Wiggery-pokery! #general


Judith Romney Wegner
 

Dear J-genners,

If I may summarize >from a Jewishgen standpoint the results of the
many responses to my query about perruque vs. sheitel, it now seems
clear that western and central Europeans, including western and
central European Jews, had simply adopted the word for "wig" >from
either French or Italian, >from which it had entered not only German
but eventually Yiddish also. Let the French and Italians now fight
it out between themselves! (And I learned something I had not known:
that even the English had adopted the French word in the form
"periwig", >from which the abbreviation "wig" evolved later.

>from the point of view of Jewish culture, this exchange seems to
illustrate a fact we already knew: namely, that western Jews
absorbed European culture much earlier than east European Jews
(because the intellectual and political effects of the Enlightenment
permitted this far sooner) and that they "lost" or rather chose to
"drop" the use of Yiddish in general earlier than in the east -- in
large part because of what someone correctly identified as their
snobbish "disdain" for what they perceived as the language of the
Jewish "great unwashed."

Which of course makes the "comeback" of Yiddish in the twentieth
century all the more remarkable! I still remember the shock of
discovering (perhaps twenty years ago or more) that Yiddish had now
become a subject that could be studied academically at Oxford -- more
or less at the very moment when that august institution had dropped
its requirement that applicants demonstrate a knowledge of either
Latin or Greek!

O tempora! O mores!

Judith Romney Wegner

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