I rant you risten

Sunday, February 19, 2006

i speak bahraini very best

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?


'Bulussain said...

How about "Cable Wayless"...in reference to "Cable & Wireless", the predecessor to Batelco

Chanad said...

Haha, great post. You this missed one which has such heavy sociopolitical baggage here in Bahrain: the famous "salandar" (gas cylinder).

Seroo said...

Don't forget to hit it with the polish - "Therbah balees!"

Mo said...

haha! I never knew "shaddan" came from "shutdown work" at BAPCO, thanks for the interestingly random fact!

Here's another BAPCO one for you:

Jokum - Meaning risky or adventurous. Can be applied to an action, general behavior or a person "9ij jokum hal adimy!". The foreman at BAPCO was an englishman named Joe, so when the employees were doing something they weren't supposed to be doing, one of them would yell "Joe come!" as a warning.

Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

wonderful post!

how about "scroob draiwil" as in "screw driver"

Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

oh and that "wan'ait" is a bit far fetched isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Nope wanait really isn't far fetched.. the 1.8 is very commonly known as the main reason.. many older folks don't use the word wanayt unless it has the 1.8 on the back, otherwise it's a beekub. The Bapco one was the only one I didn't know, very interesting indeed.

Also, isn't it funny how we share so many of these words with Kuwait while other gulf countries have no idea what they mean? I always wondered why Kuwait and Bahrain have so many similar words and traditions

Anonymous said...

Bahrain and Kuwait may share similar slang, but PLEASE , our countries and societies are NOTHING alike !

iDip said...

nice topic

you can find a similar kuwaiti one on Kuwaitism

Gardens of Sand said...

I was delighted to read your post on Bahrain Blogs. I was just explaining to my friend (not Arabic) how we have a very distince dialect on Bahrain that makes is somewhat difficult to other Arabs unfamilar to Bahrain. He couldn't understand why my Egyptian friends have a hard time understanding my Bahraini! Two more words for you, although you have to verify if their origins are correct: Banka (fan): I heard its taken from Hindi. Kaakoo, Kaafee (Chocolate) taken from cocoa. late: light in Bahraini, hamberrga (hamburger!), sandaweech (sandwich), jeben slay's (cheese slice). Roti (bread) taken from Hindi. 3askareen (icecream). Opps that's more than two words!

Bahraini Rants said...

all excellent submissions people..

I especially liked:
Therbah Balees
scroob draiwel

keep 'em coming..

Anonymous said...

OK OK so it's not bahraini but my favourite is the WWII Egyptian word for a tank (dabaaba) "Ottazzel" which came from 'hot as hell' being a description of the conditions inside a tank!


N.A. said...

Hmmm how about:
Zitaat: Bahrainis use it if they're in a hurry. "Zitaat yeebli kleenex" as if saying "Quickly bring me the tissue!" I think it's Hindi??

Asteh: just the opposite of zitaat; meaning slowly slowly

Fannash is another one.. huwa fannash mn shi'3la; "He quit his job"..he's done.. he's finished.. from his job.

We do talk funny.

Amunki said...

My friend told me that you guys also say:

Rendaboot = Roundabout


Bahraini Rants said...

what aboot the redaboot?

we cool like dat..

G said...

Amazing topic :D

keep up the good work...

as bahraini's say "5alik faaleh"

cheers ;)

MR said...

You could tell this post was written pre March-to-November, the months of the omnipresent aicee (air conditioner) cooling every home and hafeez (office). Without which you will be soaking in your own handarwail (underwear) in fainery (refinery), or bawerhooz (power house) or while waiting for the green layt (light) in your mooter (motorcar) over a scorching rastah (street).

Anonymous said...

Another good one I heard the other day was "Areef". I was asking an aunt where someone was born, it turns out the first hospital in Muharraq was the R.A.F (Royal Air Force) hospital.

vintageblooms said...

my fave is when bahrainis say pudding,,, buddhieng :) i call my friends daily to hear that word, also ur ery fowl "i6age3.." just charming

Sudeep Dube said...

Kankari (concrete) could also be derived from a hindi word pronounced as "kankar" meaning small stones. Concrete is a mix of grit (small stones) and cement.

Esam Zainal said...

Bannid -- to close out shut off -- is not from the English "banned". It comes from Hindu/Urdu "Band", which is ultimately a Persian word which means "closed" or "to close". There are several other Bahraini words that come from Hindu/Urdu-Persian. And example is Rasta, street.