Ghil'ad Zuckermann

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Ghil'ad Zuckermann
Zuckermann in 2011
Born (1971-06-01) 1 June 1971 (age 50)
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
University of Oxford
Tel Aviv University
United World College of the Adriatic
Known forHybridic theory of Israeli Hebrew,
Classification of camouflaged borrowing,
Phono-semantic matching,
Language reclamation and mental health
AwardsPresident of the Australian Association for Jewish Studies (since 2017)
Scientific career
InstitutionsThe University of Adelaide
Churchill College, Cambridge
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Weizmann Institute of Science
The University of Queensland
National University of Singapore
University of Texas at Austin
Middlebury College

Ghil'ad Zuckermann (Hebrew: גלעד צוקרמן‎, pronounced [ɡiˈlad ˈtsukeʁman]; (1971-06-01)1 June 1971) is an Israeli-born language revivalist[1] and linguist who works in contact linguistics, lexicology and the study of language, culture and identity.[2] Zuckermann is Professor of Linguistics and Chair of Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide, Australia.[3] He is the president of the Australian Association for Jewish Studies.


Zuckermann was born in Tel Aviv in 1971 and raised in Eilat. He attended the United World College (UWC) of the Adriatic in 1987–1989.[3][4] In 1997 he received an M.A. in Linguistics from the Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary Programme for Outstanding Students of Tel Aviv University. In 1997–2000 he was Scatcherd European Scholar of the University of Oxford and Denise Skinner Graduate Scholar at St Hugh's College, receiving a D.Phil. (Oxon.) in 2000.[5] While at Oxford, he served as President of the Oxford University L'Chaim Society.[5]

As Gulbenkian Research Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge (2000–2004), he was affiliated with the Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Modern and Medieval Studies, University of Cambridge. He received a titular Ph.D. (Cantab.) in 2003.[5]

He taught at the University of Cambridge (Faculty of Oriental Studies, now known as Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies), University of Queensland, National University of Singapore, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, East China Normal University, University of Miami, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, University of Pavol Jozef Šafárik and Middlebury College.[3] In 2010-2015 he was China's Ivy League Project 211 "Distinguished Visiting Professor", and "Shanghai Oriental Scholar" professorial fellow, at Shanghai International Studies University.[5]

He was Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Fellow in 2007-2011 and was awarded research fellowships at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study and Conference Center, Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy); Braginsky Center, Weizmann Institute of Science;[6] Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (University of Texas at Austin); Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (Hebrew University of Jerusalem); Tel Aviv University; Research Centre for Linguistic Typology (Institute for Advanced Study, La Trobe University, Melbourne); National Institute for Japanese Language (Tokyo); and Mahidol University.[3] He was awarded a British Academy Research Grant, Memorial Foundation of Jewish Culture Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harold Hyam Wingate Scholarship[7] and Chevening Scholarship.

Currently, Zuckermann is Professor of Linguistics and Chair of Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide. He is elected member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the Foundation for Endangered Languages.[8] He serves as Editorial Board member of the Journal of Language Contact (Brill),[9] consultant for the Oxford English Dictionary (OED),[10] and expert witness in (corpus) lexicography, (forensic) linguistics and trademarks (intellectual property).[11]

Since February 2017 he has been the president of the Australian Association for Jewish Studies (AAJS).[12] In 2013-2015 he was President of the Australasian Association of Lexicography (AustraLex).[13]

In 2017 Zuckermann was awarded a five-year research project grant from Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) "to explore the effects of Indigenous language reclamation on social and emotional wellbeing".[14][15][16]

Zuckermann is a hyperpolyglot.[17]

Public impact[edit]

Zuckermann applies insights from the Hebrew revival to the revitalization of Aboriginal languages in Australia.[18][19][20] According to Yuval Rotem, the Israeli Ambassador to Australia, Zuckermann's "passion for the reclamation, maintenance and empowerment of Aboriginal languages and culture inspired [him] and was indeed the driving motivator of" the establishment of the Allira Aboriginal Knowledge IT Centre in Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia, on 2 September 2010.[21]

