November 25, 2007

Speaking of funny translations of English phrases into Hebrew…

What about the time my roommate told me not to “Le’zag’zeg” in the traffic?
And what about the commercial I just heard where the guy said “Ani lo mevin klum…tess-em-ess li” (literally “I don’t understand anything…send me an SMS).

Keeps me on my toes.

Whale Done!

September 18, 2007

Whale done

This was the gift I got from my bank this year, an inspiration book about the power of positive thinking. First, its ironic that the book is translated from English (are there no inspiration Hebrew books written by people other than god?) Second, they changed the original title and came up with one on their own (obviously) – Whale Done! (click the pic to see a full version). As always, I’m sure we can all imagine that boardroom meeting: “No, no, I am telling you, the Americans talk like dzis, they say ‘whale done’ as a funny American joke and so we must do it as well, whale done!”

Did you say Un-Alphabet?

April 18, 2007

A friend and I were talking (in Hebrew) when I heard him say “alphabet” in a sentence. Yeah, the English word “alphabet” … pronounced “alphabet” … just likeUn-Alphabet we say it in English.

I said … “Alphabet?”

And he said … “No, Un-Alphabet”.

So I said … “What the crap is an Un-Alphabet?”

In case you were wondering, the word אלפבית (alphabet) in Hebrew has no meaning, but the word אנאלפבית (pronounced Un-alphabet) means illiterate. I’ve asked some friends how you say “literate,” and they told me there is no word for “literate.” I looked it up in the dictionary, and apparently they’re right…there is no word for “literate.” If you look up the word “literate” in the dictionary, it’s the same word for “learned” (Melumad) which generally refers to biblical learning.

Some other funny nouns …

Narcoman – Is not an Israeli super hero with special Narc powers. It’s a drug addict.

Alcoholist – Is not a scholar who majored in Alcohol (chemist, biologist, physicist, psychologist, etc.). It’s an alcoholic.

Fire-o-man – Is not a fireman. It’s a pyromaniac. I think us anglos screwed this one up. In Hebrew, a fireman is a (mechabeh esh … a fire putter outer). Our firemen should be called Fire-putter-outers, but that just sucks to say.

Ve Gaits da Fashtunkeneh Puncher Makher

February 27, 2007

It’s really funny when English gets thrown into the Hebrew vocabulary. It’s really really ridiculously funny when Yiddish becomes part of the conversational Hebrew Vocabulary.

The word most commonly used for “flat tire” is Puncher (Puncture) –


It would just make too much sense to call a tire shop by the Hebrew term … חנות צמיגים (Khanut Tzmigim). What do you think a tire repair shop should be called in Hebrew … a תיקוני צמיגים (Tikuneh Tzmigim)? Or maybe a half Hebrew/half Yiddish phrase … תיקוני פאנצ’רים (Tikuneh Puncherim)?

I’m not sure what Ben Yehuda was thinking, but in Hebrew they translate the Repair Shop to Yiddish too.

פאנצ’ר מאכר – Puncher Makher

That’s the funniest thing since I searched “De Gantzeh Megilleh” at Google Yiddish.

Grab-bag from Brad

February 27, 2007

Brad writes in with some great insights into life in Israel (thank him by adding him as a friend on Facebook, he needs more Zabajnikim):

-Directly translating from Hebrew to English (or vice versa) often gets Israelis into trouble. For instance, when having a conversation with an Israeli in English, if he or she want to show agreement they might say “me either” instead of “me too”

-The Israeli word for any breakfast cereal is cornflakes

The Israeli word for potato chips is usually doritos

The Israeli word for snacks is munchies (like the stoner condition of being hungry)

-Although Israelis have a word for refrigerator – מקרר (mikarer) – many (especially older Israelis) will say frigedor

-If you order “nachos” in Israel, you will get tortilla chips with salsa…or possibly ketchup…but never with cheese

-Salsa is often called rotev salsa… which means “sauce sauce” in a Hebrew-Spanish combo

-The Israeli term for “last minute” is daka 90, which comes from soccer games being 90 minutes long

-“Bagel” means bagel and “bageleh” means pretzel

    He’s a Pooh!

    February 13, 2007

    This one, I just have to blame on the Anglos. Winnie the Pooh is a bear … and his name is Winnie … and he is a Pooh. I can see how the Israelis got it confused. What the frick is a Pooh anyway? Well, whoever got the rights for Winnie the Pooh in Israel made his name Pooh … Pooh the Bear – פו הדב. What happened to the Winnie who is a bear … and a Pooh?


    The 32nd Flavor

    February 12, 2007

    Israeli ice cream shops have funny flavors. Not so much cuz they taste funny, but the spellings are hilarious. One of my all time favorites has been

    Cockies and Cream sound icon

    It’s ice cream with little chunks of cockies mixed in. Sounds yummy. It even looks like cockies.

    My friend Nir just told me about a funnier ice cream flavor. On the corner of Weizmann and Tel Hai, there is a small ice cream shop. On each bucket of ice cream, there were stickers with Hebrew handwritten flavors. I have no idea what this flavor would taste like. Let’s see if you can guess. The flavor was called …

    אייס קרים sound icon

    That’s right … ice cream flavored ice cream.