|Born||May 23, 1926|
|Died||March 30, 1967(aged 40)|
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 Ph.D. from Columbia University, 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, 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."