How to Say Bussy in Another Language:
Sociolingvistička rasprava i lični osvrt

Denis Ferhatović



I begin this bilingual (Bosnian-English) hybrid (scholarly-personal-fictional) essay, with my search for queer languages of my own, a fraught, complex process both due to my personal circumstances of immigration, and the larger history of suppression of queer expression in the Balkans and beyond. For the throughline of the discussion, I use the relatively recent portmanteau in English, bussy (boy+pussy for the anus), that has given birth to a wealth of Internet memes often featuring similar coinages, and my attempt to find its equivalents in several other languages. English and Bosnian will alternate, with their subcategories ranging from academic to confessional —      so only those who read both will be able to understand everything.


I first look at the Soviet Russian gay slang recorded by Vladimir Kozlovsky and then move to a fuller discussion of the Turkish queer jargon named Lubunca, which like its Greek counterpart Kaliardá, has a prominent corpus of Romani borrowings. Some of these words appear in an almost identical form, with the same or similar meanings, in a number of European languages that I am familiar with: Bosnian, English, French, and German. While my queerness does not happen to provide a sense of linguistic belonging, it does enable me to note a much-neglected postcolonial queer aspect of the European language map, the Romani element, which I happily write about in the essay. As for bussy and its translations, I argue that such terms – playfully confusing and reassigning holes in English and other languages, in recent and distant times – present occasions for queerer, more pleasurable and expansive imaginings of human bodies, desires, and the world around us.


Keywords: bussy memes, queer jargons, Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian, Romani borrowings, Lubunca