Minyan of neologisms join the Hebrew language

Minyan of neologisms join the Hebrew language

The bad news: Your Hebrew vocabulary deficit probably grew by 10 words this month, as the Academy of the Hebrew Language added 10 words to the official Hebrew lexicon.

The good news is that one of the new words is a very clever translation for “gaslighting,” which the Merriam-Webster’s (English) dictionary picked as its 2022 word of the year.

Hebrew speakers can now use gizlut da’at (גזלוּת‭ ‬דעת) instead of the English word to describe “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for one’s own advantage.”

The English word owes its origin to 1944 movie, which depicted a 19th century husband trying to persuade his heiress wife that she is crazy; among his techniques was manipulating the gas lighting of the house — literally, the gas lighting — and then falsely denying her experience.

The Hebrew word, however, has much earlier origins; it is parallel to a well-known talmudic term, “gneivat da’at,” which like the new term literally means theft of knowledge. In the Talmudic context, broadly, it means theft through misrepresentation.

The new “gizlut da’at,” however, sounds remarkably like the English word it translates — so chalk up another win for the lexicographers at the Academy.

Other new and timely Hebrew words the Academy added include markia (מרקיע) for a space launch vehicle; perua (פרוע) for rewilding; ataron (אתרון) for a minisite, or a small website; kihul (קיהול) for targeted advertising; raheshet (רחשת) for buzz, such as marketing buzz;shetef (שתף) for a social media feed; and tischoret (תסחורת) for brand merchandise.

The Academy also added two words describing phenomena that existed in the time of pioneering 19th-century Hebrew word-coiner Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, posing the question of “What took them so long?” They are ofnei tendu (אופני‭ ‬טנדו) for tandem bike, and menushav (מנושב), which means windy.

The answer to that question just might be blowing in the wind…


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