Saturday, October 4, 2008

Our New Israeli Friend

So the Israeli foreign exchange student came last night. He seems pleasant so far. He's the same age as us, and is studying medicine (duh). I was so strong and I waited a whole 45 minutes before I started pestering him about the languages he speaks. I was reading up on the language situation in Israel yesterday, and I learned that 20% of the population are native Arabic speakers-- usually people who were in the area before it became Israel, or people who immigrated there from surrounding Arab countries. My original assumption was that he would be a native Hebrew speaker, but then I saw this and know there was a 1 in 5 chance that it would be Arabic. And it is!

But he's also fluent in Hebrew, obviously.

This is fun. I made him demonstrate all the crazy Arabic consonants, like these fricatives that are velarized and pharyngealized AT THE SAME TIME. For the non-linguistics people, that's kind of like making the 'th' sound in "the," while also closing up your throat to make the -ng sound in a word like "sing." Craaaaaazy. He admits, "this will require training for you to learn." But he doesn't understand why I can't hear or make word-initial glottal stops or why I can't make uvular stops. Psh. My next project for him is to make voiced pharyngeal fricatives for me.

He seems nice enough. He brought us a gift-- a CD of traditional Israeli songs. (The CD opens on the opposite side... you know, since Hebrew is read right to left. ;) He really likes the cat. Jet lag kept him awake last night long after we went to bed. He told us this morning that he tried to let the cat sleep with him in our-office-turned-his-bedroom, but that she kept attacking his feet all night. Haha. We should have warned him.

I have so many questions for him, becasuse I just don't know anything about the Middle East except what American news reports, which is just like "[abstract politcal terms] blahblah war fighting blabhlah [names of leaders] blabhalh failed peace talks" etc. I want to ask him things like how the wars affect the average people, and not the governments, or why he thinks the area can't achieve peace, or what life is like for the people living on the borders, and what kind of alliances Arabic speakers/Muslims have if they were born and raised in Israel, and if most people have strong political opinions or if they are like Americans in not knowing much of the details, or how people decide which politicans to vote for, and what Israel thinks about America's support. But these are serious things. I can't really be like "hi, nice to meet you, what do you want for breakfast tomorrow? Oh, and by the way, can you explain your opinions on your country's current political climate?"

In the meantime, I'll just keep bothering him about sound systems until he gets used to me.


  1. Hahaha!! I love my amazing friend Danielle. This post was the epitome of you :)

  2. Don't worry. You have him for three weeks. You'll have plenty of time to bug him about everything. Plus now that you have those extra two days with no work, you'll have even more time. You'll have to keep your blog readers informed as to the info you find out about him. I am also curious about those things.
    Love to you and Alex,

  3. Hi Dear
    Nice to have a little talk to you.and find out things you don't talk about on the blog.
    I guess (No Name) you have to tell us that,must have been pretty tired after his long journey (How long did it take) and then to get no sleep. made doubly worse with kitty. Still he probably was excited too. Just get as much info from him as you can. How is his English? Now I'm getting corrected in my English, by your mother. I'm going to finish off now because it jumpng around on me and I don't know the first thing about the computer.Love you Nanny xoxoxo

  4. so nice to hear your voice even though your blog gives us so much info its still great hearing you in person. What did we ever do before we got computors, I wish I knew more about using it, most of the time I just play games. The beauty of it is we can keep in touch with every one all over the world so easily especially as we have family and friends literily all over the place. We are really looking forward to you coming home for a holiday, it won't be long now. All my love from grandad OXOXOX

  5. don't overwhelm the poor boy! just take him around and let him explore the city and dont make everything all about intense world politics and stuff. thats like, all of you having dinner and wine and getting into deep personal talks convo, not, everyday all the time convo. <3

  6. I agree with Danette give the poor boy a chance to breathe.
    News Update
    Sleeping Beauty comes out on video tomorrow. Yipeeeeeee
    Hugs and kisses to all


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