October 10: Off-key suggestion

It is remarkable how persistent some examples of dottiness are. They lie dormant for a while and then reappear from time to time.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Off-key suggestion
Sir, – It is remarkable how persistent some examples of dottiness are. They lie dormant for a while and then reappear from time to time.
“What about an international anthem out of Israel?” (Letter from Australia, October 8) is a case in point. It proposes that Israel be the first to change its national anthem to a more universalist one, thereby encouraging other nations to do the same.
This is one enterprise in which Israel should definitely not seek to be the world leader. The honor should be left to the three Western nations that are permanent members of the UN Security Council.
God save the Queen should no longer refer to a victorious, happy and glorious monarch, nor to her enemy’s “knavish tricks.” The Star Spangled Banner should expunge all references to the brave defeat of the nation that is now, and has been for a very long time, its closest ally. As for La Marseillaise, no more impure blood soaking the furrows of French fields.
By contrast, Hatikva refers to the aspiration of a great people to return to its original homeland.
No talk of superiority or conquest. It could hardly be more peaceful.
One can imagine the reaction of the inhabitants of the UK, US and France to the suggestion that the words of their beloved anthems be tinkered with.
Sir, – Now I’ve heard everything! Hatikva, the hope, the prayers, the yearning of the Jewish people for thousands of years, our national anthem says it all. I, as I’m sure all my fellow citizens, stand with pride and an almost tearful reverence whenever I hear the heartfelt words.
I suggest that Stan Marks take away some other country’s selfpride or just make a Mother Earth international anthem. But for God’s sake, don’t touch Hatikva!
Hitting a nerve
Sir, – Two nations – the US and the UK – are divided by a common language, with Israel, or at least The Jerusalem Post, sitting uneasily in the middle. That is the essence of reader Neville C.
Goldrein’s complaint (“Common tongue,” Letters, October 8).
Goldrein has a point, although I would distinguish between Americanized spelling and Americanization.
As an op-ed columnist in the Post, I am quite content to see my manoeuvres sub-edited into maneuvers. But I remember my hackles rise when, for another publication, my English “the devil is in the detail” was transformed to the American “the devil is in the details,” as if I had got it wrong. Even more irritating for the native English reader are Goldrein’s examples of pure American slang.
Gentle sub-edited moderation of some of the racier examples of transatlantic usage would indeed be appreciated.
Sir, – I have the same attitude, but Mr. Goldrein must understand that American English (a misnomer) is more important because most other countries prefer American. They enjoy words such as “gotten.” I find that an awful word. I cringe when I hear and see it.
Where I used to work I was asked to write “centre” as “center.”
Oh, woe was me.
Sir, – I wish to give Neville C. Goldrein a piece of advice: Try the quick crossword puzzle and you will use the King’s English to your heart’s content.
After puzzling for hours over extra letters in words I know are correct, I have finally internalized that the answer for “work” is spelled labour and not labor, and color is colour. But I am still having a hard time with those English counties and the towns in them, let alone knowing the word for “crisp biscuits.”
On the other hand, something has changed in my (limited) cognitive powers because this week’s hint “okay” elicited an immediate “righto,” which was the correct answer. That, by the way, is not the way they say okay in the Big Apple, where I was born.
Sir, – I am an avid crossword puzzler and I find your daily crosswords full of clues such as “a river in southwest England” or “a county in northeast Wales.”
For those of us who grew up in the US (or elsewhere), the chances that we will be able to complete these puzzles are very slim. It’s like asking a South African or Irish person to name a mountain range or delta in the southeast US.
Can the puzzles be presented in a more neutral manner, such as clues that pertain more to general knowledge than to knowledge of a particular country’s geography?
Sir, – In spite of being constantly exposed to American- English, I, too, have never really become accustomed to it (especially the ever-widening use of “gotten”). However, as a translator I have been obliged to overcome this difficulty and keep reminding myself that the takeover of American has come about, alas, because Britannia no longer rule(s) the waves.
Sir, – Here is a very short list of American and British examples of words and spelling: dual carriageway (2-lane road), pram/carriage (buggy), flat (apartment), lift (elevator), kerb (curb), boot (trunk), programme (program), centre (center) and humour (humor).
Regarding the definitions of “downer” and “pooper,” any native-tongued Englishman easily could deduce their meanings.
Surely, we have come very far from the European and even Hebrew-rooted languages of our forefathers, and it is fair to believe that British English tops the lower-level American version.
Sir, – I beg to differ with Neville C. Goldrein.
Depending on the writer, there are still articles written in British English and, as an Israeli of American origin, I often have trouble understanding the meanings.
Despite the differences, though, there are more similarities and if one reads the whole article the meaning will become clear from the context.
No one is going to be completely satisfied with either language, and I think the Post should allow each reporter/writer to write in the “language” he/she is comfortable with.
My daughter-in-law is of British origin and we joke that our grandchildren will be “tri-lingual” – British, American and Hebrew.JUDY REBACZ Ma’aleh Adumim
Replacement theology
Sir, – Ardie Geldman (“Some Christians get it” Comment & Features, October 7) writes: “Many liberal Protestant denominations minimize, if not deny, the connection between the Hebrew Bible and their [New] Testament. They subscribe to a ‘replacement theology’ that posits that the Christian church has replaced national Israel with respect to the plan, purpose and promises of God....”
While this is an accurate depiction of doctrine and dogma over the centuries, it does not take account of some quite remarkable changes that took place in the closing decades of the 20th century, when several major mainline Protestant Churches publicly renounced replacement theology. Similar reforms have been promulgated by the Lutheran, Methodist and others.
The fact that the writer encounters among Protestant pilgrims he meets in Israel today people who still speak in terms of the traditional replacement doctrines merely attests to the fact that their churches have been remiss in bringing the message of the new thinking to their memberships. Indeed, much remains to be done in this respect.
MOSHE AUMANN Jerusalem The writer served from 1987 to 1990 as minister-counselor for relations with the Christian churches at Israel’s US Embassy.