Summer Vacation – in Hebrew

Strictly speaking, חוֹפֶשׁ means freedom, while חֻפְשָׁה means vacation. חופשה is used correctly in terms such as חֻפְשַׁת לֵדָה – maternity leave, and חופשת סֶמֶסְטֶר – semester break, but as for that vacation enjoyed every year by virtually all schoolchildren and teens, the term is הַחֹפֶשׁ הַגָּדוֹל – the Great Vacation, or literally, the Great Freedom.

At the beginning of July, I went out in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and asked people what they had planned for החופש הגדול. The video shows their responses, and here I’ll highlight some nuggets Hebrew that come forth from them.

The first interviewee uses the term הַזְּמַן הַחֹפְשִׁי שֶׁלִּי – my free time. Note the similarity to חופשה and חופש.

One of the young girls in the third interview uses the term קַיְטָנָה meaning summer camp. The word derives from קַיִט , the Aramaic version of the Hebrew קַיִץ – summer (see full entry on קייטנה).

When the teenage boy in the fourth interview tells me he’s going to surf, I reply, רוֹאִים – meaning something like I can see that, but literally (we/they/you guys) see. Hebrew uses the plural to express a variety nonspecific things, such as how do you/one get to the mall? אֵיךְ מַגִּיעִים לַקַּנְיוֹן – literally, how do we/they/you guys get to the mall?

The young woman in the fifth interview says, בַּחֹפֶשׁ הַגָּדוֹל אֲנִי בְּעִקָּר עוֹבֶדֶת – for summer vacation I’m mainly working. Using בעיקר helps her express that while she will spend some time doing other things, the majority of her time will be spent working. In the first interview, the boy says אֲנִי בְּעִקָּרוֹן הוֹלֵךְ לַעֲבוֹד – I’m basically (literally, in principle) going to work. בעיקרון doesn’t add any meaning to the sentence; it’s one of those filler words that teens tend to use, such as the English like, literally and obviously. Another example of a filler word in Hebrew is כְּאִלּוּ – literally, as if.

מַה אַתֶּם עוֹשִׂים בחפש הגדול?

What are you doing for summer vacation?

Write your answers – in Hebrew – in the comments.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *