Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vaulting the Wisconsin-Iraq language barrier

From Nick Druecke at Camp Taji, Iraq, roughly 6,339 miles from home in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Nick recently spent some time on the Iraqi side of the installation. Here are some more of his observations about working with Iraqi soldiers.

They love to talk, and they don't seem to mind that we can't understand them. You pick up key phrases pretty quickly this way. We have a few translators here working with us, other wise progress would be kept to a minimum. Most of them grew up and lived most of their lives in Iraq, their reasons for helping the americans are varied. I do know however that they have the ability to become american citizens after certain prequisites are met.
There are only a few words you hear here often, the ones you can pick out and understand at least. For the record I don't claim to know how these are spelled, I'm purely going off of phonetics.

"Ha-bi-bi" (Ha B B) means love, or loved one. They use it quite frequently when describing their feeling towards something or someone. If they place their right hand on their heart when doing so, it means they are very adamant about their feelings.

"Shu-kran" (roll the r) simply means thank you. They will often combine this with the above word and hand gesture.

"Am-re-ki" (as far as I know you always roll the r) means American.

"Jun-di" (June D) means soldier, or lower enlisted soldier, E4 and below.

"Se-di-ki" (Sa D Key) means friend.

"Chai" means tea. It could be 140 degrees outside and they would still make hot tea, it is very good however, in a little six ounce glass they put about 3 ounces of sugar to sweeten it.

"Shaku-Maku" means What's Up? You only want to say this to younger people though, as I mentioned before they are a proud people, and some of the older folk could take offense.

There are obviously more, but I can't remember them without my cheat sheet. They usually don't refer to us as Jundi, however. Usually they just address us all with a quick "Sir", or "Mista." All of the little kids here speak about as much english as we do arabic, and they all know how to say, "Mista...give me money." I'll touch on the civilians in another note as this one is already getting long. I'll make sure to throw more Arabic words with every note from now on, for those of us eager to learn.

Until then it's still Nick, Still Live from Iraq.