The Hebrew Dictionary Just Got a Little Bigger, Thanks to Facebook Voters

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Throw the confetti and hold your kitbag question: The Hebrew Language Academy approved several new Hebrew words at its 330th meeting last week.

The academy found Hebrew equivalents for several words, including a word for confetti – petitonim, coming from a word for flakes. The academy would like to see people replace the word kolektzia, a word especially popular in the fashion world, with the Hebrew asufa, from the root asaf, meaning collect.

A word the British army left in Hebrew, kitbak (from the English kitbag ­– a soldier’s backpack) has found its Hebrew equivalent as sak hafatzim, which means “a bag of items.” However, the old word kitbak even has its own idiomatic expression – an unnecessary question, or one that has an obvious answer, is called a “kitbag question.” That comes from the fact that in the Israel Defense Forces, the ultimate unnecessary question is considered: “Sarge, do I have to bring my kitbag?” One wonders whether people will use the new term in the old expression; on the other hand, perhaps that in itself is a kitbag question.

The words are selected after the public is asked to offer suggestions. For example, no less than 17 suggestions came from people for the Hebrew word for confetti, including heidadim – from a Hebrew word for “hurray” – and pezer-gezer, from two Hebrew words from the roots for “scatter” and “cut.” The academy made its decision after taking into account thousands of votes posted on its Facebook page – crowning petitonim the winner.

As for a worthy Hebrew replacement for kolektzia, the academy consulted fashion designers. Among the proposals were other words from the root for collecting, asaf ­ – including ma’asaf, osfa and ta’asufa. The winner this time, asufa, had going for it the fact that it appears in the Bible, in Ecclesiastes (12:11): “The words of the wise are as goads…and as nails well fashioned are those that are composed in collections.”

A booster seat for your toddler until last week was moshav (seat) booster. Thanks to the academy and its public advisors, you can now ask for a moshav magbiya in stores. Whether the salesperson will know what you mean is another question.

The academy also coined a host of nautical terms. Among them are the halyard (the rope that hoists the sail) which henceforth shall be known as the ma’alan from the root aleh, to go up. Barnacles, which Hebrew-speaking mariners refer to as a boat’s “beard” no longer have to go improperly named in the holy tongue; they are now called tzimda, from the Hebrew root for adhere.

From now on, confetti shall be known as petitonim.Credit: AP

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