One of my (many incredibly petty) gripes is in the process of being taken care of. A bill, introduced by MK Amnon Cohen of Shas (of all people), seeking to introduce standardised spellings for place names on road signs passed its first reading in the Knesset this week.
The variety of ways in which signposts are spelled are often amusing but frequently confusing. If you're looking for a Kibbutz and find a Qibbutz instead, chances are that you won't pass it by, but until relatively recently, when going from Jerusalem to the airport, you'd have been forgiven for wondering what "Natbag"* was, as you zoomed by, shortly to arrive in Tel Aviv.
In a country where most of the population is at most 1 or 2 generations removed from immigrants, it is perhaps unsurprising that there are so many variations as each immigrant brings different ideas on spelling in their cultural baggage. What is logical for the native speaker of one language, may be incomprehensible to a person with a different mother tongue. These culturally based differences of spelling are both understandable and quaint and one could possibly argue the case that they should be preserved as they reflect on the nature of the make up of Israel's society.
What is more difficult to understand however is how it was decided that the translation for "חוף" and "קניון" should be directly transliterated as "Hof" and "Kanyon" rather than translated into "beach" and "shopping centre". It is safe to say that this probably wasn't decided in a committee with an English speaker on board and was probably not the subject of much though at all. I'm sure that any Francophiles who have stumbled across this piece will be querying why "beach" rather than "plage" but English is the most accepted international language and short of having each sign in 20 different languages, it represents the solution which is going to receive the widest consensus as well as being the most useful to the most people.
In a country that relies on tourism, it's pleasing to hear that someone has had a thought on how to make it easier to get around for non-Hebrew speakers and even better to know that not everything that comes out of the Knesset is designed to make our life harder. Now all they have to do is decide on which spellings to use - easier said than done when 2 Jews have 3 opinions (at least)....
* Natbag, the commonly used abbreviation for Namal Teúfa Ben Gurion or Ben Gurion Air Port is clearly nonsensical to someone unfamiliar with Hebrew slang.