Last week’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me had an interesting item at the beginning of Panel Round Two — they were reporting that there was a new slang verb in Hebrew: “L’Condel”, in honor of Condelezza Rice, meaning to run around and have meetings which produce no results. I thought it was amusing, and I could certainly come up with contexts in which I could use it. But I didn’t know how to properly conjugate it…or even how to spell it, since Hebrew has two letters for the ‘k’ sound. But I did a little Googling and found what seemed to be the original reference, from a November 12th New York Times article.
Later, I was chatting online with a colleague from IBM Israel, and I asked her if she had heard the verb, or how it would be spelled. She hadn’t heard of it. So I decided to Google the two alternative spellings I could come up with, and discovered that there were no hits for לכנדל, while לקנדל had many. But what was odd was that many of the hits were several years old, which made no sense.
My friend, in the meantime, had done additional research; since she actually speaks Hebrew, she knew that “L’Condel” had to be spelled with an additional vav — לקונדל — to force the “oh” in “Condelezza”. What I’d found was the prepositional phrase “to Kendall” (as in, “I gave advice to Kendall”) — completely unrelated to my quest.
She could only find one citation in Hebrew on the web, which said that this was a new verb being used among the Israeli administration meaning going in and out of meetings with little said and done.
I clicked through and discovered that the page was the “Daily Alert” from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. I searched for לקונדל on the page — and interestingly, it was in a paragraph headed “New York Times”.
So I cut-and-pasted the first few sentences of the paragraph into the Hebrew-to-English translator from 1-800-TRANSLATE…and sure enough, it was the same article from the Times that I’d already found in English.
I hope that “L’Condel” is real — but I find myself wondering. And I still don’t know how to conjugate it.