Language is a powerful tool as we embark on our journey

Sociolinguistics Series: Part 38

Language is a powerful tool.

Irene Yi
Irene Yi

Alright, we have embarked on this adventure. We have landed in Tel Aviv at Ben-Gurion Airport, named after David Ben Gurion, the man regarded as the "founder of Israel" (he was also the first Prime Minister of Israel).

Right off the bat, we are reminded that we will see and hear things on this trip that 100% conflict with each other. We will hear things that may not be historically or archaeologically accurate at all. We will hear one person say one thing as his or her truth, and the next speaker say the exact opposite. This does not mean that one truth is any less true than another truth.

Everyone has their own truth that is absolutely true--to themselves. It is not our place to say that one truth is more or less true; rather, we are quite lucky to be in a position where so many people are willing to share their truths with us.

Our guide, Roni, is Jewish but married to a German Catholic woman. Our first bus driver, Hakkeim, is Arab-Israeli. Our second bus driver, Naseem, is from the Druze village, though I don't know if he is secular or religious. Our bodyguard, Na'ama, is in the Israeli Defense Forces (the Israel national army). Our leader from the Berkeley campus, Rabbi Adam, is very observant of his faith but more tolerant of other religions and beliefs than most people I've met.

Our group consists of people who are atheist, agnostic, spiritual, Christian, Catholic, Jewish, conservative, liberal, Libertarian, gay, straight, bi, queer, Asian, white, Indian, mixed, still confused and questioning--and everything in-between. It is one of the most diverse groups I have ever seen, even for Berkeley's campus. I can already tell that this is going to be an amazing group dynamic.

We are told to pay attention to the way each person uses language to convey a certain message. This will come into play with almost every word that is spoken.

We drive to Jerusalem upon landing in Tel Aviv. It's an extremely quick drive for cities that are on opposite sides of a country. This is a reminder of how physically small the area of land actually is. Israel and Palestine is the size of New Jersey, and it takes only about an hour for us to arrive at our hotel in Jerusalem.

My friend's mom told me before I left that the entire city of Jerusalem is built from the same type of stone: Jerusalem stone. It is beautiful. Regal. Shining. And all the buildings amaze me with their quiet majesty. We eat some sabich sandwiches (they have eggplant and egg and potato and other veggies) and settle in our rooms.

My roommate for our stay in this hotel is a Jewish girl named Elizabeth who has previously lived for a year in Israel. By the end of the trip, the few Jewish students in our group will have come to the conclusion that the Perspectives Trip has allowed them more introspection than any other trip to Israel has in the past. They've all been on Birthright and said that Perspectives is nothing like it; while Birthright is a celebration of their Jewishness, Perspectives gave them the chance to actually see, understand, and feel for all the other sides of this land's story.

For once, they went to Israel with non-Jewish people. They questioned their own previously held beliefs. They provided a perspective that I, as a non-Jewish student, would never have seen on my own.

That first night, a few friends from the group and I went to Ben Yehuda Street to explore the night markets. It was a hub of energy: people of all ages hopping around shops that were filled with eating, dancing, and laughing. I noticed that while most people spoke Hebrew, many also spoke Arabic and English; they were curious about where we were from but also extremely welcoming. I tried Rugelach, which is a buttery, chocolatey pastry resembling a mini croissant. SO yummy.

The next morning, we were met with Labneh (a sort of Middle Eastern/Greek yogurt thing?) and Za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice that is DELICIOUS) for breakfast--one of the best breakfasts I've ever tasted. We then, as the informal itinerary stated, "[viewed] the contours of Jerusalem from the Haas Promenade overlook." The Haas Promenade (and yes, it's named after the same Haas family that is the namesake for Berkeley's Haas School of Business) was this beautiful view of the entire city; from where we stood, we could see the Old City (with the Dome of the Rock/the Temple Mount/the Al-Aqsa Mosque), the many churches of Ascension (depending on which denomination or ethnic group built the church), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and much, much more.

The view from the Haas Promenadetaken by Irene Yi

After that, we entered into the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem through Zion Gate. The name, Zion Gate, brings us not only a history lesson, but a linguistic lesson as well. This door is called Zion Gate by Jews, but it is called something different by Muslims: Baab an-Nabi Dawud (transliteration) or "Prophet David Gate" (translation to English).

Though this is a Jewish Quarter gate now, it still has Arabic calligraphy carved into its walls--a testimony of the coexistence that happens on a daily basis in this land.

