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Your Mother-in-Law Loves You

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Your Mother-in-Law Loves You is a bilingual collection of more than 600 proverbs and expressions from Syria. It is a useful tool for students of Syrian-Arabic, Modern Arabic as well as those interested in the rich culture of the country. When visiting someone unexpectedly, hamatik ba-tohebik or “your mother-in-law loves you” becomes an invitation to join them in their meal.
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-Arabic, in modern standard Arabic and, for those not familiar with the language, in 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.


Rebecca Joubin

REBECCA JOUBIN is Malcolm O. Partin assistant professor and chair of Arab studies at Davidson College. She received her doctorate from Columbia University and before joining Davidson, she conducted research in Syria for close to a decade. Some of this research is included in her most recent manuscript: The Politics of Love: Sexuality, Gender, and Marriage in Syrian Television Drama. She has translated Moniru Ravanipur’s novel, Afsaneh, and her articles in English and Arabic have been published in the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Middle East Journal, Arab Studies Journal, MERIP, al-Kifa al-Arabi, and al-Mada.


Etab Hreib ETAB HREIB is a critically acclaimed Syrian watercolorist from Der-Ez-Zor. Her work has been exhibited in Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, China, Bulgaria, France, Spain, Germany, and the United States. She has been awarded the al-Mahros Award in Tunisia, a Golden Award from the Ministry of Culture in China, and a prize for best Arab artist from the Ministry of Culture in Algeria. In addition to working full time as an artist, she has taught at Damascus University, has given painting courses for diabetic children, has taught ceramics to blind children, and has worked as a designer for Syrian theater, film, and television drama. She has also served as a jury member for the Adonis Prize for Best TV series.

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