On arrival in Marrakech late at night, I found a letter inviting me to meet my travel company’s rep.

So I ended up the next morning chatting with the rep over mint tea in the courtyard of the riad where I was staying.

He told me that he was a Berber and that he spoke the Berber language. He then wrote my name Stephen in Berber script (from left to right) on the back of the envelope that contained his letter of invitation. This I wasn’t expecting.

He went on to say that he spoke Arabic too and wrote my name in Arabic script (from right to left).

At that point I embarked on the following train of thought: ‘Actually there is an Arabic equivalent of Stephen. D’you know, I’ve forgotten what it is. But I know I can get to it if I go via the consonants in my name. Stephen… /ˈstəˈfə/… Oh yes Mustafa.’ So I said: ‘The Arabic equivalent of Stephen is Mustafa.’

He then wrote Mustafa down in Arabic (and Berber) as well.

Insignificant as it may seem, this linguistic experience added an extra layer of interest to my week in Marrakech.

I’m grateful to the rep for his jottings. And I’m glad I kept that envelope.

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(Photo taken in October 2010)