Word of the Day / Kolot

Come election time, campaign slogans love to play with this word, which means both 'voices' and 'votes.'

Shoshana Kordova
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Most of the time, the word “kolot” can be pretty much relied on to mean “voices.” But come election season, this shape-shifter is often used to mean “votes.” As you can imagine, this has prompted a few campaign slogans over the years to play on the double meaning of the word.

“Don’t hesitate, don’t equivocate! Give your kol [the singular of ‘kolot’] to Koah Hashaket!” went a slogan for a long-forgotten party that translates as “Quiet Force.” Unfortunately for that movement, it was so quiet it didn’t win a single seat in the 1988 election for the 12th Knesset.

Other slogans upped the ante by playing not just on the word for voices and votes, but also on a homophone, transliterated as “kol” but spelled differently in Hebrew, that can mean “all,” “each” or “everything.”

In a reference to underground militant opposition to the British rulers of pre-state Palestine, Reshimat Halohamim – the Fighters List, a movement comprised of members of the Lehi pre-state militia – used the following slogan for the 1949 election for the Constituent Assembly, the predecessor of the Knesset: “On Election Day, give your voice/vote [kol] for those who, during eight years of the underground, gave their all [kol].”

But it’s Ahdut Ha’avoda-Poalei Zion, most of whose leaders were members of the United Kibbutz Movement, that takes the cake with its triple-kol campaign slogan for the fifth Knesset in 1961: “Everything [hakol] depends on each vote [one ‘kol’ for ‘each’ and one for ‘vote’].” To get the full flavor of it, I think we need the original Hebrew: “Bekhol kol taluy hakol.” It’s like “every vote counts,” but in a rhythmic tongue-twister that you can recite to yourself all the way to the polls.

For previous Word of the Day columns, click here. To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, contact her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com.

A voter using his "kol' to cast his 'kol.'Credit: David Bachar