The Old City of Jerusalem is one of the most holy sites in the world to three major religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Within its beautiful Jerusalem Stone walls, the Old City houses the Dome of the Rock/Al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims, the Western Wall and Temple Mount for Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, and many of the places where people believed Jesus walked (like the Baths of Bethesda) and the Virgin Mary was born.

There are eight gates in its walls, including Zion Gate/Prophet David Gate, New Gate, Damascus Gate (called Nablus Gate by Muslims), Herod's Gate, Lion's Gate (called Baab Sittna Maryam (or باب ستي مريم which translates to St. Mary's Gate) by Muslims and St. Stephen's Gate by Christians), Excavators' Gate, Dung Gate, Tanners' Gate, and Jaffa Gate (called Baab al-Khalil (Khalil means "friend") by Muslims).

As you can see, just from the names of the gates, the people living in the Old City already are affected by the language they and others use. This is not the only time that different groups of people will have different names for the same structure or event. Such is the life of coexistence.

In the next section, we will talk more about the history of the Old City, as well as what it is like today. See you next week!

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Top 50 Things You'll Hear A Southern Say


For those of you who may need a little help understanding the slang of a southern, I made a list of the top 50 phrases and sayings, along with their translations.

1. Bless your heart.

My favorite saying. It is an empathetic phrase that is usually uttered when the speaker believes the recipient to be sweet, but misguided or stupid. It can also be used if the speaker believes the recipient needs to grow up and deal with it, when the speaker says it in a sarcastic tone.

2. Barking up the wrong tree.

Means being misguided or mistaken.

3. Aren't you precious?

Mostly this saying is used in a sarcastic tone in response to someone being offensive.

4. Britches.

Pants or underpants.

An example would be, "Your britches are too short, you can't wear those".

5. Coke.

Regardless if it's Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, or another carbonated beverage, it's called Coke here in the South.

6. Fixin' to.

Simply means that you are about to do something.

7. Get the short end of the stick.

This phrase means that you basically got an unfair deal or cheated out of something.

8. Give Me Some Sugar.

Simply means give me a kiss.

9. Hissy Fit.

A hissy fit is a grown-up version of a temper tantrum that is as bad as one that a toddler would throw.

10. Hold Your Horses.

Be patient.

11. Holler.

When you say "holler" you are basically letting the other person know something.

Example: Holler at me when you are ready to get something to eat.

12. If the creek don't rise.

This saying simply means that if nothing bad happens, everything will go as planned.

13. You're as slow as molasses in the wintertime.

This phrase means that you are being EXTRA slow.

14. Muddin'.

Off-road four-wheeler riding with the intentions of getting mud everywhere and possibly losing control.

15. Skat Cat.

A phrase that can be used instead of saying "God bless you" when you sneeze.

16. There's Not A Pot Too Crooked That A Lid Won't Fit.

There is someone for everyone.

17. Pitcher.

We mostly mean a plastic container that holds sweet tea, not the position of a guy on the baseball team.

18. Reckon.

When you say "I reckon", you believe that something is true.

19. Hoot With The Owls, Soar With The Eagles.

This simple phrase means that if you are going to stay up all night, you should be able to get early in the morning.

20. Too Big For Your Britches.

Simply means that you take yourself too seriously.

21. Stompin' Grounds.

Your hometown or where you grew up.

22. Back In The Day.

Back in the day could be a month ago, a year ago, or 20 years ago.

23. You're A Spitting Image Of (Insert Family Member).

Yes, I know I'm a spitting image of my mother. "Spitting image" simply means that you look just like someone.

24. "Darlin, Sugar, Sweetheart"

These words are simply terms of endearment.

25. Buggy.

A buggy is a cart/basket at the grocery store.

Example: Who wants to push the buggy?

26. Quit Crying Or I Will Give You Something To Cry About.

This phrase simply means to quit crying and if you didn't then more than likely you got a spanking,

27. Where You Raised In A Barn?

If you are from the South, you have probably been asked this more than once, especially when you left a door open.

28. Close The Door. You Are Letting All The Good Air Out.

This southern heat is nothing to play with. It simply means to keep the door closed so the air (or heat if its winter) stays inside.

29. You Are Going To Make Me Lose My Religion.

When you say this phrase to someone, it more than likely means that person has done something to irritate you or made you mad. Thank goodness Jesus saves.

Example: You are going to make me lose my religion.

