Hebrew is of course one of the oldest languages still spoken in the world but it was all but dead for the couple of thousand years. The Jews were thrown out of Palestine and, immigrants in foreign lands, they assimilated much of the new local cultures and languages.
Hebrew was kept alive only in study of the Torah and prayer and it was only with the great Zionist drives begun in the 19th century that Hebrew began to be taught and spoken again. Of course in the intervening millennia there had been the odd new invention that prompted the invention of a few new words. Like electricity. Or woman’s rights…
It also severely limited the ability of the young to swear or sound cool. Not to be foxed by the limits of linguistics, the new generations borrowed heavily from the only other language still spoken to bear any relation to Hebrew – Arabic. At first glance it might seem ironic that the young and hip borrow slang and swear words from their hostile neighbours, until you remember that half of Israelis have family origins in Arabic countries.
Still, it is a telling feature of contemporary Israeli society that of the five word Arabic vocabulary most Israelis possess, the only phrase they pronounce correctly is ‘sisterfucker’.
Common Hebrew Slang
Akla – Great. eg. Akla felafel = great felafel. Arabic origin.
Ars, arsim – Pimp. But actually this phrase is reserved for your average wide boy or geezer wearing gold chains and picking fights with people for loooking at his girlfriend. Arabic origin.
Ashkarah – Like totally. This is a one word phrase. You want to sleep with me? Ashkarah! Again it’s from the Arabic.
Balagan – A mess. This is a complete catastrophe or tangled situation. Balagan is a good wa to describe the state of your room, the relationship with your last lover or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Benzona – Son of a whore. A common insult and also something really good
Frecha, Frechot, – Tart. The typical dizzy girl wearing too much make up and short skirt.
Hamesh daccot shel pachad – Five minutes of fear.. A great piece of Army slang referring to something or stolen origins. Ie. the thief went through five minutes of fear to get the item.
Haval al hazman – A shame on time. For something far out, as if to say that time itse;f is shamed by the coolness of the thing described.
Homel – Stuff. Drugs, specifically marijuana.
Kus – Cunt. So all the old men makew the joke about half a plate of cous cous.
Kusit – A hot girl. You won’t actually get hit for using this as a compliment but some find it a little vulgar to flatter a girl by mentioning her intimate anatomy.
Kusemek – Motherfucker. This is used by everyone in the same way that we might cry ‘Fuck it!’ or to call someone ‘motherfucker’. Arabic origin.
Mastool – Stoned.
Pitzazot – Bombs. Something really cool.
Saibaba – Cool, okay. Coincidentally the name of a famout Indian saint, this is a way of saying that it’s all cool. Can I borrow your car? Saibaba. Arabic origin..
Sof haderech – End of the road.
As good as it gets. How was the show? Sof haderech.