Hebrew with No Distance

General | 1 min read
Daniella Tourgeman, Hebrew Teacher
Daniella Tourgeman, Hebrew Teacher

If you know an Israeli – you probably already heard the expression אחי, מה קורה? (ah-chee, mah koh-reh?), which means “My brother, what’s up?” before.

Modern Hebrew is filled with many phrases like that, that reflect the closeness and non-distant vibe in the Israeli street, home, and workplace.

Why is this intimate and distant-free approach so common in Israel? And how does it translate into everyday language?

First, Israel is a tiny country. This resolves to everyone knowing everyone – literally! The chances that your new boss is the brother-in-law of your friend from high school – are actually very high. Family and brotherhood are big-time values, and the feeling of interconnecting is real.

Also, if you’ve ever visited Israel between April and October, you know – it’s an incredibly hot place! The temperatures are high, and so is the temperament – making it impossible and unnecessary to waste time on distancing and saying the ‘correct’ things in ‘proper’ time. Making friends and connections is easy and fun with distance-free lingo, and it helps people feel at ease from the start.

So, here are three casual Hebrew expressions you can use in conversations to set the tone:

אחי and my sister אחותי (ah-choh-tee): start a chat with these words when you want to set the tone of family and inclusivity.

תגיד (tah-geed): this word means tell me (as in, right now). You can always use it to speed up conversations and make them more direct.

What’s up מה קורה? (Mah Koreh): A question you can ask anyone, whether you’re talking to your doctor or meeting a new friend for dinner, to dive into a conversation right away!

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