kaan-ii yaay




It's no lie that you can spend weeks learning nouns and verbs and yet be no closer to actually speaking a new language. That's why I'm a big fan of compact sentences like today's phrase. In three syllables, you can give yourself the feeling you can converse in Kuwaiti. And why not? It's a complete sentence, after all.

"ya aallah!" a certain someone will call up to me, meaning in this context, 'get a move on slow coach, we're running late.'

"kaa-nii yaayah!" I'll heckle back from the bathroom and then start getting dressed.

Today's phrase isn't at all ironic, it's just that I tend to be late for everything, a flaw for which at times I pay very dearly, especially with my super punctual other half.

"7abiibtii!" he calls, his patience almost in negative figures.

"kaa-nii yaayah!" I call as I awkwardly hop to the front door, one shoe half-buckled on. That is, until I spot a ton of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink and come to a complete stop before them. My husband sees that I see them. He also sees my obsessive-compulsive hand twitching, my gaze eyeing the dish sponge and washing up liquid.

"OK OK baghasil al-muwaa3iin, just focus on getting yourself ready," he says, relunctantly turning on the tap.

"aashwaa," I whisper to myself and then strap my loose shoe on. It takes less than thirty seconds.

"ya aallah, 7abiibii," I call at him, up to his elbows in soap suds and dirty plates. "We haven't got all night."

"kaa-nii yaay," he says with all the irony in the world.

Arabic
Pronounced?
English

كاني ياي
kaa-nii yaay
I’m coming! (m)
كاني ياية
kaa-nii yaayah
I’m coming! (f)
حبيبي
7abiibii
darling (m)
حبيبتي
7abiibtii
darling (f)
يا الله!
ya aallah!
come on!
بغسل المواعين
baghasil al-muwaa3iin
I’ll do the dishes