Page 9 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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JACOB KABAKOFF
Introduction
t h e
p a s t
y e a r
w a s
p r o c l a im e d
in Israel “The Year of the He­
brew Language” in honor of the centennial of the establishment
of the
Va’ad Halashon
(Hebrew Language Committee). This
body, which was active from 1899 on, was renamed in 1953
the Academy of the Hebrew Language and its role was en­
hanced in the new Jewish State as a quasi-governmental agency.
Among the early presidents were Eliezer Ben Yehuda, David
Yellin, Joseph Klausner and Naphtali Tur-Sinai.
The commemorative year was ushered in at a special session
of the Knesset. The speakers not only extolled the efforts of
the founding members to foster modern Hebrew but touched
also on some of the problems of the developing language, par­
ticularly the danger of the inroads of Anglicization.
Among the ongoing tasks of the Academy of the Hebrew
Language are those of serving as an arbiter in all matters of
usage and of creating new terms as needed. It publishes the
quarterly
Leshonenu
(Our Language), as well as the more pop­
ular bi-monthly
Leshonenu La’am
(Our Language For the Peo­
ple). Throughout the commemorative year, the Academy issued
a series of weekly brochures on various aspects of Hebrew in
order to focus attention on its anniversary.
A major activity has been the work in preparing the materials
for a Hebrew dictionary based on historical principles, which
is to be similar in scope to the Oxford English Dictionary. To­
wards this goal, extensive use have made of computer methods
in order to collect the raw data.
As a spinoff of the interest engendered by the “Year of He­
brew,” a new popular bi-monthly magazine entitled
Lashon ve-
Ivrit
(Language and Hebrew) was launched in January 1990.
The magazine, which is edited by Reuven Mirkin with the help
of an advisory board of linguists and authors, deals with various
aspects of general language study as well as with specific Hebrew
language developments.