Yiddish


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Yiddish

a language spoken as a vernacular by Jews in Europe and elsewhere by Jewish emigrants, usually written in the Hebrew alphabet. Historically, it is a dialect of High German with an admixture of words of Hebrew, Romance, and Slavonic origin, developed in central and E Europe during the Middle Ages
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Yiddish

 

the language of some of the Jews living in Europe (including the USSR), America, South Africa, and Israel.

Yiddish belongs to the West Germanic subfamily of languages. It developed through the interaction of High German dialects with Semitic (Hebrew and Aramaic) and Slavic elements. It is written from right to left.

Yiddish began forming in the 12th and 13th centuries in Germany, where there were large settlements of Jews who spoke German in everyday life but used Hebrew words and locutions to express religious, ritual, family, customary, commercial, judicial, and moral concepts. Hebrew served as a source of a number of the conjunctions, prepositions, affixes, and vowel structures of Yiddish, in addition to expressions of figurative speech, such as epithets, similes, and metaphors. With the mass migration of Jews to Poland and other Slavic countries in the 15th and 16th centuries, Yiddish began absorbing Slavic words and morphemes. The combination of these morphemes with the German and Semitic created many words and word-formation models. The Semitic and particularly the Slavic influences have been especially strong in the phonetics and syntax of Yiddish. Spoken Yiddish falls into three principal dialects: Polish, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian-Byelorussian. The names of these, however, are arbitrary, since the boundaries of the dialects do not correspond to the borders of the respective territories. On the other hand, there is a single literary Yiddish.

REFERENCE

Fal’kovich, E. M. “Evreiskii iazyk (idish).” In Iazyki narodov SSSR, vol.1. Moscow, 1966.
E. M. FAL’KOVICH
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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