“You Want a Juice?” “No”: Translating Israeli Brevity

Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90

We have all had conversations with Israelis bereft of the common courtesies – thank you, please, or polite excuses. On this episode, host Guy Sharett explains exactly what is going on in the Israeli brain when answering our offers or questions in what seem to be curt, abrupt, and even rude ways.

New Words and Expressions:

Nimus – Politeness – נימוס

Sicha menumeset – Polite conversation – שיחה מנומסת

Efshar espresso vaksha? – May I have an espresso please? – אפשר אספרסו בַקְשָה

“Nahutz li gever menumas” – I need a polite man – נחוץ לי גבר מנומס

Rotse kafe? Lo – Do you want coffee? No – רוצה קפה? לא

Efshar laredet? Ken – May I get off here? Yes – אפשר לרדת? כן

Ba lecha mitz? Lo – Do you feel like juice? No – בא לך מיץ? לא

Nifgashim ba-spontani? Lo, asuk – Wanna meet now spontaneously? No, I am busy – נפגשים בספונטני? לא, עסוק

Ani rotse havita – I’d like an omelet please – אני רוצה חביתה

Adoni – Sir – אדוני

Gvirti – Maam – גבירתי

“Ramkolim menumasim”- Polite loudspeakers – רמקולים מנומסים

Playlist and Clips:

Shlomo Artzi & Astar Shamir – Brit Lo Muteret (lyrics)

Yossi Banai & Yona Atari – Rina (lyrics)

Meir Ariel – Terminal (lyrics)

Previous Episodes

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8 comments on ““You Want a Juice?” “No”: Translating Israeli Brevity

  1. Deavman says:

    רמקולים מנומסים = polite loudspeakers.
    Not” polite (human) speakers.”
    That woul be translated as :
    דוברי עברית מנומסים

  2. Elizabeth Farah says:

    Love your show.

    Excuse me, I am sorry to give you a pronunciation tip. :^)

    I don’t know if you model your English on UK or American English, so, take that into account. The words alienated and hypocritical: the initial a in the former, should be a hard or long “a” as in acorn. The hypo in the later should be hippo-critical with a short “i” sound. That’s in “American”!

    Keep up the valuable service to us newbie Hebrew learners.

    Bevakasha, toda raba…


    1. Guy says:

      Toda raba Elizabeth!

  3. Tom says:

    I went to listen to Meir Ariel – Terminal, which is great
    I found this gem also
    מאיר אריאל- היכנסי כבר לאוטו וניסע
    It’s very relevant to the “register” and politeness topic.
    The (apparently) male speaker tells his female companion,
    Tafseekee Livkot, Hikansee l’Auto v’Nisa
    Stop crying, get in the car and we’ll drive

  4. Pam says:

    Forwarded this to my son who just moved from polite Canada to TLV.
    I hope his ulpan teacher takes them to your tour/class!

  5. Ido says:

    If you liked those two songs, you might love these two, too
    Meir is one of the bestests…

  6. Suzie Jacobson says:

    I really enjoyed this episode and the explanation of why Israelis don’t use please and thank you too much. It really seems a very important lesson to teach new/veteran immigrants at ulpan. It’s like getting inside the Israeli mindset which generally takes a very long time to do.

    BTW I want to pass samples of your podcasts to friends. Do I have to direct them to your Facebook page?

    1. TLV1 Radio says:

      Suzie, the best way is to send them to http://tlv1.fm/streetwisehebrew where they can subscribe to the podcast on their favorite mobile podcast app. Another option is to have them search for StreetWise Hebrew inside their podcast apps.

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