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Yair Sapir

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In my research I have been studying the operating mechanisms of word formation in general and more specifically in Icelandic. In my current research, I am studying the revitalization of Elfdalian and of Saami in Sweden.

I was born and raised in Israel. My high-school years I spent in Copenhagen, Denmark. I completed my BA in General Linguistics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. In 1996, I moved to Uppsala, Sweden, where I completed my BA studies in Scandinavian Linguistics. In 1997, I started my PhD degree at the same university. The topic of my PhD thesis was Word Formation in Modern Icelandic, which I defended in 2003. One year earlier, I visited the parish of Älvdalen in Central Sweden and became very interested in the relatively little known local vernacular, called Elfdalian (Swedish "Älvdalska" or "Älvdalsmål").


Elfdalian is a highly distinct language spoken by only 2500 persons in Älvdalen, Sweden. Elfdalian has preserved a great deal of archaic features from the Old Norse, at the same time developing a great deal of innovations. This combination of old and new renders Elfdalian unintelligible for outsiders. Traditionally regarded as a dialect, Elfdalian is now regarded by many as a distinct Nordic language. Since 2015, it has its own ISO language code.

I have co-arranged three conferences on Elfdalian: In 2004, 2008 and 2015. In 2005, I organized and co-taught a summer course in Elfdalian in Älvdalen for Uppsala University. I gave furthermore three summer courses in Elfdalian, in 2006, 2017 and 2018. In 2004, Råðdjärum, the Elfdalian Language Council, in which I am the coordinator, started working on the creation of a standard orthography for Elfdalian, which was accomplished in May 2005. Since 2005, I have been trying to help Ulum Dalska, the Elfdalian Language Association, to investigate whether Elfdalian could be recognized as a language in Sweden according to The European Charter of Regional or Minority Language. In 2018, together with Gunnar Nyström, I released the book Ymsę um övdalskų, an introduction to Elfdalian in Swedish. Since 2018, I have been the linguistic advisor for the Elfdalian revitalization project Wilum og bellum ('We want and we can').


PhD, Associate Professor in Swedish Language, with emphasis on Swedish as a Second Language.

In my present position, I teach Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy with Swedish in focus as well Swedish for International Students. Moreover, I have given courses in Old Norse (University of Ghent, Belgium), Modern Icelandic (Uppsala University, Sweden), Swedish Grammar, Phonetics and Phonology, Text Analysis (Kristianstad University, Uppsala University), Danish Language and Culture (Uppsala University, Sweden), Scandinavian Culture and History (University of Ghent, Belgium), Introduction to Linguistics and the Languages of the World (Uppsala University), Elfdalian (Uppsala University, Sweden) Modern Hebrew (beginners' level, intermediate, Uppsala University, Sweden).

Besides academic courses and lectures, I have given popular-academic lectures about Icelandic Word Formation, Elfdalian and its Distinct Features, The Dalecarlian Vernaculars and their Norwegian Neighbours, Yiddish and Saami as minority languages in Sweden, as well as about Ladino, the Spanish Jews and their cultural and musical heritage. Moreover, I was in charge of the Ladino ensemble, Savor de Ladino ('Taste of Ladino') between 2013 and 2015, who performed a newly written repertoire in Ladino.



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