Jewish Languages

Coordination : Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (EPHE-PSL / Oxford)

A Jewish language is an intra-community language (or dialect) associated with a specific Jewish population and originally limited to the region of its distribution. In general, a Jewish language is related to a non-Jewish language spoken in the same region, often distinguishing itself from the latter by particular grammatical phenomena and/or by the presence of lexicon of Hebrew or Aramaic origin.

This theme of sixteen lectures by internationally renowned specialists presents some of these “Jewish languages” and the richness of their history and their literary tradition.


10 February 2021

Sylvie Anne Goldberg (EHESS), Defining “Jewish Languages”: Between Linguistics and History

Sylvie Anne Goldberg is Professor and Head of Jewish Studies at the EHESS, Paris. She has recently published: Clepsydra. On the plurality of Time in Judaism (trans. by  Benjamin Ivry, Stanford University Press, 2016); Flavius JosèpheContre Apion, “Introduction (L’Amère ironie de l’histoire, pp. vi-xcii) and notes” to the new Greek–French bilingual edition (Paris, Les Belles-Lettres, 2018).

16 February 2021

Lily Kahn (University College London), Hebrew: a Jewish Language

Lily Kahn is Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Languages at UCL. Her main research areas are Hebrew in Eastern Europe, Yiddish and other Jewish languages. Recent publications include The First Hebrew Shakespeare Translations: A Bilingual Edition and Commentary (UCL Press, 2017), and Jewish Languages from A to Z (with Aaron Rubin; Routledge, 2020). She is co-editor of the UCL Press series Grammars of World and Minority Languages and Textbooks of World and Minority Languages.

2 March 2021

Ofir Haim (Princeton), The Judaeo-Persian Language and Literature over the Course of the Centuries

Ofir Haim is a Fulbright postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University. His research interests centre on the social and intellectual history of pre-Mongol Iran, particularly its Jewish minority. Ofir’s recent publications include: “Acknowledgment deeds (iqrārs) in Early New Persian from the Area of Bāmiyān (395-430 AH/1005-1039 CE)”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 29/3 (2019).

3 March 2021

Gilles Authier (EPHE-PSL), Juhuri, a Jewish Language of the Caucasus

Gilles Authier, classically trained (ENS Ulm 1987) and orientalist, has been director of studies at the EPHE since 2013, where he teaches the languages ​​of the East Caucasus. He is the author of a grammar of Kryz (Peeters, 2009) and a grammar of Judaeo-Tat (Reichert, 2012). His current research focuses on comparing East Caucasian languages ​​and describing Budugh and Rutul.

9 March 2021

Ronny Vollandt (LMU, Munich), Classical Judaeo-Arabic

Ronny Vollandt is Professor of Judaic Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and currently the chairperson of the German Association of Jewish Studies. His teaching focusses on rabbinic Judaism and on the intellectual history of Jews in the Islamicate world. He researches Arabic versions of the Bible, Judaeo-Arabic literature, and Jewish cultural heritage, and above all manuscripts, in the Near East.

16 March 2021

Ilil Baum (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Languages of the Sephardim

Ilil Baum is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Buber Society of Fellows, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research focusses on the interplay of language and identity among the Jews of Spain on the eve of their expulsion and on the emergence of Sephardic identity after 1492. She is particularly interested in the reading habits among the Jewish elite and their role as mediators in multilingual and multicultural societies throughout the Mediterranean. Her recent publications include “Jewish Lullism around the Expulsion: Spanish-Catalan Fragment in Hebrew Characters from Ramon Llull’s Introductorium Magnae Artis Generalis.” Jewish Quarterly Review.

20 March 2021

Jean Baumgarten (CNRS), Ancient Yiddish: Language and Literature

Jean Baumgarten, Emeritus Research Director (Center for Historical Research (CRH), CNRS, EHESS, Paris), is a specialist in ancient Yiddish literature, the history of Jewish books and Hasidism. His latest published work is Le Baal Shem Tov, mystique, magicien et guérisseur (Paris, Albin Michel, 2020).

23 March 2021

Arnaud Bikard (Inalco), Yiddish Modernisms

Arnaud Bikard holds a doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Paris IV Sorbonne and a lecturer in Yiddish language and culture at Inalco, where he co-directs the department of Hebrew and Jewish studies. His publications include The Italian Renaissance in the Streets of the Ghetto: The Yiddish Poetic Work of Elia Levita (1469-1549) (Turnhout, Brepols, 2020).

