One hundred years after the great “language war” was won, why all the urgency to promote Hebrew?
“Hebrew is a beautiful language. But there’s an Americanization trend that kind of bothers me. I don’t mind if people speak English, but language is culture, and when you try too much to copy something that’s not us − you miss something beautiful that’s happening here, that’s ours.”
And what are you doing about this?
“As part of my final visual media project at Bezalel [Academy of Arts and Design] I did a project entitled ‘Hebrew − Talk It!’ I set up an ‘Adopt-a-Word’ stall in the Mahaneh Yehuda market in Jerusalem − the liveliest, most Israeli place there is. I printed words on little cards, I showed them to people, and they picked a word. As soon as you choose something, I believe you will use it. Then we created a Facebook page and within a week we had 1,000 ‘Likes.’”
So what’s next?
“The next step is to open another stall, today [Friday, July 26], in MahanehYehuda. And two educators from an elementary school in Modi’in contacted me: They want to create lesson plans together with me and include them in the curriculum. Another stage will be creating events where people are invited to engage with the language, to get involved and make suggestions.”
What are some of the words you’re promoting?
“Kakh ve’lekh, which means ‘takeaway’; rageshet, ‘allergy’: tsmudonim, ‘tights’; yatsgan, ‘presenter’; navtan,‘GPS’; kalkelan, ‘spoiler’; mitzkhak, ‘standup’: and yisumon, ‘app.’ These are words that I took from the Academy of the Hebrew Language.”
What is your favorite new Hebrew word?
“Rageshet, definitely. I think it’s fantastic. I also like mitzkhak, and navtan, which is a lot catchier than GPS, which is a little problematic. I work at a museum. A woman called and asked for directions. I asked, ‘Do you have a navtan?’ And she said yes. She understood from the context. When the word is right, it just works. People get it.”