A Taxi Driver’s Story.

Anatoly’s post монолог таксиста [a taxi driver’s monologue] reproduces the remarkable story told him by a taxi driver of Moroccan origin while they were stuck in traffic in Eilat. The whole thing is worth reading if you know Russian; I’ll translate a couple of paragraphs that deal with language:

“All my other relatives? No, what would they be doing in Eilat, they’re all in Morocco. I came from there to Israel by myself, made aliyah in 1970, I was only 17 years old. My parents and brothers are still there. Yes, of course, we see each other, we’re always flying to visit each other. No, they don’t speak Hebrew, of course. Arabic and French. It’s fine, my children communicate well with them. In our family, the children learned Hebrew, Arabic, French, English and Polish. My wife spoke Polish to them, and both of us spoke French. […]

“How did I get to know my wife? Well, the lieutenant colonel [whom he had met in the army, a Polish Jew who spoke French], he saw that I was alone in the country, I didn’t know anyone, so he says come visit me, don’t be shy. I came one, two, three times, and kept visiting. I fell for his sister, and since then she’s been my wife. At first, we spoke French, her Hebrew was even worse than mine. The lieutenant colonel also came to Israel much earlier, but had brought his parents and sister over not long before. We made fun of each other’s Hebrew, she laughed at some of my mistakes and I laughed at hers. That’s how it got started.”


  1. Christopher Culver says

    One of the things I love about traveling in Israel is hearing about marriages that, anywhere outside the Jewish world, would seem totally weird and random, i.e. “My grandfather was from Iraq, and my grandmother was from Belarus”. But I never thought before about what the language of communication was in these marriages. I always assumed that anyone making aliyah in the early decades was so fired up about the Zionist cause that they would have learned and used Hebrew from the get-go.

  2. John Cowan says

    All countries of immigration doubtless have similar stories: certainly the U.S. does. I heard Tom Chapin sing “Family Tree” a year or two ago; I pointed out to him after the show that Nepal is now a republic and he should change the lyrics from “the king of Kathmandu” to “the king in Kathmandu”, and that’s the way I sing it. Not that I’d wish Gyanendra on anyone: he seems generally resentful and morose, like a lot of monarchs who’ve lost their power and (some of) their privilege.

  3. David Marjanović says

    Putin and Kim were observed to talk without an interpreter. It is thought that their common language is German: Putin speaks it pretty well from his time as a KGB officer in East Germany, and Kim went to a boarding school in Switzerland.

    Not that I’d wish Gyanendra on anyone:

    Yeah… I figure you have to be pretty bad to have an actual old-fashioned Marxist rebellion come and depose you.

  4. Nobody expects the old-fashioned Marxist rebellion!

  5. David Marjanović says

    I certainly didn’t!

  6. nbmandel says

    I don’t read Russian: in what language did Anatoly and the taxi driver converse?

  7. January First-of-May says

    I don’t read Russian: in what language did Anatoly and the taxi driver converse?

    In Hebrew, I believe, though I do not recall offhand where exactly was it mentioned.

  8. Yes, there’s an exchange with a commenter:

    amigofriend: “вышли козлами отпущения”
    Так и сказал – азазели?

    avva: “сеирим ле-азазель”, да.

    (The taxi driver used the phrase seirim le-azazel.)


  1. […] Hat shares an account of the life experiences of an Israeli taxi driver, spread across languages and […]

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