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Mish Mash Malapropisms and Jumbled Letters

By Rifki Orzech | Alef Bet | 0 Comments | 04 February, 2019

Auto correct can be hilarious. I remember responding to our hostess’s allergy enquiries four days before going to her for Shabbat lunch. I confirmed that we weren’t allergic to anything but some of us just won’t touch cholent.

I didn’t notice my phone correcting cholent to cholesterol. Our hostess was duly impressed, but didn’t know what to do with that information. And that was just my phone. What about when we use the wrong word because our brains’ auto correct function is too sensitive or still learning?

Two years ago comedic light was shone on language blunders when the Nefesh B’Nefesh social media manager asked new olim what their funniest most embarrassing Hebrew learning mistakes were; when they tried to say one thing but had really said something completely different.

And boy did their audience come out for this.

One man had asked a host if the lunch was going be בסרי (unripe) instead of בשרי (meaty) and another had called his relatives cabbages! (kruvim instead of krovim.) One oleh volunteered to give a speech at work only to speak with great pride about being a chatzil, an eggplant, instead of a chalutz, a pioneer. A mindful hipster ahead of his time.  

The bus stories were best with one guy shouting at a bus driver “Nahag, rega! Ani tzarich laledet!” Driver, I need to give birth! Instead of laredet, meaning I need to get off the bus. Needless to say, the entire bus couldn’t help themselves… and another bus on another fine day didn’t know where to put themselves when a woman turned to a religious man saying she didn’t recognize him with his pants on… she meant glasses. Mishkafayim are glasses and michnasayim are trousers, an easy mistake to make…

These are great learning curves as long you get to a situation where you figure out that you’re using the wrong sounds and words. Or have patient and kind teachers.

Moving on to reading, as an adult and reading in English and Hebrew, I will sometimes jump to a conclusion that something is being implied from the most innocent of texts, just because my brain jumbled up some words. And if our brains find it difficult to sort letters, what about children just learning to read Hebrew? Even without font and vision issues, some letters really look interchangeable.

Mish Mash letters is a Ji Tap series designed to help kids differentiate between confusing Hebrew letters. For example, Ayin and Tzadi may look similar to beginners. Like siblings or cousins, the letters turn to each other and say: We don’t look alike at all! But they concede that others might think so and point out why. So, they join forces to figure out what makes them dissimilar.

The problem-solving sequences go over the basics with animation and practice exercises. The child can hear each word being sounded out in a mini reading training with the tzadi and ayin highlighted in different colors so they stand out. After reading practice comes playtime, you get to sort through a pile of tzadis and ayins and put them in the right place. I’m sure it will bring you joy to see that.

By the end the letters’ curved or stable features become obvious and tzadi marks himself out as the ‘tsampion’, their personalities making it that bit more memorable. This is a fun space to sort out the kinks and the confusion, the cholent from the cholesterol.

Come over for some unripe cholesterol this week?


Explore the Mish Mash Series  

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Rifki Orzech

Written by Rifki Orzech

Rifki Orzech is an olah, a mother of three and a content writer with five years’ experience. She is passionate about women learning Torah and has completed the Susi Bradfield Educational Leadership Programme for Jewish women at the London School of Jewish Studies.

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