Joyce Z. and Jacob Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies
1155 East 60th Street, Room 302A
Chicago, IL 60637

Isaac Bleaman - "Hasidic Yiddish Syntax on the Internet: Competing Trends in Language Change"

WhenJanuary 19, 2018 12:30pm - 2:00pm
WhereClassics Building, Room 110
Contact InformationComparative Literature Department
DescriptionThe use of "big data" from social media has allowed sociolinguists to investigate patterns of variation at unprecedented scales. However, researchers of minority languages — who stand the most to gain from increased sample sizes — have been slow to pursue projects incorporating online corpora. This talk, by Isaac Bleaman of New York University, presents an analysis of particle verb variation in Yiddish, using a 22-million-word corpus scraped from a popular Hasidic discussion forum, ("the Coffee Room"). Multivariate analysis of over 28,000 particle verbs reveals that writers favor the standard variant the longer their accounts remain open, even as newcomers bring about a forum-wide increase in the rate of the non-standard variant. These quantitative results support ethnographic evidence from offline interviews with forum users, highlighting the role of the internet in spreading norms of language use among Hasidic Jews. This lecture is sponsored by the Department of Comparative Literature and the Workshop on Language Variation and Change. For information, contact Ingrid Sagor at
CategoriesConferences/Lectures, Lectures
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