْأَمِيرِيُّ نَعَى فَقِيدَ الْكُوَيْتِ الْكَبِيرَ… وَمَجْلِسُ الْوُزَرَاءِ نَادَى بِسُمُوِّ وَلِيّ الْعَهْدِ أَمِيرًا لِلْبِلَادِ.

In English: Nawaf Al-Ahmad… in the realms of Allah. The Amiri Diwan announced the passing of the great Kuwaiti loss… and the Cabinet declared His Highness the Crown Prince as the Amir of the country.

يَنْعَى – نَعَىto announce the death of (person = direct object/مفعول به). If you want to express to whom you are delivering the death notice, use the preposition إلى. But watch out: When used with the preposition عَلَى, the verb means to rebuke somebody for something.
فَقِيدٌdead person; deceased. For example: the family of the deceased (عائِلةُ الْفَقيدِ); the deceased (الْفَقِيدُ الرَّاحِلُ). When used as an adjective (صِفة), it literally means missing; dead. However, when you want to express lost or missing – especially missing person -, you use the participle (اسم المفعول) which is مَفْقُودٌ. So the word مَفْقُودٌ alone is usually understood as missing person where the word فَقِيدٌ alone usually denotes deceased person.
يُنادي – نادى بIn this context, the III-verb نادى means to declare. The preposition ب is used before the person; to show what the person was declared, just let a direct object (مفعول به) follow. In the above example, that is why أَمِيرًا (prince; Emir) – the direct object – is in the accusative case (منصوب).
Vocabulary List – Media Arabic Booster 12/23 – © Gerald Drißner

LABOR OF LOVE Usually, the verb نَعَى is used in the past tense. Nevertheless, since the root is a little bit tricky as the last root letter is weak, it cannot harm to look at two difficult forms, though they are rarely used.

  • The (اِسْمُ الْفاعِلِ) of نَعَى is ناعٍ.
  • The passive participle (اِسْمُ الْمَفْعُولِ) is مَنْعُوٌّ.

al-Akhbar: How to say “to win an election”

On 19th December 2023, the Egyptian state-controlled daily newspaper al-Akhbar reported on the elections in Egypt and published the results on the frontpage. In Arabic, there are several verbs that express to win. Let's look at the most common three verbs:

  1. انْتَصَرَ – يَنْتَصِرُ
  2. فازَ – يَفُوزُ
  3. كَسَبَ – يَكْسِبُ

So which one should we use with elections? And what do we need to watch out for?

Headline al-Akhbar Egyptian elections
Headline al-Akhbar Egyptian elections, 19th December 2024

We see from the headline that we use option 2 (فازَ – يَفُوزُ) to express that someone won an election. Let's take a brief look at how and when the above verbs are used.

Option 1: انْتَصَرَ – يَنْتَصِرُ

The VIII-verb is used to express that you win a battle, war or fight. Use فِي to express what/where you won and عَلَى who you defeated. When you see the preposition مِن, the verb expresses to take revenge on. In a certain context, انْتَصَرَ may also express to help.

Option 2: فازَ – يَفُوزُ

The I-verb is used to express that you win an election, somebody's vote or a race, competition, game. The I-verb means to be successful and is intransitive (it cannot have a direct object). In English and German, for example, we use a direct object to express what we won. In Arabic, we need the preposition ب.

Option 3: كَسَبَ – يَكْسِبُ

The I-verb is often used when money is involved: to win a bet, money, a prize. But it is also used to express the core idea of to win: to win somebody's sympathy (كَسَبَ وُدَّ شَخْصٍ).

Let's go back to the translation.

According to the Egyptian regime (National Election Authority), Abdel Fattah el-Sissi “won” 39,702,451 votes (the number after the preposition ب = direct object in English), 89.6% of the total votes (= last part of the headline).

Translation of an article

To really get to the core of Arabic newspapers and magazines, you have to know a bunch of words. Plus, the way they phrase things and put sentences together can sometimes be a real challenge. That's why I'm all about translating whole sentences, so you can gain more confidence and speed up your Arabic skills.

