filed under Arabic, Reviews
Language Mastery – Essential Books That Cover Naughty Words And Slang

'Arabi Liblib - Egyptian Colloquial Arabic

Can you recommend a good book that you’ve read that has helped you understand the finer details of colloquialisms and bad words in your target language?

From time to time I’ll put up reviews and recommendations of books and tools for various languages that I use or have used that I think might be of some help to you. Today I’m going to briefly share one that I’ve just bought.

The comment section is always open to your input so if you have any recommendations of your own (for any language) feel free to share it with everyone!


‘Arabi Liblib (Fluent Arabic)

I recently purchased an incredibly useful advanced book on the Egyptian dialect of Arabic called ‘Arabi Liblib – Egyptian Colloquial Arabic for the Advanced Learner – 1: Adjectives and Descriptions. It’s one of a three part series (I plan to buy the next two this week) on adjectives, idiomatic expressions and proverbs used in everyday colloquial speech in Egypt.

From the introduction:

“The goal of this book is to help advanced students of Egyptian Colloquial Arabic to achieve a near-native level of proficiency through a focus on adjectives and expressions used to describe people.”

The title of the book is a colloquialism itself – ‘Arabi Liblib’ (Fluent Arabic). A lib is a seed (usually refers to a pumpkin seed), and the reason why it’s used to refer to fluency is because of the way you use your mouth/lips to open and chew the seeds (you usually have bits of seed shell on your lips). It’s a metaphor implying that words are all over your lips like seed shells.

Here are three random example entries from the book:

hot;hottie;babe مز – مزة – مزز
stoned مسطول
bullshitter ابو لمعة – مافيش مؤنث – مافيش جمع

When you’re watching a film in any language or walking the streets in any country you come across terms like this all the time (this is generally true anywhere you go on the planet). They may seem rude or inappropriate to some people but the fact remains that until you get a handle on common language like this you’ll never fully grasp the language.

One of the things I like about this book is that descriptions of the words are written in Colloquial Egyptian and not English. At first I wondered why they did this and didn’t just provide an English translation, but now I appreciate that when you read an explanation in colloquial speech it actually feels like a native person is explaining the word to you. This makes a huge difference believe me!


Stoned مسطول شخص في غير وعيه نتيجة المخدرات ِA person who’s not ‘with it’ as a result of drugs

This book has and will continue to be a huge help to me as it really clarifies a lot of things that I hear a lot when watching movies or travelling but can never find a definition or adequate explanation for.

Note: My choice of “stoned” as an example of something I hear a lot doesn’t mean you should jump to any conclusions about what I get up to when I’m abroad. :)

If you’re learning Arabic and want to buy the ‘Arabi Liblib series you can get it here.

I plan to put together some tutorial videos soon on how I use tools like this effectively along with media to teach myself ‘street slang’ without necessarily travelling or needing to be in an immersion context.

Have you used similar books in your target language? Share them in the comments section below!

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8 Responses to “Language Mastery – Essential Books That Cover Naughty Words And Slang”

  1. "Niubi!: The Real Chinese You Were Never Taught in School“ is my favourite book for swear words in Chinese. The glossary at is also great.

    By mailaoshi on Feb 12, 2012 | Reply
  2. I think this book's somewhat well known, but I found "Breaking out of Beginner's Spanish" invaluable for colloquialisms, slang, and just getting the finer points and connotations of certain phrases.

    By nadsat on Feb 12, 2012 | Reply
  3. Thanks for the recommendation. is interesting! :)

    By mezzoguild on Feb 12, 2012 | Reply
  4. I hadn't heard of it before. I'll check it out. Thanks.

    By mezzoguild on Feb 12, 2012 | Reply
  5. The best all-around nasty collection of dirty Spanish is the book D!rty Spanish: Everyday Slang from "What's Up?" to "F*%# Off!" by Juan Caballero, from Ulysses Press. It'll make a sailor blush.

    For German there is Scheisse! The Real German You Were Never Taught in School by Gertrude Besserwisser from Penguin.

    Portuguese has Slang: Gírias Atuais do Inglês by Jack Scholes, from Disal Editora. Mr. Scholes is a long-recognized guru of Brazilian slang and has numerous books on the topic.

    All three of these are sitting nearby on my bookshelf.

  6. Hello everyone,
    You can also benefit more if you visit our blog. More drills, useful links (authentic materials), index of English words found in each book, … etc. are in our blog:
    All the best,

    By arabiliblib on Apr 17, 2012 | Reply
  7. Where are the 3 books in the series available in Cairo, ie which bookshops? Preferably near Maadi – Kutub Khan, Adam, Volume1??

  8. Almost every Yiddish book intended for mass consumption.

    By Shlomi on May 25, 2014 | Reply

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About The Author:

I’m an Applied Linguistics graduate, ESL teacher and translator with years of travel and language learning experience. I have a huge passion for language learning and for helping to raise awareness of endangered minority languages around the world.

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