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Historical sociolinguistics is a comparatively new area of research, investigating difficult questions about language varieties and choices in speech and writing. Jewish historical sociolinguistics is rich in unanswered questions: when does a language become 'Jewish'? What was the origin of Yiddish? How much Hebrew did the average Jew know over the centuries? How was Hebrew re-established as a vernacular and a dominant language? This book explores these and other questions, and shows the extent of scholarly disagreement over the answers. It shows the value of adding a sociolinguistic perspective to issues commonly ignored in standard histories. A vivid commentary on Jewish survival and Jewish speech communities that will be enjoyed by the general reader, and is essential reading for students and researchers interested in the study of Middle Eastern languages, Jewish studies, and sociolinguistics.Read more
- Explores the history of Jewish multilingualism, a vivid commentary on Jewish survival and Jewish speech communities
- Examines patterns of language maintenance and shift, including the revival of Hebrew - a discussion relevant to anyone concerned with language endangerment around the world
- Explores the relationship between a community's situation and history and the language patterns it develops
Reviews & endorsements
"Spolsky's book is an important addition to the literature of [the] field, a must-have reference for historians of the Jews and scholars of Jewish languages."
Sarah Bunin Benor, Marginalia Review of Books
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- Date Published: May 2014
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107699953
- length: 373 pages
- dimensions: 227 x 152 x 21 mm
- weight: 0.55kg
- contains: 11 maps
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
1. Is Hebrew an endangered language?
2. The emergence of Hebrew
3. Hebrew-Aramaic bilingualism and competition
4. Three languages in Hellenistic and Roman Palestine
5. From statehood to diaspora
6. The Arabian and African connections
7. The spread of Islam
8. The Jews of France
9. The Jews of Spain and their languages
10. Loter-Ashkenaz and the creation of Yiddish
11. The Yavanic area – Greece and Italy
12. Jews in Slavic lands
13. Linguistic emancipation and assimilation in Europe
14. Britain, its former colonies and the New World
15. Islam and the Orient
16. The return to Zion and Hebrew
Appendix: estimated current status of Jewish languages.
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