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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


Fal’kovich, E. M. “Evreiskii iazyk (idish).” In Iazyki narodov SSSR, vol.1. Moscow, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Atlas project synthesizes culture-specific goals (the internal structure of the geolinguistics and cultural study of Lithuanian Yiddish) with more general issues, including possibilities for in situ mapping of language and culture after near-total destruction of the relevant population, based on the sporadic location of very aged "mohicans".
Yiddish without Yiddishism: Tacit Language Planning Among Haredi Jews.
The show was performed at the Phoenix Theatre in Elwood, 29 February to 10 March 2012, with most of the dialogue and songs in Yiddish (and overhead surtitles in English).
In Bad Rabbi: And Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press, Eddy Portnoy carries the banner of Yiddishism from a contrasting perspective.
Of course, you don't have to leave Long Island or even your living room to learn more about Yiddish culture.
The production also received assistance from the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, which helped with translation and transliteration into Yiddish.
But for this ballad, the work Leivik and Yehoash produced in the sanatorium had little to do with their lives in the sanatorium, and the book falters somewhat when making a case for the sanatorium as the best context to understand the Yiddish writers under examination.
The knowledge of the Yiddish spoken by the first generation of immigrants was propagated by fraternal organizations to the second and third generations through the popular shuln (shules in the text.) The three major cities of Canada offered schools reflecting the ideological range of their communities.
Although Der Tog favored presenting the Yehoash Bible as an accomplishment within the framework of Yiddish literary culture, both the newspaper and Yehoash's family also employed marketing strategies grounded in more traditional understandings of Jewish peoplehood and scholarship.
In addition to many photographs of Yiddish theater stars, we find reproductions of posters, programs, scenes from shows, sheet music, set designs, costumes, and costume designs.
Cecile Kuznitz's book focuses on the single most famous center of modern Yiddish scholarship, YIVO, which began work in Wilno (the city's Polish name, Vilna in Yiddish, today's Vilnius) in 1925.