Ghil'ad Zuckermann

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ghil'ad Zuckermann
Born (1971-06-01) June 1, 1971 (age 45)
Tel Aviv, Israel
Fields Contact linguistics, Lexicology, Revival linguistics, Endangered languages, Historical linguistics, Etymology, Language and culture, English as the world's language, Jewish languages, Theoretical linguistics.
Institutions The University of Adelaide
Shanghai International Studies University
University of Cambridge
Churchill College, Cambridge
The University of Queensland
Alma mater University of Oxford
St Hugh's College, Oxford
Tel Aviv University
Known for (1) Semito-European hybridic theory of the emergence of Israeli Hebrew.
(2) Classification of multisourced neologization and camouflaged borrowing.
(3) Analysis of phono-semantic matching.
(4) Revival linguistics.
(5) Longest Hebrew palindrome.

Ghil'ad Zuckermann (Hebrew: גלעד צוקרמן‎‎  pronounced [ɡilˈ(ʔ)ad ˈtsukeʁman]; born June 1, 1971) is an Israeli linguist who works with language revival, contact linguistics, lexicology and the study of language, culture and identity.[1] Zuckermann is Professor of Linguistics and Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide and holds an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Fellowship, as well as a Project 211 Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Shanghai International Studies University.[2]

According to Zuckermann, "Israeli" is a SemitoEuropean hybrid language, simultaneously based on Hebrew, Yiddish and other languages such as Russian and Polish. His multi-parental hybridization model is in contrast to both the traditional revival view (i.e. that "Israeli" is Hebrew revived) and the relexification position (i.e. that "Israeli" is Yiddish with Hebrew words).[3] Zuckermann's approach to language revival weakens the family tree tool in historical linguistics.[4]

His publications include the books Israelit Safa Yafa (Israeli – A Beautiful Language) (Am Oved, 2008, ISBN 978-965-13-1963-1) and Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, ISBN 978-1403917232), the latter establishing a socio-philological framework for the analysis of camouflaged borrowing such as phono-semantic matching, and introducing a classification for "multisourced neologization". He has published academic articles in English, Hebrew, Italian, Yiddish, Spanish, German, Russian and Chinese.[5]


Zuckermann was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 1, 1971, attended the United World College (UWC) of the Adriatic in 1987–1989 and served in the Israel Defense Forces in 1989–1993. In 1993–1997 he was a scholar at the Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary Programme for Outstanding Students of Tel Aviv University, receiving an M.A. (summa cum laude) from the Department of Linguistics in 1997. In 1997–2000 he was Scatcherd European Scholar of the University of Oxford and Denise Skinner Graduate Scholar at St Hugh's College, Oxford, receiving a D.Phil. (Oxon.) in 2000.[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.) from the University of Cambridge in 2003.[5]

He has taught at universities in the United Kingdom, United States, Israel, Singapore, China, Slovakia and Australia, for example University of Cambridge (Faculty of Oriental Studies, now known as Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies), National University of Singapore, University of Miami, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, University of Queensland, University of Pavol Jozef Šafárik and Shanghai International Studies University.[6] He has also taught preparatory courses for various psychometric examinations and co-authored several books in this field.

He has been awarded research fellowships at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study and Conference Center (Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy), Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (University of Texas at Austin), Research Centre for Linguistic Typology (Institute for Advanced Study, La Trobe University, Melbourne), and National Institute for Japanese Language (Tokyo). He has won a British Academy Research Grant, Memorial Foundation of Jewish Culture Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harold Hyam Wingate Scholarship[7] and Chevening Scholarship.[5]

Zuckermann is a full Professor of Linguistics and Endangered Languages, and Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Fellow in linguistics, at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. He is also China's Ivy League Project 211 Distinguished Visiting Professor, and "Shanghai Oriental Scholar" professorial fellow, at Shanghai International Studies University. He serves as Editorial Board member of the Journal of Language Contact (Brill),[8] and consultant for the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).[9]

Public impact[edit]

Zuckermann applies insights from the Hebrew revival to the revitalization of Aboriginal languages in Australia.[10] According to Yuval Rotem, the ambassador of the State of Israel to the Commonwealth of 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 September 2, 2010.[11]

Zuckermann has been an invited speaker on various TV programmes in Israel (e.g. Channel 1, Channel 2, Channel 10, Channel 23, YES, YES DOCO) and the United Kingdom (e.g. BBC), as well as different radio programmes in Australia (e.g. ABC Lingua Franca programmes,[12] an ABC Encounter programme with David Rutledge, an ABC Big Ideas panel broadcast (April 15, 2010), SBS interviews in Hebrew, Yiddish, Italian and English[13]), Israel (e.g. Galei Tzahal, Reshet Bet, Kol Yisrael), Spain (e.g. Radio Sefarad[14]), New Zealand, South Africa and Germany.

