Multi Gender in Modern Hebrew

Blog | 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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A post shared by Demi Lovato (@ddlovato)

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 font

Graphic designer Michal Shomer created combinations of different Hebrew letters and designed a new font that allows a single word to be read as both masculine and feminine at the same time. The font can’t actually replace everyday writing, but it 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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