Wanted: Translator for Jerusalem Municipality

City shifts blame for mistakes in English spellings of neighborhood names to tourist guidebooks.

jerusalem sign 224.88 (photo credit: Noa Landes)
jerusalem sign 224.88
(photo credit: Noa Landes)
The Jerusalem Municipality could do with a good translator and spell-checker. It began with the good intention of erecting a series of new signs across the city displaying the names of city neighborhoods in Hebrew, English, and Arabic. With tourism in Israel approaching an all-time high, the much-needed signs were meant to aid visitors and tourists alike, following numerous requests to the effect. But the English on the new signs is littered with misspellings and Hebrew transliterations which are likely to prove of dubious help to English speakers looking for the German Colony, rather than "HaMoshava HaGermanit," as one sign shows. Even Israel's founding prime minister, it appears, gets short-changed, with a city sign reading "Ben Guryon Qtr." The city's scenic Ein Kerem neighborhood, home to some of the nicest walking trails in the city and various churches, has been relegated to "En Kerem." Some neighborhoods fared slightly better. The residential Beit Hakerem lost an "i" to become "Bet Hakerem," and the upscale Rehavia district gained a "y" to become "Rehavya." In response, the city claimed that there were no errors in their signs, and the fault was that of guidebooks overlooking the rules established by the Academy of the Hebrew Language. According to the Academy's rules for transliteration from Hebrew to English, the Hebrew letter, "yod," in Ein Kerem and Beit Hakerem is silent and so is not written in English as an "i," said Jerusalem Municipal spokesman Gidi Schmerling in a written statement Monday. The same argument was used to defend the misspelling of Ben-Gurion. "If mistakes were made in tourism book guides, that is not the responsibility of the municipality, and it is fair to assume that in future years, the authors of these books will change the spellings in accordance with the signs which are transliterated correctly," the city's response concluded. In the meantime, the Tourism Ministry is planning to ask the municipality to fix the errors in the signs.