Saturday, February 17, 2018

On the Israeli Academy of the Hebrew Language

LEXICOGRAPHY: THE ISRAELI ACADEMY CONTINUING THE UNPRECEDENTED REVIVAL OF THE HEBREW LANGUAGE. In Biblical Hebrew, there were approximately 7,000 words. Modern Hebrew has approximately 33,000 words (Eytan Halon, Jerusalem Post).
Established by the Israeli government in a 1953 law, the academy is split into two divisions. The first division is a scientific undertaking termed the Historical Dictionary Project, initiated soon after the academy's birth and which seeks to produce an academic Hebrew dictionary, documenting and defining every Hebrew word from all periods and evolutions of the language.

The academy’s second division has a more practical, normative role. Its task is to coin new words and inform people how to speak and write. Since its inception, the academy has published countless dictionaries of new words in different technical fields, including psychology, banking, physics and mathematics.

According to the 1953 law, all Israeli state and governmental institutions are bound by the Hebrew language decisions adopted by the academy.

The success and breadth of the academy's historical dictionary project is clear to see by looking at one of [Dr. Gabriel] Birnbaum's many bookshelves. The project, initiated by Ben-Yehuda, counted five volumes by the time of his death in 1922. Today, there are 16 volumes taking pride of place in the researcher's office.
Some past posts on the Academy of the Hebrew Language and its Historical Dictionary Project are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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