Lush language: new words for a new generation

Published: April 27, 2011

Time is short. Life is full. Too much to share. Let’s micro-communicate. Say it all, in a few words. The new micro-lingo seems to be a word-conservation drive, where you pack a lot of meaning into a few catchy memorable words; this language sticks in the mind like no other. It’s entertainingly expressive, creatively concise and just flows fast and runs deep. Read on to see how.

It’s where the punch is

“I dined out at this new restaurant. What wah wah food they had there.”

“I went to this concert. What wehshee music. Uff I loved it.”

For the uninitiated in the mysteries of this new-ish lingo, “wah wah” is not an exclamation anymore, but an adjective. So you can have wah wah food, a wah wah movie, even a wah wah car!

And wehshee means amazing — crazily, wildly amazing.

Of course, you could also say,

“I do declare that I had food that was a culinary wonder and quite tantalizing on the taste buds. I would urge you to try it sometime.”

But that really misses the punch. And I for one wouldn’t want to try this culinary wonder. But take me to the wah wah food joint anytime!

Origins unknown

Saying ‘very tasty’ is not the same as saying what lush food. Does the word come from the English lush, meaning rich and luxurious or from the Urdu word lush-pash, meaning grand, only God knows or perhaps Iftikhar Arif. What we do know for a fact is that contemporary micro language really knows how to pack a punch: few words, original usage, and in most cases, origin unknown.

Of course internet chat and increasing SMS trends are conducive to this expressive style. Yet the exact roots of the words and expressions are mostly unclear.

An all-inclusive cult

Is this a cult language? Actually the charm of this language lies in its jungle-fireness — everyone responds to it like dry wood responds to fire, with total and absolute surrender; its gut-level quality makes it readily understood in ways that are not really translatable to any other language.

Some terms of micro-communication have been adopted fairly universally. For example if you have a colleague who is clingy, and/or acts in underhanded ways, and is generally irritating, you can call him chaval (but only do it safely behind his or her back, mind you!). This one word says it all and more. I bet you’ve heard it.

Or how about “kia scene hay?” that could mean anything: “What’s the plan? How are things with you? Did you find a job yet? Did you and your fiancé make up? Are we going shopping this evening?” It could mean any of these. It’s Micro-comm for “what’s up?” but with more variation in depth and breadth: it can be used for very frivolous and also for extremely intense situations.

Expression of strong emotions

This micro-language is particularly useful for expressing strong likes and dislikes. So if someone has been ignoring you, you can complain about it saying “who mujhay miss kara raha hay”. Doesn’t make any grammatical sense? Exactly. What does grammar have to do with personal expression anyway, right?

But this language can be quite sophisticated too. If your friend thinks that you are a big time, all-out, all-round useless person, you are a 3-D loser, not just a loser. And your friend can tell you that with an accompanying hand gesture, forming an L with the thumb and first finger, with some other fingers also stretched out to give the 3-D effect to the L for loser. Totally benign hand gesture.

And what is extreme emotion without a little bit of swearing. Micro-comm has the perfect solution. “what the huck” is the cool and kosher version of the more crass “f” word. The “H” in huck is inspired by ‘Hell’ in the original ‘What the hell’.

Urdu is adulterated with English, and the version of English now spoken is super-casual. Lament not. A new language has sprung up from the gut of human experience, from the throes of emotion, and most importantly from the need for joyful expression —a language that says it like never before, that influences the media (especially advertising) and is not derived from the media. It belongs to itself and to those who are uninhibited enough to endorse it, use it and add to it. New words creep into the open folder of this language, unbeknownst to anyone, even to themselves.


Ayesha Fazlur Rahman

An Islamabad based education consultant and Fulbright Fellow from Harvard University. Fazal contributes to the Islamabad pages of The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Fahad Raza

    This blog is so On!!, and you know what I mean. We are just through the first decade of the new century the language will evolve certainly elders wont like it but young will love it. All thanks to concise linguistics in modern age.

