Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Perils of Poor Translation from Hebrew to English: A Comedy Sketch From Israel


Hahafuch is Israel's premiere English-speaking comedy troupe. Their goal is to make people see the funny side of life in Israel. They are the only comedy troupe bringing humor to an English-speaking audience in their native tongue; of course Israelis can always have a laugh too. Remember, Israel is funny. And if you don’t think so then you haven’t seen their show.

The Hahafuch comedy troupe provides the other side of Israeli life, the daily dramas of bureaucracy, cafes, traffic jams, political troubles and more. And they do it through humor using improvisation, sketches, videos and music to let the world know that it’s ok to laugh at Israel and in fact there are a lot of funny things happening there.

Here is an example of Hahafuch humor. In this video clip, Benji Lovitt is Bibi Netanyahu giving a stirring speech in Hebrew, with simultaneous translation by Aaron Friedman as a sup-par Ulpan student.

If you understand Hebrew, you will hear all of the funny mistranslations that convey a message quite different from what the speaker intended.

Some mistranslations to watch for:

In my visit to Washington, I went swimming with President Obama
(The Hebrew words for swimming and discussing are similar)

It doesn't matter if you're a member of the Labor Party or the Dance Party
(Likud, the name of Netanyahu's party, sounds similar to rikud, or dance)

Peace is not some instant coffee
(The world nes, meaning miracle, is also shorthand for Nescafe, the term Israelis use for instant coffee)

Even if you don't get all of the mistranslations, the sketch is still funny.

Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)

3 comments:

  1. Thanks, Al! The sketch was written by Aaron Friedman, an old cast member; thus, the tribute to him as the student (played here by Josh Kaplan). Glad you liked!

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