Word of the Day / Chik Chak 'יק 'ק

When you're in a hurry and don't have time to wait, use this term.

The Hebrew alphabet doesn't have a "ch" (as in "Charlie") sound, but is able to express the sound in writing anyway by adding an apostrophe to the tzadi, the letter that makes the sound "tz." This gives us the opportunity to have such fun-sounding colloquialisms as chik chak (CHEEK chahk), which means "pronto," "quickly" or "chop chop," as in, "We had better get our ticket chik chak or we'll miss the next train" or "If you do your homework chik chak, you'll get a chance to play some more before bedtime."

Quite a few businesses have taken on chik chak as part of their names to indicate that they're the ones to go to for fast service, like Bank Leumi's Chik Chak check-depositing service and Chik Chak Instalatorim, if you're looking for supposedly fast plumbers in Tel Aviv.

Sometimes chik chak is shortened to b'chik, which somewhat alters the meaning to "in a flash." Take the Israeli app Teoriya B'chik, which purports to help would-be drivers learn the material covered on the mandated driving theory test without requiring a large expenditure of time. Personally, I would be much more impressed if the company could somehow get Israelis to pass their driving test without having internalized that other kinds of passing – like passing a driver on the right without signaling – are de rigueur. But I'm afraid standing on ceremony does not appear to be something that the average Israeli can master chik chak.

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.

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