Posted on Oct 31, 2018

Sicha Yomit Online

The advantage of the Israel of 45 years ago was that the entire world was an ulpan.

I remember one time while visiting Tel Aviv, as I walked down the street, I mentally reviewed all the Hebrew words for the various objects that I saw. Being a commercial street the various storefronts carried large very visible signs. For the life of me, I could not remember the Hebrew word for a sign. As everyone was generally so willing to help me learn the language, I politely stopped the first pedestrian that walked by. Pointing to the nearest sign I asked my question “?מה זה” [“What’s this?”] When my interlocutor didn't quite understand what it was I was asking I tried again. “?איך קוראים לזה” [“What do you call this?”]

As it became clear that my question was still not understood, I started pointing to various examples of commercial signs and each time repeated my question. Our interaction evidently attracted attention and various other passers-by stopped to listen to our exchange. Several even offered their opinion as to exactly what it was I wanted.

Finally, one very astute woman figured out that I was talking about signs. With great drama and clear enunciation, she pointed to one sign and slowly said “שלט”! She then pointed to multiple examples and said “שלטים”! I also pointed to one sign and repeated her example. A look of approval spread across the faces of my audience. The twenty or so people that had gathered around us spontaneously broke out into applause.
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