JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Wiggery-pokery! #general

Judith Romney Wegner

Sally Bruckheimer wrote:
Hi Judith,

I saw your posting that said "western Jews
absorbed European culture much earlier than east European
Jews...they "lost" or rather chose to
"drop" the use of Yiddish in general earlier than in the east ".

Do you think, perhaps, that Jews in German-speaking countries spoke
German, as it developed around them, while Jews who moved East kept
speaking the 'German' that they had spoken for centruies, with an
admixture of the Russian/Polish/whatever they heard around them?
This seems reasonable to me,

Dear Sally,

Yes indeed! As for the admixture of Slavic languages to which you
allude, some current scholars of Yiddish have even detected the
Slavic influence on Yiddish grammar.

Perhaps more importantly, Yiddish scholars tell us that Yiddish is
very close to Middle High German in many ways. I personally know a
professor of German here at Brown University who was of gentile
German background but had actually made a point of learning the
Hebrew alphabet and Yiddish language precisely because of the help it
afforded him in tracing the historical development of German in the
Middle Ages! I was amused to discover that at one point this
professor's extra-curricular activities included teaching a Yiddish
class at the local Jewish Community Center!

Bottom line, you are absolutely right -- Jews everywhere seem to have
developed a "Jewish language" based on that of the dominant
surrounding culture. Yiddish is "Judeo-German" just as Ladino is
"Judeo-Spanish" -- and the Jews >from Arab countries developed
"Judeo-Arabic" (as well as being Arabic-speaking in their daily

Judith Romney Wegner

Join to automatically receive all group messages.