Chakalaka Part II: Kojak. Koja…CABANA!!

February 21, 2007


So…the plot sickens in the search for any reason behind “Chakalaka.” When lonelymanofcake revealed that any single “chakalaka” rotating light put upon a police car was called a Kojak (קוג’ק) (!)…well, first thing’s first I cleaned up the beer I spit on the monitor. And put my pants back on. But I digress.

KOJAK?!! Really? Man. Time for Pinhas & the PCF to back me up again on this one:

…and if you think we’re kidding about all this, check out the Israeli site that will sell you a Professional 12 volt Kojak!

Pronunciation, take 2

February 20, 2007

At least once a week we’ll try to post a few new words in our “pronunciation” series. These are all completely serious/true and should be seen as a crash course in living in Israel. We’re not kidding! (Click here to visit part 1 of the series)

BMW – beh-em-veh

Bowling – bauw-leeeng

Handbrake – aaaaand-breakes

Ego – ehh-go

Supermarket – sue-pearrrr

Bitches – bee-ches

Beaches – bee-ches

…yes, it is true, Israelis are not able to distinguish between “bitches” and “beaches

Who are you kidding?

February 19, 2007

The term ישראבלוף (Israbluff) is simply a bluff, but what makes it different than a regular bluff? Every Israeli would be able to identify it as a bluff, where it may not be so obvious to others. In fact, to Israelis an Israbluff is so obvious and audacious, that the word itself is a derogitory term. Here are some examples of an Israbluf:

  • A government agency wants to pay their employee 10,000 Shekels a month. For some legal reason they are only allowed to pay 5,000 shekels a month. An easy way to get around this is a complex Israbluff. The agency simply withholds salary from its employee. According to the laws in Israel if you withhold salary from an employee, the amount due to the employee is multiplied every month. The employee plays his role in the Israbluff and sues his employer every 3 months for his salary. The employee will then earn his 10,000 shekels a month.
  • Bike stores in Israel used to have their bike racks on the sidewalks outside their shops. In fact, all retail stores took advantage of the extra floorspace outside their shop. A law was passed in Israel that prohobits all shops from using the extra sidewalk space, with the exception of cafes and restaurants. Bike stores became bike shop/cafes so they could use the sidewalk space outside their shop.
  • The Misrad ha Klita has a sign that reads “We are here to serve you”

After hearing these, Israelis would respond … איזה ישראבלוף (what an Israbluff).

La Chakalaka, La Chakalaka, Ya No Puede מסתובב…

February 19, 2007


Because the phrase, “spinning light” made too much f’n sense, a word had to be invented to describe the type of revolving light on emergency vehicles. That word:

Chakalaka (צ’קלקה).

If anyone knows where this ridiculous word comes from, and why it’s suddenly the only acceptable way to describe the police siren light thingy, please let me know.

Chaka-lotta nonsense to me… the only thing I (Eitan) found was this Wikipedia stub:


Aside from spelling “flavor” with that really annoying ‘u,’ this doesn’t give us much by way of an explanation into how a “spicy African vegetable reilsh” served with something called “pap” somehow lends itself to a description of an ambulance light.

Anyway, we came across this Chakalakasmic jam put together by our friends Pinhas & the Portuguese Crotch Flu. Seems to make sense…

For the full lyrics of the song, keep reading…

Read the rest of this entry »

I Saw the Sign, and It Opened Up My Eyes

February 18, 2007

Israel_2006_00044_1Tel Aviv, July 2006:

The sign warns that the space is “private parking”, and further cautions that a vehicle which is zar (foreign or alien) y’garer, which presumably (from context) means “will be towed.”

But the word l’garer also reminds me of the word ger, which means convert. So when I see this sign, I prefer to translate it (albeit incorrectly) as:

“Private parking: An alien vehicle will be converted to Judaism.”

Why? Because it makes me laugh.

Man, that’s such a ‘kitbeg question’

February 15, 2007

This one comes from my time in the army.

