Hebrew Adapts to Modernity

Hebrew continues to adapt year right after year to provide new words and nuances that are required by a modern day society. More than 10,000 words have been added in the final 35 years. This write-up shows how some of those words were derived. The examples beneath are from William Chomsky’s “Hebrew: The Eternal Language”.

Some words are borrowed from Indo-European (Latin) languages. A excellent example is the everyday word”TILPHEN” which is the verb “telephone”. Even for the duration of Mishnaic Hebrew, words had been often borrowed from other languages such as Greek. An example is “HIT’AKHSEN” (received hospitality) from the Greek word “XENIA” meaning hospitality.

Altneuland is the name of a novel published by Theodore Herzl. The name came from the German “ALT” and “NEU” meaning “old and new”. How does the modern city of Tel Aviv associated to this book? “TEL” signifies mound or ruin (hence one thing extremely old), and Aviv is the month of Spring, symbolizing new.

Just as English usually uses prefix and suffixes to modify words, Hebrew often does the exact same. For instance, you can typically add the suffix “-ut” to a word. For example, SHELEMUT indicates “perfection” from the root verb SHALEM (which means “ideal”). SIFRUT means “literature” from the noun SEFER which means book.

Occasionally a word for an occupation is built by employing changing the each vowels to the “AH” sound. Right here are two examples: PASAL signifies “sculptor” from the word “PESEL” which signifies “idol”. The word “violinist” is KANNAR, which is taken from the noun “KINOR” which means “violin”.

Occasionally, you can add the letter “MEM” as a prefix to form a noun. The happens with Biblical words such as MIKDASH (temple) from KADASH (to sanctify/make holy) and MISHKAN (tabernacle) from SHAKAN (dwell). In Contemporary Hebrew, we can see such words as MABDED (insulator) from BADAD (insulate)

Sometimes, two words are combined to kind a new word. We do this all the time in English, such as “goodbye” (“God be with you”). MADHOM signifies thermometer, which comes from MADAD (measured) and HOM (heat).

English, Yiddish, Russian have contributed to new Hebrew words. SHWITZ indicates sweat in Yiddish, which inspired the Hebrew word MASHWITZ – a pretneious person. From English, Hebrew has borrowed words such as sweater, garage, and tractor. From Russian, the suffix “Nik” is occassionaly utilized displaying that a individual belongs to a certain group, such as KIBBUTZNIK (a man belonging to a Kibutz).

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