Word of the Day / Scotch

If you're looking for a nightcap, Scotch will do the trick. In Hebrew, it will also fasten your shoes and clean your dishes. To fit in with the locals, though, pay attention to pronunciation, which usually gets easier after a few rounds. Bottoms up.

Israelis looking for sneakers with "scotch" are probably not on the hunt for shoes held together by Scotch tape, or asking for directions to the local bar (though that might not be such a bad idea – buy a pair, get a shot free). Rather, they are seeking footwear with straps that close with the aid of those fabric hook-and-loop fasteners that English speakers know by the brand name Velcro.

If what those shoppers want is something to scrub their pots with, though, the scotch they're seeking is an abrasive cleaning pad like that manufactured by Scotch-Brite.

Another brand name gets involved if they do want some adhesive tape after all.
While Israelis could use the Hebrew term "niyar devek," literally meaning "glue paper," they're more likely to refer to the sticky stuff by the British brand name Sellotape.

Israelis don't pronounce "scotch" with an "ah" sound, as most Americans do. They use their "o" sound, which doesn't have an exact corollary in American English but is kind of like a long "o" in English that is cut short at the beginning. If you were to start saying "Obama" but stopped yourself a fraction of a second into pronouncing the first letter, before your mouth even forms the shape of an "o," you would approximate the Hebrew "o" sound in "scotch."

And if that little pronunciation lesson is enough to drive you to drink, rest assured that there is, at last, some common ground. Though you may hear it referred to as veeskee, Scotch – even in Israel – is also something one imbibes (sneakers not included).

Alex Klink