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Origins of Yiddish Dialects$
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Alexander Beider

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198739319

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198739319.001.0001

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Main concepts and classifications

Main concepts and classifications

(p.1) 1 Main concepts and classifications
Origins of Yiddish Dialects

Alexander Beider

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses major methodological issues related to the history of Yiddish. This includes (1) the Rhenish and Danubian hypotheses about its genesis; (2) the Germanistic (following the language tree model) and the Jewish-oriented (studying Yiddish within the uninterrupted chain of languages spoken by Jews) approaches to the analysis of Yiddish origins; (3) various classifications of Yiddish dialects and criteria used by them; (4) methods of defining the age of Yiddish; and (5) notions of polygenesis and monogenesis proposed for Yiddish. It shows that for an appropriate understanding of the development of Yiddish, several notions used by various approaches may be fruitful. The general outline suggests a polygenesis of Yiddish as a whole, with Eastern Yiddish and Western Yiddish being based on different German dialects.

Keywords:   Eastern Yiddish, Western Yiddish, Jewish languages, language tree, classification of idioms, linguistic methodology

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