Origins of Yiddish Dialects

Origins of Yiddish Dialects

by Alexander Beider

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Overview

Origins of Yiddish Dialects by Alexander Beider

This book traces the origins of modern varieties of Yiddish and presents evidence for the claim that, contrary to most accounts, Yiddish only developed into a separate language in the fifteenth century. Through a careful analysis of Yiddish phonology, morphology, orthography, and the Yiddish lexicon in all its varieties, Alexander Beider shows how what are commonly referred to as Eastern Yiddish and Western Yiddish have different ancestors. Specifically, he argues that the western branch is based on German dialects spoken in western Germany with some Old French influence, while the eastern branch has its origins in German dialects spoken in the modern-day Czech Republic with some Old Czech influence. The similarities between the two branches today are mainly a result of the close links between the underlying German dialects, and of the close contact between speakers. Following an introduction to the definition and classification of Yiddish and its dialects, chapters in the book investigate the German, Hebrew, Romance, and Slavic components of Yiddish, as well as the sound changes that have occurred in the various dialects. The book will be of interest to all those working in the areas of Yiddish and Jewish Studies in particular, and historical linguistics and history more generally.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198739319
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 12/29/2015
Pages: 800
Product dimensions: 6.80(w) x 9.80(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Alexander Beider holds a PhD in Applied Mathematics from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, and a PhD in Jewish Studies from the Sorbonne. He is the author of several etymological dictionaries of Ashkenazic surnames and given names and a number of papers dealing with the history of Yiddish. He is the designer of the linguistic part of the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching method of computer-based searches for equivalent surnames.