He proposes Native Tongue Title, compensation for language loss, because "linguicide"[22][23] results in "loss of cultural autonomy, loss of spiritual and intellectual sovereignty,[24] loss of soul".[25] He uses the term sleeping beauty to refer to a no-longer spoken language[17][26] and urges Australia "to define the 330 Aboriginal languages, most of them sleeping beauties, as the official languages of their region", and to introduce bilingual signs and thus change the linguistic landscape of the country. "So, for example, Port Lincoln should also be referred to as Galinyala, which is its original Barngarla name."[27] His edX MOOC Language Revival: Securing the Future of Endangered Languages has had 20,000 learners from 190 countries.[5]

Zuckermann proposes a controversial hybrid theory of the emergence of Israeli Hebrew according to which Hebrew and Yiddish "acted equally" as the "primary contributors" to Modern Hebrew.[28][29] Scholars including Yiddish linguist Dovid Katz (who refers to Zuckermann as a "fresh-thinking Israeli scholar"), adopt Zuckermann's term "Israeli" and accept his notion of hybridity.[30] Others, for example author and translator Hillel Halkin, oppose Zuckermann's model. In an article published on 24 December 2004 in The Jewish Daily Forward, pseudonymous column "Philologos", Halkin accused Zuckermann of political agenda.[28] Zuckermann's response was published on 28 December 2004 in The Mendele Review: Yiddish Literature and Language.[31]

As described by Reuters in a 2006 article, "Zuckermann's lectures are packed,[32] with the cream of Israeli academia invariably looking uncertain on whether to endorse his innovative streak or rise to the defense of the mother tongue."[33] According to Omri Herzog (Haaretz), Zuckermann "is considered by his Israeli colleagues either a genius or a provocateur".[34]

Reclamation of the Barngarla language[edit]

"In 2011 [...] Zuckermann contacted the Barngarla community about helping to revive and reclaim the Barngarla language. This request was eagerly accepted by the Barngarla people and language reclamation workshops began in Port Lincoln, Whyalla and Port Augusta in 2012" (Barngarla man Stephen Atkinson, 2013).[35][36] The reclamation is based on 170-year-old documents.[17][37] He tries to convince Eyre Peninsula principals to teach Barngarla at their schools.[38]

Adelaide Language Festival[edit]

Zuckermann is the founder and convener of the Adelaide Language Festival.[39][40]

Contributions to linguistics[edit]

Zuckermann's research focuses on contact linguistics, lexicology, revivalistics, Jewish languages, and the study of language, culture and identity.

Zuckermann argues that Israeli Hebrew, which he calls "Israeli", is a hybrid language that is genetically both Indo-European (Germanic, Slavic and Romance) and Afro-Asiatic (Semitic). He suggests that "Israeli" is the continuation not only of literary Hebrew(s) but also of Yiddish, as well as Polish, Russian, German, English, Ladino, Arabic and other languages spoken by Hebrew revivalists.

Zuckermann's hybridic synthesis is in contrast to both the traditional revival thesis (i.e. that "Israeli" is Hebrew revived) and the relexification antithesis (i.e. that "Israeli" is Yiddish with Hebrew words). While his synthesis is multi-parental, both the thesis and the antithesis are mono-parental.[29][41]

Zuckermann introduces revivalistics as a new transdisciplinary field of enquiry surrounding language reclamation (e.g. Barngarla), revitalization (e.g. Adnyamathanha) and reinvigoration (e.g. Irish).[5] Complementing documentary linguistics, revivalistics aims to provide a systematic analysis especially of attempts to resurrect no-longer spoken languages (reclamation) but also of initiatives to reverse language shift (revitalization and reinvigoration).[20]

His analysis of multisourced neologization (the coinage of words deriving from two or more sources at the same time)[42] challenges Einar Haugen's classic typology of lexical borrowing.[43] Whereas Haugen categorizes borrowing into either substitution or importation, Zuckermann explores cases of "simultaneous substitution and importation" in the form of camouflaged borrowing. He proposes a new classification of multisourced neologisms such as phono-semantic matching.

