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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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The German component

The German component

(p.87) 2 The German component
Origins of Yiddish Dialects

Alexander Beider

Oxford University Press

Based on several dozen basic phonological, morphological, and lexical features, this chapter provides a comparative analysis of idioms from early Ashkenazic sources, German dialects, and modern Yiddish dialects. Before the sixteenth century, the languages used in works compiled by various Jewish authors from western German-speaking provinces show close similarities to dialects spoken by local Christians and do not represent texts written in a single specifically Jewish language. Texts dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries demonstrate the existence of two separate Jewish idioms: western and eastern. The former is mainly based on East Franconian. The latter is closely related to the Bohemian colonial dialect of German. Modern Southwestern Yiddish inherits features from East Franconian, while Eastern Yiddish is primarily based on Bohemian. Its consonantal system was later adapted to the Silesian dialect spoken by German colonists in medieval Poland. The chapter suggests a list of vocalic changes basic in various Yiddish dialects.

Keywords:   Eastern Yiddish, Western Yiddish, Yiddish toponyms, early Yiddish texts, German dialