Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Heblish: Talking head edition

Aaaand we’re back.

My next guest is Professor Ainlee Mussag - head of the linguistics department at OurShiputzim University, author of the critically-acclaimed Official Our Shiputzim Heblish-English Dictionary, and president of the Academy of the Heblish Language.

{camera pans to an ostentatiously bored-looking academic type}

Welcome to the show, Professor.

Ainlee Mussag: {nods imperceptibly} “Thank you. It’s good to be here.

I’d like to start by asking you about the Academy. I have to admit that I’d never heard of it before. What can you tell us about it?

AM: {makes a lame and ponderous attempt at humor} “Well, first of all, we joke that its Heblish name should be the ‘Academy to the Heblish Tongue.’

{titters politely} Haha! Good one!

AM: {oblivious to the fact that no one but the host is laughing} “Yes, my colleagues and I do enjoy a good joke now and then!

But seriously, I can tell you that the Academy was founded a number of years ago when it became evident that Heblish was developing at an alarming rate. Something had to be done.

{stifles a yawn} I see. And how about the book?

AM: {puts fingertips together and begins to drone} “That was a natural offshoot of the work we do at the Academy. We felt that it was incumbent upon us to document what can best be described as a significant manifestation of social change or even as a paradigm shift-

{interrupts after noticing that the audience has fallen asleep} I’m sorry, Professor, but that’s all the time we have for now.

But before we say goodbye, I was wondering if you could perhaps share some recently-coined expressions?

AM:Certainly. Here are some of my favorites:

  • To lenatzel [objective pronoun]: Hebrew source לנצל את.  English definition – To take advantage of. Sample usage – “It’s not fair that I always have to set the table! You’re just lenatzeling me!”
  • If already: Hebrew source אם כבר. English definition – If anything; at most. Sample usage - “I didn’t bother him! If already, the opposite!”
  • Can I have…? Hebrew source ?…אפשר לקבל את. English definition – May I speak to…? Sample usage – “Hello, can I have Itzik?”
  • Or this or that: Hebrew source או זה או זה. English definition – Either this or that. Sample usage - “Each girl could pick if she wanted or to be in the choir or to be in the play.”
  • In what hour? Hebrew source ?באיזה שעה. English definition – At what time? Sample usage - “In what hour are we leaving?”



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, and Heblish XIII.


P.S. The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Jack for including my Bnei Brak post.


  1. Love the "Or this or this." Another of my favorites is "one one." As in, put them in the box one one.

  2. Nice ones! But I have to know - do your kids really say "if already?" That's a new one for me.

    As an aside to "in what hour," I realized a couple of days ago that my son always asks "what's the time?" It had sounded British to me, but I just realized that it's totally Heblish...

    Yashar Kochech!

  3. MiI - "One, one" seems to be very popular. For instance, Toby mentioned it here. B"N, I'll include it in my next roundup of reader-submitted Heblishisms... :-)

    Toby - A certain Shiputzim child says, "if already, the opposite," so often that it doesn't even sound strange to me anymore!

    Actually, unlike the previous two Heblish editions, this one is composed entirely of expressions heard here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog). 4 out of the 5 are used by the Shiputzim kids themselves, and the fifth one ("can I have...") is used by a Shiputzim son's friend, who always says that when he calls... :-)

  4. You know, now that I think of it, there really is no Hebrew equivalent for o'clock. You would say "hasha'a," which translates into the hour or time. I also don't think Hebrew usage would say "Half past" the hour, it would be the hour and a half.

  5. Good one! We use "Can I have..." in French to get someone to speak on the phone. Not so common nowadays with cell phones.

  6. Ariella - That's true, but one DOES say reva l' ("a quarter to")...

    Ilana-Davita - Thanks! That's interesting that the French matches the Hebrew in this case.

  7. Love this! I wish I had heblish in my life. We have some Rushlish, which keeps things interesting (think missing pronouns).

  8. Rivki - I wish I had heblish in my life.
    Thanks for the reminder that having a family of Heblish-speakers - i.e. living in Israel - is BA"H a zechut and a brachah!


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