Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The failure of Ben Yehudah's dream: I've got a shotgun/and you don't got one

by Conservative Apikoris

You'd think that after almost 100 years of Eliezer Ben Yehudah's dream of a modern Hebrew language, and 60 years of a Jewish Sate in which Hebrew is supposed to be the native language, they would have actually developed a modern Hebrew language. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

I wanted to find the hebrew word for "shotgun," for which I want to do a gematria. A quick reference to http://www.milon.co.il/ gave me the answer: "Roveh Tziyad." But all that means is "hunting weapon." Up in the hills and hollows of Live Frei or Die Land, the local Yanknecks sure have a lot of hunting weapons, and even a nice Jewish boy like me who gets queasy at the sight of blood knows that you can't take down a moose or deer, let alone an angry bear, with a shotgun. So a "roveh tziyad" could just as easily be a high powered rifle in our neck of the woods, or even (and I'm thinking about this survivalist I know who lives up in the bush) a Gallili assault rifle.

Fortunately milon.co.il provides a link to the Hebrew Wikipedia page for "רובה ציד."

And here's what they say (money quote in a rough translation):

"Roveh Tziyad," or the be more precise, "shotgun," (free translation, "roveh kaduriot" -- "gun of little balls/pellets.") is a gun with an ammunition different from that of regular guns. ["Why is this gun different from all other guns? :) ] There is no term in Hebrew for the foreign term "shotgun." Generally, the term "hunting gun" us used in Hebrew when one wants to refer to a "shotgun" because many hunting guns are, indeed, "shotguns."
Yeah, and many cars are "motor vehicles," but it is useful to have terms that can differentiate between a Volkswagen Rabbit and a class 8 semi-truck, and, indeed, Hebrew does have such terms.

So why has the Hebrew Language Academy been asleep at the switch on this one? Roveh Tziyad is a totally imprecise word for this object, and thus, Real Jews have to use a foreign term, written in a foreign alphabet, at that, if they want to refer to this useful object. What's wrong with the term "roveh kaduriot?"

I say that Ben Yehudah's dream has failed. And I have a problem, as I can't decide whether I should do my gematria on "roveh tziyad," or "roveh kaduriot," or the word "shotgun" transliterated into Hebrew letters.

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