Showing posts with label English. Show all posts
Showing posts with label English. Show all posts

Saturday, August 14, 2010

English Books in Israeli Book Stores: A Pleasant Surprise

A typical English book section at Steimatzky. Independent shops and chain store shops normally carry about 1,000 titles / © 2010

If you like to read fiction in the original English, in Tel Aviv you are in luck. But also in Hertzelia, Jerusalem, Givatay'im and Ra'anana. Israelis like to read, and the ones that know English well like to read the original in English. That makes for a great selection of fiction in many stores. Most big stores in malls have at least one stack and usually two devoted to English books. Most of the books are fiction with sections devoted to science fiction and usually another category. There is usually one shelf of business books with current best sellers like Malcolm Gladwell [Outliers , The Tipping Point , and Blink].

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Israel's Hebrew Legacy: English a Barrier ?

Israeli schools are great at teaching English to an acceptable business level. But only a few Israelis end up with world class English writing and editing skills. Hebrew, a language that was resurrected in Israel in the 1880's by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and others is thriving. Being the main language in Israel for three generations, its been the mission of Israelis to be a language of everything. But this phenomenal success comes at a cost. Israel's economy and business simply needs more English writers, speakers and editors (for that matter many other languages.) The problem seem most acute in the technology and tourism sectors. English is not just a bridging language between Israeli technologists and the world, it is used extensively to document and plan. Essentially working in English is helpful in preparing a company to market internationally. Writing in English all along the product development and marketing process enable Israeli technologists get to international market quicker.

A bit of history of the modern Hebrew language. Hebrew is essentially a modern language with ancient roots. As a language of religious study, it has been used by Jews for two thousand years. But religious study did not mean daily use. Therefore Hebrew was neglected for over 1,000 maybe even 2,000 years (that debate is related to the use of Hebrew in pre-inquisition Spain where Judaism had a golden age from 711 to 1492 CE.) When the Zionists first arrived in Israel (then Palestine ruled by the Ottoman Empire) the use of Hebrew in daily life took on a renewed interest. Clearly there was a need for the language although at times Yiddish was assumed to be the best alternative. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda was not the only European Jew who had in mind reviving the language. But he is remembered today as the one to invent new words and clearly passionate enough to make Hebrew a modern usable language. Literature and poetry in Hebrew started coming from Europe at about the same time. But these were based on the knowledge of religious Hebrew used in Torah and Mishna studies in the Yeshivas.

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