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gawkish

Malakas

Malakas (Greek: nom. μαλάκας, voc. and acc. μαλάκα, μαλακισμένε, fem. μαλάκω, μαλακισμένη) is a slang word, whose literal translation is wanker but the usage of the term varies widely from the equivalent British English term. A more appropriate rendering covers a much broader spectrum of applications, including both English equivalents of arsehole or jerk or dick or son of a bitch, and the contrasting friend or pal or dude, or mate depending on the context. It derives from the Greek word malakos (μαλακός), which means "soft" or "spoilt, well-used to luxuries of life". It is one of the most frequent words picked up by tourists and travellers to Greece and is not unusual amongst the younger Greek diaspora, even when the level of Greek is low. The feminine version is a recent coinage; even though it is used less often it reflects the change in gender relations in modern Greece (so that now women can also be addressed in this way).

Usage

In every day modern Greek speech, the word malakas is mostly used metaphorically to define the targeted individual as one who uses absolutely no common sense, but instead repeats the same mistakes while maintaining an attitude of self-righteousness . In addition, in parts of the world outside Greece, with significant Greek population (e.g. the United States), the word malakas appears well known among non-Greek people too.People from all cultures know of the word and all uses are different as some are referenced too humorously and others sincerely.

It falls into the class of slang where it is appropriate to use amongst friends, but will almost certainly be considered an insult when used against strangers or enemies. Typically, male friends use the word among them in a way that expresses solidarity due to this exact insulting meaning. The word has now grown beyond its literal meaning. The word has such common use that between the young Greek population, the word has started to have a sense of brotherhood. Showing significant parallels between the word malakas and the word 'nigga' used by some African Americans between each other giving them a sense of friendship or brotherhood. This is because regardless of the literal meaning, the phrase gives the people using it a sense of comradery. This behavior can be compared to the dozens. Additionally, females may use the word even in an affectionate way.

Malakas can be used in a variety of other ways in modern Greek, according to circumstances and the way the word is stressed:

  • Used imploringly, as in the phrase "Ela re malaka" (equivalent to "man" in the American "Come on, man")
  • Used to convey disapproval (perhaps when the request of the previous usage is denied, "Ti malakas" ("What a jerk").
  • Used to express gullibility, "Tin patise, o malakas!" ("The sucker fell for it!")
  • Used to express stupidity or surprise that someone performed an action or made a mistake, "Re to malaka!" ("What an idiot!")
  • As part of expressions of awe, admiration or surprise, as in "o, re malaka!", typically not referring to other persons present ("Woa, dude!")
  • In a vulgar form it literally means "wanker". To give some emphasis to the aforementioned one could use the compound word 'hontros-malakas', meaning simply fat-malakas, or the superlative 'poly malakas', meaning very much a malakas. The expression 'grande-malakas', which sounds French-Greek, is also common and its meaning more or less obvious.
  • Surprisingly though, its main everyday use is as a vocative form of displaying one's befriending:
    • Malakas is also one of the most common Modern Greek words known worldwide, and one of the very few such words not referring to typical products or places.
    • Malakas is also used sometimes as a mild ethnic slur versus Greeks, when used by non-Greeks, because of its very common everyday usage.
    • "Pou sai re malaka!" (where 've you been man?) among friends, although it is not suggested that you call a stranger “malaka”. (This parallels Australians use of "bastard" and the British use of "mate".)

Constructivist approach

Certain scholars examine the usage of the word malakas in modern Greek through an alternative scientific point of view; through constructivism (social and historical constructivism), and sociolinguistics, they study the effect of any and all aspects of society on the way language is used, and they focus on the interactions between language and society. James D. Fabion characterizes the term malakas as one of the most favorite, blithe and sexually malignant "curses" used among friends. He asserts that malakas, just like other Greek sobriquets (e.g. keratas "cuckold", poustis "faggot") have the force of the French conard, and highlight failures of social or intellectual finesse; "the malakas is clumsy, gawkish, parhaps vaguely infantile. He is liable to utter malakies [...] He is liable to be guillible. The malakismenos and the keratas are, if not immortal, still without existential fiber. They are without wit, and not uncommonly the dupes of others more witty or cunning." According to Fabion's sociolinguistic analysis, the malakas, the malakismenos, and the keratas as literal and as figurative characters, are all a rather shameful company, and they both fall short of the performative sine qua non of fully manly prowess: the exercise of sexual sovereignty, the sexual overpowering of another. Nevertheless, Fabion argues that the malakas is, at least, less pitiable being still a man. On the other hand, malakismenos is characterized as "unmistakably feminized", as the "patient of another's maneuvring". (malakismenos is a passive participle, "someone jerked off"; significantly, one of the two feminine coinages uses the same participle. Stricly speaking, a literal translation of "malakismenos" would mean "softened", referring to the eventual loss of erection after masturbation.)

Alleged "barbarization" of the Greek language

Certain modern linguists assert that the Greek language is in danger, and that young people use very few words. One argument supporting the above claim is the common and repetitive use of certain words, which in a different context constitute a swear word, such as the word malakas.

In popular culture

  • In the 1985 movie Weird Science, the character Lisa played by Kelly LeBrock is asked "...what's a beautiful broad like you doing with a malaka like this, huh?" by the Greek bar owner character Dino in the bar scene. Lisa responds to Dino by saying "It's purely sexual", immediately after which the character Gary played by Anthony Michael Hall says "She's into malakas [sic], Dino!" Dino and his bar friends then start laughing hysterically and Dino says "She's into malakes, do you believe that? ...you can say that again!" Note that the plural of malaka (i.e. malakes) is correctly cited by Dino who is greek whereas Gary incorrectly says "malakas" which is an anglicized pluralization of the Greek word.
  • Jorge Martinez, an Uruguayan footballer currently playing for Calcio Catania was given the nickname Malakas by one of his relatives who lived in Greece

Malakia

"Malakia" (abstract noun, plural "malakies") is used as

  • The literal act of masturbation
  • A slang word for semen specifically produced by that act.
  • It also can be used to describe nonsense.
  • An item considered worthless, a whatchamacallit (cadigan).
  • A mistake, or (ironically and degradingly) a time-consuming non-productive action. The parallel exists since these actions are a way to consume excessive energy and satisfy a desire, more or less like wanking.

The use of "malakia" to mean "masturbation" traces back to Medieval Greek. It is used in this sense in the Life of St. Andrew the Fool and in the Life of St. Niphon, both of which date to the tenth century.

See also

References

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