August 14, 2022

Yiddish (ייִדיש‎ or יידיש‎ Yiddish "Jewish") is a West Germanic language spoken by around four million Jews worldwide. The very name Yiddish means Jewish (German Jüdisch) and is an abbreviation of the original "Yiddish dajch" (ייִדיש־דאיטש), i.e. "Jewish German". The spoken form is still close to German today, but Yiddish contains a number of borrowings from Hebrew and the languages ​​of the many nations in whose neighborhood the Jews lived. Language or just dialect? Yiddish shares a significant part of its vocabulary with German, and the two languages ​​are also grammatically similar. It has been hypothesized [by?] that some German speakers understand Yiddish speech that resembles the German of the Slavs. Some researchers[who?] therefore considered Yiddish a dialect of German (similar to Swiss German) rather than a separate language. However, most linguists consider Yiddish and German to be separate languages. There are the following reasons for this: German and Yiddish are not generally mutually intelligible (this is especially true of German speakers who have trouble understanding Yiddish); 20 to 30 percent of Yiddish vocabulary has nothing to do with German; a non-negligible part of Yiddish grammar differs from German, often as a result of influence from other (e.g. Slavic) languages; the geographical distribution and cultural background differ. The linguist Paul Wexler even went so far as to claim that Yiddish was originally a Slavic language whose vocabulary was replaced by German words. However, this view is rejected by most other linguists.[source?]Others point out that the line between "language" and "dialect" is sometimes blurred because: languages ​​like Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian are much closer than Yiddish and German, are almost completely mutually intelligible, and yet are considered separate languages; the western and eastern dialects of Yiddish are so different that some linguists suggest they be considered separate languages. Yiddish split into Western (German) and Eastern Yiddish. Eastern was further divided into Northeastern ("Litvish") Yiddish, Central Eastern (Polish-Halician) Yiddish, and Southeastern (Ukrainian) Yiddish. Eastern dialects and modern Yiddish contain a large number of words borrowed from Slavic languages. Like Jewish Arabic and Ladino (Jewish Spanish), Yiddish uses a modified Hebrew alphabet. However, Yiddish itself is not linguistically related to Hebrew, although it has adopted hundreds of Hebrew and Aramaic expressions related to Jewish culture and tradition. A notable feature of the language is that it also contains Latin derivatives for many words from the field of religious rituals. The Jews apparently borrowed the terminology from Old French used in Alsace by the Catholic Church. E.g. bentšn (בןנשן‎, "to bless") means to bless (especially in connection with a blessing after a meal) and is related to the expression benedico, to bless. The verb lejenen (λέιενεν‎), "to read", also reflects a Romance origin.


Due to the scattering of Jews around the world, it is difficult to name a specific area where this language is most widely used, even for Yiddish. In Israel, Yiddish is mainly used by ultra-orthodox Jews, who consider Hebrew a sacred language, unsuitable for use in everyday life. The large communities of Yiddish speakers in Eastern Europe were largely eliminated during the Holocaust. Of those who remained in the territory of the former Soviet Union, a number emigrated to Israel in the 1990s; moreover, many already use Russian as their first language. In the United States, the largest community of Yiddish speakers lives in New York.


The Yiddish language originated in