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Learn, Practice, and Perfect Your Hebrew: ‘Yalla!’

Let the StreetWise podcast from TLV1 in Israel help you use Hebrew to motivate your friends, root for your favorite team, and tell your loved one to scram!

Rose Kaplan
February 23, 2016

Yalla, let’s learn some more Hebrew! Or, as an Israeli counselor at my Jewish summer camp used to say when he wanted to get us going, “Yalla balagan,” which (roughly) translates to “Let’s go all out.”

Yalla, it turns out, is a loanword from Arabic, a portmanteau of ya + Allah, or “oh God” (in Arabic, the “L” sound is more drawn out, and the “ahh” is a bit closer to an “uhh”). To demonstrate a few different uses of the wordStreetWise Hebrew TLV1 podcast host Guy Sharett uses soundbites from advertising, the Israeli Knesset, and popular music:

— Part of an ad for Pepsi (“yalla now”—in this case, in Arabic);

— How to tell your boyfriend to go home when you’re mad at him, in song (“Yalla lech ha-bayita, Motti,” or, “Motti, just go home now”)

— A way to motivate your friend to get up off the couch and start learning Hebrew (“Az yalla,” or, “So come on already”)

— A chant for your favorite sports team (“Yalla Bulls,” or, “Let’s go Bulls”)

— A pointed rejection (“Yalla-yalla,” or, “yeah right,” “as if!” etc.)

As you listen, follow along with these words and phrases:

Yalla – יָאללָה

Ya Allah – יָא אַללָה

Yalla zazim – יָאללָה זָזִים

Yalla lech ha-bayita Motti – יָאללָה לֵךְ הבַּיתָה מוֹטִי

Az yalla – אָז יָאללָה

Yalla beitar – יָאללָה בֵּיתָ”ר

Yalla-yalla – יָאללָה-יָאללָה

Tov, yalla bye – טוֹב, יָאללָה בַּיי

Tov, yalla mmmmmmbye – טוֹב, יָאללָה מְמְמְמְמְ-בַּיי

Rose Kaplan is an intern at Tablet.