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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton February 28, 2014

Home language usage and the impact of Modern Hebrew on Israeli Hasidic Yiddish nouns and noun plurals

  • Netta Abugov EMAIL logo and Dorit Ravid


This article investigates the current status of Yiddish as a home language and the impact of Modern Hebrew on Yiddish nouns and noun plurals spoken in Sanz Hasidism. In the Hasidic community, Yiddish and Modern Hebrew have been competing as native tongues in an inconsistent bilingual sociolinguistic situation for over 60 years. The aim of this study is two-fold: first, a sociolinguistic issue concerning the amount and character of Yiddish usage across generations; second, to explore psycholinguistic issue regarding the nominal lexicon (kind ‘child’) and its plural marking (kinder ‘children’).

Participants were first asked about the language prevalent in their parental home and in their current home. Then we administered a confrontational naming task to 48 Israeli Hasidic (IH) men and women who were asked to name 95 singular nouns from pictures and provide their plural forms. Results showed that over generations there is a tendency towards using only Yiddish as a home language accompanied by substantial variation and change both in the nominal lexicon and in the plural system. Both facets indicated that participants who grew up in Yiddish-only homes and still maintain this linguistic exclusiveness produce fewer Modern Hebrew-related lemmas.

Published Online: 2014-2-28
Published in Print: 2014-3-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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