When I hear people chatting in Kuwaiti, to my unaccustomed ears it sounds ... complex. Like a mash-up of sounds. That I can't make heads or tail of.

Only catching the odd word or two (normally an English kaliimaah, let's face it) in the middle of a sentence allows me a grasp of what's being said.

But sometimes I'll make out a Kuwaiti word without knowing its meaning. I'll wait until the conversation is over, repeating the mystery word in my mind so as not to forget it, then when the moment is right I'll ask, "oh by the way, shinuu ya3nii... (and then say the Kuwaiti word)."

But by the time I speak the word aloud, my lousy pronunciation plus the fact that the conversation is already old makes it impossible to get a straight answer.

Either I'll get given a look of: "I have no idea what you're trying to tell me" or one that seems to say: "I can't even remember what I was talking about 30 minutes ago. Sorry."

Today's word came about because I didn't wait around. My husband was telling a story. And as soon as the indecipherable waves of spoken Kuwaiti parted and sima3t the word sawlif ... I grasped his arms until my knuckles went pale and cried: "For the love of Louis C.K., what does sawlif mean?"

Ever the patient, kind and slightly bemused husband, he simply replied, "ya3nii 'chatting'."

"You mean you're chatting about chatting? I mean, about sawlif?"

He nodded. "Yes, so ... khansawlif!"


I heard
a word
شنو يعني
shinuu ya3nii
what does it mean?