Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ho to speak English like an Israeli

Today I was in the shuk in Tel Aviv with Channah.  Someone started talking to me about something in English at the precise moment that I was haggling on a price with some guy who, truth be told, looked like he would rather just not sell the item.  Now, you and I both know that if just one "potential rich American tourist" word slipped out of my mouth all hope of the reduced price would fly out the window.

So what is a good little native Anglo supposed to do?

Fake it.

1) the biggest difference between the sound of words in English and the sound of words in Hebrew (other than the sound made by clearing your throat of any rocks you might have picked up over the last 5000 years) is where the emphasis is placed in the word.  In English it is almost always at the beginning of the word.  In Hebrew the middle or generally the end is more predominant.

Anglo- GI*raffe.  GUI*tar.  P*yjama.
Heb - gi*RAFFE.  Gui*TARA.  pyja*MA

2) The verb "to be" ceased to exist.

Anglo - I need to go to the store.
Heb - I need go to the store.

3) Any short pause in English  becomes a hold of the previous sound in Hebrew.

Anglo- I m going to (slight pause) the store.
Heb - I am going tooooo the store.

4) A comma becomes an "ehhhh"

Anglo - I need to go to the store to get milk, eggs and cheese.
Heb - I neeeeed go to store for milk ehhh eggs and cheese.

5) Um becomes Em.

Anglo - Um, I have no idea what you are going on about.
Heb - Em, You know you are cra*ZY?

6) Every sentence is a question.

Anglo - I would like to get this cucumber.
Heb - I would like to get thiiiiiis cucumber?

I got my dis*COUNT but EM some*HOW EH I feel a little dirty?


Anonymous said...

lol, that was scholarly too and looked like a thesis on language

miri said...


diane said...

that is so funny but so true, i hadn't really thought about how the israeli english works in relation to US english, but i get it completely.