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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Precious!

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point over the past few years I stopped translating in my head and began thinking and speaking in Hebrew in my daily interactions with Hebrew speakers.

But there are still a few idioms and expressions in Hebrew that ring so strangely in my ear that they toss me out of whatever Hebrew frame of mind I may be in at the moment, and make me do a mental double-take.

An example of this is a form of address I hear, typically (but by no means exclusively) from Israeli men and women of Sephardic background;  In the midst of a conversation they will suddenly drop my name and start calling me 'yekiri'.

For those who don't speak Hebrew, 'yekiri' is a combination of the words 'Yakar' (precious) and 'Sheli' (mine). 

Together they literally mean, 'My Precious'.

And I assure you they are not using the term ironically.  It is an accepted, friendly term of endearment used by a certain segment of the Israeli population.

The problem is that anyone who has ever seen the Lord of the Rings movies in English knows what I hear in my head every time someone calls me 'yekiri'.


Posted by David Bogner on July 10, 2012 | Permalink


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oh, thank you for the smile....and the new word :)

Posted by: Alex | Jul 10, 2012 4:02:10 PM


Posted by: psachya | Jul 10, 2012 8:12:00 PM

I hear 'mami' and 'chabibi' all the time, but I don't think I have heard 'yekiri'. I'd have the same reaction :)

Posted by: SaraK | Jul 10, 2012 10:34:05 PM

My Hebrew is pretty awful, but isn't "my dear" just as good
a translation as "my precious." "Precious" and "dear" basically
have the same meanings.

Posted by: Jonathan | Jul 10, 2012 11:42:20 PM

"Ya'eini" and "capara", add these to the list as well, though they have quite some patina. "Ayoonee" is the ultimative word these days.

Posted by: a. | Jul 11, 2012 12:24:37 AM

My favourite is the young guys calling each other "achi" - my brother. we're all just one big happy family here in Israel

Posted by: britac | Jul 11, 2012 7:45:43 AM

I'm with Jonathan -- my first thought for translation of "yakar" in this context is "dear", because that's the word used when addressing a formal letter.

My personal favorite term of endearment which I've only noticed hearing in the last few months is "neshama". Nothing like referencing someone's soul to make them feel all warm and fuzzy...

Posted by: Alisha | Jul 11, 2012 3:32:18 PM

Will someone please define "Ya'eini" "capara", and "Ayoonee"? thanks.....................

Posted by: Lynne | Jul 11, 2012 3:52:50 PM

My previous cat, the Lady in Red, was a red tabby. When she curled up, she looked like a fuzzy golden ring, and yes, when she did that I used to call her "my precious."

Posted by: Rahel | Jul 12, 2012 10:36:01 AM

I use the word precious a lot, and my husband had to explain the LOTR connection, as I had never seen the films (I know I know, I'm a Kiwi - shame on me!). I still use the word. It says so much. But perhaps I should use Yekiri instead.

Posted by: Kiwi Noa | Jul 12, 2012 9:23:06 PM

I would translate "y'kiri" (in old-fashioned British) as "My dear chap". but the LOTR connection is wonderful!

Posted by: sara g | Jul 16, 2012 3:43:57 PM

I'm a huge LOTR fan, the books, movies, and the BBC dramatization. I don't think I'm ever going to look at "my precious" the same way again.

Posted by: Amanda | Aug 3, 2012 1:13:45 AM

In matter of fact in the hebrew version of LOTR it is translated as "hemdati". "yakiri" would be more fit to translate such as the british like to say "my dear"

Posted by: tom | Aug 25, 2012 1:32:59 PM

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