When my South African husband first mentioned a “bottle store,” I had no idea what he was talking about. A store that just sells bottles? Was that some kind of Cape Town trend?
My husband looked at me like I was crazy, and I eventually figured out that he was talking about a liquor store (which he thinks I should pronounce lick-YURE rather than LICK-er). Alcoholic beverages typically come in bottles, of course, though, silly New Jerseyan that I am, I had always been under the impression that it was the contents that motivated people to purchase the containers.
I am reminded of this little tomayto-tomahto divergence whenever I hear someone talking about board games in Hebrew.
That’s because, while in English board games like Monopoly are known by one of their key identifying features – the board on which the game is played – in Hebrew they are known as mis’hakei kufsa (mees-kha-KAY koof-SA), literally “box games,” which identifies them by the container in which they are packaged.
Mis’hakei kufsa can certainly have a lot of benefits – they can teach children how to follow the rules and be a good sport, offer an easy way to alleviate boredom or have some family time and, in some cases, help children think strategically or learn about, say, capitalism and banking – but they aren’t the sort of children’s games that require running around or catching a ball or honing your imaginative side.
A big box, sans game – in Hebrew, the packing kind is most commonly called a kar-TONE, as in “carton” – is probably more likely to prompt creative play than the kind with board included. Playing with mis’hakei kufsa typically requires inside-the-kufsa thinking; let kids play inside a box, though, and they will likely start thinking out of it.
To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.