The Academy of the Hebrew Language is the world’s premiere institution for the Hebrew language, and in Israel, its decisions are binding on all governmental agencies. Here, as one would expect, new Hebrew words and terms are created, and standards are set for grammar, orthography, transliteration and punctuation. Its flagship endeavor, however, is its work in preserving the Hebrew language and its development through the Historical Dictionary Project.
Although the Academy has the reputation of being Israel’s “language police”, it does not police spontaneous speech. The institution considers its decisions binding only for written texts and formal speeches. Similarly, from the very name of the institution, a foreign word that has drawn criticism, it is clear that the main purpose of the Academy is not to stamp out all non-Hebrew influences.
As defined in its constitution, the Academy’s functions are to investigate and compile the Hebrew lexicon according to its historical strata and layers, to study the structure, history, and offshoots of the Hebrew language and to direct the development of Hebrew in light of its nature, requirements, and potential and its daily and academic needs.
See how it all began: