Wednesday, August 11, 2010

PART SIX. Language Lessons. Number Two


Are you ready today for language lesson number 2?

Today, you will learn about two things.

First, you will learn about the Israel conspiracy, to create the "dancing stupid American". You will learn all about this conspiracy and, more important, how to spot and identify a "dancing stupid American".

Second, you will learn how to avoid this conspiracy, and thereby avoid becoming a "dancing stupid American".

You see, if you wish to"blend in" over here--to say nothing of retaining your dignity--you must understand this lesson about the 'dancing stupid American.'

These lessons, Shloimy, will perfect your understanding of how to live in Israel.

Trust me, Shloimy--this lesson will make you an expert.


Before we talk about 'dancing stupid Americans', you'll need some backround.

First, do you know what a 'jitney' is? In America, I think 'jitney' often refers to unlicensed cab drivers, who will drive you, as would a licensed cabbie, but at a lower cost. In this context, a 'jitney' is, essentially, an illegal commercial for-hire car.

In other parts of the world, including Israel, the term 'jitney', if used (in english) refers to a licensed vehicle which is an alternative to a cab. It is similar to those hotel courtesy vans you see in airports, arriving at special pick-up points to take airline passengers from the terminal (with their luggage) to their hotel.

Here, in israel, these 15-25 seat 'vans' (or, mini-buses) will come to your house, pick you up, and take you to wherever you want to go.

Mostly, I think, they are used to take people to the Tel Aviv airport. It's very expensive to take a cab from, say, Jerusalem to the airport, so many people go by these 'jitney's--called a Sherut--pronounced "shay-root', (with accent on the last syllable).

The 'Shay-root' is usually cheaper than a cab for this type of trip.

Remember this part of your lesson, Shloimy: what we in America might call a  (legal) jitney, is in Israel called a Sherut, prononced, 'shay-root'.

Can you pronounce that?

Shay-root--accent on the last syllable.

Got that?

Sherut, pronounced, "shay-root", accent on the last syllable.

It's important.

Repeat the word, 'sherut', by pronouncing it as, 'shay-root', accent on the last syllable.


You will never find out about the israeli conspiracy to change Americans into 'dancing stupid American', if you cannot pronounce 'shay-root' and understand what that word means.

Got that?


Now,  that's part one of today's lesson--sherut, pronounced 'shay-root', accent on the last syllable.

It means, 'jitney'.

Got that?

Part two of today's lesson, deals with how to convert singular to plural, and vice versa--plural to singular.


In English, how do you make a word plural?

Do you remember?

You add a suffix--a final 's'.


So, for example, let's use the word, say, 'bathroom'. How do you convert that to plural?


You add a final 's'--'bathrooms'.



Well, in hebrew, it's similar. You add a suffix.

Got that?

The suffix you add is not a letter, but a syllable. Phonetically, the sound can be spelled as a final '--eem', as in 'team', or the word 'ream', minus the first letter.

Got that?

In Hebrew, you convert singular to plural, by adding a final '--eem' sound to a word.

And of course, you go from plural to singular by deleting that final '--eem' sound.


Now, in Hebrew, this converting process,using a final 'eem' to form singular-plural, and deleting that same suffix to go from plural-singular, is a basic rule of the language, just as  adding/deleting a final 's' is in English.

Got that?


Now, we are getting closer to what is a 'dancing stupid American'.

The third part of today's lesson deals with bathrooms.

This is extremely important, Shloimy, because this is how the 'dancing stupid American'  is born.


Pay attention.

Let's start here with English.

If you want to go to the bathroom, and you do not know where the bathrooms are, what options do you have for asking where to go?

Do you know?


You can ask, "where are the bathrooms". But you can also ask, "Where is the bathroom".


In english, in other words, you have a choice.


You can use the singular form, 'bathroom', or the plural form, 'bathrooms'.


Are you paying attention?


What is the Hebrew word for all of this?

The hebrew word for 'bathrooms'  is, "sherutim", pronounced, "shay-root-eem", or, more commonly, "shay-roo-teem'", accent on the last syllable.

Can you say that?

"Shay-roo-teem", accent on the last syllable.

You following all of this?


Here is where we get to the Israel conspiracy that  I call, 'dancing stupid American'.

Let's say, you are a tourist to israel. You have already been told that the climate here is hot. You have been told to be careful about the sun. You have also been told by the tour guides (who are a part of this conspiracy) to drink lots of water.

So, being a good tourist, you drink a lot of water.


Trouble is, your tour-guide is very careful for your safety, and s/he makes sure to keep you out of the sun; which means, of course, that you drink a lot of water while keeping, for the most part, in an air conditioned environment, where the need to stay hydrated is somewhat abated.


There you are, all watered-up with far more water than you normally drink.

What do you think happens?

Can you think?

Do you know?

