Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Aliyah Moments: Humerous Slang

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

As one learns modern Hebrew in Israel, sometimes one encounters language nuances that just make one wonder...

The ubiquitous bobby pin of America is called a grandma clip in Hebrew. Having pondered this for some time, I'm certain I've come up with the accurate explanation...

In the early 1900's, a Jewish immigrant to the US from Hungary saw his grandmother struggling to keep her hair under her tichel (hair kerchief) during a windy New York winter. Being he worked in a metal shop, he tried a few designs until ultimately coming up with a thin well gripping clip to help his grandmother.

As everyone knows, a Jewish grandmother is called a bubbie. However, those of Hugarian extraction add an acent twist that changes this to bobbie. As people from the neighborhood saw how well the clips kept the hair and tichel in place, they asked the family children what the shiny clips in their grandmother's head were, and they replied, "those are her bobbie pins".

Hence the name Bobby Pins.

(Note Wikipedia has what must be a completely inaccurate story about some silly hair style called the "bob" and the special clips required to keep it in place - 'bobby pins'. But everyone knows Wikipedia is non-authoritative. They also note the British call this item a hair grip - but what do they know about English anyway?)

On a side note, cotton candy is referred to as grandma's hair in Hebrew. Chuckle.


Neshama said...

Chuckle, chuckle. Nice try.

Bet you can't top this one:

On a large billboard in the air in downtown Jerusalem, near the movie theater (if its still there), I saw the words (transliterated) S H E R U T I M.
Well, that's how I read it.
So, nu, just what i needed. Where is it?

Now that was a good laugh when I found out it meant something very different.

Anyone know what it really was? Taxi?

Jennifer said...

This is very interesting to know :) I'll remember it the next time I use bobby pins.

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