Uriel Weinreich


Uriel Weinreich (Yiddish: אוריאל ווײַנרײַך Uriel Vaynraykh, [uriˈɛl ˈvajnrajx]; May 23, 1926 – March 30, 1967)[1] was a Jewish-American linguist.

Uriel Weinreich
BornMay 23, 1926 (1926-05-23)
Wilno, Poland
present, Vilnius, Lithuania
DiedMarch 30, 1967(1967-03-30) (aged 40)
CitizenshipPolish, American
EducationColumbia University (BA, PhD)
EmployerColumbia University


Uriel Weinreich was born in Wilno, Poland, (since 1945, Vilnius, Lithuania) to a family that paternally hailed from Courland in Latvia and maternally came from a well-respected and established Wilno Jewish family, the first child of Max Weinreich (Polish: Mejer Weinreich) and Regina Szabad. He earned his B.A., M.A., and PhD from Columbia University,[2][3] and went on to teach there, specializing in Yiddish studies, sociolinguistics, and dialectology. He advocated the increased acceptance of semantics, and compiled the iconic Modern English-Yiddish, Yiddish-English Dictionary, published shortly after his death.

Weinreich was the son of the linguist Max Weinreich, and the mentor of both Marvin Herzog, with whom he laid the groundwork for the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry (LCAAJ), and William Labov. Weinreich is also credited with being the first linguist to recognize the phenomenon of interlanguage 19 years before Larry Selinker coined the term in his 1972 article "Interlanguage". In his benchmark book Languages in Contact, Weinreich first noted that learners of second languages consider linguistic forms from their first language equal to forms in the target language. However, the essential inequality of these forms leads to speech which the native speakers of the target language consider unequal. He died of cancer on March 30, 1967, at Montefiore Hospital in New York,[4] prior to the publication of his Yiddish-English dictionary.

In a tribute by Dovid Katz,

"Though he lived less than forty-one years, Uriel Weinreich ... managed to facilitate the teaching of Yiddish language at American universities, build a new Yiddish language atlas, and demonstrate the importance of Yiddish for the science of linguistics."[5]


  • College Yiddish: An Introduction to the Yiddish Language and to Jewish Life and Culture (YIVO, New York, 1st edition 1949, 6th edition 1999), ISBN 0-914512-26-9.
  • Languages in Contact: Findings and Problems. New York, 1953. Reprint, Mouton, The Hague, 1963, ISBN 90-279-2689-1.
  • Say It in Yiddish: A Phrase Book for Travelers (with Beatrice Weinreich). Dover, New York, 1958, ISBN 0-486-20815-X.
  • Modern english-yidish yidish-english verterbukh. Modern English-Yiddish, Yiddish-English Dictionary (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1968 and Schocken, new paperback edition 1987), ISBN 0-8052-0575-6.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Uriel Weinreich at Findagrave.com
  2. ^ Columbia College (Columbia University). Office of Alumni Affairs and Development; Columbia College (Columbia University) (1967–1969). Columbia College today. Columbia University Libraries. New York, N.Y. : Columbia College, Office of Alumni Affairs and Development.
  3. ^ "URIEL WEINREICH, A LINGUIST, DIES; Columbia Professor Taught and Wrote on Yiddish Past". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  4. ^ "Uriel Weinreich, A Linguist, Dies – Columbia Professor Taught and Wrote on Yiddish Past". The New York Times. April 1, 1967. p. 32. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  5. ^ Dovid Katz, Words on Fire: The Unfinished Story of Yiddish (Basic Books, 2004: ISBN 0-465-03728-3), pp. 356–57.

External linksEdit

  • https://web.archive.org/web/20041029090827/http://www5.bartleby.com/65/we/Weinreic.html
  • EYDES (LCAAJ's website)
  • Michael Chabon's essay inspired by Say It in Yiddish, referenced in [1] and disputed in [2]