revival of the
Devora Ben-Yehuda(neé Jonas) (m. 1881; her death 1891) Hemda Ben-Yehuda (neé Jonas) (m. 1891; his death 1922);
CHILDREN Ben-Zion Ben-Yehuda
ELIEZER BEN‑YEHUDA (Hebrew : אליעזר בן־יהודה;
pronounced ; born ELIEZER YITZHAK PERLMAN; 7 January 1858 – 16
December 1922) was a Jewish Litvak lexicographer of Hebrew and
newspaper editor. He was the driving spirit behind the revival of the
* 1 Biography * 2 Journalistic career * 3 Lexicography * 4 Death and commemoration * 5 See also * 6 Notes * 7 References * 8 External links
Ben-Yehuda and wife Hemda, 1912
Upon graduation he went to
In 1881 Ben-Yehuda immigrated to Palestine, then ruled by the Ottoman
Empire , and settled in
To accomplish the task, Ben-Yehuda insisted with the Committee of the Hebrew Language that, to quote the Committee records, "In order to supplement the deficiencies of the Hebrew language, the Committee coins words according to the rules of grammar and linguistic analogy from Semitic roots: Aramaic and especially from Arabic roots" (Joshua Blau, page 33).
Ben Yehuda was married twice, to two sisters. His first wife, Devora (née Jonas), died in 1891 of tuberculosis , leaving him with five small children. Her final wish was that Eliezer marry her younger sister, Paula Beila. Soon after his wife Devora's death, three of his children died of diphtheria within a period of 10 days. Six months later, he married Paula, who took the Hebrew name "Hemda." Hemda Ben-Yehuda became an accomplished journalist and author in her own right, ensuring the completion of the Hebrew dictionary in the decades after Eliezer's death, as well as mobilising fundraising and coordinating committees of scholars in both Palestine and abroad.
Ben‑Yehuda raised his son, Ben-Zion Ben-Yehuda (the first name meaning "son of Zion"), entirely through Hebrew. He refused to let his son be exposed to other languages during childhood. He even once yelled at his wife, after he caught her singing a Russian lullaby to the child. His son Ben-Zion was the first native speaker of modern Hebrew as mother tongue.
Ben-Yehuda was the editor of several Hebrew-language newspapers: " HaZvi ," " Hashkafa " and "HaOr." "HaZvi" was closed down for a year in the wake of opposition from Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox community, which fiercely objected to the use of Hebrew, their holy tongue, for everyday conversation.
Ben-Yehuda was a major figure in the establishment of the Committee of the Hebrew Language (Va'ad HaLashon), later the Academy of the Hebrew Language , an organization that still exists today. He was the author of the first modern Hebrew dictionary and became known as the "reviver" of the Hebrew language, despite opposition to some of the words he coined. Many of these words have become part of the language but others — some 2,000 words — never caught on. His word for "tomato," for instance, was bandura, but Hebrew speakers today use the word agvania.
Ancient languages and modern Standard Arabic were major sources for
Ben-Yehuda and the Committee. According to Joshua Blau, quoting the
criteria insisted on by Ben-Yehuda: "In order to supplement the
deficiencies of the Hebrew language, the Committee coins words
according to the rules of grammar and linguistic analogy from Semitic
roots: Aramaic, Canaanite, Egyptian ones and especially from Arabic
roots." Concerning Arabic, Ben-Yehuda maintained, inaccurately
according to Blau and historical evidence, that Arabic roots are
"ours": "the roots of Arabic were once a part of the
DEATH AND COMMEMORATION
Ben-Yehuda home on Ethiopia St.,
In December 1922, Ben Yehuda, 64, died of tuberculosis , from which he suffered most of his life. He was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. His funeral was attended by 30,000 people.
Ben Yehuda built a house for his family in the
of Jerusalem, but died three months before it was completed. His wife
Hemda lived there for close to thirty years. Ten years after her
death, her son Ehud transferred the title of the house to the
* Eliezer Ben Yehuda\'s residence
* ^ "Young Ben-Yehuda". huji.ac.il.
* ^ A B C D Naor, Mordechai. "Flesh-and-Blood Prophet".