Multi Gender in Modern Hebrew

2 min read
Yonatan Engler
Yonatan Engler

Globally, the gender identity spectrum has grown wider and more complex in recent years. Non-binary individuals can express themselves more easily in some languages by using a neutral grammatical gender. In Hebrew, however, this is a bit more complicated…

Hebrew is a gender oriented language, meaning that almost every word (nouns, verbs, adjectives – you name it) has one of two grammatical genders: male or female. Even inanimate objects have a gender! When talking to a person, you have to decide whether you address them in the masculine or in feminine form – there is no in between.

So how have Hebrew speakers adapted the language in order for it to fit a wider range of gender identities? Here are a few inventive ways Israelis have created to accommodate a wider gender identity spectrum:

Mixing it up

Instead of using only one grammatical gender, Israelis have started using both masculine and feminine words interchangeably when referring to a person who identifies as non-binary. This may sound a bit weird at first, but it is a sure way to create a more neutral sense of gender within the boundaries of the language.

הזמרת והשחקן דמי לובאטו | The singer (f.) and actor (m.) Demi Lovato

 

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Inclusivity

When talking about a group of people, instead of using the masculine plural as a default, Israelis now often use both masculine and feminine words to include everyone. Though it makes sentences longer, it’s worth it to be more inclusive.

אני אוהב את הסטודנטים והסטודנטיות שלי | I love my students (m.) and students (f.)

The Non-binary dot

This is a practical solution in written Hebrew, that Israelis began using to always include both the masculine and feminine word endings in one word. The “non-binary dot” combines both genders into one word, instead repeating each word twice for both males and females.

אנשים + נשים = א.נשים | People (m. and f.)

Multi-Gender Hebrew letters

Graphic designer Michal Shomer created combinations of different Hebrew letters and developed a new type that allows a single word to be read as both masculine and feminine at the same time. A font and a new keyboard can be downloaded for free from Multi-Gender Hebrew’s website to your computer, so you can write using the new Multi-Gender letters. This initiative gives an idea of how creative Hebrew speakers adapt the language to current times.

All wo.men are equal | כל הא.נשים שווים.ות

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