26 August 2008

תקינות פוליטית

Alongside regular Hebrew classes, students in the advanced levels of Ulpan are required to take an additional course called “Textim,” where we read and discuss longer texts on some particular topic. I signed up for Textim in political science, which means that alongside everyday phrases like “prescriptive Hebrew grammar” (עברית תקנית), “personality cult” (פולחן אישיות) and “blood libel” (עלילת דם), I’m learning how to say “NGO” (ארגון לא ממשלתי) and “multilateral agreement” (אמנה).

Incidentally, my baby cousin Alma says “multilateral agreement” instead of “tomato.” It's easier to pronounce!

In Textim today, we talked about the two different meanings of the word להכיר, “to recognize.” Just as in English...
  • you can recognize a person. Hebrew expresses this meaning by using להכיר with the direct-object marker, את.
  • or, you can recognize the legitimacy of a claim, a governing body, or a movement. In Hebrew, you’d use להכיר with “in,” -ב.
“Can anyone give me an example?” the teacher asked. No one spoke up, so he suggested, “you can say, the state of Massachusetts recognizes in homosexual marriages. Or, the United States recognizes in China’s government.”
Then a student from South Africa piped up with, “the Palestinians don't recognize in Israel’s legitimacy?”
He winced and then smiled. “Eh, no. Say Hamas instead — you’ll have said something true.”
The girl answered, “Oh, excuse me. That was —” she switched to English “politically incorrect.”
“No.” he said. “It’s not politically incorrect, it’s factually incorrect. Let’s move on.”


  1. That's such a great response to a "sorry I'm not PC" comment. Also your cousin sounds really cute!

  2. Nice to know he cares enough to say that.

  3. The teachers here have been doing a great job of mediating tension about the P/I conflict. Unfortunately, they aren't always so receptive to claims coming from other political arenas. (... stay tuned!)