24 March 2021

Nicholas de Lange (Cambridge), Judaeo-Greek: A Ghost Language?

Nicholas de Lange is Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University of Cambridge. His fields of research are Hellenistic and Byzantine Judaism. His publications include Atlas du Monde Juif (Paris, Editions du Fanal, 1987; Nathan, 1989), “Sem and Japheth: The Jews and the Greek Language”, Pardès 12 (1990), 90–107.

13 April 2021

Stephen Dörr (Heidelberg), Old French, the Mother Tongue of Jews in Mediaeval France

Stephen Dörr is Professor of Romance Philology at the University of Heidelberg. He is editor of the Etymological Dictionary of Old French (DEAF) (1989-2020) and member of the Lessico etimologico italiano (LEI) team. His fields of research are Roman and Italian philology, lexicography, history of science. His publications include DEAF articles.

14 April 2021

Geoffrey Herman (EPHE-PSL), Talmudic Aramaic

Geoffrey Herman is director of studies at EPHE-PSL, where he holds the chair “Ancient Judaism and Classical Rabbinic Literature”. His research focuses on the history of the Jews of Babylonia during the Talmudic era, which he seeks to understand in the light of Persian culture. Among his publications, “A Prince without a Kingdom” The Exilarch in the Sasanian Era (Mohr Siebeck, Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 150, Tübingen, 2012). 

4 May 2021

Geoffrey Khan (Cambridge), Neo-Aramaic

Geoffrey Khan (PhD, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, 1984) is Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Cambridge. His research publications focus on three main fields: Biblical Hebrew language (especially medieval traditions), Neo-Aramaic dialectology, and medieval Arabic documents. He is the general editor of The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics and is the senior editor of Journal of Semitic Studies. His most recent book is The Tiberian Pronunciation Tradition of Biblical Hebrew, 2020.

12 May 2021

Yehudit Henshke (University of Haifa), Mother Tongue: Preservation of Jewish Languages ​​and Cultures

Yehudit Henshke is a professor in the Department of Hebrew Language at the University of Haifa. His areas of interest include Mishnaic Hebrew, Jewish languages, Judaeo-Arabic and Modern Hebrew. She is editor-in-chief of the journal Carmillim: For the Study of Hebrew and Related Languages. She is the founder and director of Mother Tongue – a project for the preservation and documentation of Jewish languages ​​and cultures.

11 May 2021

Laurent Mignon (University of Oxford, Inalco), Does Judaeo-Turkish Exist?

Laurent Mignon is Associate Professor of Turkish at the University of Oxford and Fellow of the Middle East Center at Saint Antony’s College. His research focuses on the minor literatures of Ottoman and Republican Turkey as well as the literary craze for non-Abrahamic religions during the era overlapping the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. He is the author, among others, of Hüzünlü Özgürlük: Yahudi Edebiyatı ve Düşüncesi Üzerine Yazılar [Sad Freedom: Writings on Jewish Literature and Thought] (Istanbul, Gözlem, 2014).

5 May 2021

Henryk Jankowski (Adam Mickiewicz University), The Karaim

Henryk Jankowski is Professor of Turkish Studies in the Institute of Oriental Studies, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań. His research interests include Turkish, Kazakh, Karaim and other Turkic languages of the Crimea and Central Asia. He is the author of A Historical-Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Russian Habitation Names of the Crimea (Brill, 2006), the co-author of A Crimean Karaim-English Dictionary (Poznań, 2015) and The Crimean Karaim Bible (2 vols, Harrassowitz Verlag, 2019), as well as the author of numerous articles on these languages.

25 May 2021

Yitskhok Niborski (Inalco, Medem), Modern Yiddish and Its Literature

Yitskhok Niborski taught Yiddish in Buenos Aires, then in Paris as a professor at Inalco and at the Maison de la Culture Yiddish – Bibliothèque Medem. His fields of interest are Yiddish lexicography and grammar of the language as well as its modern literature. His publications include the Yiddish-French Dictionary (with Bernard Vaisbrot and the assistance of Simon Neuberg, Bibliothèque Medem, Paris, 2002).

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