Help pick the Hebrew word for podcast

What other words should the Academy of the Hebrew Language translate this year?

December 31, 2017 17:11
2 minute read.
Help pick the Hebrew word for podcast

A runner listening to a podcast. (Illustrative). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)


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Just 13 years after the word “podcast” entered the Oxford English Dictionary, the Academy of the Hebrew Language is looking to create a word for it in Hebrew.

Last week the Academy, in partnership with public broadcaster Kan, put out a call to the public to submit suggestions for a Hebrew alternative to the word, which until now has been transliterated into Hebrew, like so many foreign words. A podcast is an online, or downloadable, digital radio-style program. Episodes are available for listening anywhere and anytime.

The Academy of the Hebrew Language is accepting submissions until January 14, and a committee of its members and Kan representatives will then pick the best option.

The AHL hasn’t announced any new words since January of 2017 when it officially inducted a new slate into the Hebrew language. Those included “tisat chesech” for a low-cost flight, “matzitan” for a pyromaniac and “tzfiyat retzef” for binge-watching. Last year the Academy introduced a Hebrew word for hashtag – “tag hakbatza.”

So what will the new year bring?

In May, AHL invited people to submit suggestions for a Hebrew word for spinner, the fidget-lovers toy that spread like wildfire. But, it admitted, it wasn’t ready to officially induct it into the Hebrew language before seeing if the faddish word stuck around for a while.

What should the Academy give an official translation to?

It seems abundantly clear that there is a great demand for a Hebrew word for “selfie.” It was Merriam-Webster’s word of the year in 2013, but it has quickly become indispensable around the globe. Selfie – if you’ve been living under a rock and without a smartphone – is a photograph you take of yourself, particularly for posting on social media.

In addition, anyone who has used dating apps or websites over the past few years will be familiar with – if not the word, then certainly the behavior – ghosting. Not the noun ghost, but the verb, when someone you’re talking to cuts off all contact and disappears completely, ignores messages or calls and stops responding entirely.

But 2017 likely left Israelis with a strong need for the Hebrew word for troll. Not the mythical figure, but an online commenter who exists solely to foment arguments or antagonize people by being deliberately offensive. The behavior isn’t new, but it may have reached a peak this year, in the US, Israel and around the globe.

Will the Academy of the Hebrew Language heed our call or will they ghost us? Only 2018 will tell.

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