World class…

The Year 5’s learned about Eliezer Ben Yehuda, sometimes referred to as the father of modern Hebrew, who was instrumental in the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language in the late 19th century.

The students were eager to learn more and asked many questions.  So we decided to contact the Academy of Hebrew Language in Jerusalem to try and obtain some answers.  Students wrote their questions in the discussion page of the class wiki.

Each child received their own personal answer. For instance, Toby asked how new Hebrew words are invented. Tamar from the Academy replied…

יש כמה דרכים לחדש מילים בעברית. אחת הדרכים החשובות היא לקחת שורש מהתנ”ך או מהמשנָה וליצור ממנו מילה חדשה

לדוגמא, אליעזר בן יהודה לקח את השורש ס.ע.ד  ,שמוכר מהמילה סעודה וחידש את המילה מסעדה

There are a number of ways to create new words in Hebrew. One of the ways is to take the ‘root’ from the bible or the mishna and create a new word from it. For instance, Eliezer Ben Yehuda took the root letters of the word ‘meal’ or ‘feast’, which is  ‘se’uda’ and created the word ‘misada’ meaning restaurant.

Alon Asked about other ways that words are invented. Tamar’s response…

לפעמים לוקחים מילה בעברית ומוסיפים לה סיומת כדי ליצור מילה חדשה

. למשל: מהמילה שָׁעָה והסיומת -וֹן נוצרה המילה שָׁעוֹן. גם המילה עִתּוֹן נוצרה כך

יש גם מילים שנכנסות לעברית משפות אחרות, כמו טלוויזיה או בננה, למילים כאלה אין שורש עברי

Sometimes existing Hebrew words are used, with an additional suffix to create new words, such as sha’a (hour) with the suffix -on- becomes sha’on , a clock. There are many words which enter the Hebrew language from other languages, such as ‘banana’, which has no Hebrew root!


The possibilities for genuine inquiry are so much greater, when we flatten the walls of the classroom and bring in the outside world! Share some of your own examples!

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