Saturday, March 12, 2016

Mauritanian Musician Hamadi Ould Nana And The Meaning Of The Word "Mahboula"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part series on the esteemed Mauritanian musician Hamadi Ould Nana. Part II showcases another video of Hamadi Ould Nana and provides information about the word "mahboula" that happened to be included in the title of that showcased video.

Click Part I of this series.showcases a video of Hamadi Ould Nana. Part I also provides information about the guetna (harvest season) in Mauritania. The word "guetna" happened to be included in the summary to that showcased video.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Hamadi Ould Nana for his musical legacy. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of this video on YouTube.

SHOWCASE VIDEO: المهبولة للفنان الكبير حمادي ولد النانة Published on Aug 28, 2012

المهبولة للفنان الكبير حمادي ولد النانة
Google translate of the title of this video (from Arabic to English) - Mahboula great artist Hamadi Ould Nanh
The only online information about Hamadi Ould Nana that I've come across is given in Part I of this series.

I was unfamiliar with the word "mahboula" in this title. So I decided to look it up. The first entry that I found was for a city in Kuwait:

"Mahboula is a town in Kuwait bound by Fintas, Abu Halifa, the road numbered 30 (also called the Fahaheel Expressway) and the Persian Gulf. The English translation for the word Mahboula is Mad Woman. This part of Kuwait is known for its rich residents."

However, that definition for "mahboula" doesn't fit the use of that word in that video's title. So, I kept on searching and came across this post:
Thursday, April 14, 2011 Mahboula: a word on language in Algeria
"The most common tongue across the broad northerly swath of Africa called the Maghreb is a dialect of Arabic called Darija. There are many who would argue it is not a dialect of Arabic at all but rather its own language, as it is not very mutually intelligible with other dialects. There is a grocery list of words that are found only in Darija; each regional variant of it also has a customized grocery list. As in the evolution of English, the Darija dialects of the Maghreb are the product of a region swept by successive waves of invaders, each of whom left their indelible lingual mark...

The word for “crazy” in most spoken and written Arabic dialects is “majnoon”; it can mean mentally ill (pejoratively), deranged, disturbed, eccentric, reckless, feckless, foolish, or lovestruck – just as “crazy” can mean all those things in English, for good or ill. The states so described by the English word “crazy” are so universal to the human condition that it would not surprise me to find that many of the languages on this earth had a similar nuanced corresponding word, as Arabic does. However, “majnoon” is not the word most commonly used in Algeria. The word “mahboul” is the word just about everyone uses – Arab and Imazighen alike. Same meanings, different word.

The word “mahboul” is not found much in the lexicon of other forms of Arabic. However, the word “ahlboula” is found in Kabyle, the most widely-spoken of the Tamazight dialects of the country. I'm no linguist, but that's a cognate if I ever saw one. The Imazighen are definitely not an Arab people, and their languages are not like Arabic, except perhaps on the edges, where the two languages have met….

...everyone in Algeria knows that “mahboul” is an Algerian word: its precise origin can be claimed as either Arabic or Kabyle, depending on whom you're talking with. Now it has entered the French lexicon as a synonym for “fou”...

I didn't really know the word “mahboul” before I got to Algerie. I learned the meaning pretty quickly; it was the right word for describing my own self."
"fou" = Google translate from French to English = “crazy”
The definition "crazy" for "mahboula" sounds a lot like the meaning "mad woman" for the Kuwaiti city, but that still doesn't seem to fit the use of that word in that video's title. However, the author of that post wrote that "mahboul" (the masculine form of that word) described him. So maybe that word (also?) has positive connotations, just like the word "crazy" has in vernacular English.

I continued searching online and came across a website that lists some Arabic love words. "Mahboul(a)" was included in that list:
From Love Words In Arabic !!!
Henia [country-algeria], Posted 11 August 2007 - 11:42 PM
"Mahboul(a) Crazy"
This is listed along with several other words under the language heading "Darja"

Also, here's another excerpt from a website that suggests that the word "mahboula" is used affectionately:
From Translations ~ Thread ~
Discussion in 'Language'
"Hi there... is it normal to call your loved one mahboul or mahboulah?
What are the other names do they use for term of endearment?
Also, how do you say i wish it was real in tunisian?

Thank you.
dss2s2, Feb 1, 2013

“When he said "mahboula" that 's never mean "crazy" in the right meaning but we used in ironic context !"
salim, Feb 1, 2013
This is the only reply to those questions that is given on that websitas as of this date.

Here's another website that I found that gave a definition for the word "mahboula": slang arabic

Rajiyah, 11-10-11, 04:59 PM
"fi tounsi (Tunisian)
mahboul(a) - crazy (a added for female)"
"fi tounsi" = in Tunisian [language(s)?

I wonder if the etymology for the Kuwaiti city named "Mahboula" is related to these other Darja or Arabic slang meanings of the word "mahboula".

Given this reading, I think that the word "mahboula" means in that title for the Hamadi Ould Nana video means something like the English phrase "being madly in love [with] someone or something.

I'd love to know if this is right. Please share what you know about this word. Thanks!

This concludes Part II of this series.

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