Saturday, July 19, 2008

My favorite Hebrew word (of those in my limited vocabulary)

Melafafon. Isn’t that pretty? It sounds like “mellifluous,” one of my favorite English words. But“mellifluous” is almost onomatopoetic – the word sounds like what it is meant to convey. “Melafafon” is Hebrew for cucumber.

My least favorite Hebrew word? It’s hard to choose just one. It might be “shta’im,” which means “two.” There are many Hebrew words that aren’t exactly music to my ears. This must be both because Hebrew sounds so different from English because my limited exposure to Hebrew hinders a fuller appreciation of the language. What sounds good to you depends on what you are accustomed to hearing: Joseph Brodsky, the Nobel laureate Russian poet, said that when he first heard English spoken it sounded like a dog barking.

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