Call for papers: thematic issue of Journal of Jewish Languages: Imitating Jewish Speech

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Sarah Benor

Apr 8, 2022, 10:22:48 AM4/8/22
The Journal of Jewish Languages announces a call for papers for a thematic issue: 
Imitating Jewish Speech 

Throughout history, the everyday speech of Jews has typically differed from the speech of non-Jews in their shared locales. The differences may be seen in terms of a spectrum – ranging from entirely distinct Jewish languages (e.g., Yiddish spoken in Lithuanian surroundings; Judezmo spoken in Turkish surroundings) to natively spoken Jewish ethnolects of the dominant language of the general population (e.g., Vienna Jewish German of the 1920s – 1930s; Jewish Dutch of the early 20th century); these Jewish ethnolects, in turn, can range from being significantly different to almost identical to the dominant general speech of the surroundings. Over the years, significant fields of linguistic scholarship have developed that focus on individual distinct Jewish languages; Jewish interlinguistics; Jewish internal and external bi-/multilingualism; Jewish ethnolects, etc. There has been sporadic scholarship on non-Jewish imitation of Jewish speech across a span of time, culture areas, and languages, including some regarding 20th-21st-century Europe and America (e.g., Jewish Polish, Jewish Czech, Jewish German, Jewish English, e.g., Balík 2022, Benor 2022, Brzezina 1986, Gilman 1986, Jacobs 2008, Matras 1991, Schäfer 2017). However, many instances of non-Jewish imitation of Jewish speech have not yet been analyzed by scholars. These instances appear in literature and stage plays, film, and popular culture; some are antisemitic in nature, while others are more ethnographic or neutral. This thematic issue of the Journal of Jewish Languages will address this gap in the scholarship by analyzing such materials. Articles will explore various linguistic and sociolinguistic aspects of imitations of Jewish speech by non-Jews, with the goal of gaining a fuller picture of the phenomenon of linguistic imitation in general. This scholarship can lead to additional insights on varieties of Jewish speech, as well as relations between Jews and non-Jews. Articles can focus on individual Jewish communities, languages, or ethnolects, or they can offer comparative or theoretical analysis.  

If you are interested in submitting a manuscript for this issue, please send a title and short abstract (50–100 words) to guest editors Lea Schäfer ( and Neil Jacobs ( by May 15, 2022. Article manuscripts will be due December 1 and will be sent out for double-blind peer review. 


Balík, Štěpán. 2022. "'Why Should We Be Brayge?' Elements of the Jewish Ethnolect in Czech Jewish Literature in the twentieth and at the Beginning of the twenty-first Century." In Zukunft der Sprache – Zukunft der Nation?: Verhandlungen des Jiddischen und Jüdischen im Kontext der Czernowitzer Sprachkonferenz, Hg.: Carmen Reichert, Bettina Bannasch und Alfred Wildfeuer, Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 83–102.  

Benor, Sarah Bunin. 2022. “Pastrami, Verklempt, and Tshootspa: Non-Jews’ Use of Jewish Language in the US.” American Jewish Year Book 2020. Arnold Dashefsky and Ira M. Sheskin, eds. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. 3-69. 

Brzezina, Maria. 1986. Polszczyzna Żydów [The Polish of the Jews]. Warszawa / Krakow: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe. 

Gilman, Sander. 1986. Jewish Self-Hatred: Anti-Semitism and the Hidden Language of the Jews. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. 

Jacobs, Neil. 2008. A code of many colors: Deciphering the language of  Jewish cabaret. In Herzog, Marvin,  Ulrike Kiefer, Robert Neumann, Wolfgang Putschke, and Andrew Sunshine (eds.), EYDES: Evidence of Yiddish documented in European Societies. 119-168. Max Niemeyer Verlag. 

Matras, Yaron. 1991. Zur Rekonstruktion des jüdischdeutschen Wortschatzes in den Mundarten ehemaliger "Judendörfer" in Südwestdeutschland. Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik 58, 267–93.  

Schäfer, Lea. 2017. Sprachliche Imitation. In Jiddisch in der deutschsprachigen Literatur (18–20. Jahrhundert). Berlin: Language Science Press.
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