Hebrew word of the week: PatsHan = Hacker
The advent of the computer has contributed many new words to modern languages, or new meanings to old words. In Hebrew: maHshev “computer”; dafdefan “browser” (from daf “page,” difdef “turn pages, flip through”); metakhnet “programmer”; do’al (or do’ar eleqTroni) for “email;” qovets “(computer) file”; ogdan “folder.”
In addition to these useful terms, the computer has also “fathered” some criminal or semi-criminal professions, such as hackers. Hebrew tries to distinguish between the patsHan “hacker, an enthusiastic computer user or programmer (who just hacks for fun)” (from p-ts-H “to crack, decode; burst,”* and partsan “hacker, one who uses unauthorized access to data” (from p-r-ts “to break in; porets “burglar”).**
*Compare: maftseaH egozim “nutcracker”; patsaH be-shir “burst into song.”
**Other languages, such as Spanish, use the English word hacker; so do many Israelis: haqer; plural haqerim.
Yona Sabar is a professor of Hebrew and Aramaic in the department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures at UCLA.