Word Origin…


A picture of the gorgeous Mediterranean sunset off the Tel Aviv pier by Paul

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.’

It suddenly clicked, Mediterranean means in the middle of the land. The sea in the middle of the lands. From the Latin medius “middle” and terra “land, earth”.

I had never thought about it before. But suddenly it made sense. Funny how in a Hebrew lesson I learned something new about an English word.

It makes me wonder how many other words I take for granted. Have any of you had a word origin epiphany? 

I’m a student again

Well, 2 nights a week at least.

Last night was my first ulpan lesson. It went pretty well even though the class actually started on 1 December 2015 and I have a little bit of catching up to do.

I was 1 of 3 new people in the class and my level of Hebrew seems to be about average compared to everyone else.

On Sunday I will officially register and receive my workbook.

The class is made up of Russian, French, British, American and South African (2 of us) students. They range in age from early 20’s to to 2 ladies who have grand kids.

My teacher speaks English, Hebrew, Russian and a smattering of French. 

I’m hoping by the end of the next 10 months I will be able to hold a conversation with my Hebrew speaking colleagues.

But for now, baby steps.

hebrewletters new

One word, two word, red word, blue word.

One of the benefits you receive as a new immigrant in Israel is free language classes (ulpan).

You have up to 18 months to make use of the benefit and if you don’t use it you would have to pay for any language classes you took after that time.

If we had not managed to find jobs almost straight away, both Paul and I would have attended full time ulpan. That consists of 5 hours a day, 5 days a week for 5 months. As it is we were both very lucky and were able to find jobs within a few weeks of arriving. The Ministry of Absorption makes a plan for those like us and there are ulpan schools that provide part time, after hours classes. 

For the last 10 months, Paul has been attending these classes 2 nights a week for 3 hours a night. His classes come to an end at the end of this month and mine will start at the beginning of February.

This morning I hopped a train to Tel Aviv and went to the Ministry office to receive my voucher that needs to be given to the ulpan so that I don’t have to pay for the classes. On Sunday afternoon I will go to the ulpan to register and to be tested to see which level class I will be placed in.

While I can make myself understood on a very, very basic level and most of the children’s friends parents speak some degree of English, I’m actually very excited to be formally learning Hebrew, it will make my life that much easier are far more enriched to be able to understand what is being said around me.

I’m a bit nervous because I’ve never been very good at languages. Or classrooms. Or studying. But I saw the quote below (by a fellow Israeli!) and that pretty much describes me, so onward with the learning!

study learn