Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav

How does your language deal with English loanwords?

2 Comments

(My answer to this question at Quora.com)

Hebrew typically deals with English words in one of three ways:

  1. Adopting them whole and leaving them as is (e.g. overdraft, check-in, hard disk, trade-in)
  2. Modifying them to suit Hebrew pronunciation (e.g. zozeg [exhaust pipe]; breks [brakes]; pantcher [puncture/flat tyre]; pendel [penalty kick]); beck-ex (rear axle); and (my favourite) front beck-ex (front axle)
  3. Fully naturalising by making them into Hebrew verbs and/or nouns—e.g. irgun léargen/ (organisation/to organise); lefaksess (to fax); letalphen (to phone); ledaskess (to discuss); lesamess (to send by SMS/text); sedlesab (to subsidise); lehavrish (to brush), and mefurfatch (far-fetched).

Virtually all of these (with the exception of the last, which is a little-used invention of my grandfather’s), are organic adoptions or adaptations by the public. Those of the third group have been, or are in the process of being, reluctantly admitted by the Academy of the Hebrew Language into the official lexicon.

 

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Author: יונתן אור-סתיו | Jonathan Orr-Stav

Hebrew-English translator, editor, author. מתרגם עברית–אנגלית, עורך באנגלית, וסופר.

2 thoughts on “How does your language deal with English loanwords?

  1. Do excuse me if I ‘mag-zeem'(exaggerate) in comment-volume here; been a long time since I came upon a nutritional site such as yours, (lam-rot sh-c’nereh atah c’var mats’ata et ha ma’ shiach) ha.
    Anyway, I’ve railed against atrocities like ‘breksim’ until most of my friends avoid me. For some reason, the abject ‘illiteracy’ of stealing and mangling an English word for which we have a perfectly good replacement disgusts, amazes, and appalls me. I’ve fumed about it in several posts over the years here, to not over-much avail. I almost feel kinship with the French on this issue; with their ‘purity-guardian’ efforts.
    I’ll not detail my complete list of ‘offenders’ here, only mention ‘Nylon’, about which usage perhaps a thousand Israelis have suffered through my surprisingly (to them) hate-filled declaration: ‘Nylon is a wholly-owner trademark of the Dupont concern, as has as little connection to the polyethylene sheeting you litter the landscape with as ‘Frigidaire’ has to the generic term ‘refrigerator’ (m’ka’rer’)!!
    And as I said, tons of fun reading and commenting here; just hoping its mutual.

    Like

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