How do you talk politics in Hebrew? By speaking English

Many words used by the candidates and the press covering them come from English.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 16, 2006 20:59
1 minute read.

Anglos running for Knesset have complained about the fact that there is no word for accountability in Hebrew. But accountability isn't the only word that the Hebrew language is missing when it comes to political lingo. Many words used in everyday discourse by the candidates and the press covering them come from English. Some English terms have been absorbed into Hebrew as is, without being Hebraized. Terms that fall into this category include: "primaries," "agenda," "campaign," "parliamentary," "spin," "off-the-record," "jingle," "flip-flop," "zigzag" and "politically correct." Then there are words that are usually used in the plural, like stickerim (stickers) and flyerim (campaign flyers). And some words are doctored a bit to fit Hebrew grammar, as in the case of politika (politics), platforma (platform), coalitzia (coalition), re'ali (realistic), constitutzioni (constitutional) and even electibili (electable). Many of the words used in political discourse that exist in Hebrew are slowly becoming taboo, because they have become names of political parties. For instance, Likud and Labor politicians have had a difficult time avoiding using the word "forward," which in Hebrew is Kadima. Politicians also have to be careful about using the words "change" (Shinui), "energy" (Meretz), "work" (Labor) and "turning point" (Tafnit). It's less of a problem when the politicians speak English, but then the puns in slogans about "moving forward," "going to work" and "making a change" get lost in translation.


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