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“je l’ai bipé, il m’a raplé”: appropriation by naming June 9, 2007

Posted by François in appropriation, creolization, language.

An important way in which people appropriate technology is by naming what they do with it. Take for example the well-established practice of communicating through “missed calls” –dialing and hanging-up right away before the correspondent picks up. This is free, since there is no actual call, and it leaves a trace in the form of a ‘missed call message’. Depending on the context, it can mean anything from “call me back” to “I’m thinking of you” or “pick me up at the train station.” In Africa’s English-speaking countries, this is usually called “beeping” or “flashing”, a practical verb: “I’ll beep you when I get there”, or “he keeps flashing me.”

In French, my nephews tell me that their friends use “biper” in the same way: “je l’ai bipé, il m’a raplé.” They also use “faire sonner” (“make ring”) as in “il m’a fait sonner une fois dans la galerie marchande“, or simply “sonner”: ” Il m’a sonné today pour le revoir, ça me fait ultra plaisir“. Others use the much more cumbersome “appel en absence” (that’s the way the phone company names these missed calls, litterally “call while absent”), as in “tu l’as relancé avec un appel en absence et il a pas répondu” or “je sentais bien à ses 7 appels en absence qu’elle commençait à s’impatienter!”

Spanish has a varied and creative vocabulary: people have contracted the “llamadas perdidas” (“lost calls”) into the noun “llamper” as in “hazme una llamper y hablamos un ratillo“, also sometimes spelled “jumper”; Pixel y Dixel collected the following: “la del gitano”, “la cobra”, “toque”, “una perdida”, “llamacuelga”, “manco” as in “hacerse el manco”, “la del manco” o “llamada manca”, “mansajitos misios.” In Chile, it is “pinchar” as in “No….no hay forma que este personaje me esté pinchando…no way” (“pinchar” means “to poke” or “to prick”, as well as “to click with a mouse”, as in “pinchar sobre File” – Wikipedia notes that in Chilean slang, “pinchar” also means “to make-out or hook-up sexually” I wonder if there is a connection…)

What do you call this in your neighborhood?



1. Roxana Barrantes - June 9, 2007

“Llamada misia” (roguhly translated as “cheap call”) in some parts of Peru.

“misio” understood as “poor” or “cheap”.

“EStoy misia” means “I am broke”.

“La cena estuvo misiasa” means a frugal meal or of bad quality.

Tambien se usa “llamada perdida”.

2. Jonathan Miller - June 10, 2007

In England now many people ‘juice’ their mobiles. (portable in French, handi in German … call in American).

When it needs more, juice, obviously.

There are restaurants in London that will feed your phone while they feed you.

3. Jonathan Miller - June 10, 2007

I am also told that on Facebook users may ‘poke’ one another…

4. François - June 10, 2007

Thanks Roxana! is this the same idea as “mansajitos misios”?
Jonathan: Interesting how each name emphasizes different aspects. Much has been written about what people call the instrument itself. Finnish teenagers carry a “kannyka” (which apparently means “extension of the hand”); in Japan, they use a “keitai” (which Mimi Ito translates as “something you carry with you” in her book, “Personal, Portable, Pedestrian)
Is “juicing” recharging the battery, or the pre-paid call credit?

5. Jonathan Miller - June 11, 2007

Juicing is to do with current which is possibly wherein lies the pun.

6. wide open spaces · Cultural and Technological Appropriation - June 13, 2007

[…] practices within a 3-step technology cycle (adoption / appropriation / re-configuration). One very interesting post shows that an important way in which people appropriate technology is by naming what they do with […]

7. François - June 14, 2007

I just saw on textually.org that Reware sells Juice Bags that are “outfitted with a super flexible solar panel that can charge your handheld devices”

8. vest top pleated silk - July 25, 2017

vest top pleated silk

“je l’ai bipé, il m’a raplé”: appropriation by naming | abaporu project on technology appropriation

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