Table of Contents

Preface xii

Acknowledgments xx

Abbreviations xxi

Introduction xxx

1 Main concepts and classifications 1

1.1 Schemes of the development of Yiddish 1

1.1.1 The Rhine hypothesis 1

1.1.2 The Danube hypothesis 5

1.1.3 Suggested general scheme 7

1.2 Definitions of the term Yiddish 10

1.2.1 General aspects 10

1.2.2 Germanistic approach 10

1.2.3 Jewish-oriented approach: terminological issues 16

1.2.4 Jewish-oriented approach: fusion character of Yiddish 19

1.2.5 Jewish-oriented approach: classification of Jewish languages 26

1.2.6 Suggested approach 28

1.3 Classifications of Yiddish elements 37

1.3.1 Principal classification used in this book 37

1.3.2 Classification methodology 41

1.3.3 Comparison between competing hypotheses 46

1.3.4 Classification by components 50

1.4 Special domains of application of the principal classification 54

1.4.1 Orthography 54

1.4.2 Toponyms 55

1.4.3 Given names 57

1.4.4 Surnames 60

1.5 Classifications of Yiddish dialects 61

1.5.1 Previous classifications 61

1.5.2 Suggested classification 64

1.5.3 Classification schemes 66

1.6 Yiddish proto-vowels 70

1.7 Monogenesis versus polygenesis 74

1.8 Terminological and substantive issues 80

2 The German component 87

2.1 Main issues 87

2.2 Consonants 92

2.2.1 Changes of /p/, /k/, and /t/ 92

2.2.2 Changes of /d/, /g/, and /b/ 98

2.2.3 Changes between [b], [w], [v], and [f] 101

2.2.4 Changes between [s], [š], and [z] 105

2.2.5 Changes related to nasals 106

2.2.6 Forms with or without /d/ 107

2.2.7 Changes of /h/ and /x/ 108

2.2.8 Miscellaneous German phenomena 112

2.2.9 Yiddish innovations 113

2.3 Stressed vowels 116

2.3.1 Basic rules 116

2.3.2 Unrounding, rounding, and lowering 129

2.3.3 Shortening and lengthening 138

2.3.4 Basic Ashkenazic vocalic shifts 142

2.4 Unstressed vowels 152

2.5 Morphology and grammar 156

2.6 Lexicon and semantics 165

2.7 Orthography 173

2.8 Given names 181

2.8.1 Pan-Ashkenazic names 181

2.8.2 Names restricted to Central and Eastern Europe 182

2.8.3 Phonological peculiarities 183

2.9 Yiddish toponyms of German origin in Slavic countries 184

2.9.1 Previous studies 184

2.9.2 Toponyms in the Czech lands 186

2.9.3 Poland in the medieval period 188

2.9.4 Poland in the modem era 199

2.9.5 Reasons for the German origin of toponyms in Eastern Europe 200

2.10 Selectivity in the German component 203

2.11 Synthesis 206

2.11.1 Early Ashkenazic sources and German dialects 206

2.11.2 Modem Yiddish varieties and German dialects 213

2.11.3 Age of Yiddish according to its German component 221

2.11.4 Classification of Yiddish varieties according to their German component 227

3 The Hebrew Component 231

3.1 Main issues 231

3.2 Channels of transmission of Hebrew 234

3.2.1 Antiquity 234

3.2.2 Early Middle Ages 240

3.2.3 High/Late Middle Ages and modem times 242

3.3 Whole Hebrew and merged Hebrew 244

3.4 Consonants 247

3.4.1 Hem 247

3.4.2 Sibilants 255

3.4.3 Tav and daleth 259

3.4.4 Yod with dagesh 263

3.4.5 Veth and vav 265

3.4.6 Oilier consonants 266

3.5 Non-Ashkenazic vocalic systems 268

3.6 Stress position 273

3.6.1 Middle Ages 273

3.6.2 Main modern Yiddish patterns 275

3.7 Stressed vowels 278

3.7.1 Main reflexes in modem Yiddish 279

3.7.2 Schemes for ancient Yiddish 283

3.7.3 E-Effect 300

3.7.4 Exceptions: patah, hatef-patah, and qames 304

3.7.5 Exceptions: segol, sere, and shewa 317

3.7.6 Exceptions: shureq and holem 321

3.7.7 Other exceptional reflexes 326

3.8 Vowels in unstressed syllables 329

3.9 Non-phonological features 331

3.9.1 Lexical and semantic peculiarities 331

3.9.2 Morphological and grammatical peculiarities 338

3.9.3 Hybrid Hebrew-German words and expressions 342

3.10 Semitic and Greek given names 350

3.10.1 Bnby Hes / Bney Khes and their legacy 350

3.10.2 Hebrew and oriental names of East Canaanites 353

3.10.3 Ashkenazic innovations 358

3.11 Age of the Hebrew component 358

3.11.1 Hebraisms in early Ashkenazic texts 358

3.11.2 Direct references in non-Jewish sources 361

3.11.3 Indirect methods 362

3.11.4 Dynamics of the size of the Hebrew component 363

3.12 Hebrew of East Canaanites 364

3.13 Synthesis 367

3.13.1 Unity of modern Yiddish varieties 367

3.13.2 Bney Hes and Bney Khes 369

4 Romance elements 375

4.1 Main issues 375

4.2 Links between Ashkenazic and Zarfatic Jews 377

4.2.1 Oral tradition and theory by Güdemann 377

4.2.2 Cultural links 379

4.2.3 Pronunciation of Hebrew 381

4.3 Romance onomastic items 382

4.3.1 Given names 382

4.3.2 Toponyms 386

4.4 Romance lexical elements in Yiddish 390

4.5 Romance morphological elements in Yiddish 402

4.6 Basic Ashkenazic vocalic shifts and Romance elements 405

4.7 Synthesis 407

4.7.1 French connection 407

4.7.2 Romance elements and modern Yiddish varieties 410

4.7.3 The term "Romance component" 413

5 Slavic elements 414

5.1 Main issues 414

5.2 Methodology 415

5.3 West Canaanites 419

5.3.1 Given names 419

5.3.2 Toponyms 428

5.3.3 Words 428

5.4 East Canaanites 433

5.4.1 Given names 433

5.4.2 Vernacular language of Lithuanian Jews 436

5.4.3 Words 439

5.5 Early Jewish communities in Poland 442

5.5.1 EY elements borrowed from Old Polish 442

5.5.2 Vernacular language of Polish Jews 449

5.6 Slavisms outside of EY 452

5.7 Basic Ashkenazic vocalic shifts and Slavic elements 453

5.8 Synthesis: status of Slavic elements in Yiddish 456

6 Sound changes and dialects 459

6.1 Main issues 459

6.2 Vocalic changes 460

6.2.1 Reality of basic Ashkenazic vocalic shifts 460

6.2.2 Derivation of vowels in EY 462

6.2.3 Derivation of vowels in WY 469

6.2.4 Derivation of vowels in CzY, EGY, and DuY 474

6.2.5 Status of proto-dialects and proto-vowels 477

6.3 Consonantal changes 487

6.4 Borders between EY subdialects 495

6.5 Synthesis: classification of Yiddish dialects 502

6.5.1 General classification 502

6.5.2 Transitional and mixed dialects 508

Conclusion 516

Appendix A Yiddish dialect of PhilogLottus 1733 520

Appendix B Germans and German language in Poland 522

Appendix C Origins of Ashkenazic Jewry 525

C.1 Main Issues 525

C.2 Rhenish Jews 529

C.2.7 Romance migrants 529

C.2.2 Franconia and eastern Swabia 531

C.3 West Canaanites 532

C.4 East Canaanites 537

C.5 Ashkenazic Jews in Central and Eastern Europe 542

C.6 Composition of modern Ashkenazic Jewry 545

C.6.1 Approaches 545

C.6.2 Arguments revealing cultural and administrative western influences 546

C.6.3 Historical arguments 547

C.6.4 Arguments from demography 550

C.6.5 Arguments from genetics 553

C.6.6 Arguments based on given names 554

C.6.7 Arguments based on surnames 558

C.6.8 Linguistic arguments 559

C.7 Synthesis 563

Glossary 568

Main sources for Yiddish words, toponyms, and given names 570

References 571

Index of discussed linguistic features 593

General index 597

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