He has featured in newspaper articles in the United Kingdom (e.g. Reuters), the United States (e.g. The Forward), Canada (e.g. The Globe and Mail, Israel (e.g. Haaretz,[15] Maariv, Yediot Aharonot, The Jerusalem Post, English Haaretz, Ynetnews,[16] nrg Maariv, Time Out, Makor Rishon), the Netherlands (e.g. Trouw.[17]), Spain (e.g. Terra), Sweden (e.g. Språktidningen), New Zealand (e.g. New Zealand Jewish Chronicle), Germany (e.g. Jüdische Zeitung), and Australia (e.g. The Australian, The Courier Mail, Australian Jewish News, Rhapsody).

His hybridic theory of the emergence of Israeli Hebrew is controversial and well known among linguists, Israelis and the Jewish world. Some scholars, for example 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.[18] Others, for example author and translator Hillel Halkin, oppose Zuckermann's model. In an article published December 24, 2004, in The Jewish Daily Forward under the pseudonym "Philologos", Halkin accused Zuckermann of political agenda.[19] Zuckermann's response was published December 28, 2004, in The Mendele Review: Yiddish Literature and Language.[20]

As described by Reuters in a 2006 article, "Zuckermann's lectures are packed,[21] 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."[22] According to Omri Herzog (Haaretz), Zuckermann "is considered by his Israeli colleagues either a genius or a provocateur".[23]

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).[24] The reclamation is based on 170-year-old documents.[25]

Contributions to linguistics[edit]

Zuckermann's research focuses on contact linguistics, lexicology, revival linguistics, Jewish languages, and the study of language, culture and identity. According to Joshua Fishman, Zuckermann is a "creative, innovative, scholarly force" and his linguistic approach "is so reminiscent of, and is the successor of, the pioneering work of Uriel Weinreich".[26] Throughout Zuckermann's work, whether it is the analysis of a lexical item,[27] a grammatical construction,[28] the genetic affiliation of a language,[29] purism,[30] prescriptivism,[31] othering[32] or globalization,[33] there are motifs such as syncretism, hybridity, multiple causation, reinforcement, subconscious influence, survival and camouflage.

Historical linguistics – characterization of Israeli Hebrew[edit]

Zuckermann argues that Israeli Hebrew, which he calls "Israeli", is genetically both Indo-European (Germanic, Slavic and Romance) and Afro-Asiatic (Semitic). He suggests that Israeli Hebrew is the continuation not only of literary Hebrew but also of Yiddish, as well as Polish, Russian, German, English, Ladino, Arabic and other languages spoken by Hebrew revivalists. Zuckermann's hybridic model is based on two main principles: the Congruence Principle and the Founder Principle.

According to the Congruence Principle, the more contributing languages a linguistic feature exists in, the more likely it is to persist in the target language.[34] Based on feature pool[35] statistics and recognizing simultaneous multiple sources, the Congruence Principle is in contrast to the family tree tool in historical linguistics. The Congruence Principle challenges the relexification model, according to which Israeli Hebrew is Indo-European: Yiddish with Hebrew words.[36]

The Founder Principle underlines the impact of the founder population on the emerging language. Thus, "Yiddish is a primary contributor to Israeli Hebrew because it was the mother tongue of the vast majority of revivalists and first pioneers in Eretz Yisrael at the crucial period of the beginning of Israeli Hebrew".[37] According to Zuckermann, although the revivalists wished to speak Hebrew, with Semitic grammar and pronunciation, they could not avoid the Ashkenazi mindset arising from their European background. He argues that their attempt to deny their European roots, negate diasporism and avoid hybridity (as reflected in Yiddish) failed. "Had the revivalists been Arabic-speaking Jews (e.g. from Morocco), Israeli Hebrew would have been a totally different language – both genetically and typologically, much more Semitic. The impact of the founder population on Israeli Hebrew is incomparable with that of later immigrants."[37] The Founder Principle challenges the traditional revival view, according to which Israeli Hebrew is Hebrew revived and thus Afro-Asiatic (Semitic).

