Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Heblish: Multi-dialectal edition

Back in my initial Heblish post, I stated that the beauty of Heblish is that there are so many different dialects. In fact, I noted, every Anglo-Israeli household has its own version.

Yet at YAT’s bar mitzvah, I made a surprising and fascinating observation: Speakers of different dialects have no problem conversing with each other! Since the Our Shiputzim blog doesn’t have a linguist on staff (due to budgetary constraints and all), I can’t explain this phenomenon. However, here’s an example, which was used by one of the Shiputzim family’s cousins:

Lefee the high: Hebrew source - לפי גובה. English definition - By height. Sample usage - “Let’s all line up lefee the high.”

The speaker was addressing a group of kids from different families, but they all understood exactly what she meant. Within a few seconds, they had arranged themselves in size order.

And now, we turn to some phrases which are popular here in TRLEOOB (i.e., the real life equivalent of our blog, for those of you who are just tuning in):

Mixing up: Hebrew source – מבלבל. English definition –Confusing. Sample usage - “I can’t figure out how to put this thing together. The instructions are very mixing up.”

To pick: Hebrew source - להצביע or לבחור. English definition - To vote for. Sample usage - “Who are you going to pick in the elections?”

Just stam saying: Hebrew source - סתם אומר\ת. English definition – Just making it up. Sample usage - “That’s not at all how it happened! He’s just stam saying!”

Learn for a test: Hebrew source - ללמוד למבחן. English definition - Study for a test. Sample usage - “I finished learning for my test. Now I can go out to play.”

Right it’s: Hebrew source – …נכון ש. English definition – Isn’t it true that. Sample usage - “Right it’s my turn now, because she went first last time?”


Previous editions are available here: Heblish I, Heblish II, and Heblish III.


  1. and why did they have to line up.
    Do you think we enjoyed this :-)
    very much :-)

  2. "Anonymous" - Actually, for the Friday night brachot, the kids always line up "lefee the age". But when the girls were playing a game on Shabbos afternoon, they lined up "lefee the high". (There's a nafka mina, because some of the younger kids are taller than their older cousins.)

    In any event, you may be interested to learn that the phrase "lefee the high" comes from the northern dialect...

  3. "lefee the high"
    I need to sit down for a few minutes, while my brain struggles with that one...

  4. Though I'm a long-time opponent of "learn for a test" (instead of study for a test), my British friend once told me that it's OK to say that. She says that in England that's what they do. Go figure...

  5. SuperRaizy - LOL!

    Imma - Go figure, indeed, because none of the Shiputzim kids have ever been to England...

  6. RickisMom - Thanks and have a great week!

  7. I think this might actually be a good way to learn Hebrew. Begin with regular English; start incorporating key Hebrew words and grammar; eventually eliminate the remaining English terms. Why do I think it would be a good way to learn? Because that's how kids do it! And they do it very well. Whereas adults start with formal grammar like Peel, Paul, Hoopoe and Highball and their eyes glaze over long before they get to anything useful.

  8. Joe in Australia - LOL about "Peel, Paul, Hoopoe and Highball"!
    Interesting idea BTW. But as any adult oleh can tell you, as one's Hebrew slowly improves, one's English rapidly deteriorates. Thus, after a few years, one doesn't become bilingual. One becomes non-lingual! :-)

  9. I'm pretty goshdarn sure that'Right it's my turn now' is not a translation of Hebrew. My kids talk like that and all they know in Hebrew is 'glida' kelev' and 'todah'.

  10. Anonymous - Before we made aliyah, that was about the sum of our children's vocabulary as well. It came as a bit of shock to discover that Hebrew included a few other words as well...


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