Although Middle Eastern dialects differ from one another, they are still kind of homogeneous. A Jordanian can hold a conversation with a Lebanese who can joke with an Egyptian. But North Africans are a whole different story. 

As a Tunisian who has lived in the Middle East, I have experienced the struggles of speaking Tunisian Arabic with non-Tunisians. When I first moved to Egypt I quickly understood that no one -absolutely no one- could understand a single word I was saying. And sometimes, well some of the words I was casually using were considered actual insults in Egypt.

So here’s a list of regular Tunisian words that are insults in Egyptian:

1. “Tetmanyak”

In Tunisian it means: “kidding” or “making fun of”

In Egyptian: are you “f***ing with me?”

My first encounters in Cairo were with cab drivers who were obviously giving me “khawaga” prices to which I would say “enty tetmanyak 3aleya”? You can imagine the type of trouble this got me in.

2. "Enty"

In Tunisia, "enty" is the only gender pronoun used for male and female. In Egypt, much like the rest of the Arab world, "enty" is used for female and "enta" for male. 

Which brings me to my second gaffe: using “enty” for both men and women.

Needless to say, it didn't make a lot of people happy. 

3. “M3ares”

In Tunisian it means: “married”

In Egyptian it means: “pimp”

While trying to make new friends I had the brilliant idea to congratulate a newlywed couple by saying “entom m3arseen,”which they understood as “Are you pimps”? At least we laughed about it.

4. “Mara” pronounced “m’ra”

In Tunisian it means: “woman”

In Egyptian it means: “prostitute”.

I remember talking to a respectable man at a work event and I asked him if the “mara” who just left was his wife. Too bad I didn’t ask if they were “m3araseen”!!

5. “Ba3boos”

In Tunisians it literally means “tale” and is also used to say “queue”.

In Egyptian “ba3boos” refers to the middle finger...

At the Mugamma’a I once yelled at a man “ched el ba3boos!” which in Egyptian translates to “hold the middle finger!” Good thing I was holding my Tunisian passport and everyone calmed down.