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Lesson in Hebrew colloquialisms
There are so many Hebrew expressions that either translate in a hilarious way, defy translation, or make little sense to English speakers. Eventually, however, you find yourself pining for those expressions, wishing they existed in English.

Al ha panim - "On the face" - really bad:
"How was my presentation? On the face." (I have actually heard people translate that one literally).

Lishbor sheen-eye-im- "To break one's teeth" –To work really hard at something:
"I broke my teeth learning this language only to leave the country and never use it again." (ditto)

Lehicaness b'ivri - "To enter my veins" - To get on my nerves, like entering your blood supply (I think. I am not sure)
"That right-wing columnist really gets in my veins.""

Mah Pitohm? - "What, suddenly?" - WTF? Getouttatown:
"Now you say you don't like your job? What suddenly?"
I have also heard parents admonish their kids for behaving badly (when presumably they had been behaving well before) by saying Mah Pitohm?

Sotziomat! - "Sociopath(?)" – an expression from the army that indicates a selfish person who thinks there is an "I" in "Team".
"Yossi did not once offer to carry the stretcher during training exercises. What a sotziomat!"

Lasim Zayin - "to put penis"- to endeavour, to try hard/be motivated (another army phrase) It also means to do pushups.
"Dani, your uniform is a disgrace. Hit the floor and put penis."

Manyak – "assohole" - not to be confused with (maniac, from where it probably derives). Usually begins with "Ya"
"You cut me off again, ya'maniac."

Lezayen – "to penis" –to screw.
It always bothered me that the colloquial term for sex is directly translated as "to penis". Years ago, a friend of my sister said that she wanted to start using "lenartek" or "to vagina" someone. Hmmmmm.

Words that I miss but don't translate:
K'eeloo – "ersatz" – something that is trying to be something but is not the real thing. Ersatz is not quite it, and even if it were, I am not confident on how to pronounce it without sounding stupid or pompous. "that tang they served us at the hotel is k'eeloo orange juice."

Staaam – this really has no translation. You say it when you are teasing someone, and they start to take offense. And you say: "staaam," meaning: I was just foolin' around.
It can also be a way to dismiss the importance or gravity of a question:
What did you do at Osnat's house. "We, staaam, just sat around and watched the news."
The word staaam can also be a monosyllabic reply to just about anything:
"Why did you do that:?"
Staam.

Davka – This one is really hard to explain, but it is a word to describe why you did something even though you weren't supposed to:
"Why did you go to the party when you knew you would have a bad time?"
Davka.
"I am a peacenic, but I davka joined the army because I don't want our armed forces to be filled with only hawkish, trigger-happy, action-movie addicts."

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1.22.2004
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post #706
bio: adina
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1/22/2004
11:39

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