My children live a mixture of America and Israel. For the most part, they have grown up in Israel and so Hebrew is their stronger language and their culture is Israel. They think as Israelis. It is interesting when we add Chaim and Lauren into the blend. Both came here as adults and often smile when they realize how much of American culture my children simply do not know. It is there in the language, there in the popular characters and actors they don’t know.

Today, my husband mentioned Shirley Temple and my children were oblivious to who she was. It happens quite often and is, for many people, unexpected. For the most part, their English skills are quite good. They are, most definitely, all bilingual. They understand English, read it, and speak it quite well. But where they “fall” – is with the culture and the sayings related to it.

In the US, for example, people will say that something has fallen through the cracks. the concept is simple and definitely cross-cultural. Elie and I were discussing a situation in which things regularly were missed when they should not have been. I was listening as he was giving me his opinion. He was trying to encourage me to do what I know I have to do…and explained that everyone can miss something but when more is “falling between the chairs” than being caught, something has to be done.

I understood the reference, did the automatic translation for him and only after he’d continued speaking did I realize that I had made the translation. “Between the chairs? You mean between the cracks.”

“Ben hakisaot,” Elie explained. In Israel, people speak of things falling between the chairs. In the US, people speak of falling between the cracks.

I’m sure there are many examples of this…but I enjoyed this one tonight. I don’t know the reason why there is this difference of references, but it made me smile. I grew up with the “between the cracks” and so it works well for me. It tickles my fancy to hear the Israeli version.

3 Comments on

  1. AliasJoe // May 6, 2012 at 3:37 am // Reply

    It’s funny how expressions evolve. As you know, a “crack” can mean something entirely different in America as well — as in “plumber’s crack”. It’s (unfortunately) becoming so common among the young people here that my family will spot someone out in public and quietly say “Dad, I see crackage.”


  2. AliasJoe // May 6, 2012 at 3:39 am // Reply

    I meant to add another point. My kids have been raised here all of their lives and they didn’t know who Shirley Temple was. Heck, I’m 50 and I thought of her as “some old actress” when I was their age!

  3. Very cute story! I have Israeli friends that have been here for 30 years, and still don’t understand all the idioms, metaphors, and expressions in English! Hebrew is so much more logical in my opinion…

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