Thirty five hundred years after the likes of Pharaoh and King David ruled the Bible, Hebrew has a word for patriarchalism: avhatanut.
Avhatanut, along with its matronly companion imhatanut, were among the new words announced recently by the Hebrew Language Academy, keeper and creator of official Hebrew.
Patriarchalism, Wikipedia informs us, “is a political theory that arose in England in the seventeenth century that defended the concept of absolute power for the monarchy, through language that emphasized the ‘paternal’ power of the king over the state and his subjects.”
The Hebrew Language Academy has launched a social media initiative to get its new words out, and to push back against its stodgy image. Its stodginess, however, is inherent in its mission — coining words after thoughtful deliberation. Its official Hebrew words invariably are introduced after neologisms, generally based on English, have already taken root among the people and even on store shelves.
Take for the example the new expression “cmusat cafe,” designed to replace “capsulat cafe,” what we Americans refer to with the trademarked K-Cup.
Will coffee makers redesign their packages?
Given the Academy’s lack of royal legal authority, that’s not likely.
But at least language purists have one more thing to scoff at.