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"The Hans Wehr Dictionary Arabic Fortune-Telling Game"

[written July 13, 2003]

Surely you've heard about the Arabic method of fortune-telling involving reading tea leaves left inside those small Arabic tea cups, right?

Do you really believe the schmuck with a waiter's apron on when he gives you your fortune? I don't, and that's why I've never had my fortune read by those quacks.

But one day while sitting in class waiting for our tests to be graded, I came upon a foolproof method for authentic Arabic fortune-telling.

Each student is issued this big, thick dictionary with a green cover called the "Hans Wehr" dictionary. The book is thick and the pages are so thin that they'd probably liquify if you moistened them. Arabic students carry this book everywhere -- it's the only way to survive. Inside, it contains pretty much every Arabic word we've ever needed to find, and because it's organized by the 3- or 4- letter root that every Arabic word has, you can get some funky groups of words on each page, or even better yet, within each definition.

So I was playing with my Hans Wehr while sitting around, bored out of my mind, when all the sudden, I dropped the book clear on the floor and instead of the binding rolling the pages over to close the book after hitting the ground, the book actually opened to two pages and stayed there!

The people sitting around me looked at it in awe. "Is this a sign from Allah?" I asked? Were we tempting fate? Had we unlocked a secret gateway to the Heavens, passing messages to us in the form of nonsensically-related Arabic words? I admit I was scared -- nay, terrified. I had flashbacks of that Ouija board movie where the kids use the Ouija board and it lets spirits from beyond into the real world.

With courageous resolve, I ventured forth and checked to see what the book foretold to me. I forget the exact pages it landed on, but it seemed to be spot on. Two of my friends tried it, and it described them to a T as well. More people in the class started trying to do it too.

This game is not to be feared, we have discovered. It is a tool to help us understand ourselves better. But it requires the proper methodology in order to achieve accurate results.

First of all, you have to drop the book perfectly on its spine so it'll flop open and stay there. But you mustn't open the book more to any certain page -- try to keep the pages loose, but not so loose that they'll bias the drop.

Second, after a successful drop, you have a whole two pages within which to read and comprehend. The interpretation of your life and personality, as well as your future, must be taken as the sum of the definitions found within the page. Given the nature of the Arabic language, you could get some fucked up definitions on the same page, such as "albino", "candlestick", and "baby alpaca steak". No doubt this game has unlocked the mysticism and cryptic nature of the Arabic language.

For that reason, I'm not too sure the Hans Wehr Dictionary Arabic Fortune-Telling Game will work with dictionaries of other languages. Not only for the simple fact that an English dictionary is not Arabic, or written by Hans Wehr, or magical at all, but also because everyone knows only Arabs can tell fortunes.

You can order the Hans Wehr dictionary game from Amazon.com. It doesn't come in a fancy box -- it's just a book. The good part about this is there's no small parts that you can lose or your children can gag on. It's a rather expensive investment, but I guarantee you you'll find a happier you after a few rounds of the game.

Now, an example of one of my drops:

  • blitz troops, elite strike forces
    ﺔﻘﻋﺎﺼﻟﺍ ﺕﺍﻮﻗ (quwwat a-sa'aaqa)
  • youthfulness
    ﺮﻐﺻ (sigar)
  • he is the youngest of his parentsí children
    ﻪﻳﻮﺑﺍ ﺓﺮﻐﺻ ﻮﻫ (hoa sahgra abwihi)
  • humility, humbleness
    ﺓﺮﺎﻐﺻ (sagara)
  • Palestine
    ﻱﺮﻐﺼﻟﺍ ﺎﻳﺭﻮﺳ (sooria a-sagri)
  • microfilm
    ﺮﻐﺼﻤ ﻢﻠﻓ (film masgar)
  • affection, good will
    ﻮﻐﺻ (sahgoo)
  • attentive, listener
    ﻎﺼﻣ (musgin)
  • non-commissioned officer
    ﻒﺼﻟﺍ ﻂﺑﺎﺿ (dthabet a-sif)
  • to stand in formation (of a military detachment)
    ﻒﻄﺻﺇ (isthafa)
  • matrix
    ﺔﻓﻮﻔﺼﻣ (mahsfufa)
  • minor mistake
    ﺓﺮﻴﻐﺻ (sahgira)

Behold! The fortune-telling powers! The phrase for "blitz troops", similar to "special forces", ﺔﺼﺎﺧ ﺕﺍﻮﻗ, or "quwat al-chasa" was pointed out to me not hours before by my roommate who said, "Turner, this phrase is SO you," using HIS dictionary. And here it turns up, for someone who wants badly to be a Green Beret. Not only that, but the fortune reads that I'll be an NCO, a good leader and listener who cares about his soldiers, never assuming too much power undeservedly. Furthermore, I AM the youngest in my family, stand in formation on a regular basis, and have aspirations to transport microfilms in and out of the Palestine for random government agencies as a clandestine spy.

Some people prefer to play by the variation of pointing a finger at the page, after the book has been dropped, and reading a fortune solely from the selected word, instead. I don't like this -- I think the random nature of all the words on two pages provides much more thorough answers. As an added twist, it is worth noting that the dictionary was primarily put together by Hans Wehr in the early 40's, during World War II. That might explain the dictionary better, having an Arabic-German dictionary translated to an Arabic-English one. It also might explain why there's a Measure II verb, ﺮﻠﺘﻫ, or "hattalara", or "to be Hitler-like". Then again, there is also an Arabic verb for "having round breasts" and a noun for a "virgin who rides naked on a camel wagon into battle".

And people say this game can't be authentic? =P This game works! It's the latest sensation that's sweeping the nation. =P And you don't need a magic lantern or a magic ball to play.

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