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.
Of my print dictionaries, only Oxford (by Ya’acov Levy) acknowledges the show-biz meaning of keta, calling it a performer’s “number.” Viewing life as a cabaret, we may ask when someone behaves strangely “What is his keta?” — that is to say, his item on the program. His routine, his gag, his schtick, his spot, his bit, his piece, his act, his stunt, his stuff, his trick.
In English a word like “meticulous” does double duty, describing both the person who is strict about details and the work that gets done that way. But it isn’t passive, so when applied to the work, it doesn’t point back to the creator of the meticulousness as strongly as mookpad does. Mookpad is more like “meticulized.”
L'ar'er, meaning an undermining of balance, has never been my favorite verb, because it goes twice over two consonants that we Americans can’t pronounce well. Even in English, I was never sure whether to pronounce the verb “err” like the first syllable of “error” or like the first syllable of “ermine.” But what l'ar'er does have in its favor that verbs like undermine or destabilize don’t is its ding-dong, seesaw , shikshukish repetition. It brings to mind — to my mind, at least — an effort to weaken something by joggling it back and forth.
A khavaya is an experience, so khavayati translates logically to “experiential” — an uncomfortable construction, certainly too unattractive for use in advertising. It wears its suffix like a borrowed pair of shoes.
For the American market, it was necessary to remove elements that were peculiar to Israel and change the names of the characters to proper American names. The USA may be a nation of immigrants, but American children want to read about other children who are like themselves, not foreigners in a foreign environment. In that way they differ from American adults who read Israeli novels in translation and tend to appreciate learning new things about the country through them.
The expression asa l’veito (עשה לביתו) — literally, “provided for his household” — has a respectable origin in the book of Genesis, where Jacob says to Laban: “the Lord hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also?” But as Ruvik Rosenthal notes in his blog, modern Hebrew uses the expression “particularly in connection with public servants who make the move into profitable private business.
Nobel Prize laureate Yisrael (Bob) Aumann opined that socialists are mistaken in not wanting anyone to be too well off. “What I need is to be comfortable. And if somebody else is a thousand times more comfortable, she-y’vusam lo,” said Professor Aumann. Literally, “let him have it with perfume.”
In English, snide superciliousness tends to be conveyed with S words-- sneer, scoff, snigger, scorn. To the ear, gikhekh makes a very different impression. It sounds like a gurgling cackle.
Yoram Peri says that “the media invented a new Hebrew term (hitnahalut)” meaning “a behavior pattern arising out of personality. The terms closest to it in English — conduct, self-management — do not emphasize the psychological element sufficiently.”
The holidays are almost upon us, so it’s time to look back and make an accounting. Having been asked several times, I’ve looked back over the Translatable but Debatable columns and made an index of the words they discuss.