Event Date: 11th February 2023


This talk and discussion will explain why language revival is (1) right, (2) beautiful, and (3) beneficial. In our current world, more and more groups are losing their intangible heritage. Language reclamation (e.g. Hebrew and the Barngarla Aboriginal language of South Australia), revitalization (e.g. Shanghainese and the Adnyamathanha Aboriginal language) and reinvigoration (e.g. Te Reo Māori and Welsh) are becoming increasingly relevant as more and more people seek to reconnect with their heritage, recover their cultural autonomy, empower their spiritual and intellectual sovereignty, and improve their wellbeing and mental health.

There is an urgent need to offer comparative insights, for example from the Hebrew revival, which resulted in a cross-fertilized Semito-European hybrid that I call “Israeli”. The talk will also propose that Revivalistics, a new global, comparative, trans-disciplinary field of enquiry surrounding the reclamation of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ tongues and revitalization and empowerment of endangered languages, is very different from Documentary Linguistics.

Main Reference: Zuckermann, Ghil‘ad 2020. Revivalistics: From the Genesis of Israeli to Language Reclamation in Australia and Beyond. New York: Oxford University Press.

About the Speaker:

Professor Ghil‘ad Zuckermann (D.Phil. Oxford) is Chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide, Australia. He is the President of the Australian Association for Jewish Studies (AAJS, since 2017) and Elected Member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS, since 2014). Prof. Zuckermann is the author of Revivalistics: From the Genesis of Israeli to Language Reclamation in Australia and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2020), 多源造词研究 (A Study of Multisourced Neologization; East China Normal University Press, 2021), the seminal bestseller Israelit Safa Yafa (Israeli – A Beautiful Language; Am Oved, 2008), Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), three chapters of the Israeli Tingo (Keren, 2011), Engaging – A Guide to Interacting Respectfully and Reciprocally with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, and their Arts Practices and Intellectual Property (2015), the first online Dictionary of the Barngarla Aboriginal Language (2018), Barngarlidhi Manoo (Speaking Barngarla Together) (2019) andMangiri Yarda (Healthy Country: Barngarla Wellbeing and Nature) (2021). He is the editor of Burning Issues in Afro-Asiatic Linguistics (2012), Jewish Language Contact (2014), a special issue of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language, and the co-editor of Endangered Words, Signs of Revival (2014).

Professor Zuckermann is the founder of Revivalistics, a new global, trans-disciplinary field of enquiry surrounding language reclamation, revitalization and reinvigoration. On 14 September 2011 he launched, with the Barngarla Aboriginal communities of Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, the reclamation of the Barngarla Aboriginal language. In 2017-2021 he was Chief Investigator in an NHMRC research project assessing language revival and mental health. He is an elected member of the Foundation for Endangered Languages (FEL), and was President of AustraLex in 2013-2015, Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Fellow in 2007–2011, and Gulbenkian Research Fellow at Churchill College Cambridge in 2000-2004. He is a world-renowned Consultant and Expert Witness in (corpus) lexicography and (forensic) linguistics, in court cases all over the globe.

He has taught at the University of Cambridge, National University of Singapore, University of Queensland, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Middlebury College (Vermont), East China Normal University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shanghai International Studies University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, University of Miami and University of Haifa. He has been Research Fellow at the Weizmann Institute of Science; Tel Aviv University; Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center, Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Italy; Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin; Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Institute for Advanced Study, La Trobe University; Mahidol University; and Kokuritsu Kokugo Kenkyūjo (National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics, Tokyo). He has been Denise Skinner Scholar at St Hugh’s College Oxford, Scatcherd European Scholar at the University of Oxford, and scholar at the United World College of the Adriatic (Italy).

His MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), Language Revival: Securing the Future of Endangered Languages, has attracted 20,000 learners from 190 countries (speakers of hundreds of distinct languages): https://www.edx.org/course/language-revival-securing-future-adelaidex-lang101x