Zuckermann in 2011
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge|
University of Oxford
Tel Aviv University
United World College of the Adriatic
|Known for||Hybridic theory of Israeli Hebrew, |
Classification of camouflaged borrowing,
Language reclamation and mental health
|Institutions||The University of Adelaide |
Churchill College, Cambridge
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Weizmann Institute of Science
The University of Queensland
National University of Singapore
University of Texas at Austin
Ghil'ad Zuckermann (Hebrew: ? , pronounced [?il?ad 'tsuke?man]; 1 June 1971) is an Israeli-born revivalist and linguist who works in contact linguistics, lexicology and the study of language, culture and identity. Zuckermann is Professor of Linguistics and Chair of Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide, Australia.
Zuckermann was born in Givatayim, Israel, to a Jewish family, and raised in the city of Eilat. .  In 1997 he received an M.A. in Linguistics from the Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary Programme for Outstanding Students of Tel Aviv University. In 1997-2000 he was Scatcherd European Scholar of the University of Oxford and Denise Skinner Graduate Scholar at St Hugh's College, receiving a D.Phil. (Oxon.) in 2000. As Gulbenkian Research Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge (2000-2004), he was affiliated with the Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Modern and Medieval Studies, University of Cambridge. He received a titular Ph.D. (Cantab.) in 2003.
He taught at the University of Cambridge (Faculty of Oriental Studies, now known as Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies), University of Queensland, National University of Singapore, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, East China Normal University, University of Miami, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, University of Pavol Jozef ?afárik and Middlebury College. In 2010-2015 he was China's Ivy League Project 211 "Distinguished Visiting Professor", and "Shanghai Oriental Scholar" professorial fellow, at Shanghai International Studies University.
He was Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Fellow in 2007-2011 and was awarded research fellowships at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study and Conference CenterVilla Serbelloni, Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy); Braginsky Center, Weizmann Institute of Science;Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (University of Texas at Austin); Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (Hebrew University of Jerusalem); Tel Aviv University; Research Centre for Linguistic Typology (Institute for Advanced Study, La Trobe University, Melbourne); National Institute for Japanese Language (Tokyo); and Mahidol University. He was awarded a British Academy Research Grant, Memorial Foundation of Jewish Culture Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harold Hyam Wingate Scholarship and Chevening Scholarship.
Currently, Zuckermann is Professor of Linguistics and Chair of Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide. He is elected member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the Foundation for Endangered Languages. He serves as Editorial Board member of the Journal of Language Contact (Brill), consultant for the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), and expert witness in (corpus) lexicography and (forensic) linguistics.
In 2017 Zuckermann was awarded a five-year research project grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) "to explore the effects of Indigenous language reclamation on social and emotional wellbeing".
Zuckermann applies insights from the Hebrew revival to the revitalization of Aboriginal languages in Australia. According to Yuval Rotem, the ambassador of the State of Israel to the Commonwealth of Australia, Zuckermann's "passion for the reclamation, maintenance and empowerment of Aboriginal languages and culture inspired [him] and was indeed the driving motivator of" the establishment of the Allira Aboriginal Knowledge IT Centre in Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia, on 2 September 2010.
He proposes "Native Tongue Title", compensation for language loss, because "linguicide" results in "loss of cultural autonomy, loss of spiritual and intellectual sovereignty, loss of soul". He uses the term sleeping beauty to refer to a no-longer spoken language and urges Australia "to define the 330 Aboriginal languages, most of them sleeping beauties, as the official languages of their region", and to introduce bilingual signs and thus change the linguistic landscape of the country. "So, for example, Port Lincoln should also be referred to as Galinyala, which is its original Barngarla name." His edX MOOC Language Revival: Securing the Future of Endangered Languages has had 12,000 learners from 190 countries.
Zuckermann proposes a controversial hybrid theory of the emergence of Israeli Hebrew according to which Hebrew and Yiddish "acted equally" as the "primary contributors" to Modern Hebrew. Scholars including Yiddish linguist Dovid Katz (who refers to Zuckermann as a "fresh-thinking Israeli scholar"), adopt Zuckermann's term "Israeli" and accept his notion of hybridity. Others, for example author and translator Hillel Halkin, oppose Zuckermann's model. In an article published on 24 December 2004 in The Jewish Daily Forward, pseudonymous column "Philologos", Halkin accused Zuckermann of political agenda. Zuckermann's response was published on 28 December 2004 in The Mendele Review: Yiddish Literature and Language.
As described by Reuters in a 2006 article, "Zuckermann's lectures are packed, with the cream of Israeli academia invariably looking uncertain on whether to endorse his innovative streak or rise to the defense of the mother tongue." According to Omri Herzog (Haaretz), Zuckermann "is considered by his Israeli colleagues either a genius or a provocateur".
"In 2011 [...] Zuckermann contacted the Barngarla community about helping to revive and reclaim the Barngarla language. This request was eagerly accepted by the Barngarla people and language reclamation workshops began in Port Lincoln, Whyalla and Port Augusta in 2012" (Barngarla man Stephen Atkinson, 2013). The reclamation is based on 170-year-old documents.
Zuckermann argues that Israeli Hebrew, which he calls "Israeli", is a hybrid language that is genetically both Indo-European (Germanic, Slavic and Romance) and Afro-Asiatic (Semitic). He suggests that "Israeli" is the continuation not only of literary Hebrew(s) but also of Yiddish, as well as Polish, Russian, German, English, Ladino, Arabic and other languages spoken by Hebrew revivalists.
Zuckermann's hybridic synthesis is in contrast to both the traditional revival thesis (i.e. that "Israeli" is Hebrew revived) and the relexification antithesis (i.e. that "Israeli" is Yiddish with Hebrew words). While his synthesis is multi-parental, both the thesis and the antithesis are mono-parental.
Zuckermann introduces revivalistics as a new transdisciplinary field of enquiry surrounding language reclamation (e.g. Barngarla), revitalization (e.g. Adnyamathanha) and reinvigoration (e.g. Irish). Complementing documentary linguistics, revivalistics aims to provide a systematic analysis especially of attempts to resurrect no-longer spoken languages (reclamation) but also of initiatives to reverse language shift (revitalization and reinvigoration).
His analysis of multisourced neologization (the coinage of words deriving from two or more sources at the same time) challenges Einar Haugen's classic typology of lexical borrowing. Whereas Haugen categorizes borrowing into either substitution or importation, Zuckermann explores cases of "simultaneous substitution and importation" in the form of camouflaged borrowing. He proposes a new classification of multisourced neologisms such as phono-semantic matching.
Zuckermann's exploration of phono-semantic matching in Standard Mandarin and Meiji period Japanese concludes that the Chinese writing system is multifunctional: pleremic ("full" of meaning, e.g. logographic), cenemic ("empty" of meaning, e.g. phonographic - like a syllabary) and simultaneously cenemic and pleremic (phono-logographic). He argues that Leonard Bloomfield's assertion that "a language is the same no matter what system of writing may be used" is inaccurate. "If Chinese had been written using roman letters, thousands of Chinese words would not have been coined, or would have been coined with completely different forms".