A very brief primer on Hebrew

I haven’t been doing too well learning much Hebrew so far. The fact that the words are written and read from right to left, and that the letters aren’t latin makes it kind of hard to get started. Especially since it isn’t the primary focus of my trip. But I have managed to pick up a few words:

Shalom – literally: Peace, but is mostly used in the meaning “Good day”

Tov – good

Boker tov – good morning

Layla tov – good night

Ma Nismah – What’s up?

Ken – yes

Lo – No

Beseder – Literally: In order, but mostly used to say “All okay” or “All right”

Balagan – Mess. Can be used in a lot of fun ways: “You’re in bit of a balagan” or “It’s a balagan, but we’ll clean it up tomorrow.”

Yoffi – Great

Bevakasha – Can be used to mean both “Please” and “You’re welcome”.

Boi – Come! (that’s just about the only word of Hebrew that the goats understand)

Nachron – True, often used in the sense “precisely” or “I agree”

Sababa – Cool, groovy, all good.

Achla – cool.

Yalla – Usually “Right, then!” or “Let’s go!” but can be used in a wide range of different ways to indicate that you’re ready or that you’re tired of waiting. A typical example of this would happen regularly after breakfast when the goat yard team would sit together and discuss the day’s work. Often a fairly long 5-10 minute discussion of the particulars of feeding, herding and fixing things in the yard. And the end of the discussion, somebody would say “Yalla!” and everybody would get up, ready to go to work, satisfied with the result of the discussion. Except me, who hadn’t understood a word – except “yalla”.

As a small, interesting sidenote, the last three words on this list are all Arabic words that have been adopted into Hebrew.

Leave a Reply