Translatable but Debatable – התלבט hitlabet

Translatable but Debatable – התלבט hitlabet

Morfix defines hitlabet as “to have doubts, to be uncertain, to weigh possibilities; to think over, to deliberate, to ponder, to mull, to debate.” Still I think of the meaning as commonly more specific than that. When I leave the house, it’s not so much that I mitlabet about whether I fed the goldfish. I mitlabet about whether or not to go back.

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Translatable but Debatable – איכפתיות ichpatiut

Translatable but Debatable – איכפתיות ichpatiut

“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. 

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Translatable but Debatable — ?לא חבל Lo khaval?

Translatable but Debatable — ?לא חבל Lo khaval?

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.

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Translatable but Debatable – הכיל hechil

Translatable but Debatable – הכיל hechil

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.

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Translatable but Debatable — הגיח hegiakh

Translatable but Debatable — הגיח hegiakh

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.

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Translatable but Debatable — מבחן המציאות mivkhan hametzi'ut

Translatable but Debatable — מבחן המציאות mivkhan hametzi'ut

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.

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Translatable but Debatable – להיטיב l'heyteev

Translatable but Debatable – להיטיב l'heyteev

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.

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Translatable but Debatable – רבץ ravatz

Translatable but Debatable – רבץ ravatz

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?”

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Translatable but Debatable – התנוסס hitnossess

Translatable but Debatable – התנוסס hitnossess

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. 

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Translatable but Debatable – הפקת לקחים hafakat lekakhim

Translatable but Debatable – הפקת לקחים hafakat lekakhim

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.

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Translatable but Debatable – השתלשלות hishtalshelut

Translatable but Debatable – השתלשלות hishtalshelut

From the Morfix and Babylon online dictionaries, we can learn that the hishtalshelut of something is its evolution, progression, development (of a situation, event), chain of events, or sequence.  Some of those terms in English are fine for a more lengthy happening, like the development of an ideology or the progression of a relationship, but I’m not sure there’s room for them in a startling incident that may have taken a couple of seconds maximum. 

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Translatable but Debatable – ספר עיון ויום עיון sefer iyun and yom iyun

Translatable but Debatable – ספר עיון ויום עיון sefer iyun and yom iyun

If you look up sefer iyun in Wikipedia and click for the corresponding page in English, you find that it’s “nonfiction.”  But you don’t find that it’s a translation of the same article.  I think every sefer iyun is nonfiction, but not every book of nonfiction is a sefer iyun

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Translatable but Debatable – תמהוני timhoni and its cognates

Translatable but Debatable – תמהוני timhoni and its cognates

Reverso.net translates “I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo” as Ani muzar, ani timhoni.  I think it drops the ball when it translates “creep” as simply “strange,” and I think a creep is a more unsympathetic kind of a weirdo than a timhoni normally is.

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Translatable but Debatable – סתם stam

Translatable but Debatable – סתם stam

Although you can read in one place that “Israelis use the word ‘stam’ at every chance they get,” elsewhere you can read that “its not a word you hear often.  I (and others) use it 99% of the time as ‘Just Kidding’, but it is slang.”

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Translatable but Debatable – התרגש hitragesh

Translatable but Debatable – התרגש hitragesh

Think about a grandmother who mitrageshet upon receiving a birthday present from her eight-year-old granddaughter.  She doesn’t feel and behave the same as an eight-year-old who mitrageshet upon receiving a birthday present from her grandmother.

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Translatable but Debatable – התכתב hitkatev

Translatable but Debatable – התכתב hitkatev

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam says that when displayed, Anish Kapoor’s Internal Object in Three Parts “will enter a visual dialogue with Rembrandt’s late works.”  I always find the one-sided claim of a dialogue irritating.   I was talking with Dante the other day, and he calls it infernal.

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Translatable but Debatable – קטע keta

Translatable but Debatable – קטע keta

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.

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