Hebrew Word of the Week with Noga Shavit: BALTAM

Acronyms are very popular in Hebrew, perhaps it’s the influence of the army and its jargon infiltrating into the language (even hard cheese, “yellow cheese” in Hebrew was made into GAVNATZ, acronym for Gvinah (=cheese)  Tzehubah (=yellow); maybe it’s because life in israel is so dynamic and intense that we need to keep it short. In any case BALTAM stands for “Bilty Metuchnan’ which means unplanned. This innocent looking expression represents some well known Israeli features such as spontaneity/flexibility (we prepared but this is a BALTAM!); and taking limited responsibility (not our fault, this is a BALTAM!) on the one hand; and the ability to improvise (while this was a BALTAM we managed to handle it). The most common BALTAMIM, are obviously weather issues and … pregnancies.


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