Yiddish: Turning to Life


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Volume 13: Great Songs of the American Yiddish Stage

Why Do Jews Still Insist on Speaking Yiddish?

The Eastern dialects differ from one another substantially in vocabulary and grammar, but most conspicuously in the pronunciation of certain vowels, e. Speakers who grew up in the United States often use a variety of the language that is a mixture, to some extent, of various Eastern Yiddish dialects. In popular parlance, there are two linguistic and cultural regions of Eastern Yiddish speakers, consisting of the "Litvaks" and the "Galitsianers.

Because it has never been the official language of a sovereign state, there is no official dialect of Yiddish. Since the end of the nineteenth century, however, a de facto literary dialect called 'Standard Yiddish' yidishe klal-shprakh has evolved and been adopted by many writers.


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It is based largely on the grammar of Southern Yiddish and the pronunciation of Northeastern Yiddish. It is the dialect usually taught today and used in most modern publications, even though it probably does not exactly correspond to anyone's native speech. Hebrew and to a lesser extent, Aramaic words abound in Yiddish. These include not only religious and learned terms, but a large number of ordinary words as well. There is a large class of Yiddish periphrastic verbs that consist of a Hebrew noun or participle i.


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  8. The sound system of Israeli Hebrew is based on Yiddish phonology, and the stress system and the realization of certain vowels and consonants are based on Sephardic Hebrew. Also, although resisted by language purists, many Yiddish words, loan translations, and grammatical constructions have found their way into colloquial Hebrew.

    Some scholars have gone as far as to say that Israeli Hebrew is equally or more influenced by Yiddish than by ancient Hebrew. This contact resulted in widespread Slavic influences on Yiddish at every level. Some examples include:. These borrowed Slavic verbs constitute a separate morphological class in Yiddish;. Numerous borrowed nouns, especially terms of a culturally or geographically specific nature plant and animal names, foods, etc.

    This part of the lexicon varies considerably by region;.

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    Slavic kinship terms adopted for several major categories, e. Yiddish has had a quite noticeable influence on American English over the last century. The English of Yiddish-speaking immigrants and their children was of course heavily spiced with Yiddish words and phrases, many of which have worked there way into mainstream English. Some of these e. Yiddish has sometimes been described as a dialect of German, probably because in many cases the Yiddish and German versions of a word are similar, if not almost identical, and because the two languages have a common ancestor in Middle High German.

    But other factors make it clear that Yiddish is a separate language:. In general, the two languages are not mutually comprehensible this is especially true for German speakers trying to understand Yiddish ;. Much of the grammar of Yiddish differs substantially from that of German, having been acquired from contact with other mostly Slavic languages;.

    The two languages are geographically and culturally distinct. In modern times some Yiddish speakers and writers have borrowed words freely from Modern German.

    The Yiddish Voice דאָס ייִדישע קול

    Since its inception, Yiddish has been written in the Hebrew alphabet. In modern times the familiar 'Square Aramaic' version of the alphabet is nearly always used, but before the nineteenth century a version of the 'Rashi script' the font typically used for Rashi's commentaries on the Bible was more common. The exact spelling system used has also varied considerably with time and place, the main differences being in the representation of vowels and, in modern literature, the use of "superfluous" letters imitating German orthography.

    For example, the leading U. All modern Yiddish orthographies provide a fairly complete and consistent representation of the phonemes of the language. However, Hebrew and Aramaic loanwords which are quite common are spelled as they were in their language of origin e. This can create a problem for the language learner, since the pronunciation of these words is usually not predictable from their spelling. This is true even for many Hebrew speakers: Yiddish and Israeli Hebrew pronunciations of the same word are often quite different.

    Because of Soviet policies, Yiddish books that were published in the former Soviet Union represented Semitic words phonemically rather than with their original spelling. Today Yiddish is still printed in Hebrew letters. One notable exception is Yiddish email, which is often rendered in Latin characters. The phoneme inventory of Yiddish does not differ greatly from that of other West Germanic languages, but a few points are worth noting:. The voiceless stops p, t, k are relatively unaspirated i. The coronal sounds t, d, n are dental rather than alveolar, probably as a result of contact with Slavic languages.

