Mother-in-Law Loves You and Other Proverbs and Expressions from Syria

by Rebecca Joubin

For about ten years, Rebecca Joubin, assistant professor of Arab studies at Davidson College, has travelled to and conducted research in Syria. Noticing the use of proverbs and expressions as a signature of Syrian culture and identity, she began writing down the phrases she heard in casual conversation and in the local media.

The expressions are presented here in Syrian-Arabi, in modern standard Arabic and, for those not familiar with the language, the English translation. And when necessary, they are explained. Her bilingual collection of more than 600 proverbs is ideal for all students of Arabic as well as those interested in the rich culture of Syria. The sayings have been divided by topic such as the body, food, animals, colors, homeland, work and experience.

In this collection we see the many unique values and attributes of Syrian culture. We observe kindness, hospitality, generosity, forgiveness and humility. More importantly, in addition to observing the singularities of Syrian culture, we learn about the universalities of human nature.