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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

UAE slang made easy with pocket dictionary

Emiratis Hanan Al Fardan and Abdulla Al Kaabi created a new English dictionary-type book to help expats learn Emirati Arabic.
Abdulla Al Kaabi, one of the authors showing his first edition of the “Emirati Ramsa” dictionary which provides the translation of about 1,500 Emirati words into English. Ravindranath K / The National
Abdulla Al Kaabi, one of the authors showing his first edition of the “Emirati Ramsa” dictionary which provides the translation of about 1,500 Emirati words into English. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // You’ve taken Arabic classes and consider yourself almost fluent … but how well do you speak Emirati?

Probably not well at all, but help is at hand.

A pocket dictionary of the UAE’s unique brand of Arabic has been published for visitors and expats.

Spoken Emirati Phrasebook contains English translations for 1,500 words and phrases that are uniquely Emirati.

The book was written by Hanan Al Fardan and Abdulla Al Kaabi of Al Ramsa Institute, which provides training in local Arabic and gives students a chance to interact with Emiratis.

Mr Al Kaabi said the book would provide readers with accurate pronunciation to make reading and learning the local dialect easier.

Sultan Al Ameemi, the book’s editor, said: “The Emirati language is very loved and beautiful. People want to learn it.”

The book includes tips on learning the dialect and simplified translations of greetings, colours, numbers, emotions, professions and many other categories.

Mr Al Kaabi, 31, said the team began working on it about 18 months ago, collecting the information, then going through the auditing process to have it approved by its publisher, The Poetry Academy at the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee.

“The book has approximately 120 pages with 1,500 terms and phrases that an expatriate would need on a daily basis. We include the term in the Emirati dialect, plus its English translation, and how to enunciate it,” he said.

The book includes words that are likely to be used every day in most situations. Mr Al Kaabi said the first few pages included greetings and responses, along with many of the most common words.

“We have questions, numbers, family members, and, more importantly, words used on occasions – for example when someone is travelling, or how to congratulate when someone gives birth,” he said. The book also advises on differences in addressing men and women.

The authors asked expatriates to read the words to ensure the book was teaching them the correct enunciations.

“The purpose was to fix the pronunciation. So we changed the characters of the terms, like the ‘i’ or ‘e’ in certain words, to aid in the correct pronunciation,” Mr Al Kaabi said.

He said the book could also help Emiratis to learn basic English.

It also has a page dedicated to “Arabizy”, a style of informal writing where Arabic words are written with English letters and numbers.

Mr Al Ameemi, who is also manager of The Poetry Academy, said the book was especially handy given the UAE’s multinational population.

“Many people come to the UAE for tourism, to live or to work, for short and long periods of time,” he said. “It is with no doubt that many wish to learn the language to be able to communicate with Emiratis and identify the culture, and that rises from the good image of the UAE and its people.”

The book will be sold at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair next month.

aalkhoori@thenational.ae