16 December, 2008

To tide you over until after Chanuka

Well, we're going to be having fun with family
for the next week or so, in honor of our apparently twelve year old daughter's Bat Mitzva . Until I return, here's the latest edition of "Haveil Havalim," the weekly Jewish and Israeli blog carnival. This one starts off with a cool video - check it out!

Have a great holiday, everyone!

03 December, 2008

Nice to know it's an international thing

Well, folks, I'm sorry I've been gone so long, but I have a good excuse - I unexpectedly (to say the least) had my appendix removed last week! The recovery-from-surgery pain has been a lot more difficult than the actual appendicitis pain, but yes, I do understand and appreciate that it was important to have done. I did try hard to find a funny sign while I was in the hospital, but the best I could find was a "what to do in case of earthquake" poster in the Emergency Room. That wasn't actually funny, just seemed like not the mostly likely emergency to prepare for in a Jerusalem hospital... Anyway, I'm going back there for a check-up on Monday, maybe I'll have more luck then.

At any rate, today is my first day of feeling a bit human, and so I thought the least I could do is to share a funny photo that my good friend Rachel found on the BBC website, here:

So, you probably don't think that's very funny. Unless you can read and understand Welsh. Turns out, the "translation" below the English means, "
I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated."

Ha! The link to the original article, again, is here - read until the end, there are other funny examples of past sign blunders!

21 November, 2008

Another funny Google pop-up

I'm a big fan of Google - I find it clean and efficient, and a lot of fun to use. I like that you can type "1 cup in tablespoons" and "
1 US cup = 16 US tablespoons" pops up. I like Google Earth. I LOVE Gmail. I like that the Google Guys have spoken to kids in Israeli schools. And mostly, like I said, I like Google because it's just so fast and easy (two words that aren't always complimentary, I know).

Anyway, on the entertainment side, we keep comi
ng across these funny pop-up lists. Remember the one we found here? And so, when my husband was at work the other day, looking for some help with a computer/technical support question, he started to type in "how to," and this popped up:

Now, as I understand it, they're listed in the order of most requested. So overall, these aren't that surprising, I guess. Evidently tying a tie is our most sought after ability. Huh.

The "how to lose friends and alienate people" is really disturbing me, though...

13 November, 2008

That's the stuff!

Here's a true gem, found by my brother in law as he was walking through downtown Jerusalem. You read it, it's pretty funny, and then it gets even better! Wow.

Hoo-wee. That's tremendous. I have nothing helpful to add, I'm just going to lean back and enjoy this one as is.

08 November, 2008

Check out what I just got in the mail!

This just arrived, special delivery to our door, first thing in the morning on Thursday, November 6th!

Can't see? Here, I'll get a little closer.

Yeah, well, I guess my vote didn't really matter that much anyway. Truthfully, being registered to vote in Boston, I haven't ever bothered voting via absentee ballot. This time, I had a strange urge to vote, and so I went and signed up to get a ballot. I guess it could have been worse - I was thinking that they had forgotten about me completely. Oh, well - maybe next time.

04 November, 2008

I'd like some, please

Our good friend Ricky was recently in the Old City of Jerusalem, touring around. Now, Israel in general is a much toured country, but the Old City specifically is usually full of tourists. Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of people who just live there, whether in their home or on a one-year study program. But it goes without saying that if any place in Israel needs good English signage, this is it.

Anyway, he was in the "Old Yishuv Court Museum," which he enjoyed, as far as I know. And, luckily for me, he found this sign above the cashier's window:

Ha! Sounds to me like they're giving, not taking. Come one, come all!

28 October, 2008

Still? You sure?

Well, the holiday season has come to a close. My family finished it off by spending the weekend in Modi'in, for our good friend's Bat Mitzva. (Congratulations, Hadas!) It was a lot of fun, and we even found a funny label. Or so we thought...

Here's a bottle of juice that was served. It's a new trend - "clear" juice - in other words, not enough fruit to get pulp or clouds in your drink. Quite yummy and refreshing, actually. Anyway, here's a picture of the bottle:

If you look closer, you'll notice a claim on the front:

Aha, less sugar than what? They don't just give that information away easily - this is a high class bottle, with footnotes. But before we get to the footnote, here's the other funny part: what's with the "approximately 37%?" Is 37% not precise enough? Wow - these guys seem to have had a hard time holding back on the decimals.

