Random Language Musings

I have a co-worker named Hilla (pronounced “Hee-LAH”) who I’ll be working pretty closely with this year. We’ve spend a lot of time together the last 2 weeks, including several hours making fun of each other’s language. This morning, she complained that her leg hurt to which I replied “I’m sorry.” “What you sorry for?” I guess the shuk was out of linking verbs that day. I explained to her that while I wasn’t apologizing, I was sorry that she was in pain. Apparently this doesn’t translate into Hebrew. A few hours later, we repeated this same conversation as she reminded me that “you didn’t do nothing!” When I brought it up with a colleague who also emigrated from a Western country, he said, “I know, they don’t get it. I once broke up with an Israeli girlfriend because of her not getting ‘I’m sorry’”. Funny. He also said that he hates the “yiyeh b’seder” attitude because it keeps people from solving problems….

This afternoon, I sat in on a seminar geared towards the volunteer placements where the kids will be working this year. A woman was brought in to talk to the contact persons at these organizations to help prepare them to deal with our kids and use them efficiently. In Hebrew she said, “Throw out some words describing how you might feel on the first day of a job.” After confirming the word with Hilla, I threw out “beel-BOOL”, or “confusion”. Apparently this sounded much like “peer-POOR” which is what she wrote on the butcher paper, even repeating it later on in the session. The moral of the story is that a large group of Israelis may have left wondering how many “seizures” I’ve experienced on the first day of work. Oh well…at least my co-workers got a good laugh out of it.

Oh yes, this came up last week. When saying that something wasn’t set in stone, Hilla said this is not “Torah m’ (from) Sinai”. The cliches don’t get much older than that.

And one more quick thing not related to language which I found funny: last week we had a meeting at our old office which is being moved to a new location. How many times have you seen a mover stop what he’s doing to respectfully raise his voice at your pregnant boss asking her what kind of drink she’d like him to buy for her? Well, I’ve seen it once. Even movers are Jewish mothers here.

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