Jul 17, 2010

Where do you live, man?

Watching American TV teaches you many things about the US, its culture and its history (history?). Take Political Correctness (PC) for example. Without my addiction to movies and shows, I wouldn’t have heard of the term.

According to Wikipedia, PC denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, disability, and age-related contexts.


But much like any ideology in the good ol’ US of A, extremism takes center stage. If interested in hilarious examples of political correctness, Google is your friend.  
For kicks, let’s see how some of these terms would fit in the Middle East. 

Did you know it is politically incorrect to say ‘black coffee’? The correct term is ‘without milk’, racist! Well that memo certainly did not reach baristas in the Arab world.  Every time I order Americano at Starbucks, the barista asks: “Black?” Should I correct him? Does he really care? More importantly, do I really care to invest in such conversation? “I’ll have it black, please.” 

The politically correct term for a midget is ‘little person’ or ‘vertically challenged’. The translation of both in Arabic is terribly insulting. I wouldn't dare blurt them out to find myself surrounded by a gang of midgets punching the butter out of my nuts. (Get it? It’s because they can’t punch higher, says the person writing about political correctness.)

It is politically incorrect to say garbage-man. The correct term is ‘sanitation engineer’. (Okay, w
as your reaction ‘WTF’, too?)

Arab reaction to Sanitation Engineer
 Knock Knock
“Who is it?”
“The sanitation engineer.”
“Is there something wrong with the building?”
“No, I’m just here to collect the garbage.”
“Ya akhul sharm...Zabbel wo 3amilli 7alak mhandes?” (You are a garbage-man posing as an engineer, you SOB?)

It is politically incorrect to say Merry Christmas. The correct term is ‘Happy Holidays’. Can’t you just picture it? Call it 'happy holidays' in the US and you are a politically correct liberal. Call it 'happy holidays' in the Middle East and you are an extremist. I will stick with Merry Christmas, thank you. 

But enough with the American examples.

The idea behind this post stemmed from a tweet I thought was politically incorrect. The tweet was by fellow Arab on my Twitter timeline. When I argued, his reply was “where do you live, man?” 

He does have a point. I mean let’s face it, in the Arab world, the term ‘politically correct’ does not exist. We grew up politically incorrect and we were never corrected. PC was never part of our tradition or upbringing. In fact, the more politically incorrect you are, the more chuckles you get.

And am I that of an idealist to enforce an American ideology (
criticized by many Americans, mind you) on people in this part of the world? I certainly am not and to each his own, I say.

For ‘educational’ purposes, let me share with you some of the politically incorrect and racist terms in our part of the world.

Disclaimer: Do not take offense in the list below. It is nothing but stereotypes and many, including myself, do not condone such terms. Not all Arabs are politically incorrect.

  • Maid of any nationality = Sri Lankan (common term in Lebanon)
  • African = Slave/Negro 
  • People from Al-Said (Egypt), Al-Tafila (Jordan), Al-Khalil (Palestine), Homs (Syria) = Dim-witted
  • Lebanese man (as viewed by other Arab nationalities) = Effeminate accent, showoff
  • Lebanese girl (as viewed by other Arab nationalities) = Easy, plastic and materialistic
  • Jordanian man = Grouchy, blatant
  • Jordanian women = Butch accent
  • Palestinian = Bebsi  (Pepsi)
  • Palestinian in Lebanon = Dark skinned refugee, country destroyer
  • Syrian in Lebanon = Labor, undercover intelligence agent
  • Lebanese in Syria = Cheap clothes shopper
  • Kuwaiti = Rich, arrogant
  • Saudi men = Rich, deprived
  • Emarati = Rich, lazy
  • Saudi women = Ninjas
  • Indian man in the GCC = Cheapskate, Hindi (said mockingly)
  • Westerner in the GCC = Condescending, loser in his country
  • GCC organizations preferring westerners = Inferiority complex
  • Russian women in UAE = Khow much?
  • Filipino = Gay
  • Journalist in the UAE = Copy & paste, spoiled, lazy
  • Animal rights activists = Idiots
  • Single women working abroad = Spinsters
  • Single adults moving out of their parent’s house (applies to males and females) = Whores
  • Gay = Abnormal
  • Fat = Cow, mule
  • Seeing a psychiatrist = Crazy
  • Arab professional belly dancer = Prostitute
  • Shakira belly dancing = Artist (the double standards in this region, sigh!)

If you think of other terms, leave a comment.


Saudi Dawn said...

the Arab sense of humor was at some point all about racism and political incorrectness. Now, I'm guessing a lot of people are uncomfortable with that kind of sense of humor. that's why lots of jokes are about m7ashesheen nowadays instead of 7oty, homsi, khalyleh, etc.

On the other hand, a lot of political correct terms are appearing in the media, very weird to read!

Dani. said...

Hey!! It is politically correct to say Happy Holidays! Especially in the states, where we don't immediately know what religion someone practices..


How about garbage collector instead of garbage man?

Arabianism said...

Dani, is saying Merry Christmas to a non Christian really that offensive?

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