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Ghil'ad Zuckermann

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Ghil'ad Zuckermann
Zuckermann in 2011
Born (1971-06-01) 1 June 1971 (age 53)
Tel Aviv, Israel
Alma materUniversity of Oxford (D.Phil.)
University of Cambridge (Ph.D.)
Tel Aviv University (M.A.)
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
InstitutionsChurchill College, Cambridge[1][2]
Shanghai Jiao Tong University[3]
Weizmann Institute of Science[3]
National University of Singapore
University of Texas at Austin
Middlebury College
Shanghai International Studies University[4]
The University of Adelaide[5]
Flinders University[6]
La Trobe University[7][8]
East China Normal University[4]

Ghil'ad Zuckermann (Hebrew: גלעד צוקרמן, pronounced [ɡiˈlad ˈt͜sukeʁman]; (1971-06-01)1 June 1971) is an Israeli-born language revivalist[9] and linguist who works in contact linguistics, lexicology and the study of language, culture and identity.[10]


Zuckermann was awarded the Rubinlicht Prize (2023) "for his research on the profound influence of Yiddish on modern Hebrew",[11][12] and listed among Australia's top 30 "living legends of research" (2024) by The Australian.[13]

He was born in Tel Aviv in 1971, was raised in Eilat, and attended the United World College (UWC) of the Adriatic in 1987–1989.[14][15] In 1997 he received an M.A. in Linguistics from the Adi Lautman Program at 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 DPhil (Oxon.) in 2000.[16][17][18] While at Oxford, he served as president of the Jewish student group L'Chaim Society. As Gulbenkian research fellow at Churchill College (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.[16] Zuckermann is a hyperpolyglot,[19] with his past professorships ranging across universities in England, China, Australia, Singapore, Slovakia, Israel, and the United States.[14] 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.[4]

He was Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Fellow in 2007–2011, and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant holder in 2017–2021, studying the effects of Indigenous language reclamation on wellbeing.[20][21][22] He was awarded a British Academy Research Grant, Memorial Foundation of Jewish Culture Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harold Hyam Wingate Scholarship[23] and Chevening Scholarship.[24][14]

He is elected member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and the Foundation for Endangered Languages.[25] He serves as editorial board member of the Journal of Language Contact (Brill),[26] International Academic Board Advisor of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy,[27] board member of the Online Museum of Jewish Theatre,[28] and expert witness in trademarks[29] and forensic linguistics.[30][25]

Since February 2011 Zuckermann has been Professor of Linguistics and Chair of Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide[14] and since February 2017 he has been President of the Australian Association for Jewish Studies (AAJS).[31] In 2013–2015 he was President of the Australasian Association of Lexicography (AustraLex).[32]


Zuckermann applies insights from the Hebrew revival to the revitalization of Aboriginal languages in Australia.[33][34][35] 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.[36]

He proposes Native Tongue Title, compensation for language loss, because "linguicide"[37][38] results in "loss of cultural autonomy, loss of spiritual and intellectual sovereignty,[39] loss of soul".[40] He uses the term sleeping beauty to refer to a no-longer spoken language[19][41] 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."[42]

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.[43][44] 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.[45] 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 a political agenda.[43] Zuckermann's response was published on 28 December 2004 in The Mendele Review: Yiddish Literature and Language.[46]

Reclamation of the Barngarla language[edit]

In 2012[19] Zuckermann started working with the Barngarla community to reclaim the Barngarla language,[47][48] based on the work of a German Lutheran pastor Clamor Wilhelm Schürmann, who had worked at a mission in 1844 and created a Barngarla dictionary.[49] This led to ongoing language revival workshops being held in Port Augusta, Whyalla, and Port Lincoln several times each year, with funding from the federal government's Indigenous Languages Support program.[19][50][51]

