Traces of a bilingual upbringing

The errors and idiosyncrasies of an Arab-American tongue

Farid Alsabeh
7 min readNov 6, 2022

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Going to summer school in Syria apparently wasn’t enough to protect my two native languages from various errors, spillages, and cross-contaminations

Conversations with my parents are strange lingual chimeras. Take, for example, the following exchange with my mom, reproduced here almost verbatim:

—Hi mama, keefek al-yawm?
—Hi habibi, alhamdulillah, I feel great. Al-yawm ‘amilt nus sa’a ‘al treadmill.
—Ya salam! Proud of you, ana wallah…

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