The words marked in yellow can be found further down in the vocabulary list.

Opinion piece in al-Ahram: “Is the Palestinian cause an Egyptian problem?”

In the Egyptian state-controlled newspaper al-Ahram, I read the following opinion piece on the 19th of December 2023. It was written by Dr. Mustafa Elfeki (مصطفى الفقى). Mustafa El Feki (http://moustafaelfeki.com) has held numerous positions within the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, most notably including that of Ambassador of Egypt to Austria and Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna. He is currently a regular contributor at the Egyptian Al-Ahram, Al-Hayat and Al-Masry Al-Youm newspapers.

Al-Ahram Newspaper 19 December 2023
Al-Ahram Newspaper 19 December 2023

Let us direct our attention to selected segments of the text and proceed to translate each sentence painstakingly.

هل القضية الفلسطينية مشكلة مصرية؟

Is the Palestinian cause an Egyptian problem?

هو سؤال مشروع رغم أنه يبدو غريبًا بعد عقود طويلة من الانخراط المصرى فى ذلك الصراع

It is a legitimate question, although it may sound odd after many decades of Egyptian involvement in that conflict […]

وأتذكر أنه قد جرى استطلاع إحصائي على عينة متنوعة من المجتمع المصري منذ عدة سنوات، وكان السؤال هو: ما هي المشكلة الأولى التي تؤرق الأسرة المصرية؟ فكان متوقعًا أن تكون الإجابة هي عدم التوازن بين دخول الأفراد وتكاليف المعيشة، أو أن تكون مشكلات التعليم والدروس الخصوصية أو غيرها من المشكلات التي تؤثر مباشرة على الأسر المصرية، فكانت النتائج مفاجئة بأن ما يقرب من ٧٠% من أعضاء العينة ذكروا أن المشكلة الأولى أمام المصريين هي القضية الفلسطينية…

I remember that a statistical survey was conducted several years ago on a sample of Egyptian society, raising the question: What is the number one problem preoccupying Egyptian families? It was expected that the answer would be the income discrepancies, the cost of living, education, private lessons, or other problems that directly affect Egyptian families. But the results were surprising in that nearly 70% of the polled sample stated that the Egyptians' primary problem was the Palestinian cause…

فالحروب العربية الإسرائيلية كان وقودها في الغالب هو الجندي المصري، وكانت جيوشنا من أبناء الريف والحضر هي القوة الضاربة في أعماق الصراع العسكري مع إسرائيل فضلًا عن الدفعة المعنوية التي اكتسبتها حماس بل وكل فصائل المقاومة بعد مواجهة الجبروت الإسرائيلي والقهر المستمر قبل ٧ أكتوبر ٢٠٢٣ والتي زادت إلى حد يفوق الخيال بعد ذلك، إذ إنه مهما تكن النتائج، فإن المقاومة الفلسطينية قد تركت بصمة على جيش إسرائيل لتبقى علامة دائمة في تاريخ الصراع الفلسطيني الإسرائيلي، ولنا هنا بعض الملاحظات

(This is because) the Arab-Israeli wars were mostly fueled by Egyptian soldiers, with our armies of rural and urban men acting as a striking force in the heart of the military conflict with Israel. This is not to mention the moral momentum gained by Hamas, even all the resistance factions, after facing the Israeli tyranny and continued oppression since before October 7, 2023, which significantly intensified after that date. Regardless of the outcome, the Palestinian resistance has left its mark on the Israeli army to remain a permanent mark in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And here we have some remarks:

أولًا: إن الحرب الإسرائيلية على غزة قد أثبتت صلابة الشعب الفلسطيني وقدرته على التضحية بغير حدود من أجل تحرير ترابه وإنهاء احتلال أرضه، كما أنها أثبتت أن الأوضاع في الأرض المحتلة لن تعود لما كانت عليه، بل سوف يظل السابع من أكتوبر علامة فارقة في تاريخ الصراع يؤرق دائمًا الكيان الإسرائيلي، حتى إن معدلات الخروج من إسرائيل قد ارتفعت منذ بداية أحداث السابع من أكتوبر ٢٠٢٣.

