Yella Bye!

English the Chaldean way!

By Vanessa Denha Garmo

I have so many funny memories of my grandparents and parents botching up the English language.

I am sure you do too.

My grandmother used to call my uncles at the store with her grocery list and I can still see her today pacing in her kitchen holding the yellow wall phone with a long curly cord looking through the refrigerator and pantry. “Maythee aye Cowboy. Translation: Bring home Pops cereal and keban 7. Translation: I want 7 Up.

My grandfather rarely spoke Eng­lish. He understood it and still does today at 101 years old but when he did speak it, the words never re­ally came out right. With this next one, to his credit, pretty much every Chaldean I know and some Ameri­cans, too, botch up this name.

It’s what attracted many Chal­deans to America in the 50s and 60s but can we get the name right? Is it Ford or Fords?

How many khaltous (aunts) ask for Bepsi? My colleague, Ashourina, has lost count. You can figure that one out, right?

What’s up with the incomplete sentences or dropping words? How many of the Souwas (elders) have demanded: “Take picture!”

If you drive around with any Chal­dean who speaks English as a second language it would be, “meet me on Ink Ester at Sickes O’clock.” Translation: Meet me on Inkster at 6 O’clock.

Cutting some Chaldeans slack, it doesn’t help that Rasha Basima trans­lates to “Your Head is Delicious.”

It’s not exactly what Americans say to offer condolences at a funeral. How about when they describe someone. “You know the one who is duba hameesa.” (The fat one).

Don’t get me started on the back-handed compliments. The ones that are really insults. “You have such a pretty face but Eewhat khisa sharik­tha (you are a little like a baby cow)!”

Yes, I have heard that one.

I wanted to respond. Yah, Koozerkout. (I have no translation for that one.)

Seriously though, who am I to make fun of anyone’s spoken word? I have botched up Sourath for years. I once asked a cousin for a brush by saying itakh (do you have) Kah (one) Cosa (hair).

Yella, Bye!