Algerian Arabic · Language · Language learning · Music · Resources

An Algerian song, Cheb Mami – Ana Oualach

This is the second song that I’ll add into my listening routine for learning Algerian Arabic (or Derjda). The first one “Algeria, my love” was of the genre “Chaabi” – the classy, traditional musical style of Algiers. The next song that I am going to listen to represents another aspect of Algerian music.

This is a song by the quite famous Algerian singer Cheb Mami, born in the city of Saida, south of Oran. Oran is the city known for “Rai” – the style of music that Cheb Mami and many other well-known Algerian singers perform. Rai is very different from the very mature and classy Chaabi. It is a style of music that deals with various themes in life, sorrow alongside happiness, and it is often representative of a wilder lifestyle, more in contradiction to what could be described as traditional values.

I originally wanted to pick the song “Maandi wali” that I really enjoy listening to, but I haven’t been able to find the lyrics in neither English nor French.

Another great song is “Ana Oualach”, or “Why me”. I managed to find an approximate translation in English, and I’ll post it below (I’ve made a few tweaks, but corrections are welcome!). If anyone knows where I can find the lyrics to Maandi Wali in either French or English, please don’t hesitate to point me in the right direction, because I really like that song!

Now first “Ana Oualach” on YouTube:

And now the lyrics in Derdja and English: (And thanks to reddit user “neolinde” for helping with the translation)

Ana oualache
Oualache Ya denya, Ouahdetini
Fil ghorba mahmoum mahmoum
أنا وعلاش
وعلاش في الدنيا
وهديتيني
فالغربة مهموم ,مهموم
Why me?
Why oh life,
have you led me
Far away in misery
Ana oualache
Oualache Alia,
Ouahdetini
Fil ghorba mahmoum mahmoum
أنا وعلاش
وعلاش عليا
وهديتيني
فالغربة مهموم مهموم
Why me?
Why did you do this to me?,
You have led me
Far away in misery
Netmasha Ala
Quadri oua Hsabi
mQadr Rouhi
oua haz rajlia
نتمشا على
قدري و حسابي، حسابي
مقدر روحي
و عاز رجليا
I walk with
dignity and respect.
I know my worth,
I cherish my legs
 Aaz klami
Ma Nehder fil ghaybi
Mandir Bin rjal
AAh Ya Khouya
عاز كلاميما
نهدر فالغايبي
ما ندير بين الرجال
آآه، يا خويا
I cherish my words,
I never talk behind people’s back. I don’t gossip between men…O brother!
Ana oualache
oualache Alia,
Wehdetini
fil ghorba mahmoum mahmoum
أنا وعلاش
وعلاش عليا
و هديتيني
فالغربة مهموم
Why me?
Why oh life,
have you led me
Far away in misery
Ana oualache
Oualache Alia,
Ouahdetini Fil ghorba mahmoum mahmoum
أنا وعلاش
و علاش عليا
و هديتيني
فالغربة مهموم، مهموم
Why me?
Why do this to me?
You have led me Far away
in misery, in misery.
Bouya ki mate
Khallani Harbi
Quarrani Ala
Ma Njarab fi Denya
بويا كي مات
خلاني حربي
وقرّاني على
ما نجرّب فالدنيا
My father when he died
He left me a warrior
He taught me
what I would experience in life
Ana oualache
Oualache Alia,
Ouahdetini Fil ghorba
mahmoum mahmoum
أنا وعلاش
وعلاش عليا
و هديتيني
فالغربة مهموم
Why me?
Why do this to me?
You have led me Far away
in misery, in misery.
Bouya ki mate
Khallani Harbi
Quarrani Ala
Ma Njarab fi Denya
بويا كي مات
خلاني حربي
و قرّني على
ما نجرّب فالدنيا
When my father died
He left me a warrior
He taught me what
I would experience in life
Manakhdaa Nass
Nkater Dnooby,
El-Ouakte Saab
Oua ghabete A niyaa.
ما نخدع ما
نكثر ذنوبي
الوقت صعاب
و غابت النية
I don’t betray people, ***
To not bigger my sins
These are hard times
Naivety is gone
Ana oualache
Oualache Alia,
Ouahdetini Fil ghorba mahmoum mahmoum
أنا وعلاش
وعلاش عليا
و هديتيني
فالغربة مهموم
Why me?
Why do this to me?
You have led me
Far away in misery
Ouila smaate
Essar Nshadeh Fi Galby
Ouala had’essira..
Rabaouni Oualdiya
بويا سترت السر
شاّده في قلبي
على هذ السيرة
رباوني والديا
If I heard a secret ***
I would hold it in my heart
On this way…
my parents raised me
Ma Nekhdaa El-Ghir
We Shahed Rabbi
Daaouate El-khir
Dayman Maaya maaya maaya. .
ما نخدع الغير
و الشاهد ربي
دعوة الخير
دايما معيا، معيا، معيا
Not to back-stab others!
As God is our witness
The prayers of goodness
are always by my side
Ana oualache
Oualache Alia,
Ouahdetini
Fil ghorba mahmoum mahmoum
أنا وعلاش
وعلاش عليا
و هديتيني
فالغربة مهموم
Why me?
Why do this to me?
You have led me Far away in misery

*** = I’m there might be an error here – if someone can clear that up, I’d appreciate it!

2 thoughts on “An Algerian song, Cheb Mami – Ana Oualach

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