Many cities are famous for something unique- food, cars, rich history, amazing festivals, and colorful day or nightlife. Yet others are famous with special urban slang – phrases used only there.
Plovdiv is very modest and we have everything- 8 thousand years of history, one of the biggest folklore festivals in Europe and indeed very bright lifestyle, no matter day or night time. But the Plovdiv slang is by far the most unique aspect of its culture. Here is our list of funny untypical words and phrases that can be found in the vocabulary of a local citizen.
First of all – Maina (Майна). This is so unique to Plovdiv that you can’t find it anywhere else. Maina is a meaningless word, even though it is loosely related to the word “mother”. Maina is an exclamation used quite often in the everyday language of almost 100% of the inhabitants of the city and no matter if you were born here or you are just living in Plovdiv you’ll have to get used to the word Maina as an ordinary detail in your speech- What’s up, Maina? It’s cool, Maina! How are you, Maina? I’m great, Maina! Plovdiv is known as Maina town, people from Plovdiv are Maina people and so on.
NB! Maina is sometimes part of “I’m going to weigh one Maina for you” (Ще ти тегля една майна – [shte ti teglia edna maina]) and this means that someone is getting pissed off and soon he or she is going to be more aggressive. Like a final warning.
Then Ailyak (Айляк). This is the next most popular Plovdiv slang. Literally translated from Turkish, Ailyak means “laziness” but people in Plovdiv are not lazy. This is a special state of your body and mind. Just chill, relax and enjoy life. Don’t be in a hurry, leave all your watches at home. We have a whole bunch of jokes how Ailyak is like the Italian Tranquillo, the Spanish Mañana or the Turkish Yavash – but without all that rushing! Ailyak is also a general state of being: How are you? Ailyak.
Even in a small country like Bulgaria people from other towns cannot really understand what Ailyak is. Because it cannot be explained. It can only be experienced. Also, you cannot JUST experience Ailyak. You’ll have to SLAB it (yes, like with slabbing logs into boards). For some reason, the only verb connected with Aylak is slabbing it. And no man in Plovdiv can really tell you why. You just slab an Ailyak.
In Cat and Mouse Bar in Kapana district you can even find a beer named after this Plovdiv slang! After all, we already know it is much more than just a slang.
All right, that was the easy part! The next phrases will get you REALLY deep into the urban culture.
Our number 3 is Gilam (гилам, [gilam]). This is a word similar to Aylak. It means something like “to swing” and it is the next step in the chill mood of Plovdiv. You can connect gilam and aylak to make the perfect day – the dream of a Plovdiv resident.
Number 4 Plovdiv slang is “pravia tigeli po glavnata” (правя тeгели по главната). This means something like “sewing the main pedestrian street”. In Plovdiv we have the longest pedestrian street in Europe – therefore, a common activity in our town is to just walk back and forth on this street. Probably you won’t even walk the entire distance, because somewhere halfway you’ll definitely see at least one friend or someone you know (doing the same thing like you) and you’ll both go and have some aylak together somewhere. Probably with a beer. Or two…
Last but not least is Kaldaram Kokona (Калдъръм кокона). This is a phrase for girls and it means “a cobblestone hot chick”. It has quite a story behind it and it dates back to the late 70s and beginning of the 80s.
Back then there were two absolutely iconic, top high-end places to go for a drink – King’s stables (конюшните на царя – [koniushnite na tzaria]) and Alafranga restaurant (Алафрангите –[Alafrangite]). BUT… they were in the Old town. And in the Old town, all the streets are cobbled. Of course, that was no problem for the “cobblestone hot chicks” or Kaldaram Kokonas. Nothing less than getting there with fancy dress, on 9 cm high stiletto heels was going to put you in this prestige category. But achieving that feat gave you exclusive bragging rights.
Bonus Plovdiv slang: Da broikam matzkite. (Да бройкам мацките). This means to count the cats. Even though Plovdiv is rather a cat city and we have a lot of semi-stray cats (semi because actually everyone loves them and feeds them) this phrase has nothing to do either with counting or cats.
This Plovdiv slang is about girls again – a common activity for boys is sitting on a bench in the top city center having a coffee or a beer with friends and just gossiping about the passing girls.
So next time you visit the city of Plovdiv make sure to listen for a moment while “sewing the main pedestrian” to the local Mainas who are planning to “swing” and to “slab aylak”. You might even see some of the boys “counting the cats” and talking about the “cobblestone hot chicks”.