French and English are both widely spoken in Morocco’s cities but as you pedal through the more rural areas, speaking a bit of the local language (a variation of Arabic as well as Berber) can be a real help. The basic phrases “Salam alaykum” and “la bas” (“hello” and “how are you”) open the door but don’t get you very far when you’re trying to find out where to get water or if you can camp somewhere.
With the help of our friend Brahim in Zagora, we have compiled this list to help you while you’re cycling through Morocco. The following phrases are not meant to be in perfect Arabic. They use simple words that should be understood by anyone, even if they speak a dialect like Berber. They are unlikely, however, work outside Morocco in countries where classical Arabic is spoken.
|Where does this road go?||Had tarik gadya fin?|
|Where can we find a well?||Fin lbir (pronounced le beer)?|
|Where is a bicycle shop?||Fin siklis?|
|Where is a food shop?||Fin hanout?|
|Would you like…?||Bghiti…? (breh-ti with a rolled ‘r’)|
|Can we camp here?||Bghina nbato hna moumkn? (breh-na n’bato h-NA moumkn)|
|Can I have…? (in a food shop, for example)||Bghina…? (breh-na with a rolled ‘r’)|
|Eggs||Baid (with a long i)|
|Uncooked eggs||Baid adi|
|Cooked eggs||Baid taib|