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Yiddish language

Yiddish language (yĬd´Ĭsh), a member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages; German language).

Although it is not a national language, Yiddish is spoken as a first language by approximately 5 million Jews all over the world, especially in Argentina, Canada, France, Israel, Mexico, Romania, the United States, and the republics of the former USSR. Before the annihilation of 6 million Jews by the Nazis, it was the tongue of more than 11 million people. Growing out of a blend of a number of medieval German dialects, Yiddish arose c.1100 in the ghettos of Central Europe. From there it was taken to Eastern Europe by Jews who began to leave German-speaking areas in the 14th cent. as a result of persecution. By the 18th cent. Yiddish was almost universal among the Jews of Eastern Europe. It has generally accompanied Eastern European Jews in their migrations to other parts of the world.

Phonetically, Yiddish is closer to Middle High German than is modern German. Although the vocabulary of Yiddish is basically Germanic, it has been enlarged by borrowings from Hebrew, Aramaic, some Slavic and Romance languages, and English. Written from right to left like Hebrew, Yiddish also uses the Hebrew alphabet with certain modifications. In 1925 the Yiddish Scientific Institute (YIVO) was established in Vilnius, Lithuania. It served as an academy to oversee the development of the language. Later its headquarters were transferred to New York City, where in time it became the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research. Coping with the problem of dialects, this institute has done much to bring about the standardization of Yiddish.

In the eyes of many, Yiddish has significance both as the language of an important literature as well as a unique expression of the Jewish people. It is widely thought that modern Yiddish literature began in 1864 with the publication of Das Kleyne Mentshele (The Little Man) by Mendele mocher sforim. Among the best-known writers in Yiddish literature are Sholem Aleichem, I. L. Peretz, Isaac Meier Dik, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, the first writer in the language to be awarded (1978) the Nobel Prize in Literature. Thousands of Yiddish works are housed at the Yiddish Book Center at Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass.

See M. I. Herzog et al., ed., The Field of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Folklore, and Literature (1969); M. Weinreich, History of the Yiddish Language (1980); D. Katz, Grammar of the Yiddish Language (1987); D. G. Roskies, A Bridge of Longing: The Lost Art of Yiddish Storytelling (1995).

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"Yiddish language." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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YIDDISH

YIDDISH. The language used by Jews of Eastern and Central Europe and their descendants, spoken for nearly a thousand years and until World War II the most widely used Jewish language of modern times, with over 11m speakers. Currently, there are about 4m speakers worldwide, mostly in North and South America, Israel, and the Soviet Union. Yiddish is a Germanic language akin to English, but with a distinctive lexical component of about 18% HEBREW–Aramaic and 16% Slavic (Czech, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian) as well as Romance elements from Old French and Old Italian. It is the only Germanic language to be written in a non-Roman alphabet: like other Jewish languages, Yiddish is written in the Hebrew alphabet, and words of Hebrew or Aramaic origin retain their original spellings, while those of Germanic or other origin are spelled according to phonetic rules. Scholars divide Yiddish historically into four phases: Earliest Yiddish from c.1000, Old Yiddish from 1250, Middle Yiddish from 1500, and Modern Yiddish from 1700. Of the two major dialect groups, Western and Eastern, only the latter survives; Western Yiddish (Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Alsace-Lorraine) went into decline after 1700. The chief dialects of Eastern Yiddish are North-Eastern (Lithuania, Latvia, Byelorussia), South-Eastern (Ukraine, Romania, eastern Galicia), and Central (Poland, Western Galicia). Standard Yiddish is closest to the North-Eastern dialect in pronunciation, and generally closest in grammar to Central Yiddish. In the US, colloquial Yiddish became heavily influenced by AmE. Many words were replaced by Americanisms, some embodying distinctly US concepts, others reflecting the everyday dominance of English. A number of American Yiddish innovations, such as allrightnik and boychik, have found their way into colloquial AmE. See DIALECT IN AMERICA, JEWISH ENGLISH.

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"YIDDISH." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"YIDDISH." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/yiddish-0

Yiddish

YIDDISH

A vernacular language used by Ashkenazic Jews.

