One of the things I love about Israel and the Hebrew language is that there is a greeting for everything and everyone greets everyone (well mostly, remember the grumpy old men?)
There are regular, every day greetings, good morning (בוקר טוב – boker tov) and evening (ערב טוב – erev tov).
There are greetings for the beginning and end of the week, good week (שבוע טוב – shavua tov) said from the moment shabbat has ended to the end of Sunday and shabbat shalom (שבת שלום) said anytime from Thursday through to the end of Saturday night.
Then there are greetings for High Holy days, usually happy holiday (חג שמח – chag same’ach) or the yiddish, gut yontiv (גוט יום־טובֿ – good yom tov).
My favourite though, is an alternative to good morning. It is usually said as a response to someone who says good morning (boker tov) to you.
The greeting is בוקר אור (boker or) and literally translates to ‘morning light’.
I’ve spoken before about how amazing my kids are in regards to learning Hebrew. How that, within the 1st few months of living in Israel, they were already able to hold a conversation with their friends, teachers and the cashiers at the supermarket.
The fact is that both kids are now fluent. They even know words in Hebrew that they don’t know the English for. Lots of dictionary looking up going on over here.
One of the things that struck me this week is that Faith tends to speak Hebrew when she is playing by herself. I often listen to her playing with her dolls or other toys and speaking in Hebrew to them and making them speak in Hebrew. She very rarely speaks to her dolls in English. She also sings in Hebrew all the time.
Its interesting to me because I don’t think Aaron would do it if he still played with his dolls and action figures by himself (he tends to prefer reading when he is by himself now).
When they play together, just the two of them, they will play in English with a few random Hebrew words or phrases thrown in. When they play together and they have friends over, they speak Hebrew mostly but they switch to English when they are telling each other what to do or fighting about something. I have to keep reminding them that they must speak Hebrew even if it doesn’t involve their friends because its rude to speak English in front of people who don’t understand.
Sometimes we take the words we know for granted. They just are. We don’t really think of their origins or their actual meanings.
In my last ulpan class we learned the word for middle, אֶמצַע (emtza), we were talking geography, far east, middle east etc… While explaining the word to us, our teacher said ‘middle east, like the Mediterranean sea area.’