There’s a perfect expression in English for this feeling of let-down and disappointment, mixed in with some mild annoyance: bummer. Such was my prevailing sentiment when I spilled coffee all over myself this morning. The Hebrew equivalent is basa, a majorly toned down version of an Arabic word meaning poverty, famine, torture, misery, war, catastrophe, etc. Instances of bummer-ness, which, in fairness, transcends culture and language, is the focus on today’s StreetWise Hebrew podcast called “Learning Hebrew Doesn’t Have to Be a Bummer.” During this episode, host Guy Sharrett goes over some ways to talk about being bummed out, annoyed, or pissed off.
The episode kicks off with a bit of Cohen@Mushon’s song “Basa,” which has the refrain eize basa, or “what a bummer.” (The accompanying music video, with its scenes of partying youth, doesn’t seem to be much of a bummer at all.) Another song used in the episode is Ha-Dag Nachash’s “Lazuz,” which gives us mevo’as, another word for feeling bummed or annoyed, as in ze lo meshane she-chavera shelcha mevo’eset, meaining “it doesn’t make a difference that your girlfriend is bummed.”
Here are some other great phrases from this episode: Ani al ha-panim (literally “I’m on my face”) means “I’m not doing well” and is used to express emotional or physical pain. And when something’s really annoying, upsetting, or depressing, you can use meva’es et ha-tachat. Meva’as, as noted above, means bummed or annoyed, and tachat is, well, a word for butt—so literally, “annoying the butt.”
You can listen to the episode, titled “Learning Hebrew doesn’t have to be a bummer,” below, and as always, follow along with the words and phrases below as you listen.
Basa – A bummer – באסה
Eize basa – What a bummer – איזה באסה
Eize basa ze she… – What a bummer it is that/when… – …איזה באסה זה ש
Be-basa – “in basa” – בבאסה
Kuli be-basa – I am totally in basa – כולי בבאסה
Ani al ha-panim – I am *not* doing well – אני על הפנים
Meva’es (Mva’es) – A bummer; annoying – מבאס
Ze ma ze meva-es (Ze ma-ze mva’es) – That’s so annoying – זה מה-זה מבאס
Mva’es ta’tachat (Meva’es et ha-tachat) – Really annoying – מבאס ת’תחת
Mevo’as, Mevo’eset – Bummed; annoyed – מבואס, מבואסת
Ze lo meshane she-chavera shelcha mevo’eset – It doesn’t make a difference that your girlfriend is bummed – זה לא משנה שחברה שלך מבואסת
Kamuvan hitba’asti she… – Of course I was bummed out that… – …כמובן התבאסתי ש
Hitba’ast/a she-lo hitkasharti? – Where you bummed I didn’t call? – ?התבאסת שלא התקשרתי
Hitba’asut – The process of getting bummed out – התבאסות
Nirshema hitba’asut – An annoyance was registered – נרשמה התבאסות
Me’utsban – Pissed/pissed off (more annoyed than just “in basa”) – מעוצבן
Atsabim – Nerves – עצבים
Rose Kaplan is an intern at Tablet.