First: The Israeli war on Gaza has proven the resilience of the Palestinian people and their ability to offer endless sacrifices to liberate their soil and end the occupation of their land. It also confirmed that the situation in the occupied territories will not return to what it was before, but rather October 7 will remain a milestone in the history of the conflict. It always worries the Israeli entity, to the point that the rates of exit from Israel have increased since the beginning of the events of October 7, 2023.

ثانيًا: أظن ـ ويشاركني ذلك الظن الأغلب الأعم من خبراء السياسة الداخلية الإسرائيلية – أن المستقبل السياسي لرئيس وزراء إسرائيل قد أخذ طريقه نحو منحنى النهاية بعد أن جثم على صدر السياسات الإسرائيلية لما يقرب من ثلاثة عقود كان فيها متحالفًا مع المتطرفين والمستوطنين وأحزاب اليمين الديني، بل كان ولا يزال مستعدًا للتحالف مع الشيطان من أجل أن يبقى في السلطة مهما يكن الثمن.

Second; I believe – and this (belief) is shared by the majority of Israeli domestic policy experts – that the political future of the Israeli Prime Minister has taken its way towards the end after he perched at the forefront of Israeli politics for nearly three decades in which he was allied with extremists, settlers, and religious right-wing parties. He was and still is willing to ally himself with Satan in order to remain in power, no matter the cost.

ثالثًا: لقد آن الأوان – وربما تكون هذه هي الفرصة الأخيرة – لتوحيد الشعب الفلسطيني على كلمة سواء تجمع بين المقاومة الواعية والحملات السياسية والدبلوماسية على المستويين الإقليمي والدولي بحيث يمضي الطريقان الكفاح المسلح والنشاط التفاوضي متوازيين، لأن الشعب الفلسطيني الباسل أشد ما يكون حاجة لوحدة الصف والكلمة ووضوح الرؤية والالتقاء بكل أطرافه السياسية على كلمة سواء، ولا بد من استخدام الزخم الناجم من التأييد الشعبي الدولي للقضية الفلسطينية والاهتمام الدولي الرسمي بالصراع القائم سواء من معهم أو من عليهم، لا بد من استخدام هذا الزخم حاليًا بالدفع بالأجندة الفلسطينية لكل حكومات العالم ومؤسساته، ويكفي أن نتأمل هنا موقف الأمم المتحدة وأمينها العام ومؤسساتها السياسية والإنسانية تجاه الجبروت الإسرائيلي الذي لم يتوقف حتى الآن.

Third: The time has come – and this may be the last opportunity – to unite the Palestinian people around one course, combining the conscious resistance and the political and diplomatic campaigns at the regional and international levels, so that the two paths of armed struggle and negotiating activity go parallel because the brave Palestinian people are most in need of unity of ranks and speech. Clarity of vision and the coming together of all its political parties on the same word, and the momentum resulting from international popular support for the Palestinian cause and official international interest in the existing conflict, whether by those with them or against them, must be used. The current momentum must be used to push the Palestinian agenda on all the governments and institutions of the world, while it would be enough at this level to see the position of the United Nations, its secretary general, and its political and humanitarian institutions toward the Israeli tyranny that has not yet ceased.

رابعًا: إن الكفاح المسلح للشعوب بل والنشاط السياسي والدبلوماسي أيضًا تحتاج كلها إلى ضخ دماء جديدة والدفع بمناضلين أشداء على الصعيدين العسكري والتفاوضي، ويجب ألا نتوهم أن أحدهم بديل للآخر، فهما إجراءان متكاملان في كل الظروف، كما أن الخطاب المتوازن الواعي من الجانب الفلسطيني سوف يكون له تأثيره في المحافل الدولية والهيئات الدبلوماسية بما ينعكس على الإعلام الخارجي الذي سوف يبدأ في الاعتدال تجاه قضية الشعب الفلسطيني، ويكف عن الانحياز الأعمى لسياسات إسرائيل وأكاذيبها المتكررة.

