Overcome Language Barrier With Sudanese Arabic Travel Phrases

Everybody who will travel to Sudan, will face language barriers with locals, as English is not widely spoken. You will probably find people speaking very broken basic English. Independent travellers who have to arrange everything on their own should grab some basic phrases. For those familiar with Arabic spoken in Egypt,  it will be huge bonus as Sudanese and Egyptian dialects  are very similar and people can understand each other despite of some difference  in dialects. Those familiar with Kiswahili will also find numerous similarities in Sudanese Arabic.  As far as phrasebooks for Sudan go, your best bet would be Egyptian Arabic travel phrase book by Lonely Planet.

egyptian arabic sudanese arabic travel phrases

 There are  many different ways of using the Arabic words and expressions, they totally differ from one country to another, for example the formal Arabic and the colloquial Arabic. The one which is used in Sudan is the colloquial one.

There are more than one hundred different indigenous languages spoken in Sudan, including  Ta Bedawie, Nubian and dialects of Nilo-Hamitic and Nilotic languages. Arabic is the official language in Sudan, spoken by more than half of the population.

To compile this short list of most useful travel phrases I asked for translation my dear friend  and host Miss Hager, native Sudanese who is professional translator in Khartoum.

Basic Sudanese Arabic Greetings

 Leave-takings  and greetings are interactions with religious overtones; the common expressions all have references to Allah, which are taken not just metaphorically but also literally.“InshaAllah”(“if Allah wills”) is often heard, as is“alhamdulillah”(“may Allah be praised”).

In Sudan we have our own ways of Saying Hi and welcoming each other. I will give you some hints on how to use words which might help you when you first arrive to Sudan.

  • Hi – Salam Aleekom.
  • How are you – Keif Alhal?
  • I am great! – Ana tamam!
  • And you – Wa inta?
  • Good morning – Sabah Alkheir
  • Good afternoon – Nihark saeed
  • Good evening – Misaa Alkheir
  • Good night – Lalya saeeda
  • Good bye –  Ma’alsalama

These are the only main greetings. There are special occasions like Ramadan: it’s the whole month in which people will be fasting, when they hear the prayer calls for the evening which is called Magrib prayers  – all the family will gather and break their fasting, the way in which we congratulate each other when its time for Ramadan, the usual greetin is  Ramadan Kareem the other person will reply with Allah Akram.

Same greetings are used on Eid Elfir : it’s the occasion right after Ramadan. Its an annual celebration celebrating the end of Ramadan.

There is another Eid as well which is called Eid Alodhiya in which people usually slaughter a sheep. People congratulate each other in both Eids by saying: Eid Saeed which means “Happy Eid” and the other part will reply: “Aleena wa Aleek.” Meaning “for you as well”.

Introductions in Sudanese Arabic

  • What is your name – Ismik mino?
  • I am(Ana) – my name is (Ismi):  Ana Ismi
  • I am xy years old –  Omri x sana or Aam
  • Where do you come from –  Inta min wein?
  • I come from USA –  Ana min America

Money Matters

Phrases about exchanging money will probably the first ones you will use, starting at the airport upon arrival.

  • I want to exchange money –  Ana Aawiz abadil groosh
  • How much is exchange rate –  Siir alomla kam

Transport and Travel Phrases

  • I need a taxi – Ana Aawiz taxi
  • Do you stop at place X – Momkin tageef min fadlak?  (like asking on the bus)
  • I got lost –  ana dayiie or ana rayih
  • Can you help me? –  Momkin tsaidni min fadlak?
  • I stay in XY hotel – Ana fee fondog al hotel name
  • How much is bus ticket to Shendi?  –  Kam sir Altazkira li Shandi?
  • Which bus do I have to take to get to xy place? – Ay bus ana lazim akhod  place name
  • How much is taxi  (Be kam altaxi)/ amjad to the airport  Amjad le almatar
  • Can you wait for me please? –   Momkin tintazirni?
  • Can you recommend me a restaurant with great food –  Momkin tagool ly ism mataam aklo tamam?
  • I have a copy of photo and travel permit. –  Ana indi sura min tasdeeg alsafar wa altasweer  Passport(Jawaz)

Bargains and Shopping in Sudanese Arabic

  • Can you give me a discount on this ?  – Momkin takhafid ly alsiir?
  • I only have xy  sum of money –  Ana indi bs sum of money
  • Its too expensive – Gaali shadid
  • Deal! –  Itafagna!
  • Scarf – Tarha
  • Sim card – Shareeha

Days of The Week in Sudanese Arabic

  • Saturday – Alsabit
  • Sunday  – Alahad
  • Monday  – Alithnein
  • Tuesday – Althulathaa
  • Wednesday  – Alarbiaa
  • Thursday  – Alkhamees
  • Friday  – Aljumaa

Numbers in Sudanese Arabic

sudanese arabic numbers

Sudanese Arabic numbers are used in the same way numbers are used in same manner they are used in other Arabic countries and dialogues, except for some different pronunciations.

  • 0  – Sifir
  • 1  – Wahid
  • 2 – Itneein
  • 3 – Thalatha
  • 4 – Arbaa
  • 5 – Khamsa
  • 6 –  Sita
  • 7 –  Sabaa
  • 8 –  Thamaniya
  • 9 – Tisaa
  • 10 –  Ashra
  • 11 – Ihda Ashr
  • 12 – Ithnaa Ashar
  • 13 –  Thlathat Ashar
  • 14 – Arbaat Ashar
  • 15 – KhamsatAshar
  • 16 – Sitat Shar
  • 17 –  Sabat Ashar
  • 18 – Thamaniyat Ashar
  • 19 – Tisaat Ashar
  • 20 – Ushun 
  • 21 – Wahid wa ushrun
  • 22 – Ithnan wa ushrun
  • 30  – Thlathun 
  • 31  – Wahid wa thlathun
  • 32 – Ithnan wa thlathun
  •  40 –  Arbauun
  • 41 – wahid wa arbaun
  • 42 – Ithnan wa arbaunn
  • 50  – khamsuun 
  • 60  – Situn
  • 70  – Sabun
  • 80  – Thmanun
  • 90  – Tisun
  • 100  – Miaa

Drinks and Sudanese Food

In Sudan alcohol is prohibited so you can skip how to order a beer. Sudanese love to drink! Food is an important part of many social interactions in Sudan. Visits typically include tea, coffee, or soda, if not a full meal. It is customary to eat from a common serving bowl, using the right hand rather than utensils.Before the meal, towels and a pitcher of water are passed around for hand washing.

  • Coffee with sugar –  Jabana bi sukar /  without sugar – Min geir sukar
  • Tea with / without sugar – Shay be sukar/ Shay mi geir sukar
  • Orange juice  –  Aseir bortugal
  • Mango juice  –  Aseer manga
  • Water  –  Moya
  • Bottle of water  – Bagat Moya

Sudan is also known of its traditional food as well:

  • Aseeda –  Porridge
  • Kisra  – bread, made of flour and water with some other Sudanese ingredients
  • Gurasa –  a thick pancake made of flour and water with some salt,
  • Falafel is called Tamia in Sudan.

Written by: Hager Eissa Sudanese, from Darfur living in Khartoum, graduated from peace University College for languages and translation. Working as a translator and a project manager.

sudanese arabic travel phrases