Israel – In its Quest to Go Green, Old Hebrew Language Seeks New Words


    Israel – The Hebrew Language Academy is looking for Hebrew words for terms like “compost” and “composter.” Its committee on environmental terminology, which includes representatives from the Environmental Protection Ministry, has come up with a number of options, but is now asking for public input through the academy’s Website.

    So far, suggestions have included variations on the Hebrew root for decomposition – reish-kof-vet (rkv ), among them tirkovet or tarkiv. But according to the committee’s scientific secretary, Ronit Gadish, the negative connotation of these words is very problematic.

    “We have to persuade the public that compost is a good, positive and useful thing,” she explains, “and I say this as a person who has been composting for a year already. It’s like a bottomless pit!”

    Gadish says that unlike the days of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew, the academy is not trying to “totally clean the language” of foreign terminology. But, she adds, “there is an entire [group] of terms simply begging for a Hebrew alternative. It is inconceivable for Hebrew not to have solutions for these words.”

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