Hi there.

First of all I would like to thank my Lebanese friends who patiently explained to me everything that I did not understand.

Before you proceed, please read the Disclaimer.

شو is probably one of the most common words in Lebanese Arabic. It is often used by itself with interrogative intonation — شو؟, in which case it means So? or What’s wrong? or What are you up to?, depending on the context.

When in a sentence, besides the most popular and well-known meaning what, the word can also be used as how or remain untranslated to express surprise. From my personal observations, in the Arabic VS English scenario, in most of the cases it is going to be what, which makes the job easier for English natives, as opposed to Slavic language speakers, like myself, who might be tempted to use, for instance, how instead of what in many of the instances listed below.

No examples this time. Just grab a piece of paper and START.

  1. What’s your name? (I guess, we all know the Lebanese phrase for this one, but a little warm-up won’t hurt, right?)
  2. A present (this one’s un peu tricky)? What’s the occasion?
  3. Look at you! So brave!
  4. So smart [he/she is]!
  5. What?! Am I small???
  6. What did you name him? (him = your newborn. BTW, click here if you wanna find out how to ask in Lebanese if the newborn is a boy or a girl.)
  7. Welcome, Sir. How can I help you?
  8. In God’s name, there’s no one in here, the place is empty, what did you put it [music] on for?
  9. Listen, how much time do you need? Just tell me, what’s wrong?
  10. What’s wrong with you?
  11. OK, come on. What’s wrong? OR Come on, stop being silly…
  12. What’s wrong?
  13. Why were you shouting?
  14. Tell me, what has she got?
  15. What can I say?
  16. Please say what you want right now!
  17. Why? What’s the reason? OR Why? What’s keeping you busy?
  18. When I was in jail in Germany… It was so clean! I was treated with so much respect! Just imagine, a thief [there] has dignity, not like here.
  19. May I ask you what was your job? (This one comes with a twist. Two twists actually.)
  20. Just quickly tell me what’s the matter.
  21. … or [if you only] saw how much Lalloos likes labneh cheese balls.
  22. If your mother made them, they certainly taste good. Oh, they’re amazingly good.
  23. What’s the difference between a thief and “I steal”?
  24. - What were you stealing?
    - Mostly cars.
  25. - What do you do?
    - I’m currently looking for a job. But originally I’m a musician.
    - Why don’t you work in your career field?
  26. Depends on what you do.
  27. I don’t know what’s wrong with me…
  28. I don’t know what’s going on with me.
  29. I don’t know what’s happening to me.
  30. Now listen. Whatever your job is, it can be useful. It is you who can make it look either silly or important.
  31. - So? Everything’s OK?
    - OK? What is this case can be OK?


Good. Now scroll down and check your aswers?

1)شو اسمك؟

2)كادو؟ شو المناسبة؟

3)شو هالشهامة؟!

4)شو زكي!

5)شو؟ أنا صغير؟

6)شو سميتو؟

7)تفضل مسيو. بشو بساعدك؟ (آخر خبر)

8)الله يخليك ما في حدا، المحل فاضي على شو حاطينا؟ (مافي متلو)

9)ليك قديش بدك وقت؟ ليك شو شو في؟ (مافي متلو)

10)شو بيك؟

11)طيب، يلا شو؟

12)شو في؟

13)شو في عم تعيط؟

14)قلي شو عندا؟ (آخر خبر)

15)شو بدي قول؟..

16)بشرفك قولي شو بدك هلق؟ (أبطال وحرامية)

17)ليه؟ شو عندك؟ (أبطال وحرامية)

18)لما كنت محبوس بألمانيا كنت مكيف هنيك. شو نظافة! شو احترام! تخيل حرامي هنيك إلو قيمة مش متل عنا (أبطال وحرامية)

19)شو كنت تشتغل حضرتك بلا زغرا؟ (أبطال وحرامية)

20)خبريني عالسريع شو القصة؟ (أبطال وحرامية)

21)أو تشوفي للوس شو بيحب اللبنة المكعزلة (أبطال وحرامية)

22)إزا شغل الوالدة أكيد طيبين، مش طبيعي شو طيبين (أبطال وحرامية)

23)شو الفارق بين “بشلّح” والحرامي؟ (أبطال وحرامية)

24)- شو بتشلح؟
- أكتر شي سيارات
(أبطال وحرامية)

25)- شو بتشتغل انت؟
- أنا هلأ بنبش على شغل. بس بالأساس موسيقي
- ليه ما بتشتغل بشغلتك؟
(أبطال وحرامية)

26)حسب شو بتشتغل

27)ما بعرف شو قصتي

28)مدري شو صرلي

29)ما بعرف شو صايرلي

30)هلق ليك شو ما كانت وظيفتك فيها تكون مفيده بس انت يا بتسخفها يا بتخليها الها معنى

31)- شو؟ ماشي الحال؟
- مشي الحال؟ على شو بَدّو يمشي الحال (مافي متلو)

How was it?
How about learning the whole thing by heart?
Yes, it’s difficult but, believe me, it is worth it.

Don’t forget to watch the show that I got these expressions from. They come between the parantheses. You might wanna do the exercise again after watching.

Check out my other translation-style exercises available on Medium:
Lebanese — part 1
Lebanese — part 2
Saudi — part 1
Saudi — part 2



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