7irrah ma7irrah

Go to any Kuwaiti saaHah and aside from the children playing, running about and cracking shwayyat nikkat, you may see kids grinding a fist into their palm. For anyone who didn't grow up in Kuwait, this sight is fairly mysterious but as I've recently learned, the gesture is the bonafide Kuwaiti way of children yaTaffruun and making each other ghayurriin.

The grinding palm action has its British equivalent when children stick out their tongue at someone and say "naa naa na naa naa."

When you get older, the same sentiment tends to be communicated by saying inta ghayuur or intay ghayuurah? Or even, after Theyab teases me into silence, he says, with a wry smile, "aTaffar-ich waayid, Sij wallah muu Sij?"

But grinding a fist into your palm and heckling Hirrah maHirrah is far more fun.

 انا اطفر
ana aTaffir I tease

انت تطفر
inta taTaffir You (m) tease

انتي تطفرين
intay taTaffriin You (f) tease

انتو تطفرون
intaw taTaffruun You (pl) tease

احنا نطفر
aHnaa naTaffir We tease

هو يطفر
uhuwa yaTaffir He teases

هي تطفر
ihiya taTaffir She teases

اهما يطفرون
uhuma yaTaffruun They tease

غيور ghayuur Jealous (m)
Adjectives غيورة ghayuurah Jealous (f)

غيورين ghayurriin Jealous (pl)

مرتاح بنفسه
mirtaaH bi nafs-ah Comfortable (in himself)

ساحة saaHah The playground
Nouns نكتة niktah A joke

شوية نكت shwayyat nikkat Some jokes
اطفرچ وايد، مو صج؟
aTaffar-ich waayid, muu Sij? I tease you a lot, right (>f)?


When a group of friends are having a gathering, it's nice when everyone offers to put shwayyat filuus in al-jumlah without being asked.

Not that Talab by the host to make a monetary contribution is a bad thing, it's just that it has potential to open a can of worms. How much should you tiyiib? Too little may come across as la:iin. Too much and the gesture may seem more like showing off than being kariim.

Maybe the best contribution is when someone yiyiib something that doesn't simply have a price, but instead tells you something about who they are.

 انا اييب
ana ayiib I bring

انت تييب
inta tiyiib You (m) bring

انتي تييبين
intay tiyiibiin You (f) bring

انتو تييبون
intaw tiyiibuun You (pl) bring

احنا نييب
aHnaa nyiib We bring

هو يييب
uhuwa yiyiib He brings

هي تييب
ihiya tiyiib She brings

اهما يييبون
uhuma yiyiibuun They bring 

لعين la:iin Mean (m)
Adjectives لعينة la:iinah Mean (f)

لعينين la:iiniin Mean (pl)

kariim Generous (m)

الجملة al-jumlah The kitty
Nouns طلب Talab A request

شوية فلوس shwayyat filuus Some money
اييب شي؟
ayiib shay? Shall I bring something?


"ana maa-nii yaayah," said the girl, pouting her lip.

"maa-nii m9addig-ah!" yells her mother. "Family lunch is the only majaal we all get to see each other."

"Family lunch is mummil," the girl mutters, shifting from foot to foot in her huge party dress.

The mother knows her daughter is only five years old, but still al-raf'9 hits her hard. How can she teach her child that az-zuwaarah is an event that is khaa9ah? After all, shwayyat naas may continue on the same path and grow up without realising that people aren't going to be around forever.

"Oh so... min-tay yaayah? So when I go, what are you going to do?" asks the mother.

"Play dolls?"

"Until when?"


The mother makes a mental note to self - give up now and try again next year.

 انا ماني ياي(ة)
ana maa-nii yaay(ah) I'm not coming

منت ياي
min-ta yaay You (m) aren't coming?

منتي ياية
min-tay yaayah You (f) aren't coming?

منتو يايين
min-taw yaayiin You (pl) aren't coming?