Do you know what happens when you've had too much water to drink?


Your bladder fills up.

And up.

And up.


Are you following all of this?


What do you do when your bladder fills up?

You look for a bathroom.


Does that make sense to you?

Have you ever been in a situation where your bladder is really, really full, and you KNOW you need a bathroom, and you don't know where the bathrooms are?

Know what I'm talking about?



There you are, an American, who, having been in israel knows about singular and plural word-forms--after all, you're not totally stupid, right? you've picked up some language hints, right?

And, truth to tell, forming and unforming a plural is really easy to learn.

Do you remember how to do that?

Remember what we said about the suffix, final 'eem' sound?

An 'eem' sound is a clue that a word is plural. Right?

Remember that?

You've already learned that.


And how do you convert a plural to a singular?

You delete that final 'eem' sound.


Do you remember that part of today's lesson?


So there you are, your bladder really, really full, and YOU NEED A BATHROOM!!!!!!!!!!

What do you do?




How do you ask for a bathroom?

Do you remember the word for bathrooms?

"Sherutim", pronounced 'shay-roo-teem'.

Remember that?

Say the word now--'shay-roo-teem'.


Got it?


There you are.

Your bladder is full.

Your bladder is about to burst.

You are almost in pain.

You do not know if you can hold it any longer.

All you want is "A BATHROOM".

Is there anything simpler than that?


Oh, wait.

You are in a country where they speak a different language.

How can you get to the bathroom.

You stop. You have to think about how to ask, right?

But your bladder can't wait, right?


What do you do?

You start to dance, right?

You know that little, up-on-your-toes--I can't hold-it-anymore little dance I'm referring to?

Then, suddenly, you remember.

The word for, 'bathrooms'.

Do you remember that word?

It's pronounced, 'shay-roo-teem', right?

Ah, yes.

You little dance gets just little more intense; you may need time to think all of this through, but your bladder can't wait, right?

You figure it out!!!!

You know everything!!!

"shay-roo-teem" is the word for bathrooms, and the final "eem" has to be a marker to signify plural, and the way you get a singular is to delete that final 'eem' sound, right?

You've got it!!!!!

You rush up to an Israeli, dancing your little bladder-explosion dance, and ask, "shay-root?...Shay-root?"

Remember? 'Bathrooms' is 'shay-roo-teem', so guess what? 'A' bathroom  (singular) has to be 'shay-root', without the final suffix.


Isn't that what you were told about plural-to-singular?


There you are, dancing your little dance, asking, "shay-root?...shay-root?"

The Israeli smiles. S/he points out the door.

Out the door? The bathroom is out the door?

You have no time for architectural philosophizing!!!

You need a bathroom!!

You rush outside.


Just a taxi stand.

A taxi stand?


Your dancing increases.


So there you are, a stupid dancing American, standing at a taxi stand for reasons you cannot understand, wondering ,



This, you see, is the Israeli conspiracy. It has turned you into the 'dancing stupid American.'


Because, Shloimy, when your new friends in Israel give you helpful language tips, there are several things they neglect to tell you, all of which conspire to turn you into a dancing stupid American.

That's why you're taking this language lesson, Shloimy: to save your dignity!!!!


Listen up.

What your wonderful local friends have forgotten to tell you is that in Hebrew, as in every language, there are rules, and then there are exceptions to those rules.


With the word for 'jitney'--shay-root (remember that part of today's language lesson), there is no plural. The plural and singular are the same word--shay-root.

And with the word for 'bathrooms'--shay-roo-teem--there is no singular.One bathroom or sixty, it doesn't matter--the word is the same--shay-roo-teem.

So. if you use what little language knowledge you have (a little learning can be so dangerous, can't it?),

 then you will, in your ignorance attempt to plural-ize shay-root by adding the final 'eem'. But all that does is change the word itself from 'jitney' to 'bathroom'.

And if, in you blissfully ignorant (who said, ignorance is bliss? clearly, they were never in Israel desperately looking for a bathroom) manner, you want just a single bathroom, and therefore decide to singular-ize the apparently plural shay-roo-teem, what you get is 'shay-root--an entirely different word.

You don't get the singular word for bathroom--you get the word for jitney--and that is why you end up at the taxi stand doing your stupid little dance, looking around crazily for what doesn't exist--an open-air bathroom.

Why would you think there are open-air bathrooms out here?

This is Israel, not America!

The dancing stupid American!!

Get it?



Aren't you happy you've taken the time to learn this small, but wonderful language lesson?

Your bladder will thank you.

And, oh, just remember-- the next time you see an American standing out by a taxi stand doing that stupid "up-on-the-toes-I-can't-hold-it-any-more" dance, you can react like any real native Israeli: you can smile, nod knowingly, and whisper to a companion, "look. another dancing stupid American."

End of language lesson number two.

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