بلا قافية

bila gafiya

shesaid

This is an extremely useful and wonderful little phrase brought to my attention by a friend in Jordan. The way he explained it, you use it when someone says something that could be misinterpreted, much like how English speakers use ‘That’s what she said.’ The example he gave was someone saying لانه صغير (‘li’anoo sa3’eer’ – because he/it is small) with the appropriate douchey response being بلا قافية.

[A note–in Jordanian Arabic, the ق often changes to a ‘g’ sound, and the gender politics of this letter change are really interesting–many Jordanian women change the ق to a hamza or an ‘ah’ sound instead of the ‘g’ because its perceived to be masculine. In rural areas, you’ll hear it used a lot more, and many Egyptians that grew up in Upper Egypt or the Sinai adopt this letter change, pronounce ج as a ‘j,’ unlike the typical Cairo/Alex accent.]

Use wisely.

If you want to communicate effectively with Egyptian friends, you’re going to have to know how to properly disparage, praise, and express tepid enthusiasm about events and people. In Egyptian, the three main words you’ll need to do this literally translate to “balls” “cream” and “solid.”

-The word بيضان (‘beydan’) comes from a slang term for testicles (which, incidentally, literally means eggs) and is used to say that something is lame. As in, الحفلة بيضان – The party is lame. Sometimes when someone that you’re out with is being annoying or difficult, I’ve heard friends say ايه البيضان دا which literally translates to ‘what is this ballsness.’ Go ahead and put that one in your back pocket for later.

[Fun fact: A friend of mine once had no idea that this word was vulgar and actually used it in a FORMAL, WRITTEN PAPER that he submitted to his 60-something-year-old muhagabba FusHa teacher. Imagine just casually weaving the word balls into an academic paper like it was nothing. Awkward.]

-If someone asks you about something you did–a restaurant you visited, for example–and you want to say that it was alright but nothing particularly special, you’d say that it was “2ishta” (lit. cream). 2ishta actually has many purposes, including harassment, and can also be used to express agreement. If someone asks you if you want to get Yemeni food at 8pm, responding with ‘2ishta’ means something like ‘cool.’

-If, however, you wanted to say that this experience was super awesome, you’d instead say جامد جدا – “gamed gidan” – which literally means “really solid.” Alternatively, if you’re around a crew that loves to swear, you could say جامد نييييييييييك which literally translates to ‘fuck you solid,’ which is (unintuitively) a very positive thing. And the longer you hold the ‘eeeeeeeeeeee’ in the middle, the better it was.

Also keep in mind that all of the above sounds weird when used in front of adults–as a general rule, don’t use these around someone until they’ve used them around you first. You’ve been warned.

UPDATE: It has come to light that the phrase يضرب عشرة (lit. ‘hit ten’ and a common Egyptian euphemism for masturbation) only, apparently, applies to men. For women, the equivalent euphemism is تضرب سبعة ونص or ‘hit seven and a half.’

Many questions have emerged in light of this discovery, including but not limited to:

  • Why do men get more what I presume to be fingers than women? [I believe the answer we’re looking for here is ‘patriarchy’ but if there’s a reason a bit more specific than that, THE PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW.]
  •  Why do men even need both hands? Doesn’t that seem frivolous to you?
  • Why half a finger? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?? What are the other two and a half busy with while this is going down?

Ugh. Arabic, your mysteries are boundless.

#mysteries #HELP #usefuleuphemisms

أفلام ثقافية

“aflam saqafeya”

You might–very logically, I might add–guess that the phrase “cultural films” may refer to some aspect of Egypt’s golden age of cinema, a genre of cultural documentary, or anything along those lines really.

…but nope. It really just means porn.