how (and why) to say “to dial” in Hebrew

how (and why) to say “to dial” in Hebrew

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As language develops, words sometimes depart from their original meaning to take on a similar but new meaning.

Take, for example, the English verb to dial meant something else to do with the word day in its original Latin, but today its main meaning is to press numbers on a keypad. 

Likewise, the Hebrew word for to dial – לְחַיֵּג (leh-khah-YEG) – comes from the root ח.ו.ג (kh.w.g), which has to do with circles. This root appears in the children’s song, עוּגָה עוּגָה עוּגָה (OO-gah OO-gah OO-gah) – Cake, Cake, Cake, in the word נָחוּגָה (nah-KHOO-gah) – we shall go around (see a translation and transliteration as well as a video of the song).

What do circles have to do with dialing? You may recall a predecessor of the iPhone, the rotary phone, which had a round dial, as depicted here:

After having studied literature and linguistics on the bachelors level and psychology on the masters, Ami decided to draw upon his hobby of learning languages, his understanding of human thought processes and his skill of explaining complex ideas in simple terms, to found a program that enables people to speak Hebrew with confidence.

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