[Mendele] MENDELE Personal Notices and Announcements--New York Jewish diaspora: a sociolinguistic research project

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Fri Aug 1 10:28:14 EDT 2008

MENDELE Yiddish Language and Literature
Personal Notices and Announcements

Aug. 1, 2008

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From: agnieszka.urbanska at onet.eu
Subject: New York Jewish diaspora: a sociolinguistic research project

Dear All at Mendele List

Could you help?

I'm a student of linguistics from Poland. Together with my university 
professors I am about to start a sociolinguistic research project on the 
Jewish diaspora in the New York City area.In general, the project 
addresses at least two issues. Firstly, we would like to focus strictly on 
its formal linguistic side by investigating, among other things, the 
transfer of various lexical items from Yiddish into New York City English 
(and the other way as well); we would like to check if there is any 
difference regarding this process when various groups of informants are 
compared (for example orthodox vs. unorthodox Jews; younger vs. older 
informants; New York Jewish communities vs. Jewish communities slightly 
outside New York City). We also aim to compare grammatical (for example, 
syntactic) structures in the same manner, on the same groups of 

The second aspect is also of linguistic nature, though addressed from a 
different angle.  It analyzes grammatical structures and lexical items as 
markers of ethnic identity. Without going into much detail at present, 
this part of the project works under the assumption that certain 
grammatical structures and lexemes found in texts manifest the ideology of 
a given social group. We would like to work here within the framework of 
the Critical Discourse Analysis which, it seems, can be applied to 
researching the linguistic markers of ethnicity of a precisely defined 
social group.

At present, we are trying to get some general feedback on the topics of 
the research. I would appreciate any comment from your side, be it a 
negative or a positive one. Your opinion really matters to us to a great 
extent, it's always nice to have someone look with a critical eye on other 
people's research - in a way it gives you the impression of "a fresh 
look" at things and gives you the chance to verify your plans and 
expectations concerning the study.

Or perhaps you have come across similar research already?

Any tips, suggestions, remarks would be most welcome!

Thank you very much in advance, I hope to hear from you soon:-)

Best regards,

Agnieszka Urbanska


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