Yiddish Linguistics


Linguistic studies of Yiddish span several centuries and incorporate a wide range of research questions and methodologies, from philological analyses of Old Yiddish texts to generative approaches to particular grammatical constructions. The historical development of the language has undoubtedly been, and continues to be, the most hotly debated research topic in Yiddish linguistics. However, other productive areas of inquiry have included structural analysis (e.g., syntax, semantics, and phonology), dialectology and other fields of sociolinguistics (e.g., language contact and interspeaker variation), and, increasingly, computational approaches (e.g., the construction and use of linguistic corpora). Historically, Yiddish linguists have often played a major role in language planning efforts, including the production of style manuals, dictionaries, and textbooks—so much so that "Yiddish linguist" has often been understood as synonymous with "Yiddish standardizer." However, the primary focus of this bibliography is descriptive linguistic research. (Information on standard Yiddish reference works, which can be unparalleled sources of linguistic data and a useful starting point for new research projects, can be found in the more general Oxford Bibliographies article "Yiddish.") The works included here represent a curated sample, rather than an exhaustive list, of publications and research tools in the various subfields of Yiddish linguistics. (See Bibliographies for more comprehensive references.) Due to the centrality of language in research on the history, literature, and folk culture of Ashkenazic Jews, this bibliography is likely to be useful not only to linguists, but also to researchers in related disciplines within Yiddish and Jewish studies.

Publication date: 
January 15, 2020
Publication type: 
Recent Publication
Bleaman, I. L. (2020). Yiddish Linguistics. In N. Seidman (Ed.), Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/OBO/9780199840731-0192