Anyway, here's the footnote, which we all thought was funny when we saw it. Approx 37% less sugar...

Still drinks! How funny!

This is their translation of the Hebrew "mashkeh kal," which literally means "light drinks." I was fairly certain that light drinks are called such because they're non-alcoholic. I've personally made the occasional mistake of grabbing one when looking for a diet drink, although there's no connection between this light and that light. Anyway, there were around 20 of us in the room when we saw this, and no one I spoke to seemed to think that "still" was an appropriate term for a drink. I figured that they were referring to it's lack of carbonation, but even so, what a silly mistranslation!

Until tonight, when we chanced to looked it up online, and found that definition number six for still, according to some, is:

Not carbonated; lacking effervescence:
a still wine.

Seems obscure? Wait, there's more! Although "still drink" doesn't get its own wikipedia or answers.com page, this appears on the wikipedia page for nectar:

The classification of drinks with fruit flavour typically denominate 'Juice' as 100% fruit juice with no
additives (although juice can be reconstituted from concentrate diluted with water), 'Nectar as 25%-99% fruit juice and 'Still drinks' as less than 25% fruit juice.

Wow! So it turns out that, in the world of fruit drinks, "still drinks" is actually the formal term for not enough fruit to get pulp or clouds in your drink. The Israeli Prigat company has taught us a proper English word! I'm a bit stunned. Does this mark the beginning of a new and wonderful era? Does this make up for "biulding meterials" and "parkink?" I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

11 October, 2008

A new way to do it

You may recall that my dear brother Benjy came to visit Israel last year, and snapped a bunch of funny photos that I've been slowly posting. Well, we've come to the last one in this series, and soon I'll post what he's been finding in LA.

Here we go:

Now, the fact is, the English here (overall) is pretty good. There's the one obvious mistake that they conveniently highlighted for us in red, but aside from that, not bad. The funny thing to me is that it's not a direct translation. The gist is the same, but it seems that whoever translated into English also decided that really, the Hebrew version was much too wordy, and so decided to cut out most of the fluff. Even if you're not fluent in Hebrew, you can see that there are far less words in English than in Hebrew, and in a direct translation, the opposite tends to be true.

Also, they seemingly gave up on translating the little haimish!
in the bottom corner, which means "warm and comfortable; homey; folksy" according to answers.com. Peculiar, maybe the translator knew only Hebrew, and not any Yiddish? Or maybe that, too, was edited out.

Anyway, shirts done like a home would be nice to see! Maybe I'll give them a call. Thanks, Benjy!

03 October, 2008

A Sign of the New Year

Things have been a bit crazy, with all of these holidays whipping about. I just wanted to post this seasonal photo, before it's out of season.

This is what shopping in the produce section of any Israeli supermarket looks like just before the New Year. Everyone's anxious to try a "new fruit" for the new year, which seems like a nice enough idea. Then one actually goes shopping, and finds that our generally mild-mannered grocery stores have become landing pads for an annual extra-terrestrial invasion.

Happy New Year, everybody!

22 September, 2008

Happy Blogoversary, Signs!

Last year, on September 22nd, this blog came to life. Here we are, a year later, and it turns out that we haven't yet run out of silly
quirks to chuckle at. Who would have thought?

Before I write today's post, I'd just like to tell you which were my favorite posts from the last year. Some of the best ones, I think, are from the very beginning, which means those of you who only started reading this recently likely haven't see them. Enjoy!

Here are my favorite ten posts from this past year.

Okay, onward.

On a yearly basis, the Elite brand crispy snacks (chips and such) give out different prizes in their bags. A few years ago, we got metal pogs, then we moved on to plastic pogs, and then finally, last year, we upgraded to tattoos. I think most parents didn't like the tattoos (my dear husband included), but I actually appreciated them - finally, a prize that didn't build up in piles all over my house!

