To the extent we are able to leave our offices, and in the face of a taxing production schedule, TBE has been puzzling over a few changes in the way some Cairenes express themselves, as well as some sad celeb-related news… Our investigations of بإزن الله، إزي الصحة and يا ميستر after the jump.
First up is the increasingly frequent use of “بإذن الله” (with God’s permission) instead of “إن شاء الله” (if God wills) when speaking about some future event. As far as TBE can tell, the two terms are used interchangeably, but our Arabic is not at a level where we can make any judgments with complete confidence. Nonetheless we do believe that over the last several months بإذن الله has been making inroads into إن شاء الله’s once impregnable fortress of future-marking. If any of our readers (or Michael Slackman) has any insight or speculation on this topic or any others covered here, please don’t hesitate to comment.
On a similar note, TBE has noticed a trend of people saying إزي الصحة؟ (how is your health?) instead of plain-jane إزيك (how are you?). We have a (perhaps unfounded) belief that many people who use the former form (إزي الصحة؟) are vaguely Islamisty, but we’re not sure on what that impression is founded. Nonetheless, we’re always interested in the kinds of methods members of subgroups within societies use to mark out their identities, even if they themselves aren’t always conscious of doing so, and how these identity-markers spread organically amongst members of/sympathizers with a given group/ideology/worldview. As stated above, we’re not even sure that’s the case here, but are interested in learning more.
Also, some bonus historical trivia: According to TBE sources, the interrogative participle “إزاي” can be traced back until at least the 1600s, and is a compound word created from the classical Arabic phrase “اي شي زيه؟” meaning “What is his attire?”
TBE arrived in Egypt with grand plans to watch the first season of Gossip Girl, which several friends and acquaintances had assured us was well worth our time. Also we once witnessed it being filmed. Anyhow, we never followed through on our solemn vow to imbibe in that sweet elixir known as Gossip Girl, but have maintained a pecuniary interest in the show.
As it happens, one of the show’s stars is named Leighton Meester. For as long as TBE can remember, our barber, amongst others (but he is the one who stands out in our minds), has referred to us with “يا ميستر” (Hey Mister). This triggered in our minds an imaginary scenario in which the aforementioned Ms. Meester came to Egypt, and upon repeatedly hearing her name invoked of her name, albeit not directed at her, began to believe that her fame in Egypt eclipsed even that which she enjoys stateside, in a Hasselhoff-in-Germany kind of way.