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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

How do you say “f-ing frustrating” in Hebrew?

I realize that in Hebrew, there is probably no way to say “f-ing” but there has to be a way to describe how frustrating it is to try and learn Hebrew when you are 28 and nowhere near Israel and nowhere near daily contact with the language. A word that describes how painful it is to be sounding out words as an adult, when you can’t remember not being able to read. That describes after 12 years with two languages under my belt, this third one is kicking me in the ass.

That even when I have to sound out Spanish words, I can–because the letters are the same and the vowels only have one pronunciation. How frustrating it is that I didn’t learn the hebrew vowels quite right when I taught myself the alphabet and as a result want to make every vowel, regardless of it’s real function, into an “ah.” Or if I’m feeling generous, an “a.” But do the “ee” and the “eh” ever cross my mind? Or the elusive “oo?” NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

My hebrew pronunciation is terrible, my chaf, kaf, chet differentiation sucks. I don’t know what the names of the vowels are and don’t know that I need to know the name of the vowel, if I could just force myself to know the function.

Needless to say, I’ve just come from Hebrew class. Where we are moving quickly and while I understand the concepts, I am super frustrated at my reading ability. I can figure it out, I’m smart enough to find the meaning in a sentence, root words, suffixes, but pronunciation?

Ugh. What good will it do me that I can get the context of a sentence, if when I say it outloud it doesn’t resemble Hebrew? I realize it hasn’t even been a full year in the language and that 1/2 of the year was self-taught and there are all sorts of rational reasons for why I’m at this plateau.

Blah, blah, blah.

I would like to be fluent in both modern and classic Hebrew.

Now.

Somebody please invent the magic pill for me to take or fund a six month immersion into Israeli life. Offer to take on all of my chicago expenses, convince my company to hold my job for me, find a nice family that will feed me and talk to me only in Hebrew. Buy my plane ticket, buy my food, feed Spidey while I’m gone and make sure no more pipes burst. Let me have 6 months at a Yeshiva in Israel–let me master this language, or at least the damn vowels so I don’t sound like an idiot when I sound out four word sentences. So that when I see Chunukah written in hebrew and say it, it sounds right?

Please. Pretty please? I’m just asking for a benefactor. While I’m there I’ll keep my homesickeness bitching to a minimum, I promise. I won’t whine about the food or the ultra-orthodox or the danger. I’ll just learn my vowels and how to both read Torah and order a meal in a restaurant.

I’ll be in my fantasy life for the rest of the afternoon if you need me.

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