Generally speaking, English is much richer than Hebrew*. The number of words in English has been recently pegged at just under 1,000,000 (1 million) words – this includes “double counting” words such as dog – where, at the very least it can be a noun and a verb. Even the most modest estimates peg English at 250,000 words. Hebrew, in contrast, probably has fewer than 80,000 words.
And yet, every now and again, I find myself wanting to use a word that does not exist in English. Four words especially come to mind:
* BeTeavon – the equivalent of Bon-Apetite. Literally translates to “with apetite”. I hear people using Bon Aptetite every now and again, but it’s not really wide-spread.
* Nu or Noo – a word used to hurry someone. The equivalent of “Tsk”ing.
* Davka– roughly translates to “out of spite”, but not quite. Literally translates to something like “actually” (but can have other meanings). Usually used by kids.
* Titchadesh – when someone gets something new (pretty much anything, from matirial things to a new hair-cut), the congratulatory term used is “Titchadesh” which literally translates to “Be New”.
Of the four, the word I miss most is “Titchadesh”. What do I tell someone who tells me “I got a new iPod”? (Other than “Why the hell did you get an iPod?!”) Congratulations doesn’t seem to cut it for me.
* This is the moment where my friend Amir usually interjects and complains how in Hebrew both Desk and Table are “Shoolchan”, but each finger of the hand has it’s own name (as opposed to English where the names of the fingers – other than the thumb and pinky – have something to do with the function of that finger)