Mudcat Café message #3941137 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #161833   Message #3941137
Posted By: keberoxu
02-Aug-18 - 04:12 PM
Thread Name: BS: what did you name your cat
Subject: RE: BS: what did you name your cat
I didn't tell you folks about the name derived from Arabic.
There is a roundabout story about this name/word.

Many moons ago I took a class that introduced English speakers to the Arabic language. I retained sadly little from the class. We spent much time on that darned alphabet. Our lecturer kept us entertained with little anecdotes; he went to Ain Shams Heliopolis university in his native Egypt, where he studied English and French; then he ended up in the United States teaching his native language to English-speaking North Americans.

Our class was waiting for an order of textbooks, as the bookshop had fewer textbooks than there were students. Not surprisingly, our class included a few government/military types (my location then was not the Northeast but the Southwest US, where military bases are a very big deal). Discussing this glitch during class, one gentleman, a hot-tempered military fellow, impatiently demanded of our lecturer: "Well, when are those textbooks gonna get here?"

" ' Fil mish-mish!' " said our worthy lecturer.
And he calmly took chalk in hand, and sketched the beautiful Arabic script on the blackboard from right to left.

In vernacular conversation, this is a figure of speech much like
when the Spanish speakers say laughingly, " ' Mañana. ' "
You know, when you get the tongue-in-cheek response " ' Mañana, ' "
that the answer -- literally, 'to-morrow' -- in truth means, nobody knows when it will happen, and it may never get done.

Same deal with " ' Fil mish-mish. ' "
That word is a specific cash crop. And when an Egypt native says " ' fil mish-mish, ' " in answer to a 'when' question,
it means:
it shall come to pass when the crop currently ripening in the orchard
has been harvested and brought to the market for sale.

why would anybody call their pet cat "mish-mish" ?
Because a "mish-mish," singular, is one 'apricot,'
and some cats are apricot-colored.

And no, I cannot tell you what two or more apricots are called in Arabic,
because that is farther than my introductory course went
-- plurals in Semitic languages go places that English never goes.