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Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal | How Many Grammars Does Jewish Babylonian Aramaic Have?

April 3, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Kaplan Hall 365, 415 Portola Plaza
Los Angeles, California 90095
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In this lecture, we will explore how languages evolve through linguistic diversity, aiming to shed light on the intricate relationship between language, its evolution, and its transmission through historical texts. Drawing on the principles of sociolinguistics, we will examine how speakers and writers of a language navigate between competing grammars. We will also explore the intricate process of ancient text transmission through scribes and copyists who acted as language agents with their own competing grammars.

Focusing on the Babylonian Talmud, we will demonstrate the linguistic richness and challenges encountered in studying the dialect of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. The lecture will highlight the methods and tools used by linguists to reconstruct the original grammars of the text, as well as trace the grammar of copyists from the Middle Ages. By doing so, we will show how classic philological questions can be answered using linguistic tools.


About the speaker

Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal has a BA in Philosophy and Hebrew Language from Hebrew University (1999-2002, summa cum laude) and PhD from Harvard University (2009). He joined the faculty of the department of Hebrew Language at Hebrew University in 2010 after being the lecturer in Semitics at Yale University (2008-2010). He is also a fellow at the Language, Logic and Cognition Center at Hebrew University. Elitzur was a visiting professor at Harvard University (Spring 2012), the Jacob Perlow Visiting Professor, Yale University (2017-8) and a short term visiting Professor, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris (2018-2019). This year he is a visiting professor at Yale University in Judaic Studies and in Linguistics.
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Kaplan Hall 365
415 Portola Plaza
Los Angeles, California 90095


Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures