Author Archives: saqib

Armenian Love


Romanization of Armenian: Dzhigyart utem

Direct Translation: “I’ll eat your liver.”


KT: It’s an expression of strong love, usually said to a child. I think it’s kind of similar to the English phrase “I could eat you right up.” 

KT has only heard the phrase said between family members, though he has no idea where it could have originated from.


Cuteness aggression is an odd but well-documented phenomenon. Common examples are loving a pet so much you want to squeeze it even though you would never hurt it. It is interesting that similar phrases have developed in many languages around the world. In Turkish, the translated phrase is the same and used in the same context. In Tagalog, the phrase “gigil” which means something is cute but refers specifically to the action of gritting your teeth because a baby is so cute.

To be Turkish


Romanization of Turkish: Ne mutlu Turkum Diyene

Direct Translation: “How happy is the one who says I am a Turk!”

IC: It sounds confusing, but it means that anyone can identify as Turkish. Like if you went to Turkey and started living there and said “okay I’m Turkish now” most people would be like “lit you’re Turkish”.


JS (interviewer): Why do you think this expression is used? Is it considered easy to be a part of Turkish culture?

IC: It’s more so why is it so hard to be part of any other culture? It originated because when the founder demolished the Ottoman Empire he realized a bunch of ethnicities lived in these borders (and the region as a whole is just a mixing pot), and it was like, we are building this nation now, anyone who lives here, anyone who wishes can be Turkish. Anyone who died in battle on these grounds (coming from other countries to fight Turkey) they are also now our “sons”. I feel like it is used to say “I may be ethnically xyz but I’m also a Turk.” My grandparents are Kurdish and fathers side Asian (Tatar) and maybe that’s why it was so prevalent to me. It doesn’t matter your background, it matters what you want to be a part of.

IC is an international student from Turkey. They were born and raised in Turkey and only moved to the United States to attend college at USC. 


I have heard through other Turkish friends that Turkish culture is very open and accepting, which is a stark contrast to most Western countries. They value their culture. If other people value their culture and values just as much, they are already participating in an important part of what makes somebody Turkish. Additionally, a majority of Turkey developed under the Ottoman Empire and Islamic culture. Islam promotes hospitality and kindness, and welcomes anybody regardless of who they were before. Turkey has adopted these traditions and has ingrained this idea of hospitality and welcome into Turkish culture.

Spanish Soothing


Spanish: “Sana, Sana, Colita de Rana”
Direct Translation: “Heal, Heal, butt of the frog.”


DGM: It refers to soothing a child when they are upset or crying. I heard it from my family, though I have no clue why it exists, but it’s funny to say so maybe that helps calm kids down after they get hurt.


This may have begun as a grounding technique for injured or upset children. An example of this is saying something shocking to an adult to snap them out of a spiral, or telling someone to put an ice cube in their mouth when they are having a panic attack. The expression distracts them from why they were upset in the first place and forces them to focus on something else. Often children don’t know how to regulate their emotions well, they are still learning. Saying something silly can distract them and make it easier for them to calm down.

Filipino Gesture of Respect


JT: In the Philippines, a sign of respect for elders is to place the back of their right hand on your forehead.

JT: It’s a greeting, if you were to go up to your grandfather or grandmother. I think it’s really funny if you do it to someone who is not that old. Like if my 5-year-old cousin went up to me and did that I would be like “Bro I’m like 20!”.

JT was born in America, but both of his parents are Filipino. When he visits family in the Philippines he will greet his grandparents in this manner.


This is a folk gesture that acts as a sign of respect, similar to a Japanese bow. Commonly, signs of respect are words or phrases spoken to elders. This gesture is prevalent throughout the Philippines, and JT emphasized that respect is an important part of Filipino culture.

Snake in the Henhouse


RW: In the American South, the expression “there’s a snake in the henhouse” mean someone in your group is toxic or not a good person.


RW heard the expression from her grandmother who was born and raised in rural Georgia. She doesn’t know where the expression came from, but assumes it was from farmers who lost chickens to snakes and other predators.


The American South is rich with phrases and expressions that mean something completely different than their literal definition. A common example of this is “bless your heart” which can be a genuine endearment in some parts of the south and an insult in others (in RW’s case, it was viewed as an insult). This is especially interesting because the language and region that makes up what is now known as the American South is fairly young. Despite this, it seems folk expressions are a common and necessary part of language and communication in the South.