Site for Israel's professional tech writing and marcom community. Originally based in what has become Israel's 2nd largest R&D center (Yokneam), Elephant brings together technical and marcom writers from all over Israel. Behind the scenes and between meetings, members stay in contact with job offers and leads, joint projects, and professional assistance.
Using the wrong technical writer is like using a wrench to open a door, it works, but a door knob is better and cheaper. Elephant was started to help match writers and copy editors with companies where their skills match company needs.
“You know your teacher is possessed by Beelzebub when his or her head rotates 360 degrees at the blackboard. But is this what it takes to effectively keep watch over a classroom while a teacher unveils a frontal lesson? All adults who work with kids instinctively understand that they love to deny their mischievous behavior when the teacher isn’t looking. It’s one of the hallmarks of adolescent classroom acuity. Lest you grow eyes in the back of your head, educators are in a significantly vulnerable position. So how does one fight back?
“How many bars of soap would it take to wash out the mouths of our most vulgar students? I’m not advocating such an archaic punishment, but if I hear just one more Junior High school student offer greetings and salutations to his peers with a: wassup beeach? or how’z it mother f@cker?, I am going to lose my composure and thrash someone with a complete, unabridged Webster’s dictionary.
“Can’t we all just get along?” The popularized outcry by Rodney King captures the essence of cooperative learning with kids. Everyday children are put to the task of working together as a class, in groups or pairs, without systematic preparation or training. The result is often a breakdown in rank and file with dissention leading the attack. Here’s an example:
Kick ‘em in the back, kick ‘em in the knee, bring it on teachers, educate me! Oh come on educators, “let’s give it the old college try!” Sorry, too much to ask? Well then, drag yourself to work and just get through the day without too much aggravation and insult.
“There’s a sucker born every minute.” In Israel it is sacrosanct to say: “just don’t let it be me.” The atmosphere in school today parallels this mantra.
Remember the old trash compactors? You shoved in as much garbage as possible, compressed it and added some more. Neat, tidy bundles of waste, prepared for dumping, dense and inert. Lot’s of energy goes into packing, but once they are imbedded in the ground, how useful are they? Clearly some material can be recycled. But how do we begin the sorting process? How much information that we impart to kids today will be useful to them and society in the future? Are we helping them sort the trash or just cramming in more?
When our nation is under fire, when our soldiers are engaged in dangerous conflict, stress levels can run high. For those directly and indirectly affected by the current situation, there are ways of responding that can ease the sense of stress.
“He did it againnnn! Can you believe it?!” Well, actually I can. I’ve had clients and friends come to me time and time again with stories about the particular nemesis in their lives. They have a look of horror and disbelief as they relate stories already familiar to me. “My boss took credit for my work, again!” “My mother-in-law is trying to dominate the holiday, again!” “My spouse just sat there when our son arrived late, again!” “My colleague sat down uninvited and interrupted my work, again!” I do listen with sympathy. The relater of the story is truly in distress. And my simultaneous thought is “And you are surprised because?”
“You weren’t listening to me!” “Yes I was! You said…” And they in fact repeat back exactly what we have just said. Familiar interaction? And yet, have you ever felt less than satisfied when that happens? Why this lack of satisfaction? What has happened, or perhaps more accurately, what has not happened They obviously did hear us, so what is still missing? What are we actually trying to do when we communicate?
An important resilient expectation is Realistic Optimism. We are realistic in that we expect the road of life to have bumps, and we are optimistic in that we believe we can or will be able to manage the bumps. Sometimes these bumps are external, a challenge at our work, a health issue, children that do not admire and agree with every utterance from our mouths. And sometimes these bumps are internal, we lose our temper easily, we tend to procrastinate, we react before we think.
Organizational studies suggest that one of the things employees most desire and least feel is acknowledgement, recognition for effort and work well done. People will grumble about their boss not addressing this important issue. And yet we are often similarly neglectful in the way we relate to ourselves.
Ever notice how sometimes people ask a question when they really do not have a question? Recently I approached an office building where the gate at the entrance booth was open. I pulled up past the gate to the window where the guard was sitting, and opened my window to say where I was headed. The guard asked: “Why did you pull up past the gate?” I attempted to answer. However, as the guard repeated the question, I noticed a slightly annoyed and slightly frustrated feeling growing inside me.
“I’m confused”, clients have said with a look of dismay. “Great!” I say. “That is the first step toward new thinking.” We humans use routine thinking for routine situations. We compartmentalize incoming data to help us manage the vast amounts of information coming our way. Hmm, seat, back, some legs – goes into our “chair” compartment of our thinking, and then we can move on to another thought
There is an important distinction when we judge people, versus judging objects or ideas. Judging a person’s qualifications or behaviors can appropriately guide us toward fitting actions. Regarding a person or a person’s character, it may be more helpful, and more resilient, to focus on compassion and on making decisions rather than judgments.
“My truth is not fact.” a client recently declared to me. It was a magical moment of insight.
Flexible thinking is a characteristic of high-level resilience. This is the ability to consider multiple perspectives, to consider different possible understandings of a situation or problem, as well as resulting different possibilities for action. Flexible thinking gives us greater choice and so a greater sense of control, contributing to an increased sense of psychological well-being.
“Caring” appears a lot as a translation of ichpatiut. But “caring” doesn’t always work. You can say you want an honest, caring leader, but you can’t say you want a leader with honesty and caring. The word “caringness” suggests itself, and it does get some usage. But no traditional dictionary seems to include it.
When we say “Isn’t it a shame?” the remark is commonly just an exclamation, not a question to be thought about. If the neighbor’s dog is struck by lightning, we might say “Isn’t it a shame?” but we wouldn’t say Lo khaval? The Hebrew implies that the misfortune could have been prevented, or could be prevented in the future.
Here’s a word that is not only difficult to translate but unpleasant to discuss and impossible to transliterate well.
There was a movie monster called The Blob, which would nourish itself and grow by absorbing into itself whatever animal life it encountered, and I think of the mechil person as resembling The Blob but in a good way, wisely accepting events and people and growing wiser by that acceptance.
Among Babylon’s definitions of hegiakh is “appear suddenly,” which reminds me that more than once in my technical writing career I saw the word “appear” criticized when applied to items that pop up on the computer screen. People would complain that “appear” is a word for magicians, not for sober programmers and users. I never saw the point of the complaint.
The other day, I was translating some Hebrew that referred to something as “worth about as much as a garlic peel.” It’s a common expression in Hebrew, but I’ve never heard it in English. Still, I thought, it’s self-explanatory and expressions do pass from one language into another all the time.
For the catchphrase describing Menachem Begin’s supply-side economic policies, I find various translations on the web: to make good to the people, to benefit the people, to do well by the people, to let the people enjoy, and more.
If something or someone is described as being down on the ground and I see the verb lirbotz, often I think “Why didn’t the writer just say lishkav, to lie? Did he have anything special in mind, or is he simply disdaining to use everyday language and forcing me to find a pompous equivalent?”
If in context the verb l’hitnossess refers to something flapping or fluttering high like a flag, or hovering, so much the better for the translation, because it’s hard to translate the concept of just sitting still up there.
Merriam-Webster takes an example of prolepsis from a poem by Alexander Pope where “yon slow oxen turn the furrowed plain.” The plain isn’t furrowed until they’ve turned it. Some organizations hold a “lessons learned” meeting at the end of a project, and if everyone had learned the lessons already, the meeting wouldn’t be necessary. So that’s prolepsis too.