Anyway, back in the days of the metal pogs, I found one that I liked. You see, most of them were terrifying: overall, they were like these:

But then, one day, someone brought this one home, and brought a smile to my face:
He's so sweet! I've carried him around in my organizer for the last three years - he's my beacon of innocence and hope, in a world of summoned skulls.

This year, we aren't getting tattoos. They've gone back to pogs, but cool rubbery ones that can be stacked and stuck together. Here's an example of one:

These don't seem quite as terrifying as the ones from days past - the pictures on the other side are much milder - but they do seem to be trying to be serious, as seen in this "blaze kick" version.

But then we got this one, and I'm starting to get confused as to the motivation behind it all:


I'd just like to take the opportunity to let you all know - if anyone wants to attack me, this is probably your best bet.

18 September, 2008


Today's photo was found by my ever-alert brother in law, Menashe. He found this label on a case of cigarettes in Jerusalem, but presumably it's the same all over:

Menashe thinks that perhaps it was translated from Yiddish:)

I have to assume that it's just a literal translation from Hebrew, but as we see once again, literal translations don't tend to be the most accurate ones...

Well, at least they put a scary label on - that's progress on a different front.

10 September, 2008

So very silly

I'm sure you've all seen your share of goofy signs from Beijing. There are emails full of them whizzing through cyberspace (do people still say cyberspace?) - regular everyday signs in China, that were recently (mis)translated into English, for the sake of all the tourists arriving for the Olympics. They're all funny, and a lot of them remind me of the things we see here. But this one, found by my childhood friend Charlotte, is just astonishingly funny. It's here on Language Log, which looks like a site up my dear husband's alley:

Wow, right?

08 September, 2008

Sometimes they're just too easy...

So I needed to buy some iron supplements. No big deal. There were a few options, and I happened to grab one that I hadn't seen before.

For those who can't read Hebrew, it says, "Barzel Adif." Barzel is easy, that's iron. Adif is a word I personally would translate as "preferred," but I'm no language expert. Maybe Barzel Adif is actually a technical term for a particular kind of iron. Any doctors or nutrition experts out there know?

Anyway, it seems that the manufacturer was equally unsure. Here's the other side of the package:

01 September, 2008

Tunnel Vision

Here comes one from my youngest (as of yet) correspondent - our own Efrat resident, Micha Bailey!

Micha has the advantage of being both a native Hebrew and English speaker, and so can manage to read both languages on the signs that go whizzing by on the highway. Although I've lived here as a citizen for 12 years, I'm embarrassed to say that while driving, I always see the English jump out at me before the Hebrew. Maybe one day that will change... Anyway, there's a sign
that we pass every time we drive on the "Tunnel Road" from Jerusalem. The larger of the two tunnels on the road is actually the longest tunnel in Israel, and as you drive through, there are two bays dug out, where one can pull over in case of an emergency. This isn't encouraged for recreational use, as seen on the sign. (I apologize for the quality of the picture. Believe me, snapping photos on the highway is no piece of cake):

So the bays are for emergency stops only. Fair enough. But wait, says Micha, check out the Hebrew. The translation of atsirat cherum bemifratsim bilvad is not "bays are for emergency stops only," but rather, "emergency stops may be made in the bays only."


Now generally, since we do live in Israel, I would tend to assume that if one of the languages on a sign has an error, it'll be the English. But here, I'm not so sure. One certainly can decide whether one's emergency warrants stopping in the bay. But can one possibly ensure that one's emergency will only occur while in the bay? I think not. If your particular emergency happens, say, 100 meters after the bay, you're in violation of the sign - seems pretty strict. So my vote: the English has it right this time.

Please note the cute little sign (Water on Road) next to our big one. This one I've noticed for years - it always makes me think of LA Story. Is it true? Does the sign really know? And of course, the answer almost always remains: not at all.

26 August, 2008

Heavenly signs

Today's post isn't a written sign, but rather a (very) short story about the interpretation of, let's call it, a vision.

A few days ago, my coworker (they finally took down the exit sign above his desk, for those of you who were worried) said to me, "Look, Toby! A rainbow!"

I looked at where he was pointing, and indeed, it was true.

So, down-to-Earth American me, I walked over to the shelf to investigate what was reflecting the sun.

