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Summer School Announcement: Summer Session course "History of Hebrew & Jewish languages: Cultural, historical and linguistic aspects"

Host Institution: Yale University
Coordinating Institution: Yale University
Dates: 2-Jun-2014 to 4-Jul-2014
Location: New Haven , Connecticut , USA
Focus: A 5-week-long course on linguistics and history of Hebrew and Jewish languages, approached from various perspectives.
Minimum Education Level: No Minimum
Additional Qualifications:
Full Summer School Description: The Jewish culture has always been in a very intimate relationship to texts and language. But what language did the Jews actually speak? Did King David converse in Biblical Hebrew? How did the vernacular turn into the language of the rabbinic literature? Why could a dead language flourish in the Middle Ages? How did Yiddish and other Jewish languages emerge? Is it self-evident that Hebrew became the language of the modern State of Israel? By looking at the history of the languages of the Jews, this course will offer a unique perspective on social and cultural aspects of Jewish history.

The course will offer an overview of the history of the Hebrew language and the Jewish languages, as well as an introduction to a multitude of linguistic methodologies. The historical-comparative method will be discussed to locate Hebrew among the Semitic languages. The family tree model will be contrasted to the wave model when discussing the Northwest Semitic continuum. Biblical Hebrew can be approached by traditional philology as much as by generative linguistics. Understanding rabbinical and medieval Hebrew requires the perspective of the sociolinguist. Modern Hebrew has been posing constant challenges to contemporary linguistic theories since the MA thesis of Noam Chomsky to the problem of opacity in Optimality Theory.

The course requires no familiarity with linguistics, and no knowledge of Hebrew, although any of these will prove beneficial. Attendees will however be expected to have at least a superficial knowledge of Jewish history. The course does not teach Hebrew, but provides a familiarity with interesting phenomena in Semitic languages. The course does not teach a specific linguistic framework, but explain why we should keep our minds open to a plethora of methodologies.
Course Listings:
Linguistic Subfield: Historical Linguistics, Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: Hebrew, Ancient, Hebrew
Lang family: Semitic
Tuition: (USD)
Registration Dates: 1-Apr-2014 to 12-May-2014
Contact person information: Tamas Biro
Registration Instructions: Please visit
Summer School and Training Course Registry main page