Welcome to Lebanon's Very Own Farmville
If you translate every other Arabic obscenity into English, you’d think we in Lebanon live on an animal farm.
That’s right. Not one species in Kingdom Animalia has been spared when it comes to describing the human race. Because, you know, as Lebanese we don’t believe in exclusion or prejudice. From “kalb” (dog) and “7mar” (donkey) to “tawoos” (peacock) and “jamal” (camel), every animal has its place among us, and we couldn’t be prouder for it.
|Photo source: 123rf.com|
Follow me on a tour of the zoo – er, the lush Arabic language – and prepare yourself for a few tear-jerking laughs. This is how the Lebanese pay daily homage to Noah’s Ark.
2aboot (grasshopper) – When someone is likened to an “2aboot,” he’s very vertically challenged. Think Louis XIV, who invented the high heel boot to overcome his 2aboot stature.
2aranib (rabbits) – Rabbits are notorious for being prolific, and in the same way, folks who go at it daily fit under this group. See also “feeran.”
2ered (monkey) – You earn this label if you’re a jack of all trades, or equally, if you’re hyperactive. Kids are often compared to monkeys, because you leave them for a second, and they start mounting everything in sight.
|Photo source: http://animal-dream.com/|
3a2erbeh (scorpion) – This one’s obvious. If she’s caustic and capable of harm, she’s definitely a scorpion.
7assoun (canary) – If you’re dressed in every color of the spectrum, like the plumage of this bird, you’re blinding us with your brightness, and by brightness, I don’t mean brains.
|Photo source: www.vitakraftsunseed.com/|
7ayeh (snake) – This one also doesn’t merit an explanation. Snakes, like the original one in the Garden of Eden, are never to be trusted and are scamming backstabbers (yes, snakes do have spines!).
7oot (whale) – Just as the London Whale accumulated outsized positions in the financial market, a "7oot" swallows everything in sight. We say, "belli3 e denneh" (Arabic for "the world’s in his belly").
7san (horse) – In Arabic, “horse" is assigned to girls who are banging material.
Ba2ra (cow) – As in English, a cow is anything but slim. She’s bursting with blubber at the seams.
|Photo source: modernfarmer.com|
Baghel (mule) – This is the cow equivalent for males who are oversized and gobble without pause.
Baj3a (stork) – Hopefully you’ll never be called this, a mark of the hideous.
Barghshe (mosquito) – Those who are branded this insect are not so much bloodsuckers as they are unexceptional wallflowers who should be squashed. They don’t merit your attention.
Batta (duck) – If she waddles like a duck, she’s a batta.
|Photo source: babble.com|
Bilbol (bulbul bird) – Fluency in a language is characterized by 7akeh bilbol.
Boumeh (owl) – You’d think owls are infamous for their nocturnal habits, but a boumeh is an overly critical, negative girl.
Dabe3 (hyena) – In English, hysterical laughs are compared to a hyena's, but in Arabic, a man who flaunts his inflated guns qualifies as a dabe3.
|Photo source: advocacy.britannica.com|
Dib (bear) – big and tall. Need I elaborate?
Doufda3a (frog) – If her eyes are bulging like a frog’s, she’s a doufda3a. Nothing a hundred layers of makeup can’t fix, though!
Farra (mouse) – This is an endearing term typically reserved for cute little girls. The plural form, however, has nothing to do with it.
Feeran (mice) – Like rabbits, mice reproduce prolifically, and people of this sort are popping out babies like a factory running on max capacity.
Fil (elephant) – In English, you’ve got the memory of an elephant if your remembrance is faultless. In Arabic, it’s size that matters. Yeah, that ain’t no compliment.
|Photo source: santabanta.com|
Ghanam (sheep) – Folks who are ghanam are followers and don’t exercise their own judgement.
Ghazel (gazelle) – She’s a ghazel if she’s tall, slender, and beautiful. This is the most coveted label a girl can receive.
Ghoul (ogre) – Don’t get caught sitting next to a ghoul at the dinner table. He’ll wolf down everything in sight, leaving you with the stench of his belches.
7mar (donkey) – If your mental capacity is nil, you deserve this description. Most drivers in Lebanon easily fit the 7mar category.
|Photo source: elelur.com|
Infod (porcupine) – His hair’s gelled up in neat rows of spikes and needles, just like a porcupine.
Jamal (camel) – If he’s tall and clumsy, tripping over his own two feet, he’s a jamal.
Kalb (dog) – Kleb (plural of kalb) have no scruples, exploit you to the bone, and are brown-nosing butt kissers. That sums up a fair share of the general public, doesn’t it!
Khanzir (pig) – If he’s all soiled, figuratively, and/or scarfs down food like it’s his last meal, he’s a khanzir.
|Photo source: www.ourhenhouse.org|
Kheled (mole) – Someone with a sharp ear is equated to this little critter.
Nimess (weasel) – Precisely as in English, a nimess is shifty and scheming.
Psein (cat) – Do scaredy cats still exist in Lebanon? Around here, they’re fearless!
Sarsour (cockroach) – A useless nobody deserves this simile.
Tawoos (peacock) – Just as a peacock flaunts its prominent feathers, a tawoos is a self-loving braggart.
|Photo source: cincinnatizoo.org|
Tayss (ram) – Stubborn as a ram? Well, rams do have incorrigible minds of their own, so this might be a step up from the stubborn 7mar.
Wa7esh (monster) – see ghoul. It’s a feeding thing.
Wetwat (bat) – Night revelers who come out to play during dark hours are bats.
Zaraffeh (giraffe) – You can probably guess that a long neck will land you this stamp.
Zel7feh (turtle) – Pick up the pace, bro. You’re slower than a turtle lapping up molasses.
|Photo source: telegraph.co.uk (Alamy)|
There’s always the cover-all tags of “bhim”, a four-legged creature, or, my particular favorite, “7ayawen,” an animal.
So where do you fall? ;)
Special thanks to Jad and the gang for their inspiration on this topic.