Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Gained in translation

My mother and I are both currently taking introductory language classes--she in German and I in Hebrew. It's amazing what you can learn about a culture (or, more accurately, how language-book-writers perceive a culture) by seeing what words and phrases are considered necessary for the beginner. My mother's German book tells you how to say "The man kicks the dog," while the mini-dictionary in the back of my sefer (that's book, right?) offers translations for "hummus," "yogurt," "Nazi," and "Jewish mother."

My own Jewish mother has correctly pointed out that, between the two of us, we'll soon know Yiddish. I'd like to add that we will not only know Yiddish, but we'll know how to say, in Yiddish, that the man kicked the dog for running away with his hummus. Probably not a common problem in most shtetls...

6 comments:

E.H. said...

Maybe there would be kicking of dogs, but I don't think there would be hummus.

E.H. aka Phoebe's mother

Anonymous said...

does that mean you get to bask in the sababa-ness of ariela finkelstein? *sweet*. as to [the horribly mis-transliterated] hummus, come to hebrew circle once it starts...

but the sefer is cutest when it starts going on about chaklaout-- as a result of which i can cheerfully tell any israeli who crosses my path that i'm volunteering to do agricultural work for my kibbutz. which is in, uh, chicago.

Phoebe said...

Who are you, anonymous? Guess I'll find out at the "Hebrew Circle."

Alex B. said...

Isn't hummus Arabic -- حمس, or something close to it? I was told (by a Palestinian) that it was Lebanese.

Or maybe is it simply delicious Middle Eastern food?

Phoebe said...

Alex,

You know Arabic? More importantly, you've got lots of interesting fonts, what with the French accents, and now Arabic, wow.

It seems that all foods from that highly-controversial region are claimed by both the Israelis and the Arabs; have you ever tried ordering an Israeli salad? A Lebanese salad? A Turkish salad? They're all pretty darn similar.

Hummus might be a tasty food in theory, but the stuff sold at the U of C coffee shops is frightening, whatever its nationality.

Anonymous said...

Turkish salad has tomato paste in it. Definitely different from Israeli salad but also served in Israel.