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Attitude to Language

(1,891 words)

Author(s): Muchnik, Malka
The unique case of the revival of Modern Hebrew has elicited very disparate views among scholars with respect to its origin and the need for regulation. In view of the fact that Hebrew was not spoken as a native language for over 1,700 years, from the time of the dispersion of most Hebrew speakers in the 2nd century C.E. until the end of the 19th century, its reemergence as a spoken language is unique in the annals of linguistic history. As such, it has generated debate, not only concerning the process, but also the actual nature of the language currently spoken. The generations who experienced…

Slang, Israeli Hebrew

(1,077 words)

Author(s): Muchnik, Malka
Slang often characterizes specific groups, such as teenagers, soldiers, or the underworld. Modern Hebrew slang has been described since the 1960s (Sapan 1965). The first salient group in which it is known to have developed is the פלמ"ח palmax̱, a Jewish fighting force in the British Mandate period (operated in the years 1941–1948). The richest source of Israeli slang is undoubtedly the IDF, but since military service is mandatory for the majority of citizens, and many of them also serve in the army reserves, most of this in-group sl…

Gender and Language

(2,091 words)

Author(s): Muchnik, Malka
Hebrew clearly marks gender in all its morphological forms and syntactic structures. It has masculine and feminine forms not only for personal, possessive, and demonstrative pronouns, but also for verbs, participles, animate and inanimate nouns, inflected nouns, inflected prepositions, adjectives, and numerals. Feminine forms are usually marked by appending an -a or—(V) t suffix to the masculine, which serves as the basic form (Schwarzwald 1991; 2002). This system is a typical example of what Spender (1985) calls a “man-made language”. Syntactic …

Taboos

(829 words)

Author(s): Muchnik, Malka
Hebrew, like other languages, has linguistic taboos that originate in strong socio-cultural prohibitions or beliefs. The avoidance of certain words and expressions may also be motivated by personal idiosyncrasies. Taboo words are generally related to religion, body parts, excretion, sex, illness, and death. These forbidden terms are replaced by more positive and pleasant words, euphemisms; there are also dysphemisms, i.e., obloquies which are used to denominate undesirable things, such as שיקוץ šiquṣ, תועבה toʿeva, גועל נפש goʿal nefeš, all of them meaning ‘abomination’.…