Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I Have Nothing Against English, But Too Many Israeli Businesses Are Overusing the Foreign Language

These bothered me, so I photographed them:

These two businesses on Jerusalem's first pedestrian mall, aka Ben Yehuda Street have their signs totally in English.  They are directly across from each other.  There is Hebrew on other signs nearby or I would have thought that I was suddenly in another country.

I don't mind multi-lingual signs, the more languages the better.  When I worked in advertising I'd encourage the clients and graphic artists to add key words in a variety of languages so those insecure in Hebrew would feel welcomed. 

The optician's use of the eyeglass frame makes it clear what is being sold, so they don't need English.  And the sign up on the food place doesn't at all indicate what is on the menu.  It just reeks of Chutz l'Aretz, the diaspora.

I agree with Haifa's mayor, Yona Yahav, that boycotting businesses that do not have Hebrew as the main language in their signs is a good idea.
According to Yahav, it all began when he went to his usual barber for a haircut and discovered a sign outside the shop that read "Hair Stylist" in English.
The mayor reprimanded the young barber and demanded that he replace the sign with one displaying the Hebrew word for barbershop. When the barber refused, the mayor stopped getting his hair cut there.
Israel has an official committee to develop words and terminology in Hebrew for all linguistic needs.  In the 1970's when tape cassettes were new, people used the word "cassette" in their Hebrew sentences. but then the committee found a Hebrew equivalent, קלטת kalettet, and now that is the accepted word.

Hebrew is an amazing language, and over the decades many new, effective and accepted words have been developed from Hebrew.  I'd like to see a law for the entire country demanding that the main language in a sign or business logo be Hebrew.


Hadassa said...

Rav Kook would be proud, as would Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. They consulted each other in their efforts to revive Hebrew as a living language. I do not allow my children to combine Hebrew and English and neither do their English teachers. With their other teachers it's not even a question. I teach my children that English is a tool for international business, and should not be used for cultural purposes.

Bat Aliyah said...

The majority of Jews in the world speak English. Perhaps, in future generations, that won't be the case, but as a mother tongue English speaker who made aliyah way past the age where it's relatively easy to master Hebrew, I appreciate every bit of English I encounter in Israel. It doesn't mean I don't value Hebrew, Gd-forbid. Just that English on signs, menus, forms, etc. makes daily life a bit easier.

Batya said...

Hadassa, interesting. But what would they be proud of, writing בס"ד in English letters? It makes no sense.
BA, bilingual signs are one thing, but to have signs and logos of Hebrew words in English only? no good

Unknown said...

Because we are a country that has so much tourism I think it is smart to have signs in English and Hebrew. English due to the fact it seems to be the common world language right now.
I am one of those that made aliyah midlife and am still struggling with Hebrew......and if I do not see or hear Hebrew that struggle will not get any easier.

Batya said...

Serach, my complaint is about the all English signs, not multilingual

Rickismom said...

Good business practice would lead most people to put bilingual signs. But to make a LAW outlawing signs only in English seems to me to be a rather dangerous precedent.

Batya said...

why "dangerous?"
Shouldn't there be a"key word" in Hebrew at least? We are in Israel.