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Sarah Benor: “Mensch, Bentsh, and Balagan: Language as a Marker of Jewish Identity”

Mar 18, 2015 @ 11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Professor Benor’s upcoming talk describes the range of Jewish American English – from the addition of a few Yiddish words among Jews with weak connections to organized Jewish life to the “Yeshivish” of strictly Orthodox Jews, which is filled with words from Yiddish, Hebrew, and Aramaic and Yiddish influences in grammar and pronunciation. Jews of various stripes use subtle variation in language to signal their textual knowledge, religious denomination, ancestral origin, and orientation toward Israel. As this talk demonstrates, “Jewish language” serves not only to distinguish Jews from non-Jews but also to distinguish Jews from Jews.

Dr. Benor is Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at the Los Angeles campus of HUC-JIR, where she teaches masters students in the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management and undergraduates at the University of Southern California. She has lectured widely about the social science of American Jews, sociolinguistics, Jewish languages, and Orthodox Jews. She is the author of Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism (Rutgers University Press, 2012, winner of the Sami Rohr Choice Award for Jewish Literature), as well as several articles in Jewish studies and linguistics. She is founding co-editor of the Journal of Jewish Languages and founder and editor of the Jewish Language Research Website and the Jewish English Lexicon.


Mar 18, 2015
11:30 am - 1:30 pm
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The Magnes Collection of Jewish Life and Art
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