Zuckermann concludes that when one revives a no-longer spoken language, one should expect to end up with a hybrid.[37]

Lexicology – analysis of camouflaged borrowing[edit]

Zuckermann's analysis of multisourced neologization[38] challenges Einar Haugen's classic typology of lexical borrowing.[dead link][39] While 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, words deriving from two or more sources at the same time. Examples of such mechanisms are phonetic matching, semanticized phonetic matching and phono-semantic matching. Phono-semantic matching is distinct from calquing. While calquing includes (semantic) translation, it does not consist of phonetic matching (i.e. retaining the approximate sound of the borrowed word through matching it with a similar-sounding pre-existent word/morpheme in the target language). Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew compares phono-semantic matches in Israeli Hebrew to those in Chinese, Japanese, Turkish, Arabic, Estonian, Yiddish and creole languages. The book received outstanding reviews at Linguist List,[40] as well as by James Matisoff ("fascinating and multifaceted ... a paean to linguistic creativity"), Jeffrey Heath and Geoffrey Lewis.[41]

Zuckermann concludes that language planners, for example members of the Academy of the Hebrew Language, employ the very same techniques used in folk etymology by laymen, as well as by religious leaders.[32] He urges lexicographers and etymologists to recognize the widespread phenomena of camouflaged borrowing and multisourced neologization and not to force one source on multi-parental lexical items.

Revival linguistics – exploration of universal constraints and mechanisms in language reclamation[edit]

Zuckermann introduces Revival Linguistics as a new subdiscipline of linguistics, complementing documentary linguistics and aiming to provide a systematic general linguistic analysis especially of attempts to resurrect no-longer spoken languages (language reclamation) but also of initiatives to reverse language shift (language renewal or revitalization). "Zuckermann's term 'Revival Linguistics' is modelled upon 'Contact Linguistics' (<language contact). Revival linguistics inter alia explores the universal constraints and mechanisms involved in language reclamation, renewal and revitalization. It draws perspicacious comparative insights from one revival attempt to another, thus acting as an epistemological bridge between parallel discourses in various local attempts to revive sleeping tongues all over the globe."[42]

Writing systems – characterization of Chinese orthography[edit]

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). Zuckermann argues that Leonard Bloomfield's assertion that "a language is the same no matter what system of writing may be used"[43] 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".[44]

Recreational linguistics – constrained literature[edit]

Zuckermann wrote the longest known palindrome in Hebrew, a meaningful palindromic story,[45] as well as the longest known Italo-Hebraic homophonous poem.[46]

Publications (selection)[edit]


