Chaya R. Nove, "Nisht mir, nisht dir: The Evolution of Hasidic Yiddish in New York" (in Yiddish)

Al and Malka Green Memorial Lecture

Following WWII, Yiddish was displaced from its cultural heartland in Eastern Europe to Israel and the Americas, where it was gradually reduced to a postvernacular status among secular Jews. Conversely, in many close-knit ultra-Orthodox communities around the world, Yiddish has been transmitted unselfconsciously and without interruption and continues to function as the language of the home and of religious instruction. In the New York area especially, Yiddish is thriving in a bilingual relationship with English, in contact circumstances that are in many ways reminiscent of its diaspora origins. Thus, Hasidic Yiddish has become a central site for the investigation of language development under contact. This talk begins with an historical and sociocultural account of New York Hasidic Yiddish (NYHY). Drawing on recent literature and my own ongoing research, I then describe how NYHY is evolving lexically, phonologically and morphosyntactically under the intense pressure of English. For example, I show that 4th generation speakers are replacing the dative forms of 1SG and 2SG pronouns (mikh and mir) with the accusative forms (dikh and dir)—a change that is reducing the case system of NYHY by erasing the final traces of the dative in this dialect. I also introduce a preliminary study suggesting a possible convergence of the Yiddish and English peripheral vowels /i/ and /u/. Finally, I underscore how investigating the state of contemporary NYHY in its new sociocultural environment can contribute significantly to Yiddish linguistics, as well as to modern theories of multilingualism.

Chaya R. Nove is a PhD candidate at City University of New York.

This event is free and open to the public. No registration required. Limited seating.

Date & Time
Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 2:00pm

Jackman Humanities Building, Room 318, 170 St. George Street