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Lesson Transcript


Shira: Hello and welcome back to HebrewPod101.com’s Absolute Beginner Season 1, Lesson 4 - Being Sorry in Hebrew. I’m your host, Shira.
Amir: And I’m Amir.
Shira: In this lesson, you will learn how to apologize in Hebrew.
Amir: This conversation takes place in a crowd of people.
Shira: And it’s between two strangers.
Amir: Even though they are strangers, it’s an informal conversation.
Shira: Let’s listen to the conversation.

Lesson conversation

A: אווווה! אהההה... סליחה!
(Ow! Ehhh... sliħah!)
B: מה?
A: כף הרגל שלי...
(Kaf Ha-regel sheli...)
B: אוה... סליחה!
(Oh... sliħah!)
Shira: Let’s listen to the conversation one more time slowly.
A: אווווה! אהההה... סליחה!
(Ow! Ehhh... sliħah!)
B: מה?
A: כף הרגל שלי...
(Kaf Ha-regel sheli...)
B: אוה... סליחה!
(Oh... sliħah!)
Shira: Let’s listen to the conversation with the English translation.
A: אווווה! אהההה... סליחה!
(Ow! Ehhh... sliħah!)
Shira: Ouch! Ummm...excuse me!
B: מה?
Shira: What?
A: כף הרגל שלי...
(Kaf Ha-regel sheli...)
Shira: My foot...
B: אוה... סליחה!
(Oh... sliħah!)
Shira: Oh...I’m sorry!
Shira: Since we’re talking about stepping on toes, let’s talk about stepping on toes figuratively.
Amir: In Israel?
Shira: Yes! Well, the truth is it doesn’t really happen that often. We talked about how Israelis are really quite nice on the inside. This time we want to talk about how direct Israelis are.
Amir: That’s right. You really don’t have to worry about stepping on people’s toes in Israel because Israelis will tell you if you offend them, or if you do something culturally unacceptable.
Shira: Israelis don’t have any problem being direct. For example, once, I went home for the summer, came back a bit heavier than normal and a classmate of mine looked at me and told me, “you know, you look a lot better when you’re thinner”. And I wasn’t even that heavy at that time.
Amir: Really? That’s pretty bad, but I have to say it doesn’t surprise me.
Shira: I’m sure it doesn’t! A favorite target is mothers with small children; people love to stop mothers and tell them what they should do with their kids, how they should dress them, or how they should stop them from throwing a fit!
Amir: Yeah, I guess we are that way, or at least older women are that way. We also don’t like to beat around the bush. We like to say things outright and clearly.
Shira: You won’t find too much politeness in Hebrew and flowery words are totally out.
Amir: If you’re used to using indirect phrases and just hinting at things, you’re going to find it a bit of a challenge to communicate in the beginning.
Shira: Yes, it’s good advice to try to be more direct than you usually are in your home country. Israelis appreciate directness.
Amir: And expect to hear people tell you what they think and not to hold back.
Shira: Now let’s get right to the vocabulary for this lesson. First we have:
Amir: סליחה (sliħah) [natural native speed]
Shira: Excuse me or sorry. (Informal)
Amir: סליחה (sliħah) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. סליחה (sliħah) [natural native speed]
Shira: Next:
Amir: ה- (Ha-) [natural native speed]
Shira: The
Amir: ה- (Ha-) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. ה- (Ha-) [natural native speed]
Shira: Next:
Amir: כף רגל (kaf regel) [natural native speed]
Shira: Foot
Amir: כף רגל (kaf regel) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. כף רגל (kaf regel) [natural native speed]
Shira: And last:
Amir: שלי (sheli) [natural native speed]
Shira: My, mine.
Amir: שלי (sheli) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. שלי (sheli) [natural native speed]
Shira: Let’s take a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson. The first word is סליחה (sliħah).
Amir: סליחה (sliħah) means both “excuse me” and “I’m sorry”. We’ll discuss it more in the grammar section.
Shira: The next word is ה- (ha-). This is the definite article “the”.
Amir: Technically, it’s always attached as a prefix to the word that it modifies.
Shira: Right. And in Hebrew it’s not just used with nouns. It must be attached to the adjectives that describe the noun as well.
Amir: I think our listeners will benefit from an example of this.
Shira: Okay. So, let’s use a phrase that we learned in the last lesson. מתנה קטנה
Amir: In the last lesson, we talked about “a small present” and since there is no indefinite article in Hebrew, we didn’t need any additional words.
Shira: When we want to say “the small present” we need to add ה- (ha-) to both “small” and “present.”
Amir: It sounds like this מתנה קטנה
Shira: It would be like saying “the small the present” in English.
Amir: So, the next word is כף רגל (kaf regel), which means “foot”.
Shira: This word is a feminine word, even though it doesn’t follow the traditional rule for feminine spelling.
Amir: Right, feminine words usually end in an –ah or an –et sound. But double body parts don’t follow this rule and they are feminine nouns.
Shira: Double body parts – like eyes, ears, hands and feet?
Amir: Exactly, those ones.
Shira: Our last vocabulary word is שלי (sheli), which can mean “my” or “mine”.
Amir: This word is made up of two parts, של meaning “of” and י meaning “me”.
Shira: We’ll explain this phrase a little better in a few minutes. Okay, let’s move on to the grammar section.

Lesson focus

Shira: In this lesson, you’ll learn how to apologize in Hebrew.
Amir: Most common way to apologize in Hebrew is just to say סליחה (sliħah).
Shira: Sliħah is simply “forgiveness” but it has come to mean both “excuse me” and “sorry”.
Amir: So if someone steps on your toe and they don’t realize it, like in our dialogue, you can just say, סליחה (sliħah).
Shira: Or if you need to interrupt someone when they’re in the middle of something, you can say it as well.
Amir: But also if you’ve done something to someone else and you want to apologize to them, you can also say, סליחה (sliħah).
Shira: This was an easy grammar point, so fortunately we have time for another grammar insight from our dialogue. And that’s showing possession.
Amir: If you remember, the woman in the dialogue says, כף הרגל שלי. (Kaf Ha-regel sheli.)
Shira: The direct translation of this would be “the foot of me”. We use this kind of phrase -- again, we use this kind of phrases of possession in English, but we wouldn’t use it in this case.
Amir: In Hebrew, we often use this type of phrase, especially in speech.
Shira: Very true, there is a more direct way to show possession, but this way is the most common in spoken Hebrew.
Amir: So as we said in the vocabulary section, the word שלי (sheli) is broken down into two parts, של (shel) and י (i).
Shira: של (shel) can also be used with the name of a person. If you wanted to say that something is Shira’s, you would say של שירה (shel Shira), or Amir’s, של אמיר (shel Amir).
Amir: של can also carry the suffixes of other pronouns.
Shira: To demonstrate, we will give you a run-down of this, using the word בית which means house. Make sure that you listen and repeat after Amir so you can get used to the different sounds of the pronoun suffixes. We’ll start with “my house”.
Amir: הבית שלי (ha-bayit sheli)
Shira: “Your house"
Amir: הבית שלך (ha-bayit shel'kha)
Shira: That was in masculine, singular. Now we’ll give you feminine singular.
Amir: הבית שלך (ha-bayit shelakh)
Shira: Next we have “his house”.
Amir: הבית שלו (ha-bayit shelo)
Shira: And “her house."
Amir: הבית שלה (ha-bayit shelah)
Shira: “Our house"
Amir: הבית שלנו (ha-bayit shelanu)
Shira: The next one we’re going to give you is “your house” in the plural. At this point, we’re only going to give you the masculine forms for the next two examples. You will not use the feminine forms very often.
Amir: If you want to learn the feminine forms as well, at this point you should take a look at the lesson notes on our site.
Shira: Okay. So “your house” in the masculine plural is.
Amir: הבית שלכם (ha-bayit shelakhem)
Shira: And “their house” in the masculine plural.
Amir: הבית שלהם (ha-bayit shelahem)
Shira: As we said before in our earlier lesson, the feminine plural forms are becoming less and less used in speech. If there is one man present or involved then you would use the masculine form anyway.
Amir: There aren’t that many situations where you’ll have only woman around. Men like to be around woman, right?
Shira: Very true! So, although you aren’t going to use these forms as often, you should still learn them in case you end up in a room full of women.
Amir: For now, though, while you’re still in the beginning stages of learning Hebrew, concentrate on the masculine plural form.


Shira: Okay. I think that’s it for this lesson.
Amir: After listening to this lesson, please visit HebrewPod101.com and practice your Hebrew, everyone!