Hebrew As She Is Spoke:
Ivrit, Sabrit, Sleng, and Pinglish
IT IS no small thing to take the tongue of Solomon’s love songs and Moses’ laws and make it the language of a new state, of bus drivers and farmers and statesmen, to make it so alive that it can be used by soldiers on the Arab fronts and by diplomats in world assemblies. Since all do not as yet speak Hebrew in Israel, a ride in a bus is like a trip through a latter-day Babel. Strap-hangers holding on for dear life speak French, German, English, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Polish, or Yiddish. Arabs in keffiyehs (head-dress) and Yemenite women in embroidered pants, talking Arabic, sit next to people who speak Hebrew with all accents, including the Scandinavian.
However, the effort to make everyone talk Hebrew goes on unremittingly, though not without rear-guard sniping from the older tongues. During the fighting with the Arabs in Jerusalem, an old lady sat huddled in a bus while Arab shots whizzed all around. She put her hands to her head and shouted indignantly: “Dort shiest men, un do ret men Ivrit!-Over there, they’re shooting, and here they’re talking Hebrew!”
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