The Tybel Spivack
The Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research
About the Award
The Tybel Spivack Scholarship is designed to support students in anthropological
linguistics who are returning to complete their education. Because Tybel
Spivack achieved her goals at an advanced age, this scholarship aims to offer
this opportunity to others as well. The Award is administered through the Center
for Women’s Studies and Gender Research; it is therefore assumed that the
student is in harmony with feminism and considers her/himself a feminist.
• The applicant may be a graduate or an undergraduate student
• Preference is given to those 40 years of age or older
• Relevant language/anthropological linguistics study should be included in the
research which may, nevertheless, be in any field of study. Applications are encouraged from all
disciplines, should they be in harmony with the stated goals of the Award.
• A letter describing background, intent, goals, and need for
the scholarship.The award is particularly focused on supporting research or on the presentation of research
as papers at professional meetings.
• A letter of recommendation
• Personal interview with the Fund Administrator
The Award is given at any time that there is an appropriate applicant.
information or to apply contact the Fund Administrator
Dr. MJ Hardman
352-378-9827 / Skype: txupwarmi / firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology
Department of Linguistics
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
Doctora Honoris Causa UNMSM, Lima, Perú
About Some Previous
The first recipient was Claire Brunetti, Tybel Spivack Scholarship 1991-92;
dissertation focused on the language of Theresa of Avila (Spain), famous 16th
century mystic, and Margery Kempe (England), courageous 15th century thinker.
The two most recent recipients have been Chun Huang, presenting several papers
having to do with threatened languages, language policy and identity, and to
Leah Floyd to present a paper " Creating a Female Visual Perspective" at OSCLG combining arts with
the goals of the scholarship.
About Tybel Burman
Tybel Burman Spivack was born in
Connorsville, Indiana, in 1908, of Russian Jewish immigrants. Yiddish, which
she claimed not to speak well but loved dearly, was part of her linguistic background.
Her father was a dealer in scrap iron in Cleveland at that time. When Tybel was
11, on medical advice, her father took the family and headed south. It is said
that when he reached Orlando, he declared “I can breathe!” and there they
settled. Mr. Burman ran a laundry, operated a hotel, raised oranges, and was
one of the founders of the Tangerine Bowl, now the Citrus Bowl. In all, he
became a prominent citizen of Orlando.
Tybel attended the Cathedral School
of Orlando for beginning studies. She received her baccalaureate in English
from the University of Michigan, graduating with honors. Shortly thereafter she
met and married “Spivey,” Dr. Abraham Henry Spivack. They spent a year in
Vienna and Munich, then returned to live in New York
where they stayed until 1949. There she started a fashion consultant business
and reared her children, Ellen, now a systems analyst and John, now a professor
of history. Tybel also became an accomplished jewelry maker, a craft
which she continued throughout the rest of her life.
In 1949 the Spivacks returned to Orlando. Tybel worked in
her father’s hotel, and in her
husband’s office. She was also an accomplished pianist, raised orchids, and
worked actively for the Florida Symphony and for hospital volunteers. In the 50’s
she developed an interest in Pre-Colombian art, which became a consuming
passion. This passion led her to travel in South America. Her adventures during
a stay near a remote train station 14,000 feet high in the Andes always made
for exciting stories. The University of Florida and the Harn Museum have become
major beneficiaries of her interest. As a major contributor, Tybel is honored
on the plaque in the lobby of the Harn Museum. Many of her donated pieces can
be seen at the entrance to the Latin American collection.
The Spivacks retired to Gainesville in 1964. They both went
back to school. Tibby studied art while Spivey pursued a course of study in
During this period, Tybel became concerned about the treatment of old people in the United States. At the center
of her concern, from the beginning, was the use of language in defining the
role and place of the old. One of her ‘pet peeves’ were
all the euphemisms for old, and the pretense that one was not old. She did not
receive the appellation of ‘young’ as a compliment. As she often said, she had
earned the right to be old, that she had no intention of denying her life
experience, and thought it part of the negation of place for the old to do so.
After Spivey’s sudden death in
1973, she focused all her attention on her academic pursuits. She was admitted
to the Department of Anthropology at the age of 69. Two years later she
finished her M.A. and was elected to Phi Kappa Phi. She then treated herself to
a cruise around the world. On her return she was admitted to the doctoral
program and dedicated herself to research in anthropological linguistics. She
completed her exams for the doctorate in 1984. One of her professors wrote of
her work “Her reviews of the literature on metaphor and on non-verbal
communication are easily the best I have ever received from a student.” Her
research focused on metaphor and old age from an anthropological perspective,
looking at the ways in which, by our use of language, we see old people. The
title of her dissertation was to have been “The Generative Metaphors of Old
Age.” She looked at some comparative work cross-culturally and at how the
definitions and the metaphors that are used are correlated to the way in which
old people are treated. In some of the work, for example, she discussed root
metaphors which are also a type of model, such as old age as a disease (and
therefore if one is healthy one is not “old” no matter how many years one has
lived), or old age as disability (and therefore if one is old one is a charity
case, no matter what one might be able to contribute to society). She had done
some analysis of the way in which old people are addressed on television in
contrast to the way other adults are addressed, but her major focus was on
current print media such as newspapers, asking, for example, such questions as
what are the underlying metaphors which lead people to focus on certain aspects
of the lives of people over 65 (our cultural definition of the beginning of old
age) and to ignore others? She also showed how other linguistic (and cultural)
features, such as sexism, interplay with the metaphors of age.
Her increasing physical disability,
which meant constant pain, limited the speed with which she could work so that
she could not meet graduate school deadlines and the graduate school together
with the Department of Anthropology denied her any extensions; time ran out
before the last chapter was written.
The University of Florida and The
Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research are the beneficiaries of Tybel
Spivack’s generosity and commitment to education. So are the many recipients
since the first one was awarded in early 1991, while Tybel still lived.
Burman Spivack 1908-1991