Wherever you go, people change names of certain things to suit their culture or their influence or the time in particular ie: a dollar is called a buck because one dollar during the time of old frontier amounted to a buck hide, or something like that. Living in Bahrain, we’ve had our fair share of influences, 50 years ago if not longer, not many people spoke English, so imagine trying to sell an English product to a non-english speaker who’s never seen the product before in his life. You might tell us what you call it, but odds are, we’re going to give it our own name. We still call vacuum cleaners in Bahrain “Hoovers” because that was the first brand of vacuum cleaners sold here..
I’ve deviated.. On this wonderful island I call home, we’ve taken some English, some Indian, and some Persian words and we’ve tweaked them, or morphed them into our own little dialect.. This was all brought on when I was talking about kankarry being poured in the parking lot in our garage and my friend, (a Leb who’s lived most of his live in Bahrain) laughed at me and said we Bahrainis talk funny.. So I thought I’d list some of the words that come to me and explain them, so the next time you hear them you wont be lost and who knows, maybe you can use them in a conversation here and earn some street cred.. I know some of our neighbors and expatriates that live in or around Bahrain will get a kick out of this..
I’m spelling these out phonetically because I’m not even going to attempt to get them out right..
Bistoog – cookie.. Derived from the word biscuit, but modified for our local tongue.. Using this word can refer to any type of cookie, but it’s usually reserved for those delicious Danish Butter Cookies.. waitaminute, did I just say Danish? Boycott that..
Bi-Feater – plumber.. The trade of a pipe fitter. We don’t have the letter ‘p’ in our alphabet, so everything with ‘p’ naturally becomes a ‘b’.. kinda like “bebsi”..
Kan’karry – Concrete.. Don’t ask me how this got twisted, but it sounds cooler than concrete..
Smeet - Cement
Ambaloos – ambulance
Aranj joosh – orange juice
Draiwill – Driver
Ali Willem – Potato - back in the day, the most famous brand of potatoes on the island were imported through a Bahraini English joint venture called “Ali & William”. People here dropped the ampersand and stuck with calling potatoes Ali Willem. We’re not going to waste our breath pronouncing the “&” we’ve got better things to do..
Isbaitar – Hospital (it’s a muharraq thing)
Payk – a drink.. comes from the peg measure for dispensing alcohol, the peg measure must be of glass or brass that is well-tinned or silver-plated. Standard pegs are of 60 ml. (1 peg) and 30 ml. (1/2 peg).. as in “go fix yourself up a payk”
Shughgul Shaddan – Double Time – when they’d give the generators at the oil factory (BAPCO) a rest, the refinery still had to work but on manual labor, so the employees would have to work extra hard. It was called “Shutdown work”, but thanks to the bahranization of the word, it morphed to shaddan..
Ban’nid – close, turn off – I think this came from the word Banned
Balek – (also pronounced palek) plug, as in the little plug on a wire that’s connected to your tv or dvd player or microwave, you get what I mean.
‘Celater – Accelerator – put the pedal to the metal..
Belanty – Penalty.. I love this one, because it’s widely used in the arab world (well the Arabian peninsula world).. I love hearing this working in a bank “if you do not bay the fee now, then you will have a belanty on your account”
Ray’wis – reverse
Wan’ate – (also used in Kuwait) pickup truck.. cause the pickup trucks are usually 1.8 liter engines and because the 1.8 would be plastered on the back of the truck, people just referred to it as a wan’ate.
So that’s what I have, a bunch of words that sound funny when you read them but are a part of our everyday language here that we use without thinking twice about them… we are like this, only. If you know any more words, let us know. It’s like people in Rhode Island calling a water fountain a bubbler.. What’s up with that anyways?