Fourth: The armed struggle of the people, but also political and diplomatic action, requires the pumping of new blood and fierce fighters at the military and negotiating levels. We must not be under the illusion that one of them is an alternative to the other, as they are two complementary measures in all circumstances, and a balanced and conscious discourse from the Palestinian side will have its influence in international forums and diplomatic bodies, which will be reflected in the foreign media, which will begin to be moderate towards the issue of the Palestinian people, and stop blindly siding with Israel's policies and its repeated lies.

خامسًا: إن هذه لحظة نادرة في تاريخ الصراع العربي الإسرائيلي، فهي أول مرة تبلغ فيها المقاومة الفلسطينية درجة عالية من الندية أمام جيش الاحتلال الإسرائيلي الذي توهم دائمًا أنه لا يقهر فجاءت الأحداث الأخيرة لكي يشعر الطرفان ـ الفلسطيني والإسرائيلي أن كلا منهما قد حقق نجاحًا على الأرض يسمح بالتوازن على مائدة المفاوضات بضمانات دولية وإشراف أممي.

Fifth: This is a rare moment in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is the first time that the Palestinian resistance has reached a high level of parity against the Israeli occupation army, which always imagined that it was invincible. The recent events have made both parties – the Palestinians and the Israelis – feel that each of them has achieved a success on the ground that allows for balance at the negotiating table with international guarantees and UN supervision.

Vocabulary list

All words marked in yellow can be found in this table with explanations.

