The punctuation signs used in Modern Hebrew are the same as those used in European languages; however, Hebrew writers traditionally use them differently and have been heavily influenced by the German and Russian usage on the one hand, and English and French, on the other.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Language Committee set rules whose tendencies followed the systems used in central and eastern Europe.
In the resulting years there has been much dissatisfaction amongst authors, and especially in what is perceived as over-punctuation. Because of the compact structure of the Hebrew sentence, a situation was created in which there was a disproportionate number of punctuation signs to words.
In order to correct this, the Academy established a committee to compose new punctuation rules, which were discussed in 1991-1992. The new rules were ratified by the Academy in December 1992 and published in 1993.
The goal of the rules is to move Hebrew punctuation towards that of English and especially to allow the writer in many situations to decide himself on the punctuation. This change in outlook is seen in the introduction to the subsections of the rules dealing with punctuation: “It is considered optimal not to overuse punctuation, especially in cases in which the sentence structure is clear through the wording, and specifically in short clauses.” Similarly, there is flexibility in many of the other rules, which allows the writer greater leeway.Back to top