Monday, September 12, 2011

"Kif-kif" and "Kif" are not kif-kif !

In a local coffee shop here in Fez, two tourists were having a loud argument. Judging by the number of Arabic words being bandied about, it seemed clear that they had spent a fair bit of time in North Africa or the Middle East. The subject of their heated discussion was the word "Kif" and its relationship to "kif-kif".

In the old days "Kayf" was classical Arabic for "relaxation or pleasure". Nowadays it's modern descendant "kif" has become one of the most widely used terms for dope, grass or weed. In Morocco a sebsi or sibsi (plural: s'basa ), is a traditional pipe (pictured below) used to smoke the finely clipped pieces of cannabis.

One of the amazing things about language is its ability to leap from culture to culture around the world. In the case of "kif", it sprang from Arabic and now appears in English, Dutch, German, French and probably a lot more. But, as as the arguing coffee drinkers were explaining, it can become confused with the expression "kif-kif" which (in Moroccan Arabic), means "the same as" "same same", or "so so". "Kif-kif" has also been adopted into Amazigh.

In French slang le kif is an interest, hobby or something one really likes to do, for example as in my case.... Manger des moelleux au chocolat, c’est mon kif!
We did a quick search on the web and discovered that "kiffer" has become a verb too. Je kiffe cette meuf! (I love this girl), Un vrai kiffeur is ‘a true stoner.’Ça, c’est très kif. ‘That’s cool, that is.’

In addition to "kif", "kif-kif" has entered modern French as a slang adjective, courtesy of the migrant population, so one might hear "Le beurre, la margarine, c’est kif-kif, n'est-ce pas? ‘Butter, margarine, it’s all the same, isn’t it?"

My American friends inform me that a "kiffer" is street slang for a nasty character and in German "Du bist ganz gekifft" translates as "You are stoned out of your gourd."

So, next time your pedantic friends start tossing the word "kif" around, you can use the rarely spoken sentence "Kif-kif and kif are not kif-kif."

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Anonymous said...

ROFLOL! I laughed so hard... then I couldn't find my sibsi! Very funny stuff.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that until very recently the official name of the Moroccan tobacco company was "La Regie du tabac et du kif".

The word "kif" was removed when the Franco-Spanish company, Altadis, bought a stake in this public company.

Adding to that most Europeans wrongly think that the Dutch are a liberal bunch of people for the fact that they had decriminalised cannabis and you can smoke weed in an Amesterdam cafe.

In fact, the Dutch are conservative. They saw that they were fighting a losing battle against the Moroccan immigrants who settled in Amesterdam and Rotterdam. They thought why waste our police money on repression. Let's legalise the stuff and focus instead on other serious crimes.

Ayoub Kably said...

In the love of Kif our national herb beside Na3na3. you have to be M'keif to kif what everyone is Kiffing about.

Omar said...

The Rolling Stones and Kif
The most famous user of Moroccan herb is none other than Keith Richards. That's why his nickname is Kiff The Human Riff. It's a play on words: Kiff for kif, and Riff for Rif mountain range where the wholesome Moroccan hash is organically grown.

The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin were and are still a regular visitors to Morocco since the 1960s.

Respect the herb.

MTB said...

Time Saver

It is tradition in Morocco that the salutations can take sometimes too much time. I save the time and say Kif-Kif. There short and effective especially for long distance calls where the granny insists on asking about the whole generations' well being.

Mustapha Azayi said...

Don't forget Mkief Maa Kabou

Mon vrai Kif is that I Kiffe des Kiffeuses. Of course it isn't kif-kif as Tkief the vrai Kif. But at the end I try hard to let neither the kif nor the kiffeuses make me a true kiffer, because in the end cela n'est pas kif.

Anonymous said...

"Kayf" also found it's way in Russian language, where it is a slang term for pleasure or enjoyment as well :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much. Now I know, where this word comes from. In German it is THE word for smoking pot, correct terminus technicus.

German kiffing for beginners...

"Kiffer" means someone who regularly smokes a lot of pot, e.g. pothead, nasty or not...
“Ganz bekifft sein" means “to be totally stoned”. Please note the "b" instead of "g", because: “Du hast gekifft" means that “you did smoke pot” (past tense).
“Kiffe” can be used as synonym for pot.
“Lass [uns was] kiffen” can be translated as “lets smoke pot”
“Wollen wir was kiffen?” means “would you like to smoke pot with me?”

Oh BTW: Using the above mentioned expressions in Germany might let your opponent think that you are a “Kiffer”. Only exception being the word “Kiffer” itself, which is most commonly used by people who don´t smoke pot (any more)...

The View from Fez said...

Danke for the German lesson!