Isaac Bleaman

Isaac  Bleaman
Graduation Year

"Generations of readers and critics have praised Sholem Aleichem--the "father of Yiddish literature"--for his linguistic realism: his fictional characters sound like authentic Yiddish speakers one might have encountered in pre-War Eastern European towns. My honors thesis evaluates those claims by comparing Sholem Aleichem's vernacular monologues and samples of spoken Yiddish (anthologized jokes and interviews I transcribed myself). As a gauge of authenticity, I focus on one particular linguistic variable--resumption in relative clauses--and the syntactic factors that affect its frequency and use. Logistic regression models of the language data show that the author relies on the subtle manipulation of the variable to mark his characters' gender, whereas no corresponding gendered difference exists for real Yiddish-speaking men and women." -Isaac Bleaman, 2012

Isaac Bleaman is a senior double-majoring in Linguistics and Comparative Literature with honors. He is the outgoing president of the Jewish Student Association, a cultural fellow with the National Yiddish Book Center, and the fiddler in the Stanford Klezmer Band. After graduation, Isaac will study Russian at the immersive Middlebury Language Schools and spend a year at Oxford working towards a Master's in Yiddish Studies, before applying to graduate programs in Linguistics.

He received the Donald and Robin Kennedy Undergraduate Award in 2012 for his honor's thesis "Vernacularity and Authenticity in Sholem Aleichem’s monologues: A Variationist approach" with Profs. Gabriella Safran and John Rickford as his advisors.