Team Nisreen: Almost-but-not-quite swearing

One of the most offensive kinds of swearing (at least to many people) in Arabic involves cursing religion. I wouldn’t recommend trying out the original, religion-bashing versions of these lines with the vast majority of people you’re likely to encounter, even as a joke.

That said, just as English speakers inventively butchered the originally taboo ‘oh my God’ (‘oh my gosh/goodness’) and ‘shit’ (‘sugar’ and ‘shoot’ among others), lots of Syrians substitute diib (wolf) for diin:

يحرق ديبك
yé7re2 diibak!
burn your wolf!

يلعن ديبك
yil3an diibak
curse your wolf!

In practice these are used similar to ‘darn it’ or ‘dang it’ or ‘damn you!’ (although using that one sort of misses the point of the garbling). Like lots of other prayers (دعاوي da3aawi) of this kind they’re usually tacked onto sentences, generally in an exasperated or faux-exasperated way:

يلعن ديبك ما اغلظك
yil3an diibak ma2aghlaZak!

Man, you’re so goddamn rude!

يحرق ديبو شو دمو خفيف
yé7ro2 diibo shu dammo khafiif!
Jesus Christ this guy is funny! (lit. burn his wolf, this guy’s blood is so light!)

As with everything else that even approaches swearing, bear in mind these might not go down so well with absolutely everyone or in all environments.


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