The Israeli Defense Forces Personnel Directorate has recently come to the unfortunate conclusion that the majority of Israeli soldiers speak poor-quality Hebrew and that the use of proper language is deteriorating – fast.
The level of spoken, read and understood Hebrew is tested as prospective recruits first arrive at the recruiting center. It is measured on a special denotation scale of 2 to 9.
Israeli-born recruits usually score between 7 and 9 on the test, while immigrants' scores range from 2 to 6. However, according to Personnel Directorate data, the past decade has seen a dramatic decline in test scores among Israeli born recruits, and nowadays, the majority score a 7.
According to a Thursday report in Yedioth Ahronoth, Head of the IDF Personnel Directorate Major-General Avi Zamir decided to fight the phenomenon by launching a language-improvement program.
Zamir has asked top linguist Dr. Avshalom Kor to head a special team on the matter. Kor will be tasked with training officers in the ways of correct Hebrew grammar – so they, in turn, may teach their subordinates, he will review all of the General Staff Orders to ensure correct Hebrew is used and will re-edit the IDF's dictionary.
Zamir and Kor will also take all senior IDF officers to visit the Academy of the Hebrew Language.
"There is a direct correlation between respecting the Hebrew language in day-to-day life and the kind of values we wish to instill in our soldiers," said Zamir.
The idea, added Dr. Kor, is to make the soldiers take pride in the Hebrew language: "We cannot do what has not been done in 12 years of school, but awareness is important," he said.
In any case, the common military slang in expected to remain intact: "Slang is part of a language's grace – it is not the enemy," said Kor. "What we'll strive to maintain in the officers' accuracy, the extent of their vocabulary and their eloquence."