I and my fellow immigrant friends recently took a field trip down the hall to the computer lab to do some online Hebrew tutorials. Ayze kef!
- The teacher shows us how get to the tutorial through forty-five easy steps, beginning with Google. “Mishehu yodaya mah zeh Goo-gel?” Umm…yeah, I might have heard about it once.
- “Tikanes l’Goo-gel! Tikanes l’Een-tehr-net!” says the teacher. What makes you smile when you’re feeling down? Chocolate? A hug from a friend? Me? Gimme an Israeli speaking Hebrew-fied English any day of the week. (Bah-fah-lo weengs, anyone?)
- Google.com automatically redirects to its Hebrew version…HOW DOES IT KNOW??? There must be a tiny Israeli inside my computer. (My friend Neil makes this point: Can you believe the hottest company on the planet over the last several years is Google? It’s soared in value, dominated headlines, and is the first legitimate competitor to Microsoft’s monopoly in the tech world. A search engine??? It’s not like this is a pharmaceutical company saving millions of lives. I mean, what if this company disappeared? Would anything change? I’d just use Yahoo.com to look up my Milli Vanilli lyrics.)
- Teach walks us through the process, step by step. “Type ‘Pisgah Holon’ and cleeck deh third one.” Five minutes later, she’s still walking around, helping people figure it out. What in the World Wide Web is taking so long? Do you people not have computers in your home countries? Ulpan teachers must feel like Harold Ramis in “Stripes” when he’s teaching the English-as-a-second-language class.
- This is one confuuuuuuuuuused class. Can we get some third-graders here on the double? My five year-old nephew can’t tie his shoes but can navigate his way to the games on The Cartoon Network’s website in seven seconds.
- My classmate types in her password and is confused when it comes up encrypted. “Ha’seesmah amurah lihyot nekoodot?” (Is the password supposed to be dots?) Nice job, Michael Dell. AM I ON CANDID CAMERA???
- “Ahhh…it’s a mouse!” I exclaim, pointing and feigning fright. It’s a shame that was wasted on a non-English speaker. (I don’t care what anyone says, I have no intention of giving that joke up.)
- “Ech omrim keyboard?” I ask my teacher. She cocks her head at me like dog who can’t figure out if the barking coming from the TV is real. You would have thought I just asked her to calculate pi to 400 decimal places.
- The teacher just accidentally pronounced it Go-gel. That was funny.
I’m in! Veeeeeeeeeery neat. I can now do all kinds of exercises from the confines of my own home. Learning Hebrew is fun! Surely Ben-Yehuda never envisioned this when he revived Hebrew 100 years ago. I wonder if he knows we’re using his computer.