Author: Chaya R. Nove

Abstract

Unlike other Yiddish dialects that were diminished to the point of virtual obsolescence in the decades following World War II, Hasidic Yiddish remains the dominant language for several hundred thousand Hasidic Jews across the globe. And yet, a survey of the research on Yiddish linguistics published during the second half of the 20th century does not reflect this reality. In this article, I review how the ideological underpinnings of Yiddish linguistics created and perpetuated a disciplinary preoccupation with a hypothetical standard at the expense of theoretically informative empirical studies of an evolving Yiddish dialect. Specifically, I show how linguistic chauvinism, a series of calamitous events, and historical anti-religiosity complicated by new resentments, led to the erasure of Hasidic dialects from Yiddish scholarship. Finally, I highlight significant contributions that recent empirical studies of Hasidic Yiddish are making to the field of linguistics.

In: Journal of Jewish Languages