Monday, January 12, 2009

Strudels and playdates

We have spoken before about the tendency in modern Hebrew to take English words and just add an "rrrrrr" to them, and voila, a new Hebrew word has been created. There are many, many examples of this phenomenon. Hoo-ree-kahn = hurricane; op-tzi-ah = option; for-ma-lee = formal; and a new one I just heard this morning on the radio: win-win situation = win-win situation. Now, as an aside, sometimes this liberal use of transliteration bothers me, as an English geek. There is an etymology behind English words that gets lost when they're simply transliterated. For example, the word "psychologist", aka "pesicholog" is a combination of "psyche" and "ologist" i.e. one who studies ologies, or something like that. So why not use a translation of "psychologist," which would connote the same meaning in Hebrew? Why transliterate something which becomes meaningless in your language? And then, there are very simple English words which for no good reason are not transliterated. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you "strudel." This is what Israelis call the @ sign in an email. I've heard this a number of times and each time it makes me laugh out loud. Today on the radio, the radio announcer announced, in his very deep, macho, radio-announcerish voice, the email address for whatever it was he was advertising. (Chocolate spread? Pinkasim? Supersol credit card?) He said, "blah blah blah STRUDEL walla.co.il." (Just by the way, I think "walla" is a pretty funny word as well. Walla!) I mean, seriously folks! Since when do we decide on a name for our symbols based on the closest baked good they resemble? Is the word "at" really that difficult a concept to understand? Is it hard to pronounce? Are Israelis peeved that we don't have a masculine and feminine version of it? Clearly, it is beyond my comprehension, but there you have it: "at" has become "STRUDEL." Say it with me! gila STRUDEL gilaanddonny.com! CNN STRUDEL.com! It just trips off the tongue, doesn't it? Kinda like strudel....hmmmmm.....

Tonight we had an old-fashioned playdate. I mean, REALLY old-fashioned, like the silent movies of old. This evening, Shirat came for a playdate. This is the little girl that has invited Ariella twice to her home, and Ariella has been dying to have her over. So tonight we finally coordinated ourselves and Shirat came. Shirat, as well as Ima Shel Shirat, speak only Hebrew. It was interesting watching Ariella play with Shirat. While the usual girly chatter was absent - and anyone who has spent five minutes with Ariella can tell you she is the absolute Master of Chatter - they did manage to communicate and I was impressed with Ariella's comfort level with Hebrew. She obviously couldn't say everything she wanted, but she was definitely confident in what she knew. First they colored, then played dress-up, then we took out Candyland, because it speaks the universal language of colors, then I explained "Go Fish" to Shirat and they played that. Apparently they have a version of Go Fish in Israel, but they do not call it "Lech Dag." In any case, Shirat was more than adept at playing the game, and Ariella learned a new phrase: "Yesh lach?" Then they had dinner and colored some more. All in all I think it was a very successful playdate and I was proud of both Ariella and myself for handling it with such finesse! Next week, we are hosting a very intense playdate with five of the kids from gan - it's part of this program where each kid hosts five other kids, and you have to send invitations and do all sorts of activities. It is intense work being the parent a five year old in Israel. I will, of course, keep you posted on that, but I was glad to have had a bit of a "rehearsal" playdate with Shirat, quiet though it was.

3 comments:

Risa said...

Gila, I appreciate you comments on translitation and strudel. Even more annoying are words that are half-transliterated and half-translated, such as "microgal" for microwave (as "gal" means wave in Hebrew). Why not call it either "microvave" or "gal katan meod"?

Risa said...

In the first sentence, I meant transliteration. (Please pardon my error.)

Gila Rose said...

Gal katan meod! Love it! you are totally getting new poofahs in my next post!!