Is leaving easier in the summertime?...

My hairdresser says she started going to a gym called Lady Pitness .

I just heard on the radio a (probably Israeli) singer singing dreamily, "Sammer time, and the leaving is easy… Feesh are jamping, and the cautaun is high…"

Though I've lived in Israel all my life, I can't get used to the fact that most Israelis simply don't hear the difference between living and leaving, fit and feet, bad and bed, word and ward, sheet and you-know-what, and so on and so forth.

Israeli copywriters often fall in this trap. They come up with a slogan including some play on words which they think is a clever pun… whereas to Anglo ears it falls flat at best, or sounds ridiculous at worst. A case I came across recently is a HR company with the following slogan:

It's not DONE until it's DAN.

Why don't they just make up a slogan in Hebrew instead of producing such crap? (Which they would probably confuse with crêpe.)

Obviously, Israelis aren't the only ones mutilating the English language… The link below has been making the rounds. If you haven't already received it through one of the translators' lists or forums, go ahead and enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQt-h753jHI&feature=related

7 comments:

Miriam Erez said...

"I did see this, and I actually think the "Without You" contestant has balls. I cut her slack where I wouldn't cut Israelis slack.

On the other hand, if it's obvious that an Israeli performer singing an English selection has made the heroic effort to pronounce the (correct) lyrics properly, I also cut her slack.

After all, who knows better than we do -- meaning those of us who grew up in English and learned Hebrew as a second language -- that vowels are overrated? Cn U rd ths sntnc?"

Miriam Erez said...

I decided to add a comment regarding "Lady Pitness". You can't blame your hairdresser for the gym doing That Thing I Hate: naming their product in *loazit*. She wouldn't have that problem if her gym were named, say, *kosher lach* or some such, would she?

Nina R. Davis said...

I don't blame my hairdresser at all! On the contrary -- she has demonstrated command of Hebrew grammar -- בגד כתף at the beginning of a word or syllable get a "dagesh kal"!

Nina R. Davis said...

Though I would like Israeli singers to get some elocution lessons before recording a song in a foreign language, most of them probably don't. Again, I don't blame them; my point is that you can't blame them because they're not aware that there is a problem: their ear truly does not distinguish between the different vowels. It's a linguistics thing.

Sparkle said...

The problem with the song is not even that she couldn't pronounce the words properly but rather that she obviously never looked up the lyrics. If you're going to any kind of competition and can't bother to look up the lyrics you have some issues. I know I mishear lyrics on a regular basis.
One of the things that really gets me is trying to explain Japanese vowels to English speakers. They keep turning an o into an ow.

Jennifer said...

Enjoyed your vintage "Nina wit" - thank you...
By the way, I had a look at the HR site in question and their choice of slogan is the least of their linguistic woes...
Need I mention the jolt my anglo ears endure when my 5 year-old insists that the correct prununciation is SPIDERRMEN and SUPERRMEN?
BUT, my all time favorite is when an acquaintance told me, in all earnesty, that her 'source' is trustworthy because she heard on on DR. PEEL...
Jennifer Tommer

Miriam Erez said...

What's the HR site?
re your five-year-old's pronunciation of *spy-der-men*, I flipped the first time my teens told me they were buying a pair of Nikes, no "e". They had the gall to tell me that the ultimate authority, the salesgirl at Sektor Town (all of 16 years old, I'll bet, and no doubt a five-point matric in Greek mythology)
pronounces it that way. The only way I could get them to believe that it's pronounced "Nye-Kee* is to say, "Read my lips: Penelope. Antigone. HERMIONE." I forbade them to ever pronounced it sans "e" again.

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