Moroccan culture is steeped in tradition. It permeates every facet of life, from the kitchen and dinner table to the street corner and school; even language holds to traditional mores. There are certain phrases or sayings that come almost automatically to Moroccans. If you enter a room, a taxi or a shop, you must greet everyone with a rousing hello. Those around you will answer in turn. To do otherwise would simply be … wrong.
This being the case, it’s easy to feel lost as people around you perform these near rituals. Here, then, is a brief guide to Moroccan phrases. Some are handier than others, but none will go unnoticed by your hosts on your next holiday deal to Morocco. In fact, they’ll probably be thrilled that you, too, know their secret code.
Saalam uwaleekum – Peace be upon you.
This phrase is used as a general greeting, but it is near mandatory to say it any time you enter a room or a vehicle. Large gatherings are constantly interrupted as newcomers arrive with a rousing “saalam uwaleekum!”
Wa’aleekum salaam – And also on you.
The answer to salaam uwaleekum. If you happen to be in the vicinity when someone says hello, it’s considered rude—and rather odd—not to answer back.
Aafek – Please.
Arabic for please, aafek can go a long way toward ensuring your hosts know that you appreciate their time and effort. While there are innumerable local forms of both ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in Morocco, aafek will be understood everywhere.
Shukran – Thank you.
Like aafek, shukran in the standard Arabic form and will be understood no matter where you go. And, like your mother always told you, you can never say thank you enough.
La shukran ala wajib – You’re welcome.
This phrase literally means, “don’t thank me, it’s my job.” It is Arabic and used to mean you’re welcome. There are also Berber variations on the phrase, but this version will be understood.
This word, pronounced “Biss Ha” is used to grant well wishes upon someone who has undertaken something new. It’s often used to greet people fresh out of the bath or shower or someone who has just made a new purchase. Bssha to you for learning some Moroccan Arabic on our insightful blog about Morocco!
Llay tik saHa
This phrase is used to answer ‘bssHa.’
>>More helpful information about what you need to know about languages in Morocco.
Written by Margaret Jackson.
Photo by cromacom.