Corpus planning and codification in the Hebrew Revival
The study of the unprecedented revival of Hebrew in (pre-Israel) Palestine (approx. 1890–1914) has focused on the status of the language, because the revival has been rightly viewed as resulting from status planning. However, corpus planning, or codification, also served as a critical component of the Revival. Though Hebrew had been used for almost two millennia in written form, mainly as a language of religion, codification was needed in several areas — selection and harmonization of pronunciation, unification of spelling, etc. Still, the greatest task was adapting the language lexically to the modern world. Codification went on in Hebrew, in fact, for over a millennium by generations of writers and translators of various types of texts, culminating in the formation of a modern literature, probably the most instrumental factor enabling the Revival. Lexicalization in the Revival itself was partly done by the Hebrew Language Committee, but mostly by individuals. Ben-Yehuda drew words from old texts and created his own as a scholarly activity and to meet his lexical needs as a newspaper publisher and the first Hebrew dictionary compiler. Others included the writer and journalist Ben-Avi and the national poet Bialik, who drew words from earlier texts or created their own only when they needed them. Other individuals coined countless words to meet their communication needs — writers, journalists, educators, translators, publishers, editors, and language-conscious political leaders. Apart from drawing words from old texts with their original or new meanings, methods included: coining new words from old roots; using old, dormant words as different parts of speech; reducing expressions into single words; borrowing; loan translation; popular etymology; adding prefixes, suffixes or infixes to existing words; and merging pairs of words into single ones.