Wednesday, April 25, 2007
All This Way
While living in San Francisco, on occasion I was present when my Israeli friend Vavi's son mocked her English.
"Eh, Eh..." he would mimic. "Dis is my eemah (Hebrew: mother), ehh...ehh...She comes all deh way frrrrom Eezrrrraelle. Her Engleesh is ..eh..how you say..?"
Vavi would smile and wave him away. Her Master's is from Berkeley and she's been in the States for over two decades. She's not worried about her English language skills.
Oh but that would NEVER happen to me I mused.
Because I studied Hebrew like the devil during my first stint in Tel Aviv. Tested myself on grammar and literature every day, forced myself to read papers and listen to the radio and look up & study vocabulary. I studied military related lingo - ranks, history and politicking therein - ... all's so I could take up the profession of bona fide joorrrnaleest in Israel. Somehow it did the trick.
This evening, strolling down the street with my 5-year-old son - the same five year old who a mere year ago upon relocating back to Tel Aviv with me from San Francisco was so lost language-wise that I cried tears of empathy and sorrow in commiseration with his tears of frustration - urged:
Eemah don't sing that song anymore (an upbeat & catchy tune he brought home from kindergarten)
Why? I asked wide eyed (but already knew the answer)
You don't do it right. You say the word "tarrrrnegol" (rooster) like Tar - neh - gole (pronounced with the flattest inflection possible). You do it wrong eemah.
But I LIKE that song!
But it sounds bad. Stop it eemah.
Schoingemacht. And to think all last year I served as interpreter for this kid on his playdates.