Hebrew Hear-Say: The first word

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March 2, 2006 09:12

Have you ever noticed that Hebrew speakers have to have the first word? Just the first word, that is.

1 minute read.



aleph bet 888

aleph bet 888 . (photo credit: )

Have you ever noticed that Hebrew speakers have to have the first word? Just the first word, that is. Some words come naturally in pairs but like socks, once they've been worn in and used for a while one inexplicably disappears. The technical phrase for it is ellipsis. In English, it is usually the first word that gets dropped; in Hebrew, it is the other way around. For example, Israel, has a known problem of shrinking rural areas. But every town with even vague social pretensions has its country. While English speakers might turn "country club" into "club," they are unlikely to turn it into a place that sounds like a relaxing spot for a picnic surrounded by nature. You might not be able to afford a subscription to the country or an apartment in the city - even with an over, colloquial Hebrew for "overdraft" - but you can buy a cottage for just a few shekels. That's cottage as in cottage cheese. Where to buy it? You could pop into your local grocery, once known as a makolet but now ubiquitously linguistically upgraded into a "mini-market". Or you could go to the super, just stretch the "e" and turn the "r" into a more guttural letter "resh." No pets are allowed: Tie up your "goldenim" and "cockerim" (that's retrievers and spaniels, for the rest of you) outside. Don't forget to pick up a copy of the Post, known - I kid you not - as the "Jerusalem" to Hebrew speakers. If your Hebrew is good enough, you might want to read "Yediot Aharonot," popularly shrunk to Yediot. If you find it difficult to get the knack of dropping the right part of the phrase, consider this: Hebrew speakers might have the first word but the "Anglos" have the last laugh. As you drive off in your private cars you will pass by Israeli guys obsessing over the size and functioning of their "privates." liat@jpost.com


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