    In the word of Thomas Shadwell
    “Words may be false and full of art; Sighs are the natural language of the heart”. Recommend

  • shoeb

    akhir post ;)Recommend

  • Chup Shaw

    Its wah wah article, I would like to add a sentence which is very popular and multi-meaning new addition to this micro-lingo ” Yeh sana kaun thi ” to know about your current affair or even you can ask about mystery which is going on right now or just add to little fun in your gossips. Its good or bad, while this spree will has ruined our urdu language heritage or come up with some new tradition. Yet to see. Anyways lagay raho… Recommend

  • mANI

    This post is the voice of Youngsters. Its just LUSHRecommend

  • Ali

    These words “akheer” and “wehshi “havent introduced in Karachi yet, mostly spoken in punjab areas.Recommend

  • Ann

    Tyte! Recommend

  • Benish

    Lush article :).. chaa gai hein :PRecommend

  • Shahrukh kazmi

    Anth yaar, Anth!
    I use this phrase “kya scene hai” A lot btw
    : )Recommend

  • a


  • Mirza Abeer

    Yes they have. Ive seen a lot of people including my friend circle use those terms.Recommend

  • Mirza Abeer

    ‘FIT’ article yaar. :DRecommend

  • parvez

    Good to read something different. This is not something new, its an evolving process that has speed-ed up due to technology and the shrinking world scene. You are spot on when you say it is youth orientated and extremely expressive.Recommend

  • Henna

    Well, Urdu is a pidgin language to begin with. And like all things, if a language doesn’t evolve, it shall die. Love these new additions! Lush scene hay!Recommend

  • http://islamabad Maryam

    we have “anat” and “AAkheer” used very commonly here in punjab…
    lush is sooo not common or probably not even introduced………. Recommend

  • Huma Iqbal

    Nice post. But there is one tech slang that I hate and more so when it is directed towards me…the word is FARIGH….GrrrrrRecommend

  • shoeb

    aur sub khariyat hain na…. they have big time, i even believe wehshi was originated from karachi (just saying no karachi lahore phadda intended). Recommend

  • Natasha S.

    Nice read.Recommend

  • wahwah khan

    hey the first part of this topic is full of my nickname…lolzz…thanks Ayesha…:DRecommend

  • Masud

    Ayesha, aap cha gain hein :-) Would love to read more articles from you. Your writing is very captivating !!Recommend

  • Faryal

    Anth mama;)Recommend

  • Huma Ahmer

    “what the huck”?? nice addition to my slang lingo…heard it first time :D
    This article is very nicely written
    .THUMBS UP …. you wrote so LUSH ;)
    tussi “chaa” gaye :)Recommend

  • Maulana Diesel

    Good job my dear daughter :)Recommend

  • Arim

    Lush article.. :)Recommend

  • Shumaila

    Hahaa, great post. I for one was expecting you to be all morose and complaining about how no one speaks properly anymore, but this was refreshing. You`re right, personal expression comes above all else in everyday life. ye post BEST hai. :DRecommend

  • Hira

    2 Thumbs up!Recommend

  • Sannan ZM

    akheer LEVEL hai is post ka ;)Recommend

  • Said Chaudhry

    Nice post! though I’ve never heard anyone use the expression “wah wah food”. Slangs vary from city to city as well. I am guilty of the expression “too much” far too often ;)
    “too much gana hai”
    “too much khana banata hai woh”
    “too much hotee hain tumhari baatain” hahah
    It would be funny to hear others?Recommend

  • Abu Bakr Agha

    @Said Chaudhry:

    In Chicago people use “sick” for something that is ‘awesome’. I went to New York and over there people use “ill” for the same sentences. Kind of interesting, similar words.

    In New York people also used “mad” to describe something. It could be used to describe amount of something or the degree of how good it was. “There’s mad mice in that house”. “There’s mad food in that restaurant”.

    I asked my buddy when to use mad or ill, and he told me mad was adjective, and ill was a noun. So now that i have mastered it, i can give you examples.

