I found that sentence printed on a T-shirt : IT'S A SHAH THING YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND

I wonder how this ("Shah thing") should be understood. Is it related to some slang originating in Indian or Iran ? Or related to the fall and demise of the Shah, ruler of Iran, in 1979 ? Or simply an adaptation of "It's a black thing, etc."

I made some research but couldn't find any other occurrence.

  • I believe the original saying is "It's a black thang you wouldn't understand" but not sure where that originated, other than I saw it on a shirt in the early 90's near Chicagoland. – LawrenceC Apr 10 '17 at 14:06
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    There seem to be lots of shirts for sale on the Internet which say "It's a X thing, you wouldn't understand", where X is a common surname. Is it possible that the person wearing the shirt was named Shah? – Nate Eldredge Apr 10 '17 at 15:00

This phrase has nothing to do with the former Iranian monarch: you find it because “Shah” is a common name and people who bear it are a large target market.

Many businesses engage in selling ‘personalized’ merchandise—a t-shirt or hoodie or coffee mug or some other sellable object imprinted with —the name of the buyer or of a group with which the buyer identifies—or with a catchphrase into which the name can be inserted.

It's a X thing, you wouldn't understand is one catchphrase popular with these merchandisers—presumably because it’s popular with their customers. The phrase means “That is a matter which only people who are X understand; since you are not X you cannot understand it”. It thus asserts the superiority of people who are X to people who are not X.

Such merchandise is usually available for just about any name, and marketed with internet links and images which embody most fairly common names—“Shah”, for instance. I was unable to find any merchandise for “kantx”, but here’s a website marketing hoodies and t-shirts with the name “Smith” inserted into many different catchphrases.

  • That doesn't explain why Shah in that instance. I wouldn't be so categorical. I suspect an alteration of "sure". – kantx Apr 10 '17 at 21:16

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