In fact, so much of Israeli culture stems from the army…the phrase

“שאלת קיטבג” (She’elat Kit-beg)

means, roughly, “kit-bag question.” I know, no help there, right? Here’s what a “kit-bag” looks like:


STILL no help, I know. It’s a bag you get in the army in which you keep all your uniforms, socks, lint, grease, and…dignity. sound icon

And here’s where that retarded phrase came from:

In basic training, they generally demoralize you by making you do things like run back and forth a lot (and things of that nature). So, imagine a commander telling his soldiers, “Run from here to that tree and back!” and some putz asking “with our kit-bags, or without?”

Thus the term “kit-bag question” was born. It usually describes the type of question that brings on some sort of misfortune just by virtue of it being asked. Asking a teacher, “but what about the homework for tomorrow?” would be a good example of a “she’elat kitbeg.”

Today, this term has kind of extended its use to describe just any kind of stupid question…and thus it’s lost some of its original (ridiculous) meaning…


February 13, 2007

Outside of Israel (or at least in America), a “chaser” is what you’d drink after doing a shot of something. It’s the main drink you’re drinking, while the shot is something that is over quickly. For example, people like to drink beer after doing a shot of tequila. To be clear — a shot is the hard alcohol drank from a small glass quickly, in one gulp.

In Israel, however, the phrases are completely reversed in meaning. Here, a chaser is the alcohol drank in one quick gulp and it comes alongside the main drink (i.e. beer). Very strange. Furthermore, the difference between “chaser” and “shot” is merely a matter of size. Because Israel doesn’t really have a drinking culture. I suppose they had to invent a new word to mean “half of a shot.” sound icon

So when you’re in a bar, remember “chasers” are small shots that come alongside your main drink and “shots” are just double the size of chasers sound icon.

Um…can we discuss this WORD?

February 13, 2007

(le-des-kes) לדסקס: To discuss

מיכאל בן יעקוב

February 12, 2007

My work buddies helped me out with some great zabaj material today. It’s so funny to hear what phrases Israelis choose to translate to Hebrew, and what phrases they choose to transliterate to Hebrew. During the 80’s and 90’s, it was hip to call things by their English names, but just spell it in Hebrew. From the 70’s and earlier Israelis just translated English phrases to Hebrew. Of course, there are always exceptions, and some recent names got translated, too. Here are some Music groups that all Israelis have heard of, but Anglos haven’t heard them quite like this before …

האבנים המתגלגלות
החיפושיות (הקצב)
האמהות והאבות

… and some of my absolute favorites …

רובים ושושנים
עשרה אלפים המטורפים

What ever happened to …

שעועית שחורת עין
מיכאל בן יעקוב

For those too lazy to translate, the groups in order are The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles (The Beat), The Mammas and the Pappas, The Eagles, Guns n Roses, The Who, 10,000 Maniacs, Black Eyed Peas, Michael Jackson (the Son of Jack)

Doing Loundry, Israel-style!

February 11, 2007

More Loundry Loundry

Thanks to Kelsey for sending in the signs she saw while doing loundry in Israel!sound icon

*Click on thumbnails to view full-sized image.

“Shiiiiiii. I want me some *breakfassss*”

February 11, 2007

Man. This picture taken of the menu of a bar/restaurant next to one of our favorite hangouts, Abraxis, on Nachalat Binyamin and Lillenblum. Aside from tasty sandwiches and improperly apostrophized shnitzels, finally a place where we can eat the elusive Pacman. Not sure when the last time was I ate a 1980s arcade game character. Maybe because Pacman is not a food (maybe you order it and a waiter comes and makes this sound).


So, enjoy the rest of the menu. And when you’re done please feel free to join me for some f’n breakfas.


February 10, 2007

A big part about adjusting to life in Israel is learning how to speak like an Israeli. I’m not referring to Hebrew vocabulary but rather to the style, intonation and attitude with which Israelis speak. Many words you already know or can pick up easily would be completely unintelligible to an Israeli unless spoken with the right Israeli-ness. This blog will cover a lot of pronunciation-related topics and here’s just a handful to get us started:

Burgers – boor-gerzzzz sound icon
Rum – roooooom sound icon
Asparagus – as-pa-ra-goos sound icon
Rothschild (as in the boulevard) – rot-cheeld sound icon
La Guardia (another street) – la-gar-deeya sound icon
Lincoln (as in the street) – leen-co-len sound icon
Salmon – saL-mon sound icon

…pronouncing the usually-silent L in words is a particularly funny thing about Israelis.