30. You Look Like A Chicken With Your Head Cut Off.

This is said when you are running around like a crazy person. It can be said if you are looking for something that you are searching for or if you are just really busy.

31. Y'all.

The southern way to say "you all".

32. You Can't Carry A Tune In A Bucket.

If you've ever been told this, it means that you can't sing.

33. Have Their Feathers Ruffled.

You normally have your "feathers ruffled" when you are pouting.

34. Two Peas In A Pod.

When you and someone else are "two peas in a pod", it means that either you almost always together or that you two are almost identical in the way you think and do things.

35. Well Butter My Butt And Call Me A Biscuit.

This saying can be used when you are surprised or excited.

36. Don't Let The Door Hit Ya Where The Good Lord Split Ya.

When someone say this they typically mean to get out and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

37. You're As Good As Gold.

When you are "as good as gold", it means that you are well-behaved and obedient.

38. It's Raining Cats And Dogs Out There.

This simply means that the rain is really coming down hard. It's not actually raining cats and dogs, people.

39. I'm Full As A Tick.

This phrase means that you ate too much food.

40. I'm Sweating More Than A Sinner In Church.

When someone says this, it means that they are really hot and sweating A LOT.

41. Pot Calling The Kettle Black.

This phrase is used when one person is guilty of the very same thing of which they accuse another person.

42. There's More Than One Way To Skin A Cat.

It means that there is anyways more than one way to fix something.

43. Shut Yo' Mouth.

Means to be quiet or hush up.

44. Whatever Floats Your Boat.

This saying means to do whatever you want to do.

45. Slap Yo' Momma.

This phrase means that something is good.

Example: This BBQ is slap yo' momma good.

46. She's Like A Bull In A China Shop.

When you tell someone this phrase, you are telling them that they are clumsy or careless in the way that they move.

47. Cuttin' A Rug.

Cuttin' a rug is used to describe dancing.

Example: Let's go cut a rug tonight.

48. Clicker.

A clicker is another name for a TV remote.

49. Slow Your Roll.

This also means to be patient.

50. You're A Hot Mess.

When you tell someone that they are a "hot mess", you are simply telling them that they don't have it together.

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5 Vital And Helpful Tips I Live By When Packing For A Trip

Try and pack smarter, not harder.


If you are anything like me, you tend to overpack thinking you are being a great packer and being ready for any scenario that life may throw at you. Well, that is, unfortunately untrue, and I have learned that you are only doing more harm than good. Over the years, I have come up with five tips I always use when traveling and have been proven to work. You've heard of the five golden rules of life, and, well, these are the five golden rules/tips of packing.

1. Start with a packing list.

This is the best tip I could give to anyone else who is getting ready to travel. Making a list is very useful, especially when stressed about your travel. You will not forget anything because you have it all written down. A packing list is a great way to keep organized when packing.

2. Use space bags.

Now, this is a tip my dad lives by. Space bags are great when you are packing because it protects your clothes and makes room to put a lot in your suitcase. The crazy story of a time when my dad was traveling, and his friend's bag was soaked with the shampoo he brought on the plane. All his clothes and everything inside the suitcase was ruined. So always use space bags because you never know what could happen on the flight. You can buy a space bag here.

3. Pack the essentials first.

I will be honest and say that I do over-pack a lot. I use the line "just in case" as an excuse to pack my entire house. But I have learned that packing for "just in case" is a waste of time. When you first sit down to pack, lay out all your essentials. For example, clothes that you will wear during the trip. You will be surprised to see how effective it is.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Chicago Is The Best City In The World

4. ALWAYS pack an extra outfit in your carry on.

This tip is one that I have been very grateful that I used. A while ago during my trip to Canada, my check-in bag was missing and delayed for multiple hours. Luckily I had an extra outfit to keep me fresh and not feel gross. It is always crucial to this in your carry on In case of emergencies such as your bag getting lost.

5. Put identification on your suitcase.

Everyone in the airport somehow tends to have the same black or red suitcase that you have, which only means confusing when you're trying to find your check-in bag. To quickly identify your suitcase, put a sticker, or tie a ribbon on the handle. You can easily pick up your suitcase and leave. This will prevent any sneaky people trying to steal or claim that your suitcase is theirs.

P.S.: Use a bright color ribbon or a different sticker. Also, tie the ribbon properly to make sure it's secured.

I live by these five packing tips every time I travel so I hope you can use them the next time you take a trip!

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