Word of the Day / Shrimpsim

If you're going to eat unkosher, make sure to order in the double-plural to get more than just one crustacean.

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Crustaceans may not be kosher, but you can find them in Israeli restaurants if you look for the telltale sign indicating that herein lie perot hayam, meaning "fruit of the sea," from the French term for seafood, "fruit de mer."

If you're going to be embarking on a Mediterranean shellfish adventure in Israel, though, be warned: You can't order just one. In American (though not British) English the plural of "shrimp" is generally "shrimp," but in Israel the marine mollusk gets double-pluralized to yield shrimpsim (SHREEMP-seem).

This kind of thing happens not infrequently, since the Hebrew tends to simply ignore the plural form of another language and go ahead and tack on the Hebrew plural suffix (-im for masculine words and -ot for feminine ones) regardless of whether the word already has one.

Other double-pluralized imported words include mashups like brakesim (you know, the thing that makes your car stop at a red light, which are also called balamim in actual Hebrew) and the savory pastries known in Israel as borekasim, a Hebrew re-pluralization of the Ladino plural borekas. It's similar to an English speaker referring to the Rio Grande River, even though that whole "river" concept is already covered in the Spanish name.

Just to make things even more confusing, genuinely Hebrew words are sometimes pluralized when the English equivalent isn't. This can mean that when Israelis are speaking English they sometimes translate literally and come up with words that may sound funny to the ears of native English speakers, like the nouns "vomits" (haka'ot) and "lightnings" (brakim).

In any case, if you're in Tel Aviv and just can't decide whether to go for borekasim or shrimpsim, you can always veer course and just go shopping for jeansim instead.

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.

Shrimps. You can't eat just one.Credit: AP

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