Monterey Arabish: A New Dialect of English

Tom K.   Mon Oct 24, 2005 12:16 am GMT
(I posted this a few weeks ago at UniLang, and added to it here)

I suppose it's inevitable: you get a bunch of people together who are all studying the same language, and little bits of that language are going to start appearing in the way they speak their native language. Hang around some DLI Arabic students in Monterey for a while and you're bound to hear exchanges like this:

"Who has cash?" "Ana." (Ana = I)
"There's 12 feet of water fy New Orleans." (fy = in)
"How was class break?" "Jayid jidden." (very good)
"I finally made Phase IV, al hamdu li-lah." (praise be to God)
"I can't pay attention to people singing Karaoke. Walakin, you picked a good song." (walakin = but)
"Chisum's the only one who was laysa hunna." (not here)
"I pulling a 341 because there was dust kathiran in his room." (kathiran=a lot, and this usage here wasn't gramatically correct: it should've been "kathir")

I overheard someone saying the other day he was talking to his mother on the phone, said "jayid jidden" without really thinking about it, and his mother of course could only say "huh?" Other words that have crept into our English include "shukran" (thank you), "mumtaz" (excellent), "limatha?" (why?), "mumkin" (maybe), "tayyib" (OK), "in shah allah" (God willing), "ma salaama," (goodbye), the greetings "marhaban" and "ahlan wa sahlan," and of course "naam" (yes) and "la" (no), and probably lots of other stuff that I can't think of now.

People studying other languages probably also do this too, but I haven't heard much. I asked some Korean students about it and they said they don't do that with Korean because "we hate Korean!" (apparently people find Korean too frustrating) However, some other Korean students I talked to said they do in fact mix Korean with English. I also asked some Chinese students and they said they do the same thing with Chinese. They call it "Chinglish." I read in an article in Airman Magazine about DLI, some student was quoted saying he would be talking to someone at home on the phone, and without realizing it start speaking Pashtu expecting whoever was on the other end to understand. I'm pretty sure people are also speaking "Farsish" and "Darish" around here.
Mxsmanic   Mon Oct 24, 2005 12:54 am GMT
I think it is an extremely localized phenomenon.
Heehee   Mon Oct 24, 2005 6:47 am GMT
Haha, there are lots of those at my international school in Hong Kong! We have English-speakers from all over the globe here... so yeah, interesting mixes galore!!
Travis   Mon Oct 24, 2005 6:53 am GMT
>>I think it is an extremely localized phenomenon.<<

I'd be surprised if it weren't, but I'm still not surprised at all by that you just had to say that, Mxsmanic.
Boy   Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:10 am GMT
All native speakers of urdu nowadays speak with a mixture of English and Urdu words. It is inevitable when people are exposed to two different languages on a regular basis and our brain sometimes is too quick to come up with a word in English than to an equivalent of that word in Urdu. It all occurs naturally in one's mind. Let's say, If I stop reading, watching, speaking and listening in English and stick to my native language then my mind will think in that language only, fast at that. Unfortunately or fortunately, when we have internet, cable channels in English... it is very difficult to avoid hearing and reading English words. Our brain is mumbled-jumbled with words of two diff languages as a result.

Here I noticed an interesting observation. There is this 4 year old girl who lives next to my door. She blends English and urdu words together into her sentences. For example, easy words like, walk, guess, bad, good, door, dady, mama, angry, late, hurry, sit...etc. She is not only an exceptional case. I notice that all other kiddos also somehow follow this phenomena.

When I was a little kid or even 10 or 11 years old. I never mixed English words even the easiest ones when i spoke. The same was true for other friends and native speakers because we used to get our input only in the native language. At that time there was no internet, no international cable channels.... we got our stuff purely into urdu.

Now whenever i have a chance to listen to national poets, linguists talking in urdu... there is a noticeable speech pattern. I no more hear the real form of the language even from them. The same people never blent English and urdu words together during my kid days. They are now speaking with this mixture form. What a transition!

So changes happen over a period of time. They happen naturally rather than deliberatley put into practice.

A few months ago i heard older people saying in the park.

now a doggie speaks an English word on the streets of Karachi.
Steve K   Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:50 am GMT
Mxsmanic speaks what is.

Travis, eager wannabe whatever is, like what really is new and like post-modern and like what is what is the way it really should be and like run at the mouth garbage brain-dead mouthing of all the BS taught at his university that he does not understand but mouths and feels good about himself and does not need periods or sentences but just keeps going because that way he does not have to think and make coherent sense and can just accuse anyone of anything as long as he say it and because like I mean....................................
greg   Tue Oct 25, 2005 6:48 am GMT
Tiens, c'est bizarre, Steve K parle d'autre chose que du Québec. Mais ce qui est rassurant c'est qu'on retrouve toujours la même objectivité bienveillante...
Alma   Tue Nov 08, 2005 6:28 am GMT
Hey Tom. K

Cheers for the post. Really interesting. I enjoyed reading it:)
Saif   Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:34 am GMT
I don't think you've got enough in Monterrey to qualify as a dialect - it's more of a jargon.
Uriel   Wed Nov 09, 2005 1:56 am GMT
I think that happens all the time. We mixed in a lot of Japanese words into our English when I was in high school in Japan, and they do the same here in NM with Spanglish. All you need are a group of people who are familiar with both languages involved, and a sense that this mixture is a way of defining a group identity.
abde   Wed Nov 09, 2005 9:44 pm GMT
that's a linguistic phenomenon related to society. some algerians,if not most of them, speak French better than Arabic. they can't help using French words and sentences to avoid the sudden blockage in their speech. the two languages seem to mix naturally in their minds.
Rae   Mon Jan 09, 2006 8:00 pm GMT
so what do u do when your first language is lost? when mixing languages together do you forget the original way it was spoken?
Robert   Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:15 am GMT
I know what y'all are talking about I have tons of friends from Germany and when we hang out alot I say things in germish. it's acually really funny. The other day my dad was talking to me about a really big storm headed our way and I said "ug nicht gut" he looked at me really confused. Here in Oklahoma that happens alot with Spanish and English especially among Latino communities. I can speek spanish fluently, I understand better than I speak. So when I am with my Mexincan friends family they will say something to me in Spanish and I will reply in English or a mix of the two. It gets really interesting when the Germans, Mexicans, and American kids all hang out together. This would be a real commen frase. Ich muss pisin. Well va. Oh, I can hold it. Translation I've got to pee. Well go. I can hold it.