Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 10/22 — Zoë Belk

At this week’s Fieldwork Lab Meeting (Thursday, October 22 at 4:00pm), Zoë Belk will present work titled “Loss of case and gender in two generations: Contemporary Hasidic Yiddish worldwide”. Zoë is a postdoctoral research associate, in the Department of Linguistics at University College London.

All are welcome! If you would like to attend and are not currently on the mailing list, please contact Carol-Rose little.

Abstract:
Standard and pre-Second World War varieties of Yiddish exhibit a robust system of morphological case and gender marking on full DPs. However, as a result of the Holocaust, Yiddish underwent a catastrophic loss of speakers and disruption to the geographical communities that spoke it. Today, it is spoken by approximately 750,000 Hasidic (strictly Orthodox) Jews worldwide (Biale et al. 2018). In this talk, I will present the findings of our ongoing fieldwork into contemporary Hasidic Yiddish, which so far covers approximately 40 speakers in four countries (the US, Israel, Canada and the United Kingdom). I will demonstrate that, within two generations of the Holocaust, Hasidic Yiddish underwent a complete loss of morphological case and gender. I will discuss a number of factors that contributed to this significant development in the language and provide some comparison to minority German dialects of North America to argue that contemporary Hasidic Yiddish presents a very rare opportunity to study such rapid and pervasive language change.

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