A language based on Germanic dialects infused with Hebrew and loanwords from areas in Europe in which it was spoken, Yiddish is the vernacular used by Ashkenazic Jews since the European Middle Ages. As Hebrew became primarily the language of liturgy and religious scholarship, Yiddish, by the end of the eighteenth century, emerged as the vehicle for the expression of secular literature, drama, poetry, and popular literature. By the nineteenth century, Yiddish was established as the la nguage of a secular European Jewish culture found mainly in Eastern Europe.


The Zionist ideology that stressed the return to Palestine and the use of Hebrew as the language of the Jewish nation was instrumental in the revival of Hebrew. In the language controversy that ensued in the early part of the twentieth century, Hebrew gained prominence over Yiddish and became the official language of the Yishuv and, later, the State of Israel. Yiddish increasingly became identified with Jews and Jewish culture of the diaspora. In response to the Holocaust and the liquidation of Yiddish culture under Soviet rule there has been a resurgent interest in the Yiddish language both in Israel and in North America. As a spoken language Yiddish has become the established vernacular of Orthodox Haredi and Hasidic Jews.

Bibliography

Rosten, Leo. The Joys of Yiddish: A Related Lexicon of Yiddish, Hebrew and Yinglish Words Often Encountered in English . . . From the Days of the Bible to Those of the Beatnik. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968.

Weinstein, Miriam. Yiddish: A Nation of Words. South Royal-ton, VT: Steerforth Press, 2001.

reeva s. simon
updated by neil caplan

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"Yiddish." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Yiddish

Yiddish Language spoken by Jews living in central and e Europe and other countries (including the USA) with Jewish communities. It first developed in w Europe in the 10th and 11th centuries, and was taken e with migrating Jews. It is basically a variety of German, with many Hebrew, Aramaic, French, Italian, and Slavic words added. Written using the Hebrew alphabet, it contains many English borrowings. Many words and expressions have passed into American English.

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"Yiddish." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/yiddish

Yiddish

Yiddish a language used by Jews in central and eastern Europe before the Holocaust. It was originally a German dialect with words from Hebrew and several modern languages, and still has some 200,000 speakers, mainly in the US, Israel, and Russia. The name is recorded from the late 19th century, and comes from Yiddish yidish (daytsh) ‘Jewish German’.

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"Yiddish." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Yiddish

Yid·dish / ˈyidish/ • n. a language used by Jews in central and eastern Europe before the Holocaust. It was originally a German dialect with words from Hebrew and several modern languages and is today spoken mainly in the U.S., Israel, and Russia. • adj. of or relating to this language.

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"Yiddish." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Yiddish." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yiddish-1

"Yiddish." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yiddish-1

Yiddish

Yiddish (contracted from Yidish-daytsh, i.e. Jewish-German). Language used by Ashkenazi Jews. Yiddish is related to German, but has many Slavic, Hebrew, and Aramaic words, and it is written in the Hebrew script.

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"Yiddish." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Yiddish." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yiddish

"Yiddish." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yiddish

Yiddish

Yiddish language of Jews in Europe and America, orig. a G. dial. XIX. — G. jüdisch Jewish, f. Jude Jew + -isch -ISH1.

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"Yiddish." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yiddish-2

Yiddish

Yiddishbish, dish, fish, Frisch, Gish, knish, pish, squish, swish, wish •clayish, greyish (US grayish) •puppyish • babyish •dandyish, sandyish •toadyish • fogeyish • monkeyish •sissyish • Gypsyish • prettyish •heavyish • dryish •lowish, slowish •sallowish • yellowish • narrowish •boyish • tomboyish •bluish, Jewish, newish, shrewish •Pollyannaish • prima donna-ish •nebbish •slobbish, snobbish, yobbish •rubbish • furbish •baddish, caddish, faddish, kaddish, laddish, radish, saddish •blandish, brandish, outlandish, Standish •Cavendish • Netherlandish •horseradish • hardish • reddish •Wendish • old-maidish • Swedish •fiendish • Yiddish • widish •childish, mildish, wildish •cloddish, oddish •baldish • roundish •modish, toadish •coldish, oldish •prudish • goodish • Kurdish

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