  1. ^, accessed February 3, 2011.[dead link]
  2. ^ "Contributors". Galus Australis. Retrieved February 3, 2011. 
  3. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2006). "Complement Clause Types in Israeli". In R. M. W. Dixon; Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald. Complementation: A Cross-Linguistic Typology (PDF). Oxford University Press. pp. 72–92. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  4. ^ According to Zuckermann, "the reality of linguistic genesis is far more complex than a simple family tree system allows. 'Revived' languages are unlikely to have a single parent." – see p. 63 in Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2009). "Hybridity versus Revivability: Multiple Causation, Forms and Patterns" (PDF). Journal of Language Contact – VARIA 2: 40–67. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d "University Staff Directory: Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann". The University of Adelaide. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  6. ^ United World Colleges (UWC): Alumni Profie: Education: Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann, accessed February 1, 2011 Archived July 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann". Wingate Scholarships. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Journal of Language Contact: Evolution of Languages, Contact and Discourse". Brill. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Consultants, Advisers and Contributors". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Aboriginal languages deserve revival". The Australian. August 26, 2009. [dead link]; as well as 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. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  11. ^ Ambassador Yuval Rotem - Address for the opening of the Allira Aboriginal Knowledge IT Centre, Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia, September 2, 2010, accessed February 7, 2011.[dead link]
  12. ^ E.g. Why The Language Of Israelis Should Not Be Called Modern Hebrew (July 23, 2005)[dead link]
  13. ^ E.g. Prof. Ghil'ad Zuckermann on Gordon Ramsay's language, Wednesday, July 9, 2008 Archived August 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ See Hebrew? Israeli? Israeli Hebrew? - Interview with Linguist Ghil'ad Zuckermann (Part I) (February 9, 2011); and The Politics of Language Archived July 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. - Interview with Linguist Ghil’ad Zuckermann (Part II) (February 16, 2011); Radio Sefarad (un proyecto de comunicación de la Federación de Comunidades Judías de España).
  15. ^ E.g. Omri Herzog (September 26, 2008). עברית בשתי שקל [Hebrew for two Shekels]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  16. ^ E.g. "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. 
  17. ^ E.g. Hebreeuws / De mythe van de bijbelse taal (December 17, 2006)
  18. ^ Katz, Dovid (2004). Words on Fire. The Unfinished Story of Yiddish. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0465037285. 
  19. ^ Hillel Halkin ("Philologos") (December 24, 2004). "Hebrew vs. Israeli". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  20. ^ 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 September 19, 2014. 
  21. ^ 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
  22. ^ "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. 
  23. ^ 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 
  24. ^ Language lost and regained / Barngarla man Stephen Atkinson, The Australian, 20 September 2013
  25. ^ Australia’s unspeakable indigenous tragedy / Lainie Anderson, 6 May 2012, BARNGARLA: PEOPLE, LANGUAGE & LAND, Dr Anna Goldsworthy on the Barngarla language reclamation / The Monthly, September 2014, Barngarla language reclamation, Port Augusta, Barngarla language reclamation, Port Lincoln, Reawakening Language (including Barngarla sentences uttered by Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann), 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
  26. ^ Joshua Fishman (December 5, 2008). אַ פּנים־חדשות: אַ יונגער קענער פֿון ייִדיש און פֿון "ישׂראליש" [A face-News: A young connoisseur of Yiddish and of "Israelish"]. The Jewish Daily Forward (in Yiddish). Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  27. ^ E.g. Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2004). "Cultural Hybridity: Multisourced Neologization in 'Reinvented' Languages and in Languages with 'Phono-Logographic' Script" (PDF). Languages in Contrast 4 (2): 281–318. doi:10.1075/lic.4.2.06zuc. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  28. ^ E.g. Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2006), "Comparative Constructions in 'Israeli Hebrew'", Melilah 2006/2, pp. 1–16;
    Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2006). "Direct and Indirect Speech in Straight-Talking Israeli" (PDF). Acta Linguistica Hungarica 53 (4): 467–481. doi:10.1556/aling.53.2006.4.5. Retrieved September 19, 2014.  Archived February 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ E.g. Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2006). "Hebrew, Israeli". In Keith Brown. Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics 5 (Second ed.). Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 265–268. 
  30. ^ E.g. Sapir, Yair; Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2008). "Icelandic: Phonosemantic Matching". In Judith Rosenhouse; Rotem Kowner. Globally Speaking: Motives for Adopting English Vocabulary in Other Languages (PDF). Multilingual Matters. pp. 19–43. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  31. ^ E.g. Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2008), "'Realistic Prescriptivism': The Academy of the Hebrew Language, its Campaign of 'Good Grammar' and Lexpionage, and the Native Israeli Speakers", Israel Studies in Language and Society 1, pp. 135–154.
  32. ^ a b See Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2006), "'Etymythological Othering' and the Power of 'Lexical Engineering' in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. A Socio-Philo(sopho)logical Perspective", Explorations in the Sociology of Language and Religion, edited by Tope Omoniyi and Joshua A. Fishman, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 237–258.
  33. ^ E.g. Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2003), "Language Contact and Globalisation: The Camouflaged Influence of English on the World's Languages – with special attention to Israeli (sic) and Mandarin", Cambridge Review of International Affairs 16 (2), pp. 287–307.
  34. ^ See p. 62 in Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2006). "A New Vision for 'Israeli Hebrew': Theoretical and Practical Implications of Analysing Israel's Main Language as a Semi-Engineered Semito-European Hybrid Language" (PDF). Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 5 (1): 57–71. doi:10.1080/14725880500511175. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  35. ^ Mufwene, Salikoko (2001). The Ecology of Language Evolution. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521794756. 
  36. ^ Horvath, Julia; Wexler, Paul, eds. (1997). Relexification in Creole and Non-Creole Languages: With Special Attention to Haitian Creole, Modern Hebrew, Romani and Rumanian. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3447039543. 
  37. ^ a b c See p. 63 in Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2006). "A New Vision for 'Israeli Hebrew': Theoretical and Practical Implications of Analysing Israel's Main Language as a Semi-Engineered Semito-European Hybrid Language" (PDF). Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 5 (1): 57–71. doi:10.1080/14725880500511175. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  38. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2003). Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1403917232. 
  39. ^ Haugen, Einar (1950). "The Analysis of Linguistic Borrowing". Language 26: 210–231. doi:10.2307/410058. 
  40. ^ "Review: Historical Ling/Socioling/Semitic Ling: Zuckermann". Linguist List. May 2, 2005. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  41. ^ "Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew". Palgrave Macmillan. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  42. ^ 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. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  43. ^ Bloomfield, Leonard (1933), Language, New York: Henry Holt, p. 21.
  44. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2003). Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 255. ISBN 978-1403917232. 
  45. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (1998). "Lear's in Israel". Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics 31 (2): 154–5. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  46. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2006). "Shir Du-Leshoni (Bilingual Poem)". Ho!, Literary Magazine. pp. 256–257. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 

External links[edit]