Languages are interesting living nods to the culture they blossom in. Being a foreigner in any country means you pick up some of the lingo. And Kuwaiti Arabic has some of the most interesting phrases and words that we love. Even Arabic speaking expats from countries with different dialects have to figure out the meaning of some of these.
It is easy to get lost in translation but we thought we would explain some of our favorites. The Arabic in the says that it is a women’s only area, no men allowed!
Waneit is an example of arabization gone wrong. The word vanette (smallish van?) became waneit and was used to describe all kinds of vans and pick up trucks.
Kash-kha, or sometimes written as kash7’a when transliterated. It means posh or chic. It can be used as a verb too, Kashekh means that someone is dressed to the nines. During Eid, it can also be heard when describing the special clothing bought for the occasion. We love how empowered it sounds and really makes us want to be kashkheen too!
Habba A habba is a trend or fad. It happens overnight with no warnings and suddenly everyone is wearing fur covered slides, is drinking the same artisanal coffee, going vegan and carrying the same tote. We’re not sure why they happen, but maybe great minds think alike 😀
Yahaal Calling kids ignorants makes life so much easier. You stop thinking of them as annoying little people and acknowledge them for what they truly are. Small and unknowing. They haven’t learned things yet so you become more tolerant and patient.
Khayis Stinks! We needed to give you a word you could use when you are angry and need to vent some steam.
Inshallah This isn’t Kuwaiti specific, but it is Arabic for God willing. And people use it when they really mean it or when they can’t really give you an answer. Sort of like que sera, sera.
Ulla is the Kuwaiti version of wow! You need to stress the ls when you say it. Or you could say 7eil It means Hell Yeah!!!! or Yaaaas. You always need more than one strong word that gives emphasis to what you are saying and these totally work.
Fog-ta7t totally confuses us. If you ask someone for directions and this is what they say you need to do, take the u-turn. Maybe it is a literal translation of the street sign? You need to drive up then you need to go down! Who knows?! But we think it rocks.