My Israeli coworker said, "God evidently wanted to destroy our engineering department, but changed His mind, and gave us this rainbow as a sign to remember."

And I said, "or, someone left an upside down cd on the shelf by the window," and we both had a good chuckle.

Now, my coworker is a very normal guy, and there's no question that his flood story reference was just a good joke. But it got me thinking - are there a lot of other places outside of Israel where everyday folks make biblical jokes?

Anyway, no one has moved the cd, and I'm enjoying the new colorful view.

18 August, 2008

This just in from Be'er Sheva

Our close friend Raffi has become my latest correspondent, all the way down in Be'er Sheva. While innocently shopping in his local supermarket, he happened across this doozy:

What can I possibly say that will add to this? It's a masterpiece all on its own. Doesn't it remind you of those worksheets we had to do back in seventh grade, where we were given a list of sentences, and had to see how many mistakes we could find? It almost makes me want to get one of my own... Just fantastic - thank you Raffi!

12 August, 2008

Uniq by any standard

Here's a sign found by a friend and neighbor of ours, Andye Friedman. He spied it on his way to Ra'anana - I don't think much introduction is necessary:

Wow. Words evade me. There are just so many angles here, so many ways to giggle. I think my favorite is the "Uery," but I can't be sure... maybe it just reminds me of Chekov? Who knows, everyone is welcome to take the part they like best, and laugh!

06 August, 2008

Comes first? Maybe

I promised more photos from my brother Benjy's recent visit, and I've decided to wait no more. With no further ado: he was walking around the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim one day, and found this in front of a bookstore:

Hmm... comes first? Comes in? Comes to eat? We'll never know, I guess. Anyone who happens to be in the neighborhood and wants to take a follow-up photo is invited to do so!

By the way, I recently found a very funny blog that I'd like to share with you - unlike me, she posts daily, and is consistently hilarious! Enjoy!

31 July, 2008

How literal should we be?

Here's the latest in too-true signs in Chicago, found by our latest correspondent and proficient commentor - my Mom.

It turns out that there was a car accident a few days ago, not too far from her house. I preface this story by letting you all know that no one involved seems to have been too seriously injured, so we can feel relatively free in enjoying a lighter side of the story. Anyway, according to the Chicago Tribune:

The driver, a 56-year-old Chicago woman, "was turning into the Starbucks when she lost control of the vehicle and went through the glass window, striking two individuals," said Chicago Police Officer John Mirabelli. The Lexus jumped a curb, leveled a stop sign and damaged a tree before shattering the wall of the shop in the 6000 block of North Lincoln in the Peterson Park neighborhood. The driver was cited for making an improper right turn, negligent driving and lack of insurance, police said.

Sounds really scary, right? This woman drove right into the coffee shop, injuring herself, her passenger, and two customers who were already inside. Definitely sad, definitely a shame.

Then my Mom noticed the picture that went along with the article, and began to laugh. Hmm, I wonder where I got my warped sense of humor... anyway, here's the photo - you can judge the laugh factor for yourselves:

Lost control of her vehicle? Perhaps she was just following instructions.

22 July, 2008

Hers and His: A photoessay

Well, this post has been a long time coming.

One of the first times I remember noticing a sign was almost twenty years ago, as I was waiting for someone outside a washroom. I saw the standard signs

and wondered why, internationally, it's t
otally acceptable that these figures' heads are disconnected from their bodies. Isn't that peculiar? And yet, I had never even noticed.

Now, most bathroom signs are pretty much standard, with a few subtle twists here and there. Some are older than others, and show it. Old or not, the heads are still off here:

Some have gotten a bit carried away with the whole mutilation thing, and have started
disconnecting other body parts:

Some have gotten really fancy, and started buildin
g golden statuettes, ala the Oscars. At least now the heads are firmly connected: progress!

Now here's where it starts getting weird.

What are we meant to learn from this? Men are hollow? Hmm... okay, fair enough.

Here's one I found in a mall; apparently someone decided to fill it in by hand. Lovely!

Here's a nice equal opportunity sign. It's the first time I've seen a skirt on a disabled figure. Way to go, someone!

