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Basketball and WTF

February 8, 2011

Given who I’m legally bound to have and to hold forever, there is a lot more talk of sports in my life than ever before. This hardly came as a surprise, as it was the NBA of all things that renewed my friendship with my future-spouse thanks to my proximity to both the Celtics and the Knicks during grad school. And even when we began dating and eventually got engaged I had no problem with sports being a main topic of conversation whenever another fan was within a ten-mile radius. But since we moved to Israel last year, almost all sports talk has been conducted in Hebrew, making it even more problematic for me to stay engaged enough in order to concentrate hard enough to follow along.

One thing that has made it easier to pay attention, however, is how often the word דפק (dafak, pronounced “dah-FAHK”) comes up when basketball is involved. I first learned this word as the singular male past tense of לדפוק (lidfok, to knock). The reason the past tense form of this particular verb managed to stick so well in my memory is its similarity to a shorter, less acronym-y version of “WTF?” In basketball, for whatever reason, the verb “to knock” is often used in myriad contexts. Given how all NBA players are men, that means the singular male past tense form is thrown around a lot in conversations that often become quite animated, making it hard to remember that the participants are not, in fact, repeating “dah-FAHK!!!” all the time in exasperation or anger. They’re just saying “he knocked” (or more idiomatically, “he nailed [that shot, that block, whatever]”) with a lot of enthusiasm.

No matter how innocent this word can be (though it does carry less innocent meanings on occasion), I still avoid using it whenever possible. When I can’t manage to escape it, I make a point of saying it as nicely as possible to make it sound less obscene to my own ears.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2011 7:11 pm

    I thought i posted a comment, anyway, loved your writing.
    i’ve posted recently in my blog a post on the table manners of Israeli kids. you might find it interesting in the cultural aspect.
    hope this time my comment will be posted.

    • February 11, 2011 10:17 pm

      Thanks, Yael! I read your post about kids and table manners, and while I’m not a parent or around young kids on a daily basis, it seems kids tend to forget their manners from time to time no matter where they’re from 🙂

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