The Hebrew-Israeli Language

February 27, 2009

There is a fascinating documentary series airing now in Israel that explores the evolution of modern day Hebrew. Below is an outtake from Haaretz:

Hebrew: ‘London, Corner of Ben Yehuda’
For the proponents of good Hebrew, and also for those who are interested in an intelligent, horizon-expanding television program, Channel 10 is now broadcasting a weekly series (on Wednesdays) entitled “London, Corner of Ben Yehuda.” In the series, veteran journalist Yaron London examines the ways in which our use of the Hebrew language has changed, from its revival by Eliezer Ben Yehuda to the present day. Along the way, London addresses subjects such as the generation gap, slang and “sub-languages” – including those of the Internet and of the settlers in the territories. A fascinating conversation between London and the writer Meir Shalev is a balm for every language-loving dinosaur, as London calls himself. In the second episode, which deals with the language of love – or, as poet Michal Zamir puts it more accurately, the language of erotica – London turns out to be an excellent writer of love poems (he wrote two especially for the program). And he proves, with his body and voice, that curiosity, intelligence and articulateness are enough to turn him, too, despite his age and pot belly, into an erotic object. (Neri Livneh)

Beware of plastic begs

October 2, 2008

There are some common mistakes Israelis make when writing English. Here is a great status update on Facebook but what makes it perfect is the response. The status says “begs” instead of “bags” and the responder repeated the mistake!

Other golden ones are “sabmit” for “submit,” “massages” for “messages” and “cat and paste” for “cut and paste.”

Share yours in the comments!

Bang – multi-purpose liquid

June 26, 2008

From our friend Esther: “Products like this one are the reason Americans will always laugh at Israelis.”

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.


March 18, 2007

Coming from Texas, I’m used to hearing “dubya” for the letter W.

In the Hi-tech world in the English, we shortened “www” to “dub dub dub” — it’s just easier to say.

Israelis in the Hi-tech world shorten it to “wah wah wah.”

wah wah wah? wah wah wee wah!

The United State of America

March 12, 2007

A classic mistake that Israeli make when speaking English is – for whatever reason – leaving off the “S” at the end of word that should end with one.

Get used to hearing Israeli talking about flying on airplane (American Airline?) to place like Fairbank, Alaska and Saint Peterburg, Russia, after graduating from Tuft university.

Share your S-less word in the comment section…

Big Business

March 6, 2007

Many global companies have offices in Israel. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Israelis know how to pronounce their names. This tidbit comes from Zabajnik Rafi:

Israelis pronounce the name of the accounting firm Ernst & Young as “Ernest Young.” Even people who work there pronounce it like that! Try it for yourself, call them up and smile as the receptionist answers the phone by saying “Shalom, Ernest Young.”