Blog - Latest News

Q&A: What is a classic expression in Hebrew that (unfortunately, in your view) is not used anymore?

I was thinking of this some months ago, when a translation client of mine complained to me that she was not allowed by her publisher to use an excerpt from her own book for an article she is writing.

In modern Hebrew, there is no real equivalent for the expression ‘from her own book’ in this context, so one would have to say something like, מהספר שלה עצמה (mehasefer shelah atzmah—lit. ‘from her book herself’)—but in biblical Hebrew, she might have used the word mo (מוֹ).

In modern Hebrew, that word is used exclusively in conjunction with ‘ears’, ‘eyes’, and ‘hands’ in the expression במו עיניי/אוזניי/ידיי  (bemo einai/oznai/yadai—‘with my own eyes/ears/hands’)—but in biblical Hebrew, it was also used in relation with one’s mouth—e.g.:

במופי אתחנן לו (bemo phi etḥanen lo’ = ‘I beg him with my own mouth’ (Job 19:16)

Conceivably, then, one might have been able to say, mimo sifrah (‘from her own book’). How much more elegant that would be than mehasefer shelah atzmah.