When I learned that Modern Hebrew was born out of a language revival movement in the 19th century, I was interested in the parallel to a similar 19th-century movement to revive a pre-Islamic form of Persian, which is my native language.
One of the biggest challenges for the average Israeli student is the requirement to read extensively in English. Because of this, students are willing to pay a fair amount of money for a good dictionary. To help students starting out in the new academic year, we examined the dictionary market, which can be divided into two categories - familiar old printed dictionaries and the modern electronic dictionaries.
Traditional print dictionaries remain more popular than electronic ones, yet early in the semester, there is always a big rise in sales of electronic dictionaries - because they are easier and faster to use, says Tali Rubin, deputy general manager of Academon.
Eitan Zinger, the general manager of Dionon, another university bookstore, says students today are looking for a dictionary that meets all their various needs and includes professional terminology, which is why the most popularly sold dictionaries are not necessarily the cheapest.
Zinger notes that university rules about which dictionaries are allowed during exams, for example, also play a role in the choice of dictionary.
Writing a dictionary is a complex process involving many considerations and constraints - often purely technical - says Professor Yael Ziv, a lecturer in English linguistics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
This explains why it is well nigh impossible to find a dictionary that is above criticism. The attempt to address the needs of the average consumer - when most dictionary users need specific terminology - is the bane of all lexicographers.
Another problem, notes Ziv, is the breaking up of the language into factors, which are not always possible to put back together and make it as logical as the original. Lacking context, she says, mistakes and misunderstandings occur, and this is exactly where a good dictionary can help.
Ziv recommends examining if the dictionary contains explanations and examples, and does not make do with only laconic, succinct definitions.
Ziv also recommends that the dictionary contain explanations in the source language, that is an English-English dictionary, or at least an English-English-Hebrew dictionary, explaining that this minimizes the chance that the definition will inadvertently take the user to a different associative area.
In practice, says Carol Wexler, who is in charge of advanced English courses at Tel Aviv university, most students have trouble using an English-English dictionary and in most cases clearly prefer using an English-English-Hebrew or English-Hebrew dictionary.
She believes, however, that all students should have an English-English dictionary at their disposal, even if it is not used on a day to day basis.
In this context, says Wexler, there are practical solutions based on the computer and Internet, such as the Webster or Babylon programs, which can complement the regular use of a standard dictionary. We examined the various dictionaries the market offers students as well as how much each costs.
Students are often eligible for regular discounts on this prices, especially in the university and college bookstores - Michlol, whose largest branch is located in the Technion in Haifa; Academon located in Haifa University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and all its extensions; Dionon in Ben-Gurion, Bar Ilan and Tel Aviv universities, the College of Management in Rishon Letzion, and more.
The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, published by Kernerman-Kahn contains 40, entries and, according to figures provided by Academon, is very popular. Wexler agrees it is a very good dictionary, although not quite comprehensive enough.
Some important words are missing and sometimes only some of the possible definitions of words are given. The English-Hebrew, Hebrew-English pocket dictionary published by Shimon Zilberman is a relatively inexpensive dictionary and according to Wexler, its English-Hebrew side is very good.
It has an especially large number of entries the exact number is not statedin three volumes. Wexler says that Alcalay is the most comprehensive English-Hebrew, Hebrew-English dictionary available, but that it is old and not always up to date, consequently lacking words that entered the language in recent years.
A new dictionary, a Dictionary of Business, Judicial and Economic terms, published by Prolog is a professional English-Hebrew, Hebrew-English dictionary containing over 50, entries, idioms, Latin expressions and specific professional definitions.
Where electronic dictionaries are concerned, alongside the older models one can also find newer improved versions with multiple functions at a higher price.
Edward Levenston, a professor of English linguistics who took part in the development of the electronic dictionary "Milonit" Compu-Dictmanufactured by the Israeli company Votronics, says that while an ordinary dictionary aspires to perfection, an electronic dictionary views efficiency of use as its principal goal.
Among the reasons for the popularity of the new dictionaries among students, Wexler notes that they do not need to remember the order of letters in the English alphabet in order to look up words in an electronic dictionary.
The most inexpensive and compact electronic dictionary available is "Tirgumit" by Top Technologies, a dual language pocket dictionary containing about 80, entries as well as a personal organizer and a memory of 32KB. Tirgumit is small and easy to carry in one's pocket and is quite reasonably priced.
It contains 80, entries and also serves as a personal organizer and phrase book.
The "Franklin" dictionary is the only electronic dictionary that is an English-English-Hebrew dictionary. It is based on the database of the Oxford dictionary, contains 50, entries, gives examples of how words are used in sentences and provides for extensions with Webster cards French-English, English-French; Spanish-English, English-Spanish.
Two somewhat more sophisticated and more expensive dictionaries are "Compact" and "Compact Millennium.The Kaddish or Qaddish (Aramaic: קדיש , qaddiš "holy"; alternative spelling: Ḳaddish) is a hymn of praises to God found in Jewish prayer services.
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At a young age, Kishon became an international icon who made Aliyah . M y appeal at the end of my column of two weeks ago for information on the expression “may his [or “her”] n’shamah [soul] have an aliyah” has met with a generous response. A large number of you have written to tell me what you know about this “bizarre” usage (as I called it), thus making it possible to construct a better profile of it.
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