ELA offers occasional informal tours highlighting the deep linguistic and cultural diversity of New York City neighborhoods. When held, tours are open either to private groups by reservation or to the public, and all proceeds go towards ELA’s work and those who make the tour possible. Most include some walking, good food, and encounters with speakers of endangered or less well-known languages. Some past tours — Jewish Languages of Brooklyn, Himalayan Queens, Ridgewood — are below. Other possible tours include the introductory Languages of New York, Asian Queens, African Harlem, Meso-American New York, Post-Soviet Brooklyn, and Jewish Queens. Please contact us for more information!
Our Jewish Languages of Brooklyn tour, part of the Jewish Languages Project, visited the heart of the tight-knit Syrian Jewish community; learned about a unique Jewish dance tradition from Azerbaijan; heard the singing of a cantor who carries on classical Judeo-Arabic musical traditions; sampled delicacies at a famous Syrian Jewish bakery; and waded into a unique treasure trove of Jewish books with a focus on deep Jewish diversity. In the process we heard examples of Jewish languages from Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, the Caucasus, and elsewhere.
Our Himalayan Queens fieldtrip, tied to our Voices of the Himalayas project, explored the linguistic superdiversity of Jackson Heights, making contact not just with Tibetan and Nepali, but with the cultural and linguistic heritage of Mustang, Manang, Thak Kola, and the Sherpa area near Mt. Everest in Nepal.
Our visit to Ridgewood, Queens took in a Sicilian social club, the highly endangered Gottscheerisch language, a street of Coptic Christians from Egypt, and the small Gurung community from Nepal, among other places.