Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Heblish: From the mailbag edition

Below is a sampling of the, ahem, “actual” letters we receive here at Heblish headquarters every day:

Letter #1:

Dear Mrs. S.,

Help! Summer is here, and my kids are home all day. I love them dearly, but we don’t seem to speak the same language! Please post a new Heblish definition - so I can communicate with my children!

Thanks in advance,

Vexed on Vacation

Dear Vexed,

You’re in luck, because guest blogger Malke submitted just the thing for you. Enjoy!

  • In the close time: Hebrew source בזמן הקרוב. English definition – In the near future; soon. Sample usage - “My friend said that the bagrut grades for math and English will be available on the website in the close time.”

Letter #2:

Dear Mrs. S.:

I gather that you spent two years in Israel as a child. Did you yourself speak Heblish? Perhaps this is the source of your obsession fascination with Heblish?

Wondering on the Web

Dear Wondering,

Hmm. You may have a point.

You see, reader Yaffa (who recently spent a Shabbat with her lovely family here in TRLEOOB*) sent in the following classic Heblishism:

  • Catch a place: Hebrew source לתפוס מקום. English definition – Get a good seat. Sample usage - “I want to get to the party early, to catch a place.”

(BTW, Yaffa suggested that this phrase may actually be used colloquially in British English. Would any of my British readers - or those of you who are married to Brits - care to chime in?)

In any event, this entry brought back a  long-repressed memory from my childhood:

  • Is caught: Hebrew source תפוס. English definition – Occupied; in use; taken. Sample usage - “It wasn’t our fault, because all the showers were caught.”

My brother and I couldn’t understand what caused our parents to burst out laughing when we explained why we were home so late from the pool.

And then, we were very surprised to learn that we weren’t speaking English…


Letter #3:

Dear Mrs. S.,

You’ve translated both Mah Nishtanah and Megilat Esther into Heblish. Why not try your hand at a popular movie?

A Heblish Fan

Dear Fan,

Funny you should ask, because just a few weeks ago, one of the Shiputzim kids was overheard channeling The Princess Bride:

  • In a kitzur: Hebrew source בקיצור. English definition – Briefly; in short. Sample usage - “If you don’t have time to tell me the whole thing now, could you please just tell it to me in a kitzur?

In other words, let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up… Open-mouthed

Thank you, everyone, and please keep those wonderful Heblish submissions coming!


Previous Heblish editions are available here: Heblish I, Heblish II, Heblish III, Heblish IV, Heblish V, Heblish VI, Heblish VII, Heblish VIII, Heblish IX, Heblish X, Heblish XI, Heblish XII, Heblish XIII, Heblish XIV, Heblish XV, and Heblish XVI.


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog


  1. You have funny friends. Or, maybe, they are all playing the straight guy, and you are the one making us laugh!

  2. I always enjoy your Heblish posts I often have to think hay wait do I say that :)!!!
    At times I'm not 100% sure what language I'm speaking:)
    Thanks for the laughs

  3. girls keep talking about the teacher "who changed her" I have repeatedly told them that changing is for diapers, and the teachers are replacements or substitutes.

    My daughter said that the idea "went up to my head" (עלה לי בראש" ) to go to superland.

  4. Leora - Thanks!

    Daniela - I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

    Safranit (Safra-knit) - LOL! The Shiputzim kids say, "the teacher who switched her." And your "went up to my head" one is awesome! (With your permission, I'd love to use it for a future Heblish edition...)

  5. Hurray! I'm famous! Loved the post, as always. -yaffa

  6. I like your Heblish post. The last one is maybe a little different in that the structure is from Hebrew AND the English has borrowed a Hebrew word (probably because it seems more appropriate).

  7. Yaffa - Enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame! :-)

    Ilana-Davita - Good catch! I also like how that last one has an indefinite article, which doesn't exist in Hebrew...

    Shabbat Shalom, everyone!

  8. Feel free to use my kids quotes...I enjoyed them, and so should others....

  9. Safranit (Safra-knit) - Thanks!

  10. ALN: Will you please stop singing that? I can't stand hearing it for the [choose one:] <30th> <40th> <50th> time today!

    Always (aka child #2): But Mommy, we can't help it, we got stuck to it.

    (I'm not really sure if this is even Heblish, or just very bad English. Anyone?)

    And, of course, there's always, "Mommy, if you're going out, who will keep on us?" But we've discussed this one before.

  11. ALN - The Shiputzim kids also use stuck - albeit in a different context.

    And yes, keep/save on is apparently one of the most popular Heblishisms out there... :-)

  12. When I went to learn in Israel I kept calling the plural of Shekel Shekalim like the mishnayos but i caught on it is called shekels.

  13. Y W - Well, I guess if one is speaking English, the plural is "shekels." But in Hebrew, the plural is, in fact, שקלים.


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