Nancy Ajram – Shatir Shatir

This kids’ song by Lebanese pop singer Nancy Ajram is great for learning with your little ones but is also perfect for adult beginner learners of colloquial Levantine Arabic, as it’s full of useful everyday verbs. Shatir is what you’d say to a child to mean ‘well done’ or ‘clever girl’ or ‘nice job’ etc. Literally it means ‘clever’ or ‘smart’.

We hear the same structure repeated throughout, using present tense verbs and the relative pronoun ‘yalli’ = he who. This word ‘yalli’ can also be pronounced ‘illi’ and in fusha it is iladhi الذي. Note the silent ق . I’ve broken up the lines to make them easier to follow against the English but actually they flow together more as you will hear.

PS. Only realised after posting this that it’s Lebanese Independence Day today. مبروك يا لبنان!

يالى بيسمع كلمة اهله

شو بنقله

شاطر شاطر

He who listens to his parents –

what do we call him?

(shatir shatir)

يالى بيقعد عاقل وحده

شو بنقله

شاطر شاطر

He who sits thinking by himself –

what do we call him?

(shatir shatir)

يالى بينجح بمدرسته

وما بيزعل معلمته

بنحبه

وبنظل نقله شاطر

شاطر شاطر

He who succeeds in his school

and never annoys his teacher

we love him

and give  him the nickname shatir

(shatir shatir)

يالى بيساعد رفقاته

شو بنقله

شاطر شاطر

he who helps his friends

what do we call him?

(shatir shatir)

يالى ما بيكذب بحياته

شو بنقله

شاطر شاطر

he who never tells a lie in his life

what do we call him?

(shatir shatir)

يالى ما بيكسر العابه

شو بنقله

شاطر شاطر

he who doesn’t break his toys

what do we call him?

(shatir shatir)

وبياكل ما بيجوى ثيابه

شو بنقله

شاطر شاطر

he who eats without making his clothes dirty

what do we call him?

(shatir shatir)

انت شاطر

انا شاطر

I’m a clever girl

you’re a clever boy

Full song here but just a few cheesy photos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_yAuBqFzmQ

Just first couple of verses but has the video too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTEiEuffrnk

 

So, how would you say…

  1. he listens to his parents/his family (this word ‘ahl’ = the same word as in ‘ahlan’ = hello)
  2. he breaks his toys
  3. he who/ the one who annoys his teacher
  4. he lies to his family/parents (use li for ‘to’)
  5. the one who gets his clothes dirty
  6. the one who helps his teacher
  7. he eats by himself
  8. he sits with his friends

For more Lebanese music (grown-up pop too!), check out the brilliant blog Arabic Music Translation and also this fantastic mix tape of Lebanese folk and pop classics produced as part of the Noor Festival of Arabic culture in London, Nov 2014.

About Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Literary translator from Arabic, German and Russian into English
This entry was posted in Music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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