مَشْرُوعٌlegal, lawful; legitimate. When used in the meaning of a noun, it means plan, project.
عَقْدٌ – عُقودٌdecade (a group of ten). It can also mean contract or – when the (مصدر) is used – holding (of a meeting).
انْخِراطٌengagement, involvement; joining. It is the مصدر of the VII-verb يَنْخَرِطُ – انْخَرَطَ فِي which means to join; to engage in.
اسْتِطْلاعٌ – اسْتِطْلاعاتsurvey, poll; investigation. The expression اسْتِطْلاع للرَأْيِ means opinion poll or referendum. Watch out: The expression حُبًّا للاسْتِطْلاعِ means out of curiosity.
إحْصائِيٌّstatistical; statistician
عَيِّنةٌsample; specimen
مُتَنَوِّعٌvaried; various; diverse. It is the active participle (اسم الفاعل) of V-verb تَنَوَّعَ.
يُؤَرِّقُ – أَرَّقَII-verb means to trouble; to torment. The first root letter is .
تَوازُنٌbalance; stability. It is the infinitive (مصدر) of VI-verb تَوَازَنَ.
مُفاجِئٌsurprising; unexpected
غالِبٌdominant. Watch out: There are many expressions with this word: most likely (في \ على غالِبِ الظَنِّ); usually (في غالِبِ الأَحْيانِ); mostly/usually (في الغالِبِ or غالِبًا).
مَعْنَويٌّmoral; implicit. For example: moral support (دَعْم مَعْنَويّ).
Vocabulary List – Media Arabic Booster 12/23 – © Gerald Drißner
اِكْتَسَبَ – يَكْتَسِبُto obtain; to gain. It is a VIII-verb.
إِلَى حَدٍّ يَفُوقُ الخَيالَto an extent beyond imagination
تَضْحِيةٌsacrifice. to make big sacrifices (بَذَلَ تَضْحِياتٍ كَبيرةً). It is the infinitive noun of II-verb ضَحَّى.
تُرابٌground; dirt, soil; dust
كِيانٌexistence; being; entity. For example: the Palestinian entity (الكِيانُ الفِلَسْطينيُّ).
مُعَدَّلٌ – مُعَدَّلاتaverage; mean. When used as an adjective, it usually means changed; modified; revised.
رَئيس الوُزَراءِprime minister
مَحْنًىturn; curve. It is from the root ح-ن-و.
جَثَمَ عَلَى صَدْرِ شَخْصٍto weigh heavily on somebody
مَهْما يَكُنْ الثَمَنُwhatever the price. Notice that we use the jussive (مجزوم) after مَهْما.
واعٍaware; conscious
يَمْضِي – مَضَىto pass (time); to elapse
Vocabulary List – Media Arabic Booster 12/23 – © Gerald Drißner
باسِلٌbrave; fearless. It is also a male given name (Basil)
اِلْتِقاءٌmeeting; assembly; encounter. At airports, you may read نُقْطةُ الْتِقاءٍ which means meeting point. It is the infinitive noun of VIII-verb اِلْتَقى – يَلْتَقي بِ.
زَخْمٌmomentum. For example: to lose momentum (فَقَدَ الزَخْمَ).
ناجِمٌ عَنْresulting from
تَأْيِيدٌ – تَأْييداتsupport; backing. For example: unconditional support (تَأْييد أَعْمى).
أَجِنْدةٌagenda. For example: political agenda (أَجِنْدةٌ سِياسيّةٌ).
يَضُخُّ – ضَخَّto pump; to drain. The infinitive noun (مصدر) of this II-verb is ضَخٌّ.
يَتَوَهَّمُ – تَوَهَّمَ أَنَّto imagine that; to think; to have the delusion that. It is a V-verb.
بَدِيلٌ – بَدائِلُalternative; substitute; depending on the context, it may also express option.
مَحْفِلٌ – مَحافِلُcouncil; gathering; meeting. For example: political circles (مَحافِلُ سِياسيّةٌ).
اِنْعَكَسَ – يَنْعَكِسُ عَلَىto be reflected. When used with the preposition عَلَى, it usually denotes to have repercussions.
اِعْتِدالٌmoderation. بِاعْتِدالٍ means moderately.
اِنْحِيازٌbias, partiality; taking sides
أَعْمَىblind; blind person
نِدٌّpeer; equal; match. For example: treating everyone equally (تَعامُلُ النِّدِّ للنِّدِّ).
يَقْهَرُ – قَهَرَto defeat; to force
ضَمانٌ – ضَماناتguarantee; assurance
Vocabulary List – Media Arabic Booster 12/23 – © Gerald Drißner

NOTICE: If there are any errors or mistakes in this article, please let me know or use the comment section below. I am not a native English speaker, and inaccuracies can quickly creep in with more complicated texts. We are all here to learn.

DISCLAIMER: Just so you know, my focus is purely on the language, and my selection of texts does not express any political views. The Arab world is currently full of sad conflicts. If a text excerpt hits someone personally or makes them angry, please remember that as a journalist, I listen to all sides without judgment, and I do not want to spread any political views or engage in discussions on Arabic for Nerds. All I care about here is the wonderful language of Arabic, and that we can all use it to understand each other better.

OTHER editions of Media Arabic Booster:

Media Arabic Booster 05-24

Media Arabic Booster 05/24

This month (05/24) in Media Arabic Booster: How to say "naturalized" and a translation of an article about tensions between Algeria and Morocco.
Media Arabic Booster 04/24

Media Arabic Booster 04/24

This month (04/24) in Media Arabic Booster: The expression بَعيد الْمَنالِ and a translation of an article discussing why Sudan had suspended "al-Arabiya"
Media Arabic Booster 03/24 - feature image

Media Arabic Booster 03/24

This month (03/24) in Media Arabic Booster: The verb تَلَأْلَأَ and a translation of an article on five political trends in Jordan (al-Ghad)
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5 months ago

Hello, thank you so much for this article. I love this series.
Why is it Nominative after “ila”?
اِلَي حَدٌّ يَفُوقُ الخَيالَ

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