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Languages, Dialects, or Repertoires? Approaches to ethnic language varieties with a focus on Jewish English

Date: 05/08/2013

Time: 12:00 PM

Location: 201 Nicholson Hall

Cost: Free


Research on language and ethnicity has pointed to a number of theoretical problems, including whether distinctive language used by ethnic group members should be considered a separate variety, dialect, or language, and how to characterize the speech of an ethnic group member who uses distinctive features only sporadically. This talk presents a new approach: “ethnolinguistic repertoire,” defined as a fluid set of linguistic resources that members of an ethnic group may use variably. This approach is supported with data on American Jewish language use based on a 40,000-response survey conducted by Sarah Benor, as well as others’ research on language use in African American and Latino communities. 

Sarah Bunin Benor is Associate Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (Los Angeles campus) and Adjunct Associate Professor in the University of Southern California Linguistics Department. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in Linguistics in 2004. She is the author of Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism (Rutgers University Press, 2012), and she has published and lectured widely about Jewish languages, linguistics, Yiddish, American Jews, and Orthodox Jews. Dr. Benor is founding editor of the Journal of Jewish Languages (Brill) and the Jewish Language Research Website.


  • Name: Laura Lechner
  • E-mail: jwst@umn.edu
  • Phone: 612-624-4914
  • Sponsored by: Jewish Studies, German, Scandinavian & Dutch, Anthropology


Parking is available in the Church Street garage, the 4th Ave. ramp and the Washington Ave. ramp.

More information: http://www.jwst.umn.edu

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact Laura Lechner at jwst@umn.edu, or via phone at 612-624-4914.

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