Throughout the world, wherever Jews have lived, they have spoken and/or written differently from the non-Jews around them. Their languages have differed by as little as a few embedded Hebrew words or by as much as a highly variant grammar. A good deal of research has been devoted to a number of Jewish languages, including Yiddish, Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Italian, Jewish English, and Jewish Neo-Aramaic. This website displays information about several Jewish languages and about some of the researchers who have written about them.
The Jewish Language Research Website has three goals:
- To serve as a resource for the field of Jewish linguistics - the study of Jewish languages on an individual and comparative basis - encouraging collaboration among scholars of various Jewish languages
- To provide information and bibliographic references for linguists and Jewish studies scholars who wish to incorporate Jewish languages into their research
- To provide an introduction to Jewish languages for the general public
Viewers can find information on this website in various ways. There are descriptions of over a dozen Jewish languages (accessible in map and list forms), including fundamentals of their history, linguistics, and literature. Each language description - written by top scholars specifically for this site - includes a basic bibliography and a list of researchers of that language who have provided their contact information. The Samples page presents audio and textual samples of several Jewish languages. The Researchers page lists scholars in the field along with their contact information and books and articles they have written. The Translators page lists translators from and into various Jewish (and other) languages. The Resources page provides a list of new books on Jewish languages, a library of electronic books and articles on Jewish languages, a selected bibliography of published resources on Jewish languages, syllabi from university-level Jewish languages courses, a discussion of Jewish names, and links to academic websites related to Jewish languages, including mailing lists, research institutes, and online databases.
The Jewish Language Research Website is produced and edited by Sarah Bunin Benor, Hebrew Union College, United States. Questions and comments should be directed to sarah.benor @ jewish-languages.org.
The site is guided by the wisdom of the International Advisory Board:
- Jean Baumgarten, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique / École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales / Centre d'Études Juives, France
- David M. Bunis, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
- Joshua A. Fishman, Stanford University / Yeshiva University / New York University, United States
- Benjamin Hary, Emory University, United States
- Julia G. Krivoruchko, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
- Aharon Maman, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
- Maria L. Mayer Modena, University of Milan, Italy
- Bernard Spolsky, Bar-Ilan University, Israel
- Ofra Tirosh-Becker, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Special thanks to the friends of the Jewish Language Research Website who contributed financially to the cost of webhosting in its early years (2001-2006). The website was expanded in 2007 as part of the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion's Sephardic Studies Curriculum Project, with support from the Maurice Amado Foundation.