July 12, 2012

The Jaffa Post

Shortly after the roaring success of gtoosphere’s research on the complete history and etymology of the word ‘Bavarse’, we (@satwikg and I) have embarked upon the ambitious project of identifying similar PG-13 Telugu words to research their history and etymology. We started making a list of curse words you can say on Television and get away with it. The first word that came to my mind was ‘Jaffa’.

Jaffa is a beautiful word that is poetic to the lips and mellifluous to the ear. And it is versatile too – you can use it as a greeting (నిన్నేరా జఫ్ఫా!), you can stretch it (Jaffaaaaa...), you can stress on it (Jafffffffa), you can bend it, you can twist it, you can conjoin with other words (పెద్ద లఫూట్-జఫ్ఫా గాడిలా ఉన్నాడు!) or you can just add gibberish to it and it would still make sense to you (జఫ్ఫా నా డఫ్ఫా!)

Whatever you do, however you change it, it carries its profound essence everywhere. That is magic of Jaffa. When you say “Jaffa na Daffa!”, it instantly appeals to the masses. If you’re in a five star hotel and you want to use it in a classy way, say it in a French accent, Je ffa. Now how many words can boast of such malleability?

I am sure anyone who is even remotely gult is aware of the the beauty, the simplicity and the many forms of Jaffa. I am sure all your Facebook walls are inundated with a lot of Jaffa based humor. However, I have noticed a few instances where the word Jaffa is misused or overused, often in the wrong context. This made me realize that my gult brethren seem to be confused about its real meaning and usage. So I have taken the responsibility of educating you all.

Chapter 1: జగమంతా జఫ్ఫామయం || Jagamantha Jaffamayam

Jaffa may sound like a Telugu word but the word is well known and used across four continents in more than a dozen countries around the world. Here are some of the occurrences of the word Jaffa in other languages and contexts. (Most of the images are cropped screen shots with original sources linked somewhere in the vicinity) 

1. Jaffa is a Rich Technology
The URL says it all: http://jaffa.sourceforge.net/

Jaffa 2.1 already released anta... crazy technology yaar!
"వీడెవడో తెలీదు కానీ, పెద్ద జఫ్ఫా టు పాయింట్ వన్ డాట్ జార్ లా ఉన్నాడు" -- తిట్టు బాగుంది కదూ? ;)

2. Jaffa is a Historical City: 
Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah. It is now part of Tel Aviv in modern day Israel. It was also mentioned in The Bible:

Biblical Jaffa anta... Wikipedia kooda manchi comedy chesthundi appudappudu :)

3. The Battle of Jaffa
The Battle of Jaffa took place during the Crusades in 1192, as one of a series of campaigns between Saladin's army and the forces of King Richard the Lionheart. It was the final battle of the Third Crusade, after which Saladin and King Richard were able to negotiate a truce and the Treaty of Jaffa was signed. Read more on Wikipedia...

4. Jaffa is an Orange
The Jaffa orange is a sweet, almost seedless orange variety. Originally developed by Arab farmers in the mid-19th century, it takes its name from the city of Jaffa where it was first produced for export.

5. Jaffa Cola:
From Wikipedia again:

6. Cricket Jaffa
Apparently Jaffa is also a cricket term. Found this entry in the Glossary of Cricket Terms:

7. Jaffa Cakes
These Jaffa oranges are apparently awesome. Jaffa Orange flavored cakes, biscuits and other forms of confectionery are hugely popular across the world. Jaffa cakes are the most popular of them all. The company that makes these cakes interestingly won a court case after proving in a court that Jaffa cakes are indeed biscuits!

8. Jaffa Cafe
There is a popular Jaffa Cafe in California taking the profound presence of Jaffa across the Atlantic as well.

9. Jaffa (film)
The Telugu movie wouldn't be the first movie titled 'Jaffa' Here is an ABSORBING and TOUCHING love story with an IMDB rating of 7.0

10. Jaffaavataraalu (జఫ్ఫావతారాలు)
Eeyanevaro Sir Max Jaffa anta

And finally, Professor Jaffa

11. Bonus Jaffa
Jaffa is a slang term (usually pejorative) for a resident of Auckland, New Zealand. It is the acronym for Just Another Fuckwit from Aucklander and is used as an insult to Aucklanders. Auckland is also sometimes referred to as Jaffisthan!

As we have seen, Jaffa as a word has been in use for thousands of years across all civilizations, cultures, countries and products. So what does it actually mean? How did this come up in Telugu? So what does it mean when one person calls another Jaffa? (ivanni chadavandi chinna break taravata :P)

Chapter 2: But what does it mean?

To find out the real truth, I moved beyond the safety of Wikipedia and ventured into the shadier corners of Urban Dictionary and even hostile foreign territories like the third page of Google search results. You can take it from me that the most accurate definition seems to be:
Jaffa: (noun) A person with "seedless" sperm i.e. a person who "fires blanks" or having "no lead in his pencil" i.e. “Pooja ki paniki raani puvvu”
Apparently it is a fairly popular street slang in the UK and Ireland, especially in the docks. It makes sense in a lot of ways. Now that I think of it, the word Jaffa even sounds a little impotent (not to be confused with the word 'important' which our English teacher in Sri Chaitanya used to pronounce as 'impotent'. Example: "impotent koschens raaskondamma")

The origin of the slang lays in Jaffa the Orange. The Jaffa orange has very small seeds, so small that it is considered to be the first seedless orange when it was developed by Arab farmers in the mid nineteenth century. This term in this context either gained prominence from or was invented for the British TV sitcom Only Fools and Horses in the 1990s.

And that is how, I am guessing, it made its way into the Telugu vocabulary.

Chapter 3: Future Work

Only five years back, the word Jaffa didn’t even exist in the minds of Telugu people. Clearly, it caught on only because of the movies. The great Brahmanandam deserves a lot of credit for the immense popularity of the word.

The earliest recorded use of this word from my memory was in the 2008 movie “Gamyam” in which Allari Naresh casually says something like, “Jaffa na jafada”. My knowledge of Telugu movies is nothing to boast of and I would like the readers to suggest any occurrences of this word at an earlier date.

Chapter 4: Epilogue

So here we have, a Telugu swear word that has its origins in Hebrew! How cool is that? Researching on the meaning and etymology of this word has been a really fun trip for me and the Hebrew roots really took me by surprise, just like the Persian roots of the word “Bavarse” did!

I hope you have all understood the history, the essence and the meaning of this beautiful word. I urge all fellow gults to use it wisely, in the right context and more importantly to not over-use it. Remember, words are only tools to create humor. A funny idea is the real meat.

Gultisthan Zindabad!

[Edit: @emailkran says that the word first used in the 2005 movie 'Party' starring Allari Naresh, Brahmanandam, Ravibabu etc.]