J. M. Berger recently wrote a piece about the origin of the word Bojinka. Bojinka was the name of a plot in which WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef, alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and others intended to attack Boeing airliners, most famously by blowing 11 or 12 up on their way to the US. There has been some speculation about the word’s origin, as it is thought to be Serbo-Croatian (KSM fought in Bosnia), but it is usually claimed that the word bojinka does not exist in that language.
I speak Czech, a Slavic language related to Serbo-Croatian, and in Czech “bojink” is an informal way of writing “Boeing.” Here is the somewhat complicated explanation: Czechs—and other Slavs—cannot pronounce “Boeing” properly for two reasons. First, the diphthong represented by “oe” in Boeing in unpronouncable to Czechs, as Slavic languages are poor in diphthongs and they can’t get their tongue around it. Therefore, “oe” is replaced by “oj”, the closest Czech equivalent, when people speak. Second, they can’t pronounce “g” at the end of a word, and they typically replace it with a “k”. Therefore, the aircraft company from Seattle is usually written “Boeing”, but pronounced “bojink”. You would never find it written as “bojink” in a formal document, but, when writing informally, the word could, and is, written “bojink”–some examples can even be found on the internet.
I asked a couple of Bosnians about this, and they said that Serbo-Croatian speakers tended to pronounce “Boeing” as “bojink” and that if one wrote the word as it was pronounced by a Serbo-Croatian speaker then it would be written “bojink”.
So where does the “a” at the end of “bojinka” come from? Unlike English, Slavic languages are highly inflected and nouns change depending on various things, such as which verb proceeds them. The “a” could well indicate that the noun “bojink” is in a different case. One possibility is second case (genitive), which can be used to express the concept of “of”. (For example, when the Prague area of Žižkov is placed in second case, an “a” is added at the end, making it “Žižkova”, so “the major of Žižkov” would be “starosta Žižkova”.) According to this Serbo-Croatian grammar, an “a” is added at the end of some nouns to place them in a different case—genitive—in Serbo-Croatian (the example given at the last link is “dečak” [child], an “a” is added at the end to make it genitive, giving “dečaka”). This indicates that “bojinka” may mean “of a Boeing” in Serbo-Croatian.
However, there is a caveat we should add here: my Serbo-Croatian is not that hot and I don’t know whether an “a” added at the end of a masculine singular inanimate noun makes it genitive (or puts it into any case other than nominative). For example, it could just as easily be a “u” that should be added—giving “bojinku”–which is the way it is done in Czech. In addition, Berger and also the author Peter Lance asked Serbo-Croatian speakers about the word and they claimed it was not a word in Serbo-Croatian. My guess would be that the people they asked were thinking of formal words, whereas “bojink” is just a way of phonetically writing the word “Boeing” as it is pronounced, so it did not occur to the people they spoke to.
Having said that, “bojink” certainly does mean Boeing and having it in a plot involving Boeing aircraft is just too much of a coincidence for me. On the other hand, why the word would be in genitive beats me. Maybe Arab speakers were just having a problem getting their head round cases.