Standardization is a focus of language maintenance efforts in many, but not all, minority language communities. What is the impact of this choice on interspeaker variation in maintained languages? This study investigates variable number agreement in Yiddish, a minority language spoken by two distinct communities in the New York area: (1) Hasidic Jews, who maintain the language without standardization, and (2) Yiddishists, who are overtly committed to maintaining a "correct" Yiddish. An analysis of data from 40 sociolinguistic interviews shows that Yiddishists have significantly higher rates of normative agreement than Hasidim do. The Yiddishists' standard language ideology has also contributed to a leveling of the differences across grammatical constructions, a predictor that is more robust among the Hasidic speakers. These community-based differences in speech reflect differences in speakers' prescriptive judgments, which were elicited through a novel post-interview text editing task.
December 9, 2021
Bleaman, I. L. (2022). Minority language maintenance and the production-prescription interface: Number agreement in New York Yiddish. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 26(2), 221–245. https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12539