Showing posts with label Hebrew. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hebrew. Show all posts

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hebrew Book Fair: Once Again Crowded & Alive

Hebrew book week banner, 2015
Heading from the book organization sponsoring the events (June 2015)
A few years back I wrote about the Hebrew Book Fair. At first all the foreign language books translated into Hebrew seemed like a drawback. English speakers usually don't seem to think of books from other cultures. If it's not translated, it's probably not worth a read (I was told this by a humanities student back in college - Philadelphia PA 1970s). But this is not the case in Israel. One sign of vitality is both translation and innovation. In the translation area I am happy to see tremendous growth. In genres like mystery, science fiction and health (especially food & diet) there are many new translations. The delay between a publication in English (or French, Spanish or Japanese) and Hebrew is between one to two years. This phenomena is refereed to the "two year gap" between what is popular in Israel and the rest of the world.

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.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Learning Hebrew, the Internet for Words and Phrases

Most people here will tell you that Hebrew is easy to learn. That's somewhat true, Hebrew is an old language in origin, but a modern language in structure (Eliezer Ben-Yehuda revived the language in the 1880's). Israel tries it's best to teach new comers the language. Ulpans have been a part of the government's effort to get people speaking Hebrew quickly. They are intensive schools which teach Hebrew in a short time usually weeks or months. English is a usable in Tel Aviv and you can almost get away with it. But without Hebrew you miss many things that are going on. Also, people are much more open when it comes to 'talk-on-the-street' conversations. It is simply easier to get the real feel of Tel Aviv, the city, with Hebrew.

Once you get an introduction to Hebrew the next step is expanding your vocabulary. This takes time and effort. Luckily there are lots of resources out there. I just came across a blog of Hebrew words by a phrase book company (International Phrasebook). Using phrase books while visiting a new place is a great way to get started.
Jacob Richman's list of learning Hebrew is a good list to have: Good luck with Hebrew, and have fun learning new words ~ if you make if fun it will be less of a hurdle!


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hebrew Book Fair - Country Wide

Well, this is an English blog about Tel Aviv, which may lead you to believe that Hebrew does not really matter. Well, it does. Actually, Hebrew matters quite a bit in Tel Aviv and even more in the rest of Israel. But let's get back to the event at hand, the Hebrew Book Fair (actually Hebrew Book Week, or month, depends who you ask). If you wonder into the main squares in the big cities in Israel: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheva... and even the smaller cities: Ramat Gan, Modiin, Petach Tikva... you will see tons of books. For a country as small as Israel, there are so many books, both written in original Hebrew and translated from just about every language to Hebrew, than you can imagine. Tel Aviv probably has the largest book fair, in Kikar Rabin (city hall plaza at Iben Gvirol). But the Ramat Gan version was also a nice browse. The Hebrew book week is not just fairs in the cities and a sales frenzy, it is also book readings, radio and television programs, school programs, and a bunch of other interesting events. The Hebrew book week was started in Israel in 1926 when a few book publishers decided to put out their latest creations on a Tel Aviv street to encourage Hebrew book sales. Apparently until the 1940's there were not enough Hebrew readers.

Some excitement and some boredom... books for all tastes and types
Zoom forward 82 years and Hebrew readers seem to be doing just fine, no need for stimulation what so ever. On a warm Thursday evening a few hundred children, adults, and a few dogs converged on the book fair in Tel Aviv. There seem to be about 20 to 30 publishers, from small ones with one book (a few poets and self published writers) to the big ones with hundreds of new titles this year. Apparently there was a good representation of the 5,000 new titles published here every year, for me that was hard to judge. Most of the sellers were offering great "deals" from buy 1, 2, 3... and get one free, to simple 20% to 50% off the regular price. For an English reader this would not be an interesting event. I could not find anything interesting and the only English books seem to be the easy reader versions of the classics for school children (teaching aids). But there were lots of books for any reader, from the easy one (mostly for children) to the esoteric biblical studies.
Live Spanish music at the Nescafe booth
There was a nice Nescafe (from Nestle) booth with live music and coffee samples, you could also buy a good cup of coffee for 10 to 20 shekels. Sit at a comfortable chair and listen to music or just read your new book. The area has plenty of restaurants so food was not part of the fair. Due to the overlap with the food fair in the Ha'Yarkon park, this time they choose this location. I guess it is easier to get there, but there is not real parking to speak of in the center of the city in the evenings (parking on most streets is reserved to residents and Tel Aviv tickets and tows cars ruthlessly). But having a nice place to drink a cup of coffee or sit and have dinner before or after the fair is a nice change. So even if you are not a big Hebrew reader, go visit the book fair at Kikar Rabin. Read More...