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The Grammar of the Eastern European Hasidic Hebrew Tale

Start: May 28, 2015 06:30 PM

Lily Kahn, UCL

Thursday May 28th


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This lecture will examine key grammatical features of the Hebrew tales composed in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Eastern Europe by followers of the Hasidic spiritual movement. These tales, which focus on the lives and works of the Hasidic rebbes, are of great significance for the historical study of Hebrew for two reasons. Firstly, they are an extremely rich linguistic repository, constituting one of the only extensive sources of narrative Hebrew from nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, and thus shed valuable light on the use of the language in this setting. Secondly, they were composed just prior to the large-scale revival of the language in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Palestine; as many former Hasidim who were probably familiar with Hasidic literature became followers of the early Zionist movement and subsequently participated in the revival project, the language of the tales is likely to have played a role in the development of Modern (Israeli) Hebrew. These points will be considered in the lecture through discussion of a number of noteworthy non-standard elements of Hasidic Hebrew grammar. Attention will be devoted to the historical origins of these forms and constructions, many of which are traceable to Medieval Hebrew literature or attributable to influence from the authors’ native Yiddish.

Lily Kahn is Lecturer in Hebrew in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at UCL. Her main research area is Hebrew in Eastern Europe. She is also interested in Yiddish, global Shakespeare, Jewish languages, and endangered language revitalization. Publications include 'The Verbal System in Late Enlightenment Hebrew' (Brill, 2009), 'Colloquial Yiddish' (Routledge, 2012), and 'The Routledge Introductory Course in Biblical Hebrew' (Routledge, 2014). 

Reception from 6.30 pm Haldane Room, Wilkins Building 

Lecture 7.00 pm


Eventbrite - The Grammar of the Eastern European  Hasidic Hebrew Tale

For more events, see our Lectures Programme for Spring/Summer 2015.  

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