A hidden nusach: the linguistic literacy of the Maharam Lublin

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The study focuses on an individual rabbi from early-modern Poland, Maharam of Lublin, and on his proficiency as a writer. We explore the Maharam’s competence in recruiting different linguistic devices to serve both specific textual functions and the overall communicative function of the text. Taking the combined perspectives of historical discourse analysis and usage-based corpus linguistics, we analyse one responsum as an example of this historically – and in our view linguistically – important source of study. Specifically, we investigate the distributions of the lexical items the Maharam employed in different textual units according to their linguistico-historical strata. Our analyses show that these distributions are either highly constrained or reflect a distributionally dominant component in each texteme, which corresponds to a particular discursive function. In writing this text, the Maharam skilfully and systematically transitions between different linguistic models. His command of the Hebrew strata reflects a literate, functionally motivated nusach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-407
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
COPYRIGHT © Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, 2023.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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