Jul 29, 2022

Linguist Isaac Bleaman Receives National Science Foundation Award to Study Language of Holocaust Survivors

The $470,000 grant will support research based on Yiddish-language testimonies from the USC Shoah Foundation.

Isaac Bleaman, an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, has received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation to study the speech of native Yiddish speakers who survived the Holocaust.

The five-year $470,000 grant will support research that documents the Yiddish language as it was spoken by survivors who were interviewed for the Visual History Archive of the USC Shoah Foundation, an organization that was founded by film director Steven Spielberg in 1994.

The goal of Bleaman’s project is to analyze the grammatical and phonetic properties of European Yiddish and to address the impact of the Holocaust on the development of the language. The award will finance the construction of a new digital language corpus containing transcripts, media files, and metadata.

These materials will be made available to researchers, Yiddish language instructors and students, as well as the general public for free online. Currently most of the Yiddish interviews can only be viewed at institutions that subscribe to the full Visual History Archive, and none are available with transcripts.

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