A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

gender bending: all’s fair in Arabic chat

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 18, 2008

Lak, my friend C (not his real initial – I’m calling him C for “Casanova”) said online to me the other day, during an inconsequential chat about the weather in our various parts of the world

“Lak”? I said back, confused. “Lak” means, more or less, “Look, you (male)”. I’ve mentioned before that because of my name I am often addressed as “Sir” – but surely C should have lived up to his nom de blog and sorted out my gender by now.

Ma bta3erfi shou ma3net lak? C asked – or, “You don’t know what “lak” means?”

How about “leyki”? I replied. As in: hello, I am not a guy.

Oh well, C said, unruffled. True. But when flirting, you bypass gender – like Um Kulthoum, or Abdul Haleem.

Hunh. I didn’t know that, I thought. Nor would I have had the chutzpah to put myself in league with two of the Arab world’s best-known 20th-century artists. But I can figure it out – and I can do it too.

Leyki, I wrote.

Looooooool, C replied. You can’t do that.

Sigh. I don’t see why not: after all, turnabout is surely fair play. But then again, I did start the week by attending a “master class” rehearsal of one of Shakespeare’s many cross-dressing romances.

So I switched back to English, and we moved on to safer subjects, like the health of various family members. No need for flirting-friendly genders there🙂 .

3 Responses to “gender bending: all’s fair in Arabic chat”

  1. Kheireddine said

    I rarely say lak or wlak.

  2. Kheireddine, I’m not surprised🙂 – I think its a generational thing. The Arabic I hear among friends under 35 is much, much more “casual” than what I hear among the more dignified adult generations!

  3. Nora C. said

    cute! listen to “b7ibuk ana kteer” by wael kfouri, same deal🙂

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