Is there Osnot in the house?

February 9, 2007

The following contribution comes all the way from San Francisco where my good friend, Shimone, reflects on his childhood in Israel:

So my family and I love to play this game – try and come up with as many names we can think of that sound great in Hebrew but hilarious in English. Some of them just look funny as they’re written and mispronounced, others are funny simply because of how they sound.

Imagine roll call in the US as the teacher asks, “Is there an Osnot Maman here?” Funny in the US maybe…but Osnot Maman was a childhood friend of mine growing up in Israel 🙂

So here’s what I can come up with in no particular order:

Osnot (pronounced Oh Snot)
Oded (pronounced Oh Dead)
Ophir (pronounced Oh Fear)
Ophri (pronounced Oh Free)
Dikla, Diklit (pronounced Deek Lah and Deek Leet)
Limor (pronounced Lee More)
Bar (pronounced Bahr)
Gil (pronounced Geel)
Dor (pronounced Door)
Dror (pronounced Drawer)
Bat (pronounced Baht)
Mor (pronounced More)
Alon (pronounced Alohn)
Or (pronounced Ohr)
Nir (pronounced Near)
Nissan (a Hebrew month actually)
Tal (pronounced Tall)
Amit (pronounced Ah Meat)
Anat (pronounced Ah Not)
Ramit (pronounced Raw Meat)
Shlomit (pronounced Shlow Meat)
Mangina (pronounced Mahn Gee Nah)
Moran (pronounced Morahn)
Gad (pronounced God)
Uzi (where do you think the gun came from?)
Lital (Lee Tall)
Guy (pronounced Guy)
Gal (pronounced Gahl)
Dudu (pronounced Doo-Doo)
Guy Penis (a famous Israel TV personality)

and of course my own name…
Shimone (pronounced She Moan)

פרקינגס and טסט

February 7, 2007

I just got my car inspected yesterday. Apparently there is no word in Hebrew for inspection, so they use the English word … “Test.” At one point, they were checking my emissions, so the attendant asked my to put my car in “Parkings.”

You know, the P on my shifter stands for “Parkings.”

Which way to the Q without a G-DAMN U?!!

February 7, 2007

israeli_sign.jpgThis sign is innocuous enough — trust me, there are many more scandalous than this one — I just haven’t been with a camera last time I drove by one (that’s gonna change). But please, do we live in Qatar or something? Last I checked we don’t use a Q without a U. I mean…K would have been just fine here. On some signs פתח תקווה is spelled with a K, so what gives (I won’t even start on that W)?

I shoudn’t fail to mention either that the Print Shop 2.0 airplane icon next to Petach Tikva (see!?) is great and all, except for the fact that THERE’S NO AIRPORT IN PETACH TIKVA.

*Click on thumbnail to view full-sized image.

לקט-פסט: to Cut and Paste

February 6, 2007

This (l’cet-paste) is a good one heard in a hi-tech company (where, ostensibly, the lion’s share of the country’s cutting and pasting goes on). These types of verbs can be really fun. A few more:

לקטלג (l’kt’leg): To catalog

לניילן (l’nylen): To put pieces of paper in nylon sheaths (!)


February 6, 2007

I have adjusted pretty well to life in Israel but I cannot for the life of me get used to this whole “noon” and “afternoon” thing.

For my whole life…”noon” has meant 12 o’clock — midday.
That’s how it is in the world. Noon = midday = 12 o’clock.

Now, suddenly, I have to get used to the concept that in Israel “noon” means anything after 12:00 until 4:00 p.m. and you have to be specific. Even worse is that it typically means 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. It’s this WHOLE block of freaking time that people are so ambiguous about…and it doesn’t even really include the actual NOON.

And “afternoon”? Well “afternoon” refers to the time between 4 p.m. and dinner time.


I mean…according to Mirriam Webster, “noon” is 12 o’clock midday.

It’s not just some rule I made up.

I can’t get used to it.
It’s so hard to like CHANGE the MEANING of a word.