Go Tile the Sea!

Original: روح بلط البحر

Transliteration: Rooh Balit El Baher

Translation: Go tile the sea!

The informant is one of my Lebanese family members who was raised in Lebanon by parents who had lived there for the entirety of their lives and has knowledge of the type of language that is said on daily basis in the culture.


The informant describes the saying to be a “nasty-phrased comment that is usually said by the elder women of the family.” She states “that they are saying this to their husbands or men of the household that ask for unreasonable demands in the household that the wife is unable to provide.” and that this is a statement that is taken in an insult-like manner to those who might rarely hear it in public, however, she says that “it is typically said at home to close family in order to not allow people to take offence to the phrase”. The informant summarises the interaction when she states that “It is usually meant to tell the men of the household to ‘f**k off’ in a ladylike manner” as she asserts that they go tile the endless ocean floor which is ironic as it is impossible.


There is a comedic factor in the saying as it is a statement that allows the women of the household to mock or make fun of the men. This can possibly be taken from Lebanese culture as women are still known to take care of the children in the household today and must maintain the state of the household whilst the men are working externally. Therefore, this allows women to assert their voice in the household whilst remaining reputable and adding the comedy of impossibly demanding that the men go “tile the sea [floor]” just as they feel the pressure of the household and cannot take any more demands. The private part of the statement also allows the family to feel closer as it is a statement that can only be said to those related in order to not seem like a sinister individual and build their bonds as she asserts her dominance in the household. The endless sea floor might also indicate that the wife’s role as a mother and caretaker is as much work and complex as tiling the bottom of the ocean.