Monday, June 29, 2009

A suggestion for the English-challenged

Warning: This post may exceed the recommended daily allowance of snarkiness. Proceed at your own risk.


Generally, my Heblish posts, which are primarily geared towards my children's education, can also serve to protect me and my fellow Anglos against potential linguistic lapses.

But this post is designed as a public service announcement for a certain subset of native-born Israelis who may not be QUITE as cool as they like to think they are.

I’m referring, of course, to those Israelis who enjoy peppering their Hebrew with occasional dashes of English.

Unfortunately (for them and for their interlocutors), however, some of these would-be English-speakers occasionally – and completely unwittingly – dot their speech with Heblish instead of the intended English.

For instance, during the course of a recent phone call – which was conducted entirely in Hebrew - an Israeli colleague said to me, “Tov, b’seder, I trust on you.”

Also, not too long ago, I observed the word, “wellcom,” [sic] in the middle of an otherwise all-Hebrew email.

So, if you’re a native Israeli (who happens to read English-language blogs), please consider the following:

An injudicious use of English – specifically, an English which is rife with errors and misspellings and veers towards Heblish – probably won’t achieve the desired results.

Quite the opposite in fact.

My advice?

Stick to Hebrew. You won’t be sorry.

Trust on me…



  1. Oh, man, have you opened up a Pandora's box here...
    How about:
    "Invite a pizza" (lehazmin pizza)
    "To do a mistake"
    "Do you want I should do you a
    blow dry?" (actual quote by a
    And, in tribute to my Israeli ex-husband, the Grand Emperor of syntactical errors:
    (upon realizing that he had committed an error) "I think I big time screw up this mess!"
    (you bet you did, buddy!)

  2. When my kids would tell me that they were going to "lakachat miklachat," instead of "l'hitkale'ach," I'd answer: "To where?"

  3. SuperRaizy -
    Those are great! Unlike our kids, who use Heblish unintentionally, the adults in my examples (and I assume yours too) deliberately use English phrases in order to "show" how cool they are. Too bad for them that their mangled syntax ruins the effect...

    Batya -
    Back when I was here post-high school, we all would say that - at least until the Israelis corrected us...

  4. Interesting mistakes and not unlike those my students make when trying to speak English.

  5. Ilana-Davita - The test answers you posted on your blog did sound very familiar...

  6. What I hate is how the signs at Israeli parks have the most eggregious and horrendous spelling mistakes, such that anyone even minimally conversant in English would be able to identify them. Can the Israelis really be so haughty that it is beneath them to get an Anglo or an Israeli academic to proofread their work?

    Also, I HATE when people use English words when perfectly good Hebrew equivalents exist. If someone says "ofen normali" or "ofen specifi" again - what is wrong with "ragil" and "mesuyam"? - I'm tempted to respond, "Sliha, achshav ani medaber rak ivrit."

  7. Yes, I agree with the park signs (although resataurant menus are pretty ridiculous as well). We just returned from vacation where we went rafting, which you could only do if you were not "preganat" or fall under the category of "peopel with astma". The entire sign was rife with spelling and syntactical errors, too many to even remember.

  8. Oops, I just realized I spelled "restaurant" incorrectly in my indignant rant about spelling errors. It was a typo, I promise!!

  9. Mikewind Dale - I wouldn't call it haughtiness per se. Rather, it's that many Israelis have a misplaced - but rather amusing - faith in their own English fluency...

    Malke - Ah, yes. One can never be too careful when one is "preganat"...


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