Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav

Are there any regional accents or dialects in Modern Hebrew? As in, “Oh, she sounds like she’s from Ashkelon” or “he has a noticeable Haifa accent”

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When she’s relaxed, or chatting with her childhood friends, my wife—bless her cotton socks—lapses into her native Holon singsong lilt, which I love, and sometimes tease her about. (Only in Holon can ken! [yes!] sound like a three-syllable word…).

When I want to pull someone’s leg, I deliberately exaggerate my maaaatayim (‘two hundred’), because that’s how Jerusalemites are supposed to sound.

And native kibbutzniks and moshavniks from the Jezreel Valley seem to be particularly good at rolling their /r/s in the throat (which I really envy).

By and large, however, regional accents don’t have much chance to take root and develop in Israel, because the army is a great leveller: whatever distinctive pronunciations someone may have when they get conscripted is ironed out and homogenised, so that by the time they get out, two or three years later, everyone sounds much the same. Socioeconomic background and one’s family’s country of origin are much stronger factors in people’s accents.

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Author: יונתן אור-סתיו | Jonathan Orr-Stav

Hebrew-English translator, editor, author. מתרגם עברית–אנגלית, עורך באנגלית, וסופר.

One thought on “Are there any regional accents or dialects in Modern Hebrew? As in, “Oh, she sounds like she’s from Ashkelon” or “he has a noticeable Haifa accent”

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