JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: "Obscure" Shtetls and Dorfs #general


Evelyn Waldstein
 

Discussing "Obscure" Shtetls and Dorfs, Mel Comisarow < melcom@shaw.ca >
wrote:

As I understand it, "shtetl" means "town" in European Yiddish, but in
New World Yiddish it means "tiny village", what would be a "dorf" in
European Yiddish. Helen's father is >from a "dorfala". In Russian, a
"khuter".

The word "Khutor" in Russian means an isolated farm, a farmstead, quite
different >from a "dorfel" , a tiny village consisting of a small but certain
number of houses. The word "Dorf" (in Russian "derevnja") means village. The
word "stetl" is usually used for a larger village having a market place and
some other institutions. To become a "town" (in Russian "gorod") a stetl
had to reach a certain size adequate to a rather developed administrative
body still lacking at a "shtetl". For places lacking such sharp distinctions
people tend to misuse these designations.
In Latvia, for example, local people owing land, lived on farmsteads quite
separated one >from the others whereas in Russia local people tended to live
in villages. Jews, more involved in trade than agriculture, tended to live
in shtetl's and move as soon as possible to larger and more developed places
like towns.
Researching my ancestors I was amazed to see how rapidly they changed their
places following newly built communications leading to rapid growth of
population.

Evelyn Waldstein (>from Latvia, now in Israel)
evewa@post.tau.ac.il

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