Monday, February 20, 2017

swirling thoughts #236 - the thoughts are swirling in multiple languages

So I've been busy. Studying to become an English teacher. Which is good because, compared to my Hebrew, my English is GREAT. The crazy thing is half my teachers are British so I'm also learning a second language as they casually lay these rare linguistic bombs on me as if they are totally normal. Like "streaming cold". Even the dictionary acknowledges it as "British":
British attributive (of a cold) accompanied by copious running of the nose and eyes.
‘she's got a streaming cold’
Meanwhile, I'm standing firm with my grammar teacher that a New Yorker never has to use the present perfect tense, ever. Even if we've just seen the Queen we will say, I just saw the Queen. Whereas the Brits really need to keep to proper form and announce, "I've just seen the Queen."
But I digress.

So in order to become an English teacher in Israel, one has to not only accept the yoke of the Queen's English, one must be able to operate smoothly in Hebrew. After all, there are parents meetings, Ministry of Education-bureaucratic-fun-stuff, and of course, the teachers' lounge! And towards this higher calling, actually a life goal of mine, which I will always and forever refer to from here on in as "operating smoothly in Hebrew", I spent the last week studying like crazy for a Hebrew Proficiency Exam.*

Somewhere in the middle of all this I had occasion to visit the hardware store.  As I looked up and saw SKAY SPRAY it occurred to me that 1. SKAY is not a word in English (irrespective of the gross things Urban Dictionary has to say) 2. The translation of SKAY into the exact same thing in Hebrew made me know the inevitable truth - Israelis think SKAY SPRAY means something in English. I took the SKAY SPRAY to the counter and asked what it is. They read the label and said it is some kind of spray for the inside of the car.

And there it hit me. I saw those meaningless words in English and never even thought to read the rest of the label in Hebrew. ME! Who strives to operate smoothly in Hebrew! I went back to the shelf and then I started noticing the pictures on the products that didn't have any English at all. But like really noticing the pictures and trying to figure out what the products were based on the pictures alone. Because if there is no English on the product, it's like I'm missing one of my senses and so my ability to hyper-focus on the graphic is intensified. Who even needs to read Hebrew when you can discern graphics with this kind of precision?

This is something I'm pretty sure is called "3D perfect vision granules for viewing nature"

 This is "Digging to the Earth's Core Gel"

 This needed no figuring out because, Duh! It's Dizidor!

 This is "Fragrant Fireplace Aroma Air Freshener for Stubborn Gym Smells"

 This, of course, is "Make America Great" Spray

 I love this! It's "No More Lonely Plants!"

This is for when the plants have had enough

This is "Parrot Spray"

 This is "Rat in a Box"

Or as we say in English, "Ratrim Blox"

 Google Translate, Dictionary.Com and even Urban Dictionary are not really helping with the relevant meaning in Hebrew or English of SKAY SPRAY
And now that I'm thinking about it, I'll bet those guys behind the counter only guessed at it based on the steering wheel in the graphic.

 This one's my favorite and where has it been all my life?
"Snail Polish"

 And just in time for Purim, "Spray on Muscles"

When I took this picture in the pharmacy and explained to the pharmacist about my post, he looked at me like I was speaking Chinese. (note to self, must post about "everything unknown to Jews is referred to as Chinese" another time). Evidently, when one really does master "operating smoothly in Hebrew" these graphics fade to the background and the Hebrew jumps out and explains the use of the product (in this case, it is for back pain and not to combat bad breath).  Until I reach that moment of rapture, I will enjoy my ignorant giggles.

*I took three practice exams, learned about 200 new words, finally learned the difference between "to sacrifice" and "to visit the Caribbean" (it's just one letter off), I studied Curious George in Hebrew like it was a Holy Text - my kids dared not lose my page, I read all the school emails in their original Hebrew form, I read all my Israeli Groupon offers in their original Hebrew form - aside from my fun at the Hardware Store, I embraced the challenge of becoming one who operates smoothly in Hebrew. So I can teach the Queen's English to Israeli students, כמו שצריך