Zuckermann's exploration of phono-semantic matching in Standard Mandarin and Meiji period Japanese concludes that the Chinese writing system is multifunctional: pleremic ("full" of meaning, e.g. logographic), cenemic ("empty" of meaning, e.g. phonographic – like a syllabary) and simultaneously cenemic and pleremic (phono-logographic). He argues that Leonard Bloomfield's assertion that "a language is the same no matter what system of writing may be used"[44] is inaccurate. "If Chinese had been written using roman letters, thousands of Chinese words would not have been coined, or would have been coined with completely different forms".[42]

Selected publications[edit]

Zuckermann has published in English, Hebrew, Italian, Yiddish, Spanish, German, Russian, Arabic, Korean and Chinese.

Books authored[edit]

Books edited[edit]

Journal articles and book chapters[edit]



  1. ^ Alex Rawlings, March 22, 2019, BBC Future, The man bringing dead languages back to life ("Ghil'ad Zuckermann has found that resurrecting lost languages may bring many benefits to indigenous populations – with knock-on effects for their health and happiness"), accessed May 5, 2019.
  2. ^ "edX". Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Sarah Robinson, March 11, 2019, The LINGUIST List, Featured Linguist: Ghil‘ad Zuckermann, accessed May 4, 2020
  4. ^ Five outstandingly successful stories, UWC of the Adriatic, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Researcher Profile: Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann". The University of Adelaide. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  6. ^ The Weizmann International Magazine of Science and People 8, pp. 16-17
  7. ^ "Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann". Wingate Scholarships. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  8. ^ "Department of Linguistics | School of Humanities | University of Adelaide".
  9. ^ "Journal of Language Contact: Evolution of Languages, Contact and Discourse". Brill. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  10. ^ "Consultants, Advisers and Contributors". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  11. ^ Federal Court of Australia
  12. ^ AAJS, accessed November 26, 2020.
  13. ^ Australasian Association of Lexicography (AustraLex), accessed May 5, 2019.
  14. ^ NITV/SBS News by Claudianna Blanco: Could language revival cure diabetes?, 21 February 2017.
  15. ^ NHMRC Grants.
  16. ^ Grant awarded for research into the link between language revival and well-being.
  17. ^ a b c Dr Anna Goldsworthy on the Barngarla language reclamation, The Monthly, September 2014
  18. ^ "Aboriginal languages deserve revival". The Australian. August 26, 2009.
  19. ^ Revivalistics: From the Genesis of Israeli to Language Reclamation in Australia and Beyond. New York: Oxford University Press. 2020. ISBN 9780199812790.
  20. ^ a b Zuckermann, Ghil'ad; Walsh, Michael (2011). "Stop, Revive, Survive: Lessons from the Hebrew Revival Applicable to the Reclamation, Maintenance and Empowerment of Aboriginal Languages and Cultures". Australian Journal of Linguistics. 31 (1): 111–127. doi:10.1080/07268602.2011.532859. S2CID 145627187. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  21. ^ Ambassador Yuval Rotem - Address for the opening of the Allira Aboriginal Knowledge IT Centre, Dubbo, NSW, Australia, September 2, 2010, accessed August 24, 2016.
  22. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad, "Stop, revive and survive", The Australian Higher Education, June 6, 2012.
  23. ^ "Australia’s first chair of endangered languages, Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann from the University of Adelaide puts it bluntly: Those policies have resulted in 'linguicide'", Shyamla Eswaran, Aboriginal languages a source of strength, Green Left Weekly, 6 December 2013.
  24. ^ "As put by Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann, language is part of the ‘Intellectual Sovereignty’ of Indigenous people", p. 2 in Priest, Terry (2011) Submission to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Language Learning in Indigenous Communities, Research Unit, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, August 2011.
