If you dance to Middle Eastern music, or work for Middle Eastern clubs or clients, it’s important to know at least a sampling of Arabic vocabulary. Here are a couple of starter words that are commonly heard in music to help you identify the type of song, even if you don’t understand every word. Is it a love song, or a song calling for political revolution? A song about dancing and partying, or a song about divorce? Even upbeat pop songs can delve into very serious topics, so do your research! A few of these words double as expressions you might hear from your audience members.
- Habibbi – “My love” a term of endearment. (habibti when referring to a woman)
- Beladi – Country, “of the country” 2. A style of folkloric dance from the countryside 3. A rhythm from the countryside, which folkloric dance is performed to.
- Yalla – Literally, “let’s go” 1. an expression of excitement as in “come on!” 2. Hurry up, let’s go now.
- Hizzy – “to shake”, refers also to shimmies specifically. Often heard in music for bellydancing to encourage the dancer.
- Aiwah – “My eye” an expression used often by spectators to express that their eyes are feasting. In music, this is common in love songs as the singer expresses how she or he feels when looking at the person they desire.