Ki Yachol Nuchal!

New olah; mom and wife. In small ways, every day, trying to rectify the error in judgement of my zaydies, the meraglim. "See these big grapes? We can make really big wine!"


Posted by rutimizrachi on 22/09/2008

Yom sheni, 22 Elul 5768.

This post is dedicated to Rabbi Elan Adler.  With all due respect.

A new oleh is often on the lookout for small proofs that he is becoming Israeli.  Mastering the various hand signs and sound effects is as important to the Israeli wannabe as is learning to say “Aize ba’asa!” in place of “What a bummer!”

Well.  I am inching ever closer.

There is only one way to get an Egged bus driver to open the back door at your stop, if he didn’t think of it on his own.  The bus driver, called a “nahag,” cannot be reasoned with in the ordinary American fashion one uses with service personnel.  You can’t hope for success by saying something like, “Excuse me, Mister Nahag.  Will you please open the door?”  Even if you say that in perfect Hebrew.  Rather, you must cry out:  “Naaaaaaaaaag!”

This is not as simple as it sounds.  There are fine rules of pronunciation that, if ignored, render the term “Nahag” unrecognizable to the Israeli ear.  Think tonal, as in Vietnamese.  (Did you know that there are about ten different ways tonally to pronounce the word “ma” in Vietnamese, that mean everything from “mother” to “grave”?  Ah, the important cultural lessons one can learn, growing up around Pike Place Market in Seattle.  But I digress.)

It was really, really important for The Dearly Beloved and me to get off at Malcha Mall today.  The bus driver was too busy, initially, to see our problem.  He chatted pleasantly with the fifteen people entering the bus by the front door.  “Nahag!” my husband said, forcefully but politely.

No response.

People throughout the bus took up our cry, as is the way among these helpful natives.

“Naaag!”   Naaaag!”   “NAAAG!”

No response.

As the bus began to pull away, I tried out the special, nasal bellow I had heard little old ladies use on countless buses, but had felt too demure to employ.


At last!  Success!  We flung our bodies out the slowly opening door, as the bus continued to pull away from the curb.

As a public service, I will try my best to describe the correct method and pronunciation, to save future olim embarrassment and traffic-related bruises.

The trick is to expel the sound, as loudly as possible, from the nasal cavity.  It must sound something like this, to be really successful:

7 Responses to “"Naaaaaaaaaag!"”

  1. Bat Aliyah said

    You crack me up, woman!

  2. the sabra said

    You so rock!
    Er “At mashehu mashehu! Ha’post hazeh mamash esser!” (better, ah?)

    So glad I found your blog (thru Benji’s)!

  3. QuietusLeo said

    It should prolly be pronounced:
    “Naaa’aaaag!” with the emphasis on the second syllable.
    And FYI, the word ba’sa is from arabic. The word is used quite frequently by Hebrew speakers who don’t know it’s real meaning:
    “to insert a finger into the rectum”.
    I’m sorry, it’s true. After reading about this in a linguisitics book, I just can’t say it anymore.

  4. Baila said

    If you sounded like that on the bus, it’s no wonder the nahag opened the door to let you out!!

    And I am absolutely stupefied. You got up to the lesson where you learn to put youtube on the blog. That is so great. I missed that lesson because everytime I try, nothing happens. We really do have to get together and compare notes.

  5. rutimizrachi said

    Bat Aliyah: I live to make you laugh,dear friend.

    The Sabra: I think “you so rock” may be the highest form of praise one can receive from a young person. šŸ˜‰ The highest form back is that I just spent an hour lost in your blog.

    QuietusLeo: I bow to the correction in pronunciation. You are exactly correct. As to the detail of meaning — blush — leave it to a physician to put one anatomically right. I think I’ll pass the word on to my urologist friend. As to not using it anymore… I dunno. A bummer is a bummer.

    Baila: The bizarre thing is that no one looked at me as if I should be chewing cud. And, yeah, I’m just showing off, trying to entice you into that cup o’ joe. šŸ˜‰

  6. the sabra said

    What young person? Where young person??

    No, that doesn’t sound like a grown up. Grown ups would blush n murmur a thank you.

    Heehee I laugh šŸ˜€

    So, you browsed my blog, eh? Glad to hear you weren’t scared off so easily. My thorny prickles frighten many away.

  7. Thelma said

    Thanks for the hoots, hon.

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