  25. ^ Arnold, Lynn (2016), Lingua Nullius: A Retrospect and Prospect about Australia's First Languages Archived 2016-08-22 at the Wayback Machine (Transcript), Lowitja O'Donoghue Oration, May 31, 2016.
  26. ^ See pp. 57 & 60 in Zuckermann's A New Vision for "Israeli Hebrew": Theoretical and Practical Implications of Analysing Israel's Main Language as a Semi-Engineered Semito-European Hybrid Language, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 5: 57–71 (2006).
  27. ^ Sophie Verass (NITV) Indigenous meanings of Australian town names, 10 August 2016.
  28. ^ a b Hillel Halkin ("Philologos") (December 24, 2004). "Hebrew vs. Israeli". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  29. ^ a b John-Paul Davidson (2011), Planet Word, Penguin. pp. 125-126.
  30. ^ Katz, Dovid (2004). Words on Fire. The Unfinished Story of Yiddish. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0465037285.
  31. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (December 28, 2004). "The Genesis of the Israeli Language: A Brief Response to 'Philologos'". The Mendele Review: Yiddish Literature and Language. 8 (13). Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  32. ^ See, for example, YouTube - השפה הישראלית: רצח יידיש או יידיש רעדט זיך? פרופ' גלעד צוקרמן The Israeli Language: Hebrew Revived or Yiddish Survived? - PART 1, PART 2, PART 3
  33. ^ "Hebrew or Israeli? Linguist stirs Zionist debate: Ghil'ad Zuckermann argues that modern Hebrew should be renamed 'Israeli'". Reuters. November 29, 2006. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  34. ^ Omri Herzog (September 26, 2008). עברית בשתי שקל [Hebrew for two Shekels]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved September 19, 2014. הוא נחשב על ידי עמיתיו הישראלים גאון, או פרובוקטור
  35. ^ Language lost and regained / Barngarla man Stephen Atkinson, The Australian, 20 September 2013
  36. ^ John Power, June 29, 2018, Al Jazeera: Starting from scratch: Aboriginal group reclaims lost language, "With the help of a linguistics professor, Barngarla, which has not been spoken for 60 years, is being pieced together", accessed May 5, 2019.
  37. ^ Section 282 in John Mansfield (judge)'s Federal Court of Australia: Croft on behalf of the Barngarla Native Title Claim Group v State of South Australia (2015, FCA 9), File number: SAD 6011 of 1998; Australia’s unspeakable indigenous tragedy, Lainie Anderson, 6 May 2012]; Barngarla: People, Language & Land; Barngarla language reclamation, Port Augusta; Barngarla language reclamation, Port Lincoln; Waking up Australia's sleeping beauty languages; Hope for revival of dormant indigenous languages; Reclaiming their language, Port Lincoln; Awakening the "sleeping beauties" of Aboriginal languages; Cultural historical event begins, Whyalla; Group moves to preserve Barngarla language, Port Augusta; An interview with Stolen Generation Barngarla man Howard Richards and his wife Isabel, Port Lincoln; Calls for compensation over 'stolen' Indigenous languages;Language revival could have mental health benefits for Aboriginal communities; Language More Important than Land.
  38. ^ A cigarette or HeatStick? How Phillip Morris deceives us with euphemisms, by John Safran, September 6, 2021
  39. ^ Ellis, David (1 May 2014). "Adelaide Language Festival celebrates diversity".
  40. ^ Savage, Crispin (November 22, 2017). "One-Day Festival Offers taste of 26 Languages". Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  41. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2006). "Complement Clause Types in Israeli" (PDF). In R. M. W. Dixon; Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald (eds.). Complementation: A Cross-Linguistic Typology. Oxford University Press. pp. 72–92. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  42. ^ a b Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2003). Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1403917232.
  43. ^ Haugen, Einar (1950). "The Analysis of Linguistic Borrowing". Language. 26 (2): 210–231. doi:10.2307/410058. JSTOR 410058.
  44. ^ Bloomfield, Leonard (1933), Language, New York: Henry Holt, p. 21.

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