بقشيش - رشوة

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by Taalib, Sep 20, 2007.

  1. Taalib Senior Member

    United States
    United States
    Mod note:
    This thread is split from another one about wasTa واسطة .

    Somewhat related also is the concept of "baksheesh," which can mean charity but also means, in the world of business, a bribe or gift that facilitates certain transactions.
     
  2. zooz

    zooz Senior Member

    Languedoc-Roussillon
    Arabic & Syrian Arabic
    Note that بقشيش can't be used as واسطة. I'd like to point out that بقشيش means a tip in most Arabian dialects (or at least understood as that) while it refers to a bribe in many European languages.
     
  3. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I agree with Zooz. بقشيش is a completely different thing. It only means "tip", like what we pay in restaurants, for example.
    A bribe is رشوة . It may have euphemisms, but I don't think بقشيش would be one of them.
     
  4. Taalib Senior Member

    United States
    United States
    I agree that " بقشيش " can mean something like "ikraamiyah" (tip), something honorary, and it can also mean something charitable. However, I speak from personal experience that in some business contexts (at least in Jordan and Syria), the term has another meaning. Whereas "رشوة " has a very legal definition and is often used in political accusations to mean the formal exchange of some resource for an unfair advantage, " بقشيش " is more often used for the hazy gray area in between the legal and illegal--like I said earlier, usually a nice gift, or a tip that is far too generous for the service rendered, that is designed to lubricate future transactions with the business partner or client. I would put good money that any administrator from a government ministry that must deal with foreign investors knows exactly what I'm talking about. I've heard it straight from their mouths...
     
  5. zooz

    zooz Senior Member

    Languedoc-Roussillon
    Arabic & Syrian Arabic
    Could be in Jordan, but not really in Syria. Basically the word is not often used in many Syrian dialects. In what city(ies) did you hear it?
     
  6. clevermizo Moderator

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    In Jordan I heard بقشيش everywhere and this is what I used and it was understood generally as 'tip'. Actually, to be more accurate, I heard and used it as pronounced بخشيش. Also to be more accurate, this was in Amman where the speech differs much from rural areas.
     
  7. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I don't think that this contradicts what Zooz was saying. We all know بقشيش with the sole meaning of "tip". The thing is that Taalib says it has also the meaning of bribe, which neither Zooz nor I agree with, or at least don't know.
     
  8. zooz

    zooz Senior Member

    Languedoc-Roussillon
    Arabic & Syrian Arabic
    Again I'm speaking about Syria. However, I'm sure بقشيش means bribe in French. I also heard it by some English, Serbian and German people as well.
     
  9. Taalib Senior Member

    United States
    United States
    zooz: I heard it in Damascus, in a meeting involving both Western commercial types and government officials from a certain ministry. Syrian dialect was certainly the last thing spoken in that room.

    clevermizo: I heard it also in Amman, and sometimes the pronunciation did swap that that "qaaf" with the "kha," almost like the Persian. I heard it mostly in the context of dealing with certain government officials and private bankers.

    I do not disagree that the textbook meaning of "baksheesh" is tip or gratuity. I also am not saying it has the formal meaning of a bribe, like "rashwa," which in my experience has a very formalized definition in terms of its legal usage in courts, politics, etc.

    My original point, and I shall repeat it here, was I have heard it used in the "hazy gray area in between the legal and illegal," where an extraordinarily generous tip or gift is given _with tacit expectation_ that there will be benefits in the future--better service, increased attention, etc. You would not testify in court that a government official took "baksheesh" and thus broke the law. But you could joke with some fellow investors that with a little "baksheesh" could get your capital application expedited at the relevant regulatory agency.

    Here is a more social and informal example: perhaps we want to get into an exclusive nightclub repeatedly, to make our presence felt among a certain social crowd. We approach the bouncer (doorman) and the first night when they ask for the door fee, instead of paying the usual $50, we pay perhaps $75 or $100... and instruct the difference to go to the doorman. We spend an extra minute outside chatting with him, asking how his night is going, and wishing him well. We return a week later, there is a very long line outside, and he spots us and allows us to jump to the head of the queue, again with that understanding smile. And more baksheesh follows.

    Was there ever an explicit contractual arrangement for a bribe? Nope. And it could well be that one day, this doorman ignores our generous tips, and instead makes us wait all night. But in this context, and at least for a while, a smug bit of generosity far out what normally passes allowed us to receive preferential treatment in a perfectly legal transaction.

    I hope my experiences have highlighted a new dimension of this word in its actual spoken context. But I guess until it is listed under Hans Weir, it won't be the official definition.
     

Share This Page