Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda honoured by Google

The Jan. 7 Google doodle on Google Israel’s home page honoured Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the Jewish journalist and lexicographer who is known as the father of modern Hebrew.

In the 19th century and before, Hebrew was not a living language – no one spoke it or wrote in it as their everyday language. It was mainly used in the study of Torah and in prayers, and most European Jews spoke Yiddish as their mother tongue.   

In his effort to modernize the language, Ben-Yehuda spent many years composing Hebrew dictionaries and inventing words. Most of them caught on and are used today, although some are not, such as the word for tomato, which today is agvania, not Ben-Yehuda’s bandura.

There was even a song written about the great man, titled Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, by artist Chava Albertstein. An English translation of it can be found here

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