    “Man that game was ill!”
    “Man that thats a mad tv”
    “Man this food is mad ill”


  • Said Chaudhry

    hahah that’s true! and in California they use the expression “hecka/hella” to describe just about everything.
    “That roller coaster is hecka fun”
    “That girl is hella fine”
    haha…how about in Lahore?
    “chill hoja yaar”
    “mein chill houn! mujeh koi masla nae!”
    Karachi, Islamabad anyone?Recommend

  • Abu Bakr Agha

    @Said Chaudhry:

    Islamabad :- “Yar kya wehshee gaari hai yar”, “Bari unnt kism ka goal kia hai”, “Yar tou bau harami player hai” :PRecommend

  • Lady6

    Udham Article hai lolzRecommend

  • Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

    @Said Chaudhry:
    A few words here and there .. like

    “Kiya to aatang gari hai”

    “Woh to kha pee kar farigh bhi hogaya”

    “Naya item lai ho market main tum to” (Whenever some new video, song or anything not seen or heard before is shown to friends)

    “Yaar latka kar rakh diya hai kasam sai” (Especially used in case of non-payments :D)

    “Yaar kitnay uthata hai yeh marks kai liye” (I think it’s universally understood in Pakistan)Recommend

  • rehan

    Very interesting piece..well done. If the “jaali angrez”, Salman Ahmed of junoon was to compliment this article,he would call it “SEXY”. Recommend

  • Wirdah

    hhahah brilliant work maam… loved it :)Recommend

  • Asad

    lush push.. LOLzzRecommend

  • BabyApa

    LOL. Love the naiya zamana, these are the best of times, yet when I hear my father and mother speak the classic Urdu it is melody.Recommend

  • Naila Mir

    Cha gai ho jiggar!!! Recommend

  • bushra

    anth anth;) Kia lush push likha hian madam .. ap to cha gai tha kar k ;)Recommend

  • Noor-ul-ain Hanif

    aat post ;) very nice yeah these words are gradually entering in society!Recommend

  • AishaYunas

    Here u go Ayesha! Another lush comment to appreciate your article.

    Yeh cheeeeeese! (Urdu wala cheese heee …)

    Very nice and interesting article to draw attention on mumbo jumbo colloquial speech that is rapidly becoming part of our communication. This increasingly fetish notion of slang language along with gestures is not only the fad of new generation but it also sounds braggadocious and reflects swaggering attitude to influence peers. The trend of Lush language in our everyday conversation should be avoided and the emphasis should be on decent and modest words of communication otherwise it will become a common practice and we will lose the essence of communication values. The funny part is who cares about Spellings, Syntax or Grammar anymore as long as your message is conveyed. My point of concern is ….. Do we lack good decent words in our language? or our vocabulary is so weak that despite of the fact that each language is rich and beautiful in itself, in a sense that it depicts our personality,heritage and culture then why do take pride in
    gobbledygook talk?
    Today’s dilemma is the more we use lush language the more we are considered to be modern. On the other hand it’s the contrary, we are modern yet lagging behind because we have left behind the norms and values of a civilized and a cultured nation.In a nutshell, moral of the story is…to be modern is to be more civilized and more cultured and not Lush- Pash. Keep up the good work Ayesha ! Recommend

  • blue

    hahahahah omg..this word wehshee was started by my group of friends :0 :DRecommend

  • Rana

    Chawal is very commonly used word here in lahore……… the article is superbly thought and written…Recommend

  • Malay

    It’s the sign of the time we live in. We are work-in-progress in being more LITERATE or are we? Recommend

  • Tehmina

    Sign of times? In a world where the poor are constantly destroyed. American drones and Afghan terrorists take turns upon us. Rich still have time to write this. GreatRecommend

  • Saman

    Who says wehshi isn’t IN in Karachi…….One phrase my cousin uses is just aatang and that is “Chill Macha Saeen”..:pRecommend