Ashkenazic Hebrew: A methodological perspective on language varieties

Ohad Cohen, Aure Ben-Zvi GoldBlum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article relies on an interdisciplinary approach, delineating criteria for classifying Ashkenazic Hebrew, and showing that written varieties of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries should be clearly distinguished from that of the nineteenth century. Close investigation of the language of Pinkasim shows the correlation between regional written Hebrew and the local variety of spoken Yiddish. Thus, Hebrew texts from Poland exhibit distinctive phonological features related to Mid-Eastern Yiddish – for example, a merger of the vowels /u/ and /i/ as exemplified by the interchangeable use of the masculine and feminine pronouns – while texts from Lithuania display other characteristics attributable to influence from North-Eastern Yiddish. This article concludes with a consideration of how one should take into account not only the geographical dimension but also the social background of the writer, the presence of the standardization process, and the type of text under investigation in the analysis of Ashkenazic Hebrew.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-397
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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