Lebanon : Language

Arabic and French are Lebanon’s two official languages, Arabic being by far the most frequently used. English is becoming increasingly common in the business world. Politeness is very important to Arabs, so it is rare to see a conversation between two people that does not begin with a profusion of greetings, enquiries as to the other person’s health, and other such niceties. As an ajnabi (foreigner), you are not expected to have mastered these finer points but if you make the effort of saying the right thing at the right time, this will help to earn you respect. In fact, any attempt to communicate with local residents in their own language will be greatly appreciated. As horrible as your pronunciation or your grammar may be, you will probably get a smiling “Your Arabic is wonderful!” in return.

Simple phrases you can learn:

Salaam alaikum: Peace be with you (standard greeting)
Alaikum salaam: Response to the previous greeting
Marhaba: Hi!
Ma’elsalami: Goodbye
Shukran: Thank you
Na’am: Yes
La’a: No
Afwan: Excuse me
Ismee ...: My name is ...
Ana britani (m) / Ana britaniya (f): I am British
Pteh’ki ingleezi?: Do you speak English?
Ana bahib ...: I like ...
Yasaar/yamin: Left/right
Al-ya’um: Today
Fi in’dak ...?: Do you have ...?

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