Author Archives: wachang

“J’ai pété” – Joke

My classmate S shared this joke she practiced as a younger kid. She went to a French-American school and in lower grades you’d ask someone to say the letters, “J”, “P”, and “T” in a French accent. JPT said in a French is, “Je pe the”, and that sounds like you’re saying “j’ai pété” which means “I farted”.

This clearly indicates a joke within children’s culture specifically based off a play on words. This reminds me of the similar conceit in English of I.C.U.P.; so it indicates a similarly alive kid’s culture.

“My hand is anxious to redden your cheek” – Saying (Insult)

My roommate E shared with me an insult that his Mom told him in Irdu:  “Humaara haath aap ke rokhsaar kolaal karne ke liye beqarar hai.” This translates to: “My hand is anxious to redden your cheek”. As in, when you say this you are saying that you would like to slap the other person.

E never learned the language, but grew up hearing it from his mother who deeply admired the language and spoke it herself. She would share insults with him and his brother, and this one stuck with him. He fondly recalled that while his mother had a great appreciation for the beauty of the language, Irdu speaking could still, “fuck people up” as he puts it.

“The Bone of Satan” – Tabooistic Vocab (Insult)

My roommate R shared with me an Indian insult: “Shaytaner Haddi”, which literally translates to the “The Bone of Satan”. When you call someone this you are literally saying that they come from a literal part of satan – this wholly bad thing. This essentially used to say that you are calling that person, “the most deplorable person I’ve ever met”. This is applicable when someone has screwed you over.

R said that he found it interesting that despite being such a mean insult, it is also somewhat poetic. He thought that maybe this has roots in colonialism because Satan is a Western idea and would’ve been brought over by White Colonialist. So by calling someone the Bone of Satan you are also aligning them with the oppressor.

“Hard Ears Don’t Hear, Hard Ears Does Feel” – Folk Speech (Saying)

The saying that my friend A told me was, “Hard ears don’t hear, hard ears does feel”. She said that hard ears refer to someone who is stubborn, as in when you tell someone to do something, they will not do it and vice versa. But they will only learn not to do that thing after doing it and finding out the hard way why they shouldn’t do it. This saying is often used in regards to children i.e. parents to their children.

This saying came from A’s mother who is from Barbados. Based off the background that she gave me, Basian culture is very traditional when it comes to children. The lives and role of children is supposed to be very structured and ordered especially as it comes to discipline. So when a kid is told not to do something and then it doesn’t work out for them this is almost a confirmation of the need for that discipline.