محنا ياين
m-a7naa yaayiin We aren't coming

مهو ياي
mu-huwa yaay He isn't coming

مهي ياية
mi-hiya yaayah She isn't coming

ماهم يايين
maa-hum yaayiin They aren't coming

خاص khaa9 Special (m)
Adjectives خاصة khaa9ah Special (f)

خاصين khaa9iin Special (pl)

mummil Dull, boring (m)

الرفض al-raf'9 The rejection
Nouns مجال majaal A chance

شوية ناس shwayyat naas Some people
ماني مصدقة
maa-nii m9addig-ah I (f) can't believe it


Fatimah is at the market. tadawwar ingredients for dinner with her grandchildren. Impressing her beloved ones is not even an option: she wants the meal to have aT-Ta:am of a Michelin dish (why aim lower?) so it has to have notes that are mur, Hiluu, salty and sour. And riiHah that will make everyone overeat.

shwayyat akil look great but taste plain. shwayyat akil look a disaster but are divine on the palate. Finding a balance is key. And after hours at the souq, all she has is four bags full of shoes, sunglasses and eyeliner.

She calls her friend Mahmoud who's a great cook. "adawwar ingredients for dinner, any ideas?"

"Hmm, how about a fish stew with luumii, you know how its Ta:am is wonderfully mur. Oh and today at the market the fish will be really fresh, so pick out a decent Hamour, season it, then slow-cook it," recommends the friend.

As she listens, her eyes catch sight of Naif Chicken, the restaurant across the street. She thanks her friend, "laa tHaat-ii, come to think of it, they'd probably prefer simplicity over anything else." 

 انا ادور
ana adawwar I'm looking for

انت تدور
inta tadawwar You (m) are looking for

انتي تدورين
intay tadawwariin You (f) are looking for

انتو تدورون
intaw tadawwaruun You (pl) are looking for

احنا ندور
aHnaa nadawwar We're looking for

هو يدور
uhuwa yadawwar He's looking for

هي تدور
ihiya tadawwar She's looking for

اهما يدورون
uhuma yadawwaruun They're looking for

مر mur Bitter (m)
Adjectives مرة murrah Bitter (f)

مرين muriin Bitter (pl)

Hiluu Sweet (m)

الطعم aT-Ta:am The taste
Nouns ريحة riiHah A smell

شوية اكل shwayyat akil Some foods
لا تحاتي
laa tHaat-ii Don't worry (>m)


Many moons ago, I went to a business lunch in Kuwait. The atmosphere was very serious. Then I get this minyuu put in front of me. And as soon as my eyes flicked to the first entry, frankly, maa gidart awagif DaH-ik.

My boss gave me a look, and oh did I know al-ma:naa of that look. So I straightened up and ordered the "chick and fleshy" ... while biting my lip. Then I tried to calm my rising giggles by looking around me. Big mistake. Because this happened to be al-yaafTah opposite the restaurant:

What was going on with this tarjamah? I wondered silently. It's a little ghariib that when someone yatarjim the Arabic text, nobody at the company bothers to check it over before forking out for a sign? 

Then I thought, as much as it's kharbuuTah, this tarjamah is kind of :ajiibah.

How will I ever forget Arab Shat Fresh Fish?

 انا اترجم
ana atarjim I translate

انت تترجم
inta tatarjim You (m) translate

انتي تترجمين
intay tatarjimiin You (f) translate

انتو تترجمون
intaw tatarjimuun You (pl) translate

احنا نترجم
aHnaa natarjim We translate

هو يترجم
uhuwa yatarjim He translate

هي تترجم
ihiya tatarjim She translate

اهما يترجمون
uhumaa yatarjimuun They translate

خربوطة kharbuuTah Ridiculous (m/f/pl)
Adjective (عجيب (ة  :ajiib(ah) Amazing (m/f)

(غريب (ة  ghariib(ah) Strange (m/f)

منيو minyuu Menu
Noun اليافطة al-yaafTah The street sign

المعنى al-ma:naa The meaning
ما قدرت اوقف ضحك
maa gidart awagif DaH-ik I couldn’t stop laughing