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.


Mo-ha-med said...

The arabic reads 'emergency stops in designated areas only'.
Which seems a tad more lenient than the hebrew version but still incoherent..
The vast majority of the signs in Arabic have at least one incoherence/grammar/spelling mistake so I'm usually grateful that I just get the gist of it...

toby said...

mo-ha-med, hmm, so the Arabic seems to agree with the Hebrew. Now we're outvoted 2-1, and yet the English still makes more sense to me. Are we all missing something? Anyone?