USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘arabic’
Folk speech

Allah ey adim illy fee al qhar- “God bring what is best closer.”

Allah ey adim illy fee al qhar- “God bring what is best closer.”

My informant has known this saying as long as he can remember. His Syrian family uses it frequently. When having a serious conversation with someone about what to do, what is going to happen, etc. the conversation will almost always end with this phrase. This is because if two people are discussing something that is out of their hands, it ends the conversation with a little prayer to God asking for the best-case scenario to play out, whether or not the person knows quite what that is. It also signifies that this scenario may play out bad right now but best overall. You just can’t see it.

Folk speech

Insha Allah – “God willing”

Insha Allah – “God willing”

My informant has known this phrase as long as he can remember. His Syrian family uses it frequently. He claims it is also common among most Arabic speakers who are Islamic. Essentially you say it after a sentence like “He’s going off to college in Kentucky, Insha Allah.” or “I’ll see you next week, Insha Allah.” It’s meant as a constant reminder that although we make plans and do things with a purpose, it is ultimately in God’s hands what happens and where you end up. You never know what can happen or where life will take you.

Many times, however, it’ll be said essentially as a “no” or “maybe.” For instance a child can ask, “Can I get a Nintendo for my birthday?” and you’ll hear the parent say “Insha Allah.”

general

The Boh Boh

The boh boh is the Syrian equivalent of the “boogeyman” it’s some vague scary figure that parents scare their kids with and friends tell stories about. “watch out for the boh boh”

My informant does not remember any particular stories, but his parents did tell him a number of stories to scare him into behaving as he was growing up.

Folk Beliefs
general

Owls and Luck in Palestinian Culture

Transcribed Text:

“According to my mom, who’s Palestinian, the owl is bad luck in Arab culture. Like she doesn’t like images of owls, but I don’t think she actively, like avoids them.”

The informant is currently a student at the University of Southern California. She says that she first heard this folk belief from her mother when she was discussing Harry Potter with her mother about five years ago. Because of the prevalence of owls in the Harry Potter series, she thinks that her mother mentioned this folk belief of hers to the informant. The informant recalls that she found this particularly odd and that this belief stood out to her in her mind. She also says that when she asks her mom about owls, her mom doesn’t like images of them and doesn’t like them in general, but cannot provide a reason as to why. This is an example of how folk belief has persisted throughout time even when the meaning behind the belief has been lost. Even though the informant’s mother does not know why she is supposed to dislike owls, because she has grown up in a community where she has been taught to dislike owls, she does not like them.

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