Now, to get back to the bizarre: I promise, but really promise that these are real. We went to a popular chain hardware store, and these were on the main bathroom doors:

I'm not even going to attempt a guess at the inspiration behind this one. That's definitely Donald Duck, right?

Now, some places are
daring enough to break away from the standard decapitated mold. (No, I do not consider the previous sign daring.) Here's an example of a more abstract, yet fairly clear set of signs. The cigarettes I could do without, but these are pretty unique, you have to admit:

Before my grande finale, I'd like to remind everyone of another bathroom sign post that I once wrote. It was one of my very first, and I think one of the funniest.

Anyway, here's the last entry, for now. I don't know what's going on in this bathroom, but it sure looks entertaining!

Really, it's the things we see every day that can be the silliest.

16 July, 2008

Finally, this one works

There are a few comic strips that I enjoy, and try to read regularly - most of them can be found here on the sidebar. Unfortunately, although they're funny on a regular basis, they never seem to be the kind of things I can legitimately link to here, since they rarely have much to do with
funny signs. Until yesterday, that is, when I found this on F Minus:

Sorry, I know it's small - feel free to click on the link and see the original. Actually, go every day! It's a great strip.


08 July, 2008

This just in from Tel Aviv

Thanks to my new Tel Aviv correspondent, Menashe for finding the subject of today's post! Menashe, as you may recall, is my dear brother in law, and often finds funny signs in the Jerusalem area. This time he traveled far and wide to bring us this gem:

According to Wikipedia: A rout is commonly defined as a chaotic and disorderly retreat or withdrawal of troops from a battlefield, resulting in the victory of the opposing party, or following defeat, a collapse of discipline, or poor morale. A routed army often degenerates into a sense of "every man for himself" as the surviving combatants attempt to flee to safety.

Now it's true, in the ever-hectic central bus station, folks certainly may get the chaotic or disorderly feeling that it's "every man for himself." Even still, I'm pretty sure they're referring to routes. Agreed?

According to Menashe, these are all over the Tel Aviv bus station. Sigh... doesn't that seem a shame? Someone put a lot of money and effort into these, and yet no one thought to proofread. It pretty much reinforces my theory that English signage here isn't meant for accuracy as much as it is for decoration. But somehow, in Tel Aviv, that fountainhead of Western values, you'd think that things would have been a bit less casual. I guess not!

03 July, 2008

Is this funny? Gentle Reader, it's up to you!

There's a sign I've seen here and there around town - it's striking, but never struck me as amusing. It's certainly possible that I've become so Israeli that the inherent humor now passes me by without a second thought, but I've left it to you to decide.

"Why are you posting something that you don't find funny?" I hear you cry. Well, the fact is, my brother-in-law mentioned something to me a few months back about a goofy sign that he'd seen in Jerusalem. When he got into detail describing it, I realized that it was the same sign I had seen here in Efrat. I kind o
f dismissed it, since, of course, it wasn't a funny sign.

Then my brother came to visit. (Perhaps you remember his catch here. More to come...) Around and about, he found a bunch of funny signs, and in his collection, this unfunny one appeared once again. That's when I understood that there's a good chance that the unfunny is only in my head - if others seem to consistently find it entertaining, who am I not to share? Here it comes:

Yes, there it is, on the electricity pylon thing, toward the bottom. Here, I'll get a little bit closer.

Seems pretty helpful to me. For a country where people often complain about unprofessional behavior and disorganization, I'm pretty impressed. They've got those poky things, so that you really understand that you're not meant to climb up, and a scary sign to boot! I saw it, and I was appreciative.

Apparently, in the real world (outside of my head), this sign is really silly. The claims I heard were:
it's just so funny, it sounds like the name of a movie, it's overdramatic, it doesn't say why there's a danger of death, it doesn't say Don't Climb, it doesn't say Electrocution, it doesn't say High Voltage (it actually does, in Hebrew), it's worthy of background music/percussion (perhaps a "bum bum bum"), and on and on.

So, in the name of equal opportunity, I leave it to you. It's gotten so that I can lean either way, so one doesn't need to feel that one is choosing sides. What do y'all think of this one?