Some people are using prifajfi and fajfi pri without the idea of whistling. They use these words in the sense of ne zorgi pri or ignori. For example:

Mi fajfas pri la Greka lingvo


Mi ne zorgas pri la Greka lingvo / I do not care about Greek

How did this happen? Did prifajfi and fajfi pri mean that since the beginning of the language?

2 Answers 2


It's probably derived from the German expression "auf etwas pfeifen".

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    Which means what? Has been used for how long? In what situations? More! Give us more Mr johmue!
    – LaStranga
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 8:44
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    To modern english I would translate "auf etwas pfeifen" like "to give a sh+it on something". The german expression is now a bit outdated, you'd might expect your grandpa to use it when he tries to talk in a youth slangish way. I guess in the early years of Esperanto the german expression was more popular, so it made its way into Esperanto as "fajfi pri io". It survived longer in Esperanto than in german, maybe because it had this one more coolness-step from "fajfi pri io" to "prifajfi ion". EDIT: The literal translation of "auf etwas pfeifen" to english is "to whistle upon something" Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 9:12
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    I am a 25-year old native speaker of German and I would not call that expression outdated, at least not that strongly. It's certainly not ‘youth language’, but people do use it in my experience, especially in the expression „Da kann ich drauf pfeifen!” (meaning roughly ‘I don't care about that at all.’) Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 19:24
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    Zamenhof used "fajfi pri" when translating the Old Testament from Hebrew. In the Young's Literal Translation it says "to hiss", whereas less literal translation like the New International Version use "to scoff at". This suggests that a similar metaphor already existed in ancient Hebrew, and that it entered Esperanto partially because of Zamenhof's translation of the Old Testament and partially because of the similar German expression (maybe even the German expression is based on the Hebrew, but I couldn't find a source that confirms this conjecture). Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 9:42

Did prifajfi and fajfi pri mean that since the beginning of the language?

Yes. „fajfi pri” appears several times in the „Malnova testamento” translated by Zamenhof in the beginning of the 20th century.

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