    Articulation as a voiced uvular or velar fricative is probably most common, but an alveolar flap or trill is also often heard.

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    The incidence of stress varies. Stress in Germanic words usually falls on the first syllable of the word's root. Slavic and Semitic loanwords usually have penultimate stress. Nominal Morphology. Nouns in Standard Yiddish as well as most other dialects are either masculine, feminine, or neuter. Gender is not usually predictable from the form of the noun, although there are some general patterns.

    There are three nominal cases: nominative, accusative, and dative. The definite article, demonstratives, and in some constructions adjectives are fully inflected for case, but most nouns bear no case-marking. Possession can be marked in several ways. Verbal Morphology. Yiddish verb stems are directly inflected for person and number only in the present tense:.

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    Unlike English and German, Yiddish has no preterite or simple past tense. The past tense is instead formed by the auxiliary 'to have' or 'to be' for a few verbs plus the past participle, e. Word Order. The usual Yiddish sentence follows the Germanic 'verb-second' rule, viz. Otherwise, word order is relatively free 'free' in the sense that order may be used to express discourse relations such as topic or contrast, rather than to code the meaning of the sentence.

    Friday, September 20 — p. In an open AmandaFink-Krasner, on Wife of the late Harry Brick. Mother of Anita Brick and ERIC R. Aleph Home Care takes care of its clients like they are family, treating everyone with dignity and respect as they There are just a few days left to complete our community transportation survey. If you are over the age of RSVP to No charge. Contact rberger bethelsnj. Dinner and planning meeting at p.

    Nonmembers welcome. RSVP to Jon at Open to all and free of charge. During the last census, in , 12, people self-identified as Jewish. But the real number, in a country where for decades being a Jew could prevent entry to university or kill a career, is thought to be higher. But she admitted towards the end of our conversation she is an Odessan Jew. Maksim Shteisel also showed ambivalence towards his Jewishness, but for a totally different reason. Born in Odessa, educated at a Scottish Presbyterian boarding school in Australia, Shteisel, 25, was more concerned with making money and finding a girlfriend than in Judaism.

    But in Ukraine, before the world financial crash, it was possible to make much more.

    After dinner, they took me to the hookah bar on Sobornaya square where conversation turned to renting a house in the country or flying to Turkey for the forthcoming holiday weekend. There, I met Sergei, 52, who had spent most of the past 20 years working on construction sites in Europe. Sergei returned to Odessa recently to look after his elderly mother. Sergei told me that soon after the collapse of Communism, most of the ships in the harbor were sold for scrap metal and the proceeds plundered. Finally, we made our way down to the beach where a cold wind whipped in off the sea.

    Sergei said that in the summer he liked to swim from a point near here, five miles east along the coast to his home. I walked back into town, past the fancy storefronts and the crumbling buildings painted in pastel blues, greens and yellows. Along the way I passed businessmen in suits, fashionable couples in bleached and ripped jeans, sports cars, strip clubs and an advertisement for an agency that pairs Ukrainian brides with American men.

    At Gogol-Mogol restaurant I settled into a chair to type up my notes but I was soon disturbed by a table of almost a dozen people who became more boisterous as the evening wore on. The party was a mix of Jews and non-Jews. The matriarch of the table, wearing a dark outfit and stylish glasses, fussed over everyone, ordering soup and crayfish. At one point, she declared that she never wanted to immigrate to Israel. Someone must have noticed me eavesdropping because shortly afterwards a plate of crayfish arrived at my table.

    She explained that many of her friends and family lived in America, including three grandchildren in San Francisco.

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    Yiddish: Turning to Life Yiddish: Turning to Life
    Yiddish: Turning to Life Yiddish: Turning to Life
    Yiddish: Turning to Life Yiddish: Turning to Life
    Yiddish: Turning to Life Yiddish: Turning to Life
    Yiddish: Turning to Life Yiddish: Turning to Life

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