Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You Don't Have to Speak Hebrew

Remember those ads...You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's Rye Bread?

Well, today, you don't have to speak Hebrew to write a speech in the Holy tongue. But then again, some of the results could be kind of funny.
This morning, I had to give a short address in Hebrew before a governmental committee that was held in my town's community center. B"H, I am a very competent speaker, and have spoken on many topics for many different committees and events...in English. I have my audience laughing, crying and whatever else I'm feeling.
But when I have to speak in Hebrew, it's a totally different situation. First of all, unfortunately (after so many years in Israel) my spoken Hebrew still is not that great. Secondly, when I read a speech in Hebrew, I sometimes don't understand it enough to emote in the right places. Thirdly, I don't have the vocabulary that I really need to write a good speech in Hebrew. Actually, I didn't have the vocabulary, but now all that has changed.
My Hebrew speechwriting life has changed. In fact, the mysterious world of Hebrew is now open to me, or kind of.
I have discovered an internet translating program! I wrote my speech in English, went to http://www.stars21.com/translator/hebrew_to_english.html, input my speech, and pressed GO. Ten seconds later, there was my speech translated. It was like magic.
It was also fraught with funny pitfalls. Whenever I wrote capitals for emphasis, it left the English word in caps, and whenever the word was US, it wrote, United States. "PLEASE HELP US" became in Hebrew, "Please help the United States."
The subject of my speech, my theater company, Raise Your Spirits was translated in four different ways throughout the speech, "Tarim Et Ruchecha" (Lift Your Spirits), "Tarim Et HaRuchot" (Lift the Winds/Spirits), "Laarim et HaMorale Shelcha" (Raise Up Your Morale), "Laalot Ruchot Shelcha" (Raise Up Your Spirits).
I wrote, "My director, who is with me today...." The program translated it: My director! "Who is with me today?"
When I wrote that 35,000 women participated in the Raise Your Spirits experience, it was translated into "Women who are partners will lift the experiment of your wind/spirit."
Anyway, B"H, I'm happy that I have real Hebrew speakers in my house that were able to help make my gobbly gook into real conversation.
And I'm happy that there's a program that can give me a kickstart in writing Hebrew, because without this translating program, I'd have to start from scratch, and I'd probably still be scratching today. Still, it seems to me that you'd better have any translations checked, so that you're not caught saying something other than what you really mean.
Shalom. (Actually translated on the program as - Peace, Safety, Tranquility, Comfort, Quiet, Payment, Reward, Requital, interjection, Goodbye, Hullo, Hallo, Bye-bye, Good day, Adieu, Cheerio, So long.)

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