Zuckermann co-authored a Barngarla trilogy:[52] Barngarlidhi Manoo ("Speaking Barngarla Together": Barngarla Alphabet & Picture Book; with the Barngarla community, 2019); Mangiri Yarda ("Healthy Country": Barngarla Wellbeing and Nature; with Barngarla woman Emmalene Richards, 2021); and Wardlada Mardinidhi ("Bush Healing": Barngarla Plant Medicines; with Barngarla woman Evelyn Walker, 2023).[53][54]

He has been involved in the revival of other Aboriginal languages such as Bayoongoo,[55] and has been the founder and convener of the Adelaide Language Festival.[56][57]

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.[58]

His hybridic synthesis is in contrast to both the traditional revival thesis (i.e. that "Israeli" is Hebrew) and the relexification antithesis (i.e. that "Israeli" is Yiddish with Hebrew words). While both the thesis and the antithesis are mono-parental, Zuckermann's synthesis is multi-parental.[44][59]

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).

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).[35]

His analysis of multisourced neologization (the coinage of words deriving from two or more sources at the same time)[60] challenges Einar Haugen's classic typology of lexical borrowing.[61] 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"[62] 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".[60]

Selected publications[edit]

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

Books authored[edit]

  • 多源造词研究 (Multisourced Neologization). Shanghai: East China Normal University Press. 2021. ISBN 9787567598935.
  • Revivalistics: From the Genesis of Israeli to Language Reclamation in Australia and Beyond. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020. ISBN 9780199812790 / ISBN 9780199812776.
  • ישראלית שפה יפה (Israeli – A Beautiful Language). Tel Aviv: Am Oved. 2008. ISBN 9789651319631. (Israelit Safa Yafa)
  • Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew. Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. ISBN 9781403917232 / ISBN 9781403938695.

Books edited[edit]

Journal articles and book chapters[edit]

Other publications[edit]



  1. ^ Hideous Spectre of Censorship, Times Higher Education, August 15, 2003: "Ghil'ad Zuckermann is Gulbenkian Research Fellow at Churchill College, University of Cambridge. He is currently in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation's Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy."
  2. ^ Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Volume 3, Issue 2, 2004.
  3. ^ a b Reawakening Language, BBC, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Sun Yat-sen University, November 11, 2014.
  5. ^ University Staff Directory: Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann, University of Adelaide
  6. ^ Professor Ghil‘ad Zuckermann, Academic Level E, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University
  7. ^ p. 35 of Newsletter - February 2008, Research Centre for Linguistic Typology.
  8. ^ Etymythology, ABC, March 11, 2006.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "edX". Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  11. ^ Rubinlicht Awards and Performance by Evgeny Kissin, Preservation of Yiddish Culture and Heritage.
  12. ^ Linguist Ghil’ad Zuckermann and Leivik House volunteer Shoshana Kroitero win Rubinlicht Prize, The Forward
  13. ^ RESEARCH 2024: Australia’s living legends of research, The Australian.
  14. ^ a b c d Sarah Robinson, March 11, 2019, The LINGUIST List, Featured Linguist
  15. ^ Five outstandingly successful stories, UWC of the Adriatic, 2018.
  16. ^ a b Zuckermann's D.Phil (Oxon.) and Ph.D. (Cantab.)
  17. ^ p. 43 of St Hugh's College Chronicle, 2015-2016.
  18. ^ p. 45 of St Hugh's College Chronicle, 2016-2017.
  19. ^ a b c d Dr Anna Goldsworthy on the Barngarla language reclamation, The Monthly, September 2014
  20. ^ NITV/SBS News by Claudianna Blanco: Could language revival cure diabetes?, 21 February 2017.
  21. ^ NHMRC Grants.
  22. ^ Grant awarded for research into the link between language revival and well-being.
  23. ^ "Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann". Wingate Scholarships. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  24. ^ The Weizmann International Magazine of Science and People 8, pp. 16-17
  25. ^ a b Report of Prof G Zuckermann, Board of Deputies of British Jews
  26. ^ "Journal of Language Contact: Evolution of Languages, Contact and Discourse". Brill. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  27. ^ ISGAP
  28. ^ Online Museum of Jewish Theatre (מוזיאון און-ליין של התיאטרון היהודי)
  29. ^ Federal Court of Australia
  30. ^ Damning new evidence undermines BBC’s Oxford Street racist slur claim, Jonathan Sacerdoti, The Jewish Chronicle, December 30, 2021
  31. ^ AAJS, accessed November 26, 2020.
  32. ^ Australasian Association of Lexicography (AustraLex)
  33. ^ "Aboriginal languages deserve revival". The Australian. 26 August 2009.
  34. ^ Revivalistics: From the Genesis of Israeli to Language Reclamation in Australia and Beyond. New York: Oxford University Press. 2020. ISBN 9780199812790.
  35. ^ 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 4 May 2020.
  36. ^ Ambassador Yuval Rotem - Address for the opening of the Allira Aboriginal Knowledge IT Centre, Dubbo, NSW, Australia, September 2, 2010, accessed August 24, 2016.
  37. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad, "Stop, revive and survive", The Australian Higher Education, June 6, 2012.
  38. ^ "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.
  39. ^ "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.
  40. ^ Arnold, Lynn (2016), Lingua Nullius: A Retrospect and Prospect about Australia's First Languages (Transcript), Lowitja O'Donoghue Oration, May 31, 2016.
  41. ^ 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).
  42. ^ Sophie Verass (NITV) Indigenous meanings of Australian town names, 10 August 2016.
  43. ^ a b Hillel Halkin ("Philologos") (24 December 2004). "Hebrew vs. Israeli". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  44. ^ a b John-Paul Davidson (2011), Planet Word, Penguin. pp. 125-126.
  45. ^ Katz, Dovid (2004). Words on Fire. The Unfinished Story of Yiddish. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0465037285.
  46. ^ Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (28 December 2004). "The Genesis of the Israeli Language: A Brief Response to 'Philologos'". The Mendele Review: Yiddish Literature and Language. 8 (13). Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  47. ^ 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.
  48. ^ See Section 282 in 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; John Mansfield (judge).
  49. ^ Hamilton, Jodie (26 June 2021). "Kindy kids learning Barngarla Indigenous language, spread joy as they talk". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
  50. ^ The Dictionary I Read for Fun, John McWhorter, New York Times, March 2, 2023.
  51. ^ Bringing dead languages back to life, BBC
  52. ^ Zuckermann continues to rebuild Barngarla, Shane Desiatnik, The Australian Jewish News, August 9, 2023
  53. ^ Barngarla: Additional Resources
  54. ^ Hamilton, Jodie (24 July 2023). "Barngarla bush medicine book healing hearts and helping stolen children reconnect with country". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 22 January 2024.
  55. ^ Inspired by Hebrew, scholar helps revive dying aboriginal Australian languages, Avi Kumar, JNS
  56. ^ Ellis, David (1 May 2014). "Adelaide Language Festival celebrates diversity".
  57. ^ Savage, Crispin (22 November 2017). "One-Day Festival Offers taste of 26 Languages". Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  58. ^ Israeli Hebrew didn’t kill Yiddish. As a new exhibit in NYC shows, it gave it a new nest to live in., Jewish Telegraphic Agency, September 6, 2023.
  59. ^ 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 19 August 2016.
  60. ^ a b Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2003). Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1403917232.
  61. ^ Haugen, Einar (1950). "The Analysis of Linguistic Borrowing". Language. 26 (2): 210–231. doi:10.2307/410058. JSTOR 410058.
  62. ^ Bloomfield, Leonard (1933), Language, New York: Henry Holt, p. 21.
  63. ^ Dead Languages and the Man Trying to Revive Them, By Nuno Marques, February 21, 2018: "Prof. Ghil’ad Zuckermann is a renowned linguist and scholar originally from Israel and currently based in Australia. He talked to Babbel about strategies for linguistic revitalization and the political issues surrounding linguistic change and preservation."

External links[edit]