The Muslims of Paris interest me a lot. They are mainly of North African descent or from West Africa, and what's striking is how French they are. True, few of them spoke a word English and those who did, truly "zoundid lajk zis". But what's even more interesting is that their Arabic was more or less hard to understand. We couldn't communicate with each other (with few exceptions) at all unless I used my broken French and they their broken English.
What effect this must have on the people of France, and Muslims of France in general. They are more or less linguistically isolated from large parts of the world. I noticed people from the Middle East having trouble understanding the Moroccan or Tunisian Arabic.
One of the girls we met at the Media Seminar I attended kept repeating a word all the time. At first I thought she was just slow on the uptake because she had asked me in Arabic once when my flight was back to Sweden, flight being in Arabic Tayyarah. I told her "7 o'clock".
So during the whole day she kept saying "tayyarah tayyarah" in the most weird times and totally out of place. So I kept telling her "It's 7 o'clock!"
She just looked at me like I was the weird one. "What are you talking about?" she asked me. "My flight of course", I replied. "I didn't ask you about your flight?" she continued. "Yeah you did, you said tayyarah."
Apparently, in Tunisian Arabic, tayyarah means excellent... (something so good that it's high up in the sky like a plane)
We were at a restaurant and a Tunisian guy says he's thirsty. Fair enough, give the guy something. So he asks in Arabic for a dabbousa. In classical and mainstream Arabic dabbousa means needle. After the tayyarah incident, I'm ready for anything. Apparently bottle in Tunisian Arabic is called dabbousa.
Last but not least... let us not forget our fellow Moroccans. In the Middle East, and among Arab Muslims in general, the expression Allah yateek el aafiyeh (May God give you health or goodness) is used a lot, either as a thank you or a well wishing good bye.
Me, I wanted to be polite of course, so I wished Aafiyeh on many of the North African participants at the seminar. In return I only got cold stares of shock.
Apparently, I wished hell fire on all of them...