French Israel

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

It's the spelling that makes it good

Poyo Loko is:
1. A Hispanic rapper or something, in the West-Coast Latin group ITPG (Innocent Till Proven Guilty).
2. A mispelling of the Spanish words "pollo loco", meaning "crazy chicken".
3. A kosher Mexican restaurant in Jerusalem.

Sorry that this is the best shot I could get of their ad campaign. It clearly features a psychologically disturbed chicken, meaning the owners (or publicists) were probably referring to #2, not #1, when choosing the words for the advert.

Some of you will think this is intentional, that the point was to mispell the words to show how crazy the chicken is, and that they couldn't possibly have made such a big goof by accident and let it get into the official documents.

Au contraire, I think it was a total mistake, and that no one bothered to check. Here's why: There are computer algorithms that attempt to spell Hebrew words in Roman letters. (And I do not mean into English; so this posting only marginally belongs in my "Anguished English" rubric.) For example, when I first went to the Misrat HaPnim to register my Hebrew family name, the employee typed it in Hebrew (aleph, lamed, yud, heh, vav), and I saw on the computer screen, almost immediately, the following word appear in a different blank: Eliau. Look at that for a second, and you will see that it is nothing but a computer simulation for the name "Eliyahou" (or Eliyahu, or Eliahu, however you typically see it transcribed in English).

Furthermore, I am keeping my eye on the bus stops here. On one side they tell the buses' destination in Hebrew; on the other side, in Roman letters. Transcriptions vary depending (presumably) on the sign-maker's fancy. (More on this in another post, when I've collected more photos.) So I can spot the trends.

Here's what I think happened. The restaurant was named "Pollo Loco" in someone's mind. They submitted a request for a business licence. They printed the name in Hebrew letters, something like peh-vav-yud-vav lamed-vav-kouf-vav. The words were then transcribed from Hebrew back into Roman letters for the sake of advertising. (Hey men! English is kool!)

This scenario is entirely plausible. But just to be sure, I will (bli néder) pay the restaurant a visit someday.
PinḼas Ivri 17:27


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