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Lesson Transcript


Michael: What is Hebrew slang like?
Lenny: And is it commonly used?
Michael: At HebrewPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following situation: Keren uses a slang expression Ben has never heard before. She says,
Keren Cohen: .סבבה (Sababa.)
Keren Cohen: .סבבה (Sababa.)
Ben Lee: ?מה זה אומר (Ma ze omer?)
Keren Cohen: ".זה אומר "קול (Ze omer "kul.")
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Keren Cohen: .סבבה (Sababa.)
Michael: "Sababa."
Ben Lee: ?מה זה אומר (Ma ze omer?)
Michael: "What does that mean?"
Keren Cohen: ".זה אומר קול (Ze omer "kul.")
Michael: "It means 'cool.'"

Lesson focus

Michael: Slang is an aspect of language that isn’t usually taught in the classroom, but it can be important for becoming proficient. Slang indicates a set of words and expressions, used by a group of people to better convey feelings and implied concepts. Slang is usually an aspect of the colloquial language, and, for this reason, it changes really quickly or differs from one group to the other. In Hebrew, “slang” is
Lenny: סלנג (sleng)
Michael: Let’s start with the slang word from the main conversation.
Do you remember what slang word we heard?
(pause 4 seconds)
Lenny as Keren Cohen: .סבבה (Sababa.)
Michael: This was originally an Arabic word. In Hebrew, this word has been in use since the 1960s and means "very good, excellent, good, desirable, or right." But, when it's used as a slang expression, it means "yes, good, OK, great, or cool." Let's hear a sample sentence:
Lenny: .סבבה, בא נדבר מחר (Sababa, bo nedaber makhar.)
Michael: which means "OK, let's talk tomorrow."
So far, you’ve learned that slang is an important aspect of colloquial language. It is often limited to small groups, and it can change quickly or become obsolete.
Now, let’s look at some more examples of young people slang. First is
Lenny: אחי (akhi).
Michael: This literally means "my brother." But, when it's used as a slang expression, it means "bro." Young people use it when they want to call a close friend without saying his name. The feminine version of this is
Lenny: [אחותי] akhoti,
Michael: which is something like "sis." Let's hear an example sentence
Lenny: ?אחי, אתה בא לים (akhi, ata ba la’yam?)
Michael: "Bro, are you coming to the beach?" The next slang word is
Lenny: יציאה (yetsia).
Michael: This literally means "exit." But, when it's used as a slang expression, it means "a really funny, shocking, or unusual saying," a "witty remark." People use it to refer to something funny or shocking that someone said. Here is an example:
Lenny: .היא מצחיקה, תמיד יש לה יציאות (Hi matskhika, tamid yesh la yetsiot.)
Michael: which means "She’s funny, she always has witty remarks to say." The next slang phrase is
Lenny: לדפוק קטע מסריח (lidfok keta masriakh),
Michael: which literally means "to knock a stinky thing." But, when it's used as a slang expression, it means "do something bad to someone or mess someone up." People use this slang expression when they want to express the idea of messing up with someone, by doing something intentionally or unintentionally that causes someone else to get annoyed. Let's hear an example:
Lenny: .זו לא הפעם הראשונה שהוא דופק לי קטע מסריח (zu lo ha’pa-am harishona she’hu dofek li keta masriakh.)
Michael: which means "This isn’t the first time that he’s messing up with me." The next slang expression is
Lenny: לעוף על עצמך (lauf al atsmekha).
Michael: This literally means "to fly on yourself." But, when it's used as a slang expression, it means "feel good about yourself, or to talk or think highly of yourself." It's a very popular expression nowadays and can have a positive or negative meaning, since it can convey either the idea of feeling good about yourself, or of thinking too highly about yourself. Here is an example sentence with the positive meaning
Lenny: .מאז שירדתי במשקל אני עפה על עצמי (meaz she’yaradeti ba’mishkal ani afa al atsmi)
Michael: "Since losing weight, I feel great about myself." Let's now hear an example with the negative meaning
Lenny: .הוא סתם עף על עצמו. את רב העבודה היא עשתה (Hu stam af al atsmo. Et rov ha’avoda hi asta.)
Michael: which means "He’s just thinking too highly of himself. She did Most of the work " Our last slang expression is
Lenny: למות מעייפות (lamut me'ayefut)
Michael: This literally means "to die of tiredness." But, when it's used as a slang expression, it means "to be really sleepy." People use it to express how tremendously tired or exhausted they are. Here is an example sentence:
Lenny: .איזה יום ארוך!! אני מתה מעייפות (eize yom arokh!! Ani meta me’ayefut)
Michael: which means "What a long day!! I’m so exhausted."
Cultural Insight
Michael: As you might know if you have Israeli friends, when it comes to colloquial expressions, Hebrew can be a very colorful language. The only downside is that many slang words, if used in the wrong context, sound offensive. For example, many slang expressions are used to describe people's negative habits or attitudes; let’s hear one of those:
Lenny: להיות גנוב לגמרי (lihiyot ganuv legamrei)
Michael: This literally means "to be completely stolen." But, when it's used as a slang expression, it means "to be completely nuts," and people use it to describe someone who is doing something stupid or is being stupid. You could use this with a friend while joking, but it would sound harsh towards someone you don't know well!


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Lenny: !להתראות (lehitra’ot!)
Michael: See you soon!