Monday, June 11, 2007

Gaydamak the Kosherizer

Kiss those oysters goodbye, Tiv Ta'am shoppers!
(Photo: Tiv Ta'am)

UPDATE (June 12): Lisa now has a longer post on this story, with pictures of pork at her local Tiv Ta'am and more analysis, commentary, as well as links to other interesting media sources. BTW: You will note that my transliteration, which is not really how the store's name is pronounced in Israel - people just say "tiv tam" - differs from hers. But we here at Kishkushim take our transliteration very seriously, and despite the fact that speakers are sometimes negligent in their pronunciation, I believe that טעם should be transliterated with the inverted comma to indicate the glottal stop; maybe I'm wrong about that though. Query to Arabists: would the "internet" transliteration of this word be "ta3m" or just "t3m"? Do you think we should use the Arabic chat alphabet when transliterating Hebrew - for het and 'ayin?

Arkadi Gaydamak is in the news again today. The millionaire businessman (how many millions? what business exactly?) is acquiring the Tiv Ta'am supermarket chain. In an excellent publicity move, Gaydamak announced that he intends to make the company's supermarkets kosher:
"I believe that in a Jewish state, in which there is a large Muslim minority, selling pork is a provocation," the Russian-Israeli billionaire told Army Radio (Ha'aretz).
This is appealing straight to Gaydamk's future core constituencies.

Tiv Ta'am is an upscale grocer that specializes in selling "white meat" and seafood to cosmopolitan Tel Aviv residents and Russian immigrants. Actually they have some locations in the periphery too - but 3 stores on Ben Yehuda alone! Of course, we shouldn't exaggerate the significance of this particular stunt, as Gaydamak's approval ratings in places like Sderot, Ofakim, Netivot, and Yeruham are high to begin with. But it cannot hurt him to gain votes from traditionalist mizrahim and Ethiopians, as well as from Arab voters in the south. Plus, he can score some points from the ultra-Orthodox, whose support he will need as he sets the stage for his political activity - for example in Jerusalem.

I have to confess that despite my pitch for pluralism on Jeha's blog, I am not such a big fan of Tiv Ta'am. Frankly speaking, it annoys me when I have to start inspecting the sausage's label even in Israel. Plus, the prices are a little on the American side. I know at least one contributor to this blog who is probably celebrating. As for you pork lovers - I'm sure that Rumanian place near the old central bus station will welcome you with open arms.


Lisa said...

You're completely correct about putting an apostrophe in Ta'am to indicate the glottal stop. That's the way it's supposed to be pronounced, although I've noticed that a lot of people who pronounced ta'am correctly in normal context, tend to leave it out when they're talking about the food chain. It's almost as if the mispronunciation is part of the brand name.

Anyway, Ynetappears to agree with you (even though there are two mis-spellings in the body of the article, which is horribly translated, as usual).Take a look at the article: it looks as though Gaydamak has caved in and won't be making TT kosher after all.

Amos said...

Hi Lisa,

Yes, I bet linguists have some kind of theory about the fact that people seem to omit the stop (or make it almost imperceptible) when they pronounce the brand name as opposed to the word. Or maybe that's just how it's pronounced in the commercials...

The Ynet link didn't work unfortunately, but I'll look for the article later. Very interesting that Gaydamak caved after all. That was probably a good idea - he made the point, got some approval for his intentions, and now he'll just keep the chain profitable and those people at Mizra won't lose their jobs.

Noah said...

Aren't they mussels, not oysters? Oh well, all those shellfish look the same, anyway...