Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Swirling Thoughts #152 – Open Sesame and other magical phrases

We’ve been back to Hadassa Ein Kerem and the specialness of our car has been confirmed. Our car magically opens the gate without a cartis. Every time.

Other tricks…
In a year’s time I’ve started absorbing the language by osmosis. The things I am able to do surprise me every day. For example, I am now able to spar over my place in line at the health clinic. And when someone charges me 61 shekel for an 11 shekel ice cream I am able to gently correct him and procure my correct change.

For all the Hebrew I’ve grasped there is still so much out of my reach. Some words I’ve given up on remembering so I have them saved in my Blackberry. When I get to the checkout counter in the grocery store I pull out my Blackberry and ask if there are any (it takes me a minute to scroll down)…mevtzayim (sale items).

I have been meaning to buy a hair dryer since forever but don’t know how to ask for one. The other day, someone told me and now I have Meyabesh Tzahar on my Task List.

There are some words I’ve been listening to the whole time and I’ve never been able to figure out their meaning. I decided I’ll probably never use these words as they seem to be colloquialisms, idiomatic expressions or just emphasis words that would sound weird coming out of the mouth of an immigrant. But to be sure, I stopped my friend Gabrielle on the street and had her explain each one to me. Yes, they were saved in my Blackberry under ‘words I don’t understand’.

In talking about a housekeeper problem my friend said, ‘taklis I need the house cleaned.’ But I’ve heard people use ‘taklis’ in ways that have nothing to do with housekeeping. Alas, taklis means something akin to ‘bottom line’ or ‘the most important thing’.

Even though. I might sing this word since I’ve heard it in a few Israeli songs and I suppose I might say it eventually but I haven’t had any conversations deep enough to warrant an ‘even though’.

Do you, like, remember the way we used to, like, talk in middle school? Sometimes there was, like, an extra word with no meaning? I’m not sure, but, like, I think k’eelu is the Hebrew equivalent. Sort of that and sort of ‘as if’. K’eelu.

It means ‘suddenly’ but is used way more – and sometimes just for emphasis. It gets added into stories. Pitom my knee started hurting. Or, pitom I was arguing with this guy over who was next to see the knee doctor. Pitom I was getting an x-ray! Ma pitom???

I hear my friends say this word – it means ‘on a regular basis’ – I suppose the reason I have no use for it in my vocabulary is that no part of my life is based in regularity just yet.

This one is fun to say so I might just add it into my repertoire – it means ‘the opposite’ but in a way that is really for emphasis. I thought my Hebrew was great – Lehafek! It’s caveman!

Idioms that make me feel idiotic...
Haval al ha’zman – Bob’s cousins say this all the time. The way Bob explains it – it literally means ‘a waste of time’ (How long since I’ve seen you? Haval al ha’zman!) except that it doesn’t mean that anymore. Now it’s a good thing. (How was your wedding? Haval al ha’zman!). There are better explanations out there (I linked to the Hebrew Language Detective below) so I won’t waste your time.

Al ha panim – Bob uses this one. Literally it translates to ‘on your face’. I think it means really messed up. But if that’s not enough, there is a new expression. I don’t know how to say it in Hebrew but that’s okay because I wouldn’t. It is

Al ha panim with your hands tied behind your back.

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