I’m a new member here and I just registered because I have a question about Moroccan darija and about the use of the phrase “ahlan wa sahlan” or just “ahlan.” This phrase is very common in Morocco, correct? Here is my question: can this only be said when receiving somebody, as in a welcome, or can it be said when approaching somebody as well? For example, when you enter a shop, come up to a friend on the street or approach somebody at work, could you say “ahlan,” or does that sound weird?
Hello Dom, and welcome to the forums.
First off, let me explain the meaning of the expression. The full expression in classical Arabic is actually “7alaltom ahlan wa wata2tom sahlan”.
Ahl = Family/relatives.
Sahl = flat (?)
So the whole expression means something close to: “You came to a family’s place (feel home) and you stepped on a flat ground”.
Now, the full expression is used usually indeed to welcome someone when they come to visit you at home, or in the office, etc. Otherwise, we use the word ahlan as a greeting sometimes. I personally would use it just when a person comes to me, I wouldn’t use it if it’s me approaching the person. It’s also used as a greeting with someone you didn’t see in a while.
So you can use it, it won’t be totally off.
Thank you for the clarification about “salaam” as a shortening for longer phrases, SM. I believe this was the topic we were posting in when I asked about that but mysteriously that conversation has disappeared.
And to answer your question, I loved my time in Morocco and will be going back as soon as I can. I studied fus7a in Rabat for 3 months and will be going back to study Darija soon inshallah. I am still in the process of arranging things with my fiancé (yes we are engaged!) to come to the U.S., but everything went well for the engagement process in Morocco. So thanks to everyone for all your help with that. This post seems a little off-topic now, but I wanted to answer your question :).