UCL Institute of Jewish Studies


Bilingual Rabbis: Mapping the use of languages in the Talmud Yerushalmi

6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, 22 October 2018

Event Information

Open to



David Davies, Lecture Theatre G08, Roberts Building, UCL

Speaker: Willem Smelik, UCL

The rabbis quoted in the Talmud Yerushalmi, and its anonymous authors, switched continuously between Hebrew and Aramaic. The diverse ways in which the Aramaic and Hebrew languages relate to one another in the extant literature and documents have so far been incompletely developed and understood. This presentation is particularly concerned with the linguistic reality of knowledge transfer, with particular attention to the use of two languages in a single unit of discourse (known as code-switching) between Hebrew and Aramaic and their unfolding functional differentiation in the Talmud Yerushalmi. The results are significant for the way we understand vernacular language in the early rabbinic period and its written deposit, the functions of multiple language use, and the textual unity of bilingual communication. Willem Smelik works on Hebrew and Aramaic literature in Late Antiquity with special attention to the Jewish Aramaic translations of Scripture, Aramaic dialects, and multilingualism. Having held a Starr Fellowship at Harvard University in 2017-2018, he currently holds a Leverhulme Research Fellowship at UCL. Recent publications include Rabbis, Language and Translation in Late Antiquity (2013), and Targum Studies in Munich, IOTS 2013 (edited with Robert Hayward as special issues of Aramaic Studies 11.2 [2013] and 12.1 [2014]).

Reception from 6.30pm, foyer. Lecture 7.00pm David Davies lecture theatre G08, Roberts Building.

Entrance to both via UCL Roberts Building, Malet Place WC1E 7JE

Reservations: https://bilingualrabbis.eventbrite.co.uk