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From the outside, Hasidic communities may appear homogeneous and resistant to change. However, there is great variability in the ways in which contemporary Hasidim perceive, interact with, and adapt to the outside world; and these differences are leading to large scale cultural change. In this presentation Chaya Nove will provide a description of New York Hasidic Yiddish and the sociocultural context in which it functions as a language of everyday life. She will demonstrate how language can be used as a lens to explore patterns of cultural change, suggesting that changes in sound are driven by the most outwardly oriented individuals in the community.

Chaya Nove is a postdoctoral researcher at University of California, Berkeley, with a PhD in linguistics from The Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Her dissertation analyzes variation and change in the vowel system of contemporary Hasidic Yiddish spoken in New York and examines the influence of contact with English on observed sound changes. Presently, Nove is working on a project to transcribe and prepare archival recordings of Holocaust survivor testimonies for linguistic analysis.

Co-presented by KlezCalifornia and the Workers Circle/Arbeter Ring of Northern California