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The ebbing of Yiddish
Posted: 02 September 2013 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Sad.

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-yiddish-20130902,0,996552.story

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Posted: 03 September 2013 11:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yes, and no. Cultures arise, and decline, and their languages with them. Just as with individuals, It’s easier to be sentimental about them after they’ve passed on. I can imagine a gaggle of aged Sumerians a few millennia ago, huddling together and being nostalgic about the rich heritage of Sumerian, fading away as Akkadian took over.  But a language isn’t necessarily “doomed” when people stop using it to go about their daily business. It remains a part of the cultural continuum we live in. Lots of people still read, study and enjoy the rich literature and culture of ancient Greece and Rome (even, occasionally, of ancient Sumer, for that matter). As for the Eastern European Jewish culture in which Yiddish was spoken --- lots of people get nostalgic about that, too: it’s easy, so long as you don’t have to live in it.  There’s an interesting discussion of this in a book called The Last Angry Man, by Gerald Green.  The protagonist conjures up some vivid real memories of life in “the heim” in Eastern Europe, and measures them up against the nostalgia.

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Posted: 04 September 2013 03:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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But when a language ceases to have native speakers it grows stale and rigid. The vibrancy and inventiveness disappears. Many of the subtle connotations of usage are forgotten. If it continues on this glide slope, Yiddish won’t disappear, but it will become a shadow of what it once was. And that’s sad.

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Posted: 04 September 2013 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Is Yiddish Yiddish for Jewish?

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Posted: 04 September 2013 08:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Is Yiddish Yiddish for Jewish?

Yes, it is.

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Posted: 04 September 2013 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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From German jüdisch.

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Posted: 04 September 2013 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Dave Wilton - 04 September 2013 03:09 AM

But when a language ceases to have native speakers it grows stale and rigid. The vibrancy and inventiveness disappears. Many of the subtle connotations of usage are forgotten. If it continues on this glide slope, Yiddish won’t disappear, but it will become a shadow of what it once was. And that’s sad.

the writer. Sholem Aleichem tells of a Yiddish book store that finally installed locks on the doors. Aleichem asked the bookstore owner why he put locks on the doors after all these years of leaving the doors unlocked. “Are you afraid someone will come in and steal books.” “No,” said the store owner. I’m afraid that someone will come in and put more books on the shelves.”

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Posted: 04 September 2013 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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From German jüdisch.

Actually it is more accurate to say that German jüdisch and Yiddish ײדיש (yidish) both come from Middle High German jüdisch.

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Posted: 04 September 2013 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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jheem - 04 September 2013 08:32 AM

Is Yiddish Yiddish for Jewish?

Yes, it is.

Cheers.

So Yiddish speakers call their language “Jewish”, if you see what I mean.

Wait, is Yiddish Yiddish for Yiddish? Or is the Yiddish word for the language Yiddish different?

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Posted: 04 September 2013 10:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Yiddish was not always a Jewish language.  It was originally a Germanic tongue spoken by the people of Franconia, the kingdom of the Franks. Around the 9th or 10th centuries, Jews from Franconia began to emigrate from Franconia to Eastern Europe (what is today Poland, Ukraine, Russia, &c.), whose populations had not yet fully converted to Christianity, and where Jews were relatively free from religious harassment. The language they spoke, and took with them when they moved, was Franconian. In Eastern Europe they were the only people who spoke it, and they (and the locals) called it “the Jewish language” (yiddishe spruche) or simply “Jewish” (yiddish).

Yiddish is a regional phenomenon. The only people speaking it, for a long time, were Jews of Eastern Europe*. The people who speak Yiddish today are the descendants of these, most of whom now live in parts other than Eastern Europe.  Yiddish was, and remains, a foreign language unknown to, and not spoken by, the Jewish populations indigenous to Africa, the Near and Far East, Italy, Greece, pre-Columbian Spain, etc.

*(meanwhile, back at the ranch in Franconia, other languages developed)

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Posted: 05 September 2013 03:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Was it really Yiddish before it took on the various words it got from Hebrew, Polish, Russian and various other Slavic languages?

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Posted: 05 September 2013 05:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Wait, is Yiddish Yiddish for Yiddish?

Yes, just like German is German for German, i.e., Deutsch.

Or is the Yiddish word for the language Yiddish different?

Nope.

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Posted: 05 September 2013 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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jheem - 05 September 2013 05:00 AM

Wait, is Yiddish Yiddish for Yiddish?

Yes, just like German is German for German, i.e., Deutsch.

Or is the Yiddish word for the language Yiddish different?

Nope.

Hang about. German isn’t German for German. Deutsch is German for German.

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Posted: 05 September 2013 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Hang about. German isn’t German for German. Deutsch is German for German.

Yes, and ײדיש is Yiddish for Yiddish. I think we’re on the same page here.

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Posted: 05 September 2013 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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jheem - 05 September 2013 06:48 AM

Hang about. German isn’t German for German. Deutsch is German for German.

Yes, and ײדיש is Yiddish for Yiddish. I think we’re on the same page here.

Okay, partly. My main point is that it is odd, and perhaps unique, that the name for a language IN that language is the same as the adjective denoting a particular religion IN that language.

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Posted: 06 September 2013 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Oh, my bad. I was reading “Jewish” as an ethnonym not a religion which works for other languages like French and German.

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