Suspicious Minds

As I was editing a tourism-related leaflet, translated from Hebrew to English, I found myself wishing that the translator had applied some healthy skepticism, or critical thinking.

On the whole, it was an excellent translation. The text flowed smoothly and gracefully, describing the various amenities and services at the Hotel de Kef, practically making me want to pack a suitcase and go there pronto. Well, practically. I do remember what Israeli hotels catering to families are like during the summer vacation.

As I was saying, it was a good translation. So the mistakes were all the more conspicuous. No one's perfect, I know. And if you haven't lived in Israel long enough, pitfalls in the form of obscure Hebrew expressions are everywhere. That's why we need a finely-tuned ear and a suspicious-detective's approach.




קלאב אין אילת

This does not mean "a club in Eilat"… It's the name of a hotel, Club Inn Eilat.

פיצה משפחתית

In Israel, this refers to the size of the pizza, not to a type of pizza; it's not a home-style or family-style pizza, but a family-sized pizza, which would be either a Large or Extra Large or Super – depending on chain or brand.


The easy way out was to assume it meant some sort of "children's football"; but we shouldn't be assuming things. It's actually a respectable branch of sport in its own right (which I personally am not familiar with), called futsal. Follow the link; looks very macho to me.


I, too, used to render this as Jacuzzi, until my daughter in Canada informed me that not every hot tub is a Jacuzzi ® . It may eventually go the way of Hoover and similar, but not yet. Mind you, the first time I wrote "hot tub" in a text for local consumption, the client thought me an ignoramus who was not familiar with the term Jacuzzi… Can't win, eh?


This word has different connotations to different nationals… That's what localization is all about, right?

To the average Anglo, toast means a golden-brown slice of bread that has popped out of the toaster.

But when a café on Ben Yehuda street or a hotel pool-side bar offers "tostim", what you will get is a sandwich or large "beigaleh" with stuff inside (cheese, tomato, olives – whatever) which has been toasted or grilled in, well, you know, one of those contraptions that makes toasted sandwiches. According to my Canadian family, and supported by Google Image Search, it's simply a sandwich maker.

And since we're on the subject of hotels and tourism, two amusing transliterations into Hebrew, which required some sleuthing in order to discover the original:

Mangled Hebrew transliteration

Source language

מלון טוליפ פרו וילג'

Turns out that the Fattal (don't get me started on that name…) chain has a hotel in Eilat called Golden Tulip Privilege Eilat. The Hebrew text transformed "privilege" into "Pro Village"…

פארק גוטה

I had no idea what park this referred to… Seems that the hotel in question, in Weimar, Germany, is located near Goethe Park…



Re toaster: The electric implement I use on my hair to make it smooth and straight is referred to by my Israeli hairdresser as a toaster, a term which caused my British relatives to direct me to the bread bin. I think in the English-speaking world, such a device is called 'tongs'.

Anonymous said...

It's actually a flat iron, hair iron, or styling iron

re *tost*, I'd call it a "grilled cheese sandwich supreme" or some such.

Shira said...

Pro village made me laugh :)
I'm used to hearing flat iron for hair.
I never realized how silly the name Club Inn was for a hotel...

Shira said...

Btw "Can't win, eh?" - your Canadian roots are showing :P

Nina Rimon Davis said...

So long that it's my Canadian roots, rather than my gray roots, that's fine with me :-)

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