the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mens will be mens

My kids have some interesting grammatical quirks. Kinneret gets gender completely mixed up, which may or may not be better than referring to everyone and everything, animate or not, as female (as she had been doing for a while) and may or may not have to do with the confusion engendered by the fact that the word "he" is a masculine pronoun in English but a feminine one in Hebrew. And I recently noticed that both Rimonit and Kinneret consistently use the past continuous tense instead of the simple past (I suspect Kinneret picked this one up from Rimonit, though I can't be sure). So on a good day, someone wored or drawed something, while on a normal day they "were wearing" or "were drawing," regardless of whether simple past would have been the better choice.

I don't give them grammar lessons, but I have been on a correcting spree on the past tense issue lately. I've been lucky that so far, they generally take my grammatical corrections pretty well and repeat the sentence correctly - even if they do still get it wrong the next 100 times.

Speaking of time, Kinneret understands "yesterday" to be a generic word for "past," while "tomorrow" is a generic word for "future." And "a different time" could be anything from 5 minutes before to when she was in Ima's tummy, from next Pesach to some indefinite moment in the near or distant future. I feel better about that issue though, because Rimonit used to do the same thing but grew out of it, so I have reason to hope Kinneret will do the same.

But back to gender pronouns. I took R & K with me to the supermarket today before we picked up M, promising that they could each get a roll and chocolate milk and telling them that they could hold it in the store but couldn't eat it until we paid for it. We were at the last stop - the meat counter - and the girls, who had been quite good throughout, were getting itchy to chow down. I asked for ground chicken and ground beef, and when the man behind the meat counter put one of them in front of me, Kinneret, desperate to get to the cashier, impatiently told me: "She gave it to you already!" (The not-too-subtle subtext was, of course, "Yo Ima, you moron, why are we still standing here?!")

At this point R saw fit to stand on her big-sister podium and bestow a grammar lesson of her own: "Kinneret," she said in her best didactic voice, "for boys and mens we say 'he.' For girls and womens we say 'she'!"


Blogger Nesya said...

Damn right Rimonit!

The time thing is very common by the way-their perception of it will become more accurate in time (haha).

April 10, 2013  

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