the power of ish.
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 30, 2008
One of my favorite words in English is not really a word at all. Its “ish”, which I use all the time as a modifier.
I don’t use it all that often in its classical application, as the suffix of an adjective: peckish, for example. I like “ish”on its own.
Are you hungry?
Was the movie interesting?
Apparently I am part of a larger, generational trend – one that extends to another favorite suffix, -esque. Word Reference has a wonderful forum discussion (archived from 2005) on both words and their use to indicate either approximation (2:30ish, today’s estimated lunch time) or uncertainty/skepticism (safe-ish, a perfect term for Beirut).
There is an Arabic word that works beautifully as the equivalent of “ish” – and no, its not “ya3ni” (although that can work – but its nice to have options).
Its “shi”, as in “thing”, and not to be confused with “shai”, as in “tea”.
“Shi” can be used as follows:
I’ll pick you up at shi 8:15
I’m working on something shi difficult today
I haven’t heard it used on its own yet, but I’ll keep my ears open. Or open-ish.