Hebrew Hear-Say: A red-letter day

Post-elections, the voters are still waiting for the new parliamentarians to showing their true political colors.

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February 19, 2009 12:24
3 minute read.
Hebrew Hear-Say: A red-letter day

Hebrew Hear-Say logo. (photo credit: )

Post-elections, the voters are still waiting for the new parliamentarians to showing their true political colors. And this being Israel, even colors are truly political. We have the Women in Green (Nashim Be'Yarok) on the Right, and Women in Black (Nashim Beshahor) on the Left, both seeing the other as a red flag (degel adom). And if you wear the color orange (katom), you're making more of a political statement than a fashion statement. In the blue-and-white state (medina kahol velavan), nothing is black and white (shahor velavan). Life here is not boring. It's colorful - tzivoni. I haven't the foggiest idea - or as we say around here, I don't have the greenest idea: ain li musag yarok, how the politically color blind (iver tzva'im) could get by. The Greens, hayerukim, are now politically identified on the Left, although ironically, many of the earliest Israeli environmentalists came noticeably from the Right, motivated by a love of The Land in the days before either global warming or global jihad had a name. Sadly, there is also a need for movements like Anashim Be'adom (People in Red) and Or Yarok (Green Light) - both fighting road fatalities, where the situation is so bleak, that it's easy to see it as black: ro'im shahor ba'einayim. I'd like to see the world through rose-colored glasses (mishkafayim vrudim) but I'd probably be missing something of life's richness. The meaning of colors is a gray area - t'hum afor. The gays, for example, have proudly hijacked the whole rainbow (kol tziv'ei hakeshet) as a symbol of their movement. You can be green with envy (yarok mikin'a) but in Hebrew when embarrassed you don't turn pink but simply blush, masmik (like the friends who rented a DVD and found it was a blue movie - seret kahol). This should not be confused with a red ribbon - seret adom - which is much more romantic and can tickle a partner pink. You can also, of course have a dirty mind, rosh kahol in Hebrew, but not purple passion. Voyeurism is the bread and butter of yellow journalism, itonut tzehuba, where you can't always believe what you read, or as they say in Hebrew, what's printed in black and white (shahor al gabei lavan). Hebrew speakers can have blue blood (dam kahol) but red necks are lost in translation: possibly the opposite of blue blood is blue-collared (tzavaron kahol). Black humor (humor shahor) is not too serious, but you don't want to end up as the black sheep (kivsa sh'hora) of the family. There's black money (kesef shahor) and money laundering (or whitening), halbanat hon; you can be in the red (ba'adom), though it's better to be in the black (bashahor) and the one thing you don't want in these days of economic uncertainty is what the American-owned companies call a pink slip. There is, of course, white-collared crime, pesha tzavaron lavan, and some offenders are caught red-handed. Israelis can also tell a white lie (sheker lavan). You can't get the blues in Hebrew - you can only get depression (dikaon). You can, however, sing the Blues and all that jazz, without having to translate the term. A cure for the blues? Paint the town red, litzboa et ha'ir b'adom. Some lucky people have a green thumb, or in Hebrew, green fingers - etzbaot yerukot, which includes the pinkie, zeret. They can grow their own fruit and greens (yerakot). Among the immigrant bloopers that have come my way was the religious kibbutz volunteer who assumed that if red meat is translated literally as basar adom, then chicken should logically be called white meat. Big mis-steak. Basar lavan is pig's meat, and crossed a red line (kav adom) in the kosher kitchen. No wonder the hapless volunteer did not receive red carpet treatment (shatiah adom). Red tape exists by another recognizable name, birokratia. And here and there you can find a white elephant, pil lavan. The black cat (hatul shahor), however, is a horse of a different color. Its main function is to symbolize an argument as in: Bibi and Lieberman were once friends but a black cat passed between them. The color of money is silver (kesef). Jerusalem is of gold (Yerushalayim shel zahav). I'm sure there's more but I'm suffering a blackout so I'll raise a white flag (degel lavan). liat@jpost.com


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