Hebrew Hear-Say: Politically incorrect

The Hebrew Language Academy can be encouraged by the landslide victory of the word "makdimot," which has replaced "primaries" in the Hebrew media and rolls nicely off the Hebrew tongue

March 15, 2006 10:49
1 minute read.
aleph bet 888

aleph bet 888 . (photo credit: )


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Considering Israelis don't so much talk about politics as live it, it's strange that the Hebrew language has yet to come up with a home-grown word for the national hobby instead of the borrowed politica. The Hebrew Language Academy's Rahel Selig says that politica (like the name of the academia where she works, for that matter) just stuck. Democratia, too, also seems to have nothing to fear in the linguistic sense. It's a winner, election after election. But if Selig had had her way, certain foreign phrases would have departed with the British when the sovereign Knesset in Jerusalem took over from parliament in London. Hebrew-language purists, would be happy to see, for example, the terms "coalizia" and "opposizia" defeated and replaced by popular vote with the words "yahda" (from the word yahad, together) and negda (from neged, opposed). The vote isn't in yet on these terms, but the Hebrew Language Academy can be encouraged by the landslide victory of the word "makdimot," which has replaced "primaries" in the Hebrew media and rolls nicely off the Hebrew tongue in countless talk shows, arguments, debates and chance conversations. Some words have entered Hebrew language dictionaries like the standard Even-Shushan in a less than politically correct manner, however. At a time when the phrase "political convictions" increasingly seems to refer to the considerable number of the country's elected under investigation, it is not surprising that the word "politician" - in Hebrew, "politikai" has come to be used as a derogatory word meaning "schemer," as in: "Don't trust that guy, he's a 'politikai katan,' a 'little politician.'" The poor image of the Knesset and its members is not likely to improve without a major electoral reform, but while the Jewish concept of "tikun olam," "repairing the world," is gaining widespread popularity abroad, the only everyday Hebrew word for "reform" remains the foreign "reforma."

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Supreme Court President Asher Grunis
August 28, 2014
Grapevine: September significance