Word of the Day / Yeladudes - ילדודס

That's a play on the word for 'kids.' Guess what 'bananot' means.

Shoshana Kordova
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Shoshana Kordova

“Children” in Hebrew are “yeladim,” but just as American kids are sometimes “kiddos,” Israeli ones are occasionally referred to by the somewhat silly-sounding word “yeladudes” (ye-la-DOO-des), usually used by an adult informally addressing children rather than by children themselves. The affectionate form is influenced by the Yiddish “s” ending for certain plural nouns, according to Hebrew language maven Rubik Rosenthal.

Similarly, don’t be surprised if you hear a bunch of girls being referred to as a bunch of bananas, owing to the similarity between the word for girls (“banot”) and that for the fruit (“bananot”). It’s not an insult, or a subtle insinuation that girls run in herds (and pack lots of potassium), just a kind of cutesy/funny way of talking to kids, like saying “See ya later, alligator” instead of “goodbye.”

And just as English has certain nouns that change their form a bit when one is speaking to small children, for no real reason other than that’s what people do -- think “ducky” or “dolly” -- Hebrew has “titulim” (tee-too-LEEM), which is the name of the leading purple-packaged Israeli diaper brand and is also sometimes used as a generic variant for “hitulim,” the real word for “diapers.” Presumably it’s all got something to do with it being easier for small children to say a “t” sound than a “kh” sound.

Beginning Hebrew speakers are often told to listen to news broadcasts as a way of improving their Hebrew. But catching an earful at the playground can unearth a whole different linguistic culture, one that can’t always be found in the dictionary.

Children at Kibbutz Gesher.Credit: Kibbutz Gesher Archive