by Contributing Author
Lingualift reported that there are about 9 million Hebrew language speakers worldwide. The modern-day Hebrew language is different from the time of Moses.
Today, we will discuss the Hebrew language, its origins, and how it has evolved with the times. We will examine how the Hebrew translation services have made it possible to adapt in this digital age.
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Brief Overview of the Hebrew Language
Before discussing how the Hebrew language has survived for centuries and remains relevant today, we first have to consider its origins.
The Hebrew language belongs to the Semitic language family, a group of languages from North Africa and Southwest Asia. Based on the biblical records, Moses came from the Levi tribe, of the ethnic group called “Habiru,” which was what their group was called, as they made a living through being hired for various activities and services. It’s believed this is where the word Hebrew originated.
The Hebrew language’s history is divided into four main periods: (1) Biblical or Classical period, (2) Mishnaic or Rabbinic period, (3) Medieval period, and (4) Modern Hebrew. During these periods, the language transformed and adopted words from other languages. The Hebrew language has seen a decline in usage since the 9th century. However, it saw a resurgence during the 19th to 20th century leading to the Modern Hebrew that we use today.
The Hebrew language’s revival and development are attributed to Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, a lexicographer who created hundreds of new words based on the biblical Hebrew language. He later published a dictionary on this, which is why he’s considered the father of Modern Hebrew.
He believed that the Jewish people should have their own language if they were to have their land. Due to his contributions, the Hebrew language is the official language of Israel and the language Jews located around the world use as a means to communicate with each other.
How is the Hebrew Language Coping Amidst Israel’s Tech Boom
Right now, Israel is experiencing a tech boom. The Hebrew translation sector has facilitated the tech industry by integrating the Hebrew language into the software user interface. It’s not just translating English to Hebrew and vice versa to enhance the user experience of websites and apps.
Many people don’t know this, but no universal sign language exists. According to the UN, there are over 300 sign languages worldwide. About 5% of the world’s population is deaf and mute, which is estimated to be 395 million people that experience this disability.
Hebrew sign language is one of them. But due to how limited content there is that’s in the Hebrew language, especially for its sign language, that’s a problem for deaf and mute Jews. Recently, an Israeli-based sign language translator app was launched, which would make various types of sign languages easier to understand for non-sign language users as it connects deaf-mute individuals with sign language interpreters.
For example, suppose you’re a Hebrew sign language user but want to communicate with a Japanese user. In that case, this video call app can connect you with interpreters who can facilitate your conversation. This app has allowed Ukrainians in Israel to contact their families and help their relatives arrange a flight from Ukraine to Israel or some other country.
Another notable example wherein the Hebrew language has effectively been integrated, and drastically innovating society would be the StopNCII software. It recently launched its technology in the Hebrew language. This technology will allow victims to take action by having around “90%” of their non-consensual intimate images removed from the internet.
Israel launched a ban on the distribution of “revenge porn” in 2014, making it the first country in the world to pass such a law. Under this law, those who share such content will be considered sex offenders and receive around five years of imprisonment.
This new technology would help to strengthen Israel’s crime division in identifying perpetrators and removing explicit images immediately. Having it in Hebrew will make it more accessible to the public and help empower victims to take action against their abusers.
From the examples presented above, impressive technology is useless if it is not understood or properly utilized by its intended users. Israel’s technology reaches more users in their native language through the Hebrew translation sector while keeping the Hebrew language alive online.
Hebrew Translation Sector’s Contribution to Digitized Hebrew Content
However, the W3techs stated that the Hebrew language is said only to make 0.4% of the world’s online content even though there are over 9 million Hebrew speakers. This is where the role of Hebrew translation services steps in because in this new global market, the professional Hebrew translator will be there to solve communication issues brought by how interconnected we are online.
Many eCommerce businesses have how profitable it is in marketing and creating online content in the native language of your target audience. It’s forecasted that the Global translation sector will see a 20% increase in the coming years, which includes the Hebrew translation sector.
For now, English dominates the international web content by around 61.3%. But it’s possible that there will be more published online content in the Hebrew language in the coming years.
How a Hebrew-centric Tech Industry Can Increase the Number of Skill Workers
The OECD reported that it had the lowest government investment in the world in its tech industry despite having a lot of potentials. Outstandingly, about 54% of Israel’s exports are made of high-tech products and exports. About 19% of Israelis from the age demographic of 30 to 34 years old work in the tech industry, while those aged 45 to 49 saw an increase of 12% in employment in the industry.
Due to this, we would likely see an increase in foreign and national investment in Israel’s tech sector in the coming years. However, there has been a labor shortage of tech specialists and researchers.
One possible reason there is a lack of tech specialists in Israel is due to language barriers in the education and training of science and technology, as frequently, the medium of communication is in the English language instead of their native language.
There have been several studies on this. One of them was featured in an article published by the World Bank. It saw how essential teaching students’ native language was to developing their core foundational skills, like science and math. Their research showed how English as a medium of instruction negatively affected the students’ development.
Israel is considered to have the highest college rankings in the world. But with how traditionally Science and Technology subjects are being taught in English, maybe universities and training facilities should reconsider translating educational content into Hebrew. It will make it easier for students to comprehend complex ideas that would give them an edge in the global market.
What’s impressive about the Hebrew language is that even though it existed around 1500 BCE, it was able to adapt through various geo-political and social changes. So despite English being considered “the language of technology and the internet,” the Hebrew language remains significant to its native language speakers.
The challenge now is how Israel should go about preserving the Hebrew language for future generations, especially in the tech industry. Should they implement policies that would ensure linguistic purity just like France, or should they accept terminologies as is? Whatever the decision may be, just like with the new technology developed from Israel’s tech boom, the innovations today will lay the foundation for tomorrow.