Friday, September 30, 2005


What's in a phrase?

Apparently this phrase is supposed to be an invocation acknowledging that ultimately there's a higher power that will decide whether or not something happens. Thus, "I'll see you tomorrow, Inch'Allah" means that baring death, natural disasters or something truly wacky that I have no power over, I'll see you tomorrow. It's an "if it is God's will" kind of a statement that is at once sobering, fatalistic, and unperterbed.

Unfortunately, as it has slipped into the language of the everyday, that meaning has been ever so gently bent. Actually, it's a little more than a gentle bend. Now, tacked on to phrases like, "I'll call you tomorrow, Inch'Allah" it has come to mean something more like "if I think of it" or "but don't count on it" or "Maybe" or more commonly "or not." It's one of those phrases that should be comforting, but instead is more of a catch-all ducking of responsibility that makes me cringe as it's spoken. I find myself qualifying the speakers with questions like "does that mean you're going to try, or that you don't really feel like it?" or "what exactly do you mean, by that?" or "is that in the old context or the modern context?" (That one seems to confuse them) or "Right. Got it. Or how about I call you?"

What's in a phrase? Just two words. Change. Cultural shift. Something new that's a little more open to interpretation. A regular frustration. An endemic system flaw, or a cultural quirk? A crutch. Something to excuse inaction. Something to support the status quo.

What can I say?

From my perspective, life here's coming up roses. The future?
It'll be bright, Inch'Allah...