תרגום ולשון

Exploring the space between Hebrew and English

The space between Hebrew and English

Written By: merav - Sep• 04•12

What is the space between Hebrew and English? Anyone who has spent time there knows it. It represents the place of Israel in the world, the terrain that Hebrew speakers and Israel’s representatives – official and unofficial, witting and unwitting, willing and even unwilling – must cross in any interaction with the world. Hebrew is the language of Israel and Jews. If we want to communicate with the rest of the world, some form of translation is necessary. When a mixed-group conversation shifts from English to Hebrew the tone and terms change too.

How does this asymmetric transition between the two languages affect Israel’s and Israelis’ interaction with the world? What special language has been created within the terrain itself, the space inhabited by speakers (writers, readers) of Hebrew and English from various backgrounds with varying levels of skill and comfort? And what about the efforts to keep Hebrew Hebrew, to prevent the creeping takeover of “La’az” – transliterated or roughly transliterated terms from western languages that keep permeating the language (and why the ‘prestige’ aspect of peppering sentences with foreign terms)?

What about this space?

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One Comment

  1. Hi Merav,

    I think it’s particularly fitting to comment on this piece after we met today on the corner of Ben-Yehuda Street, named after the “father” of modern Hebrew. As one of the inhabitants of that land/space between Hebrew and English, I periodically ponder about the meaning of it all. And also to what degree my bi-lingual talents/being have led me on the path I have taken, part of which involves serving as a bridge of communication about the Israeli experience abroad, and the international experience/context to Israelis.
    Of course, another inhabitant of this special bi-lingual world, “l’havdil”, is Ben Nitai, otherwise known as Benjamin Netanyahu. He is clearly more comfortable and expressive in English than he is in Hebrew. Is it his command of the language, or simply the fact that in Israel people know his weaknesses and “shticks”, while abroad they tend to be mesmerized by his metaphors?
    Hillel