As our pilot trip approaches rapidly, I asked my ever-helpful facebook social circle what the ONE phrase is that we should know when we get off the plane…
Oh, yeah – BESIDES “ayfo hasherutim?” (where is the bathroom?)
Here’s what they said:
- Haya moad naim l'hakir otach/otcha.
היה מאוד נעים להכיר אותך!
It was very nice meeting you!
- Ani lo midaber(et for fem) ivrit. I do not speak Hebrew.
- איפה המקלט / Efo HaMiklat – where is the shelter?
- תודה רבה! Thank you much, said with a smile of course
- Kama Oleh - how much does it cost
- kama zeh oleh? How much does this cost?
- Slicha – sorry
- ani lo medaberet ivrit – another vote for this one!
- ani lo mevinah – I don’t understand
- "ani na nach nachma nachman m'euman" – breslov slogan, posted by a joker
- Todah rabbah!
- Meter bevakasha (for taxi so you don't get overcharged)
- "todah rabba" during the week and Shabbat Shalom on Friday and Shabbat....
- Oy Va Voy!!
- "hatzilu" – help
- Mah Nishma? – how are you?
And a couple of late additions…
- from my good friend, Shira, who just got back: “preface everything with, 'slicha, ani olah chadasha' plus v'ivrit sheli lo tov' or 'od pam bevakasha?' or "lo havanti...yoter le'at?"
- לאט לאט – slowly…
- Rega! - just a second
- tafrit anglit bevakasha / English menu please!
- “Countless times you will hear "Savlanut"!”
- Anachnu (ch pronounced like ch in Loch Ness monster) mi-Toronto (We're from Toronto).
- Beseder. Nu? Mah Kara lecha/ lach. Mi acharon b tor? Lama? Di. (uh-oh. too much information! brain overload!)
- And some very good advice: “Although many people do speak English, my personal show of respect is to not assume the person you are addressing does or wants to speak English. It's nice to ask & not just assume.”
A few people actually suggested “kama zeh oleh?” and variations. But I have to admit that numbers are my WORST thing, so I really, really hesitate to task how much something is because in my nightmares, I actually get an answer.
I am planning to be one of these tourists – and then immigrants – who goes to the stores and hands over an undifferentiated wad of bills, trusting the cashiers to get the change at least in the right ballpark. Just nod when they tell me the number, and everything yihyeh b’seder (will be okay), right?
(my friend Shira says, “it’s okay to hand them a big bill and trust the change if there is a rush.”)
I should mention that in addition to facebook advice, I am also planning to bring along this handy-dandy Berlitz Hebrew Phrase Book & Dictionary.
A few last words of wisdom from my friend Shira: “A lot of what I understood came by context and body language, even when I only knew half the words. I also tended to think up what words i might need as I approached something, so they’d be at the top of my mind. or I’d practice my opening phrase in my mind. I also wrote down key words sometimes. Ten years ago I kept a notebook in my pocket, and wrote down any new word I acquired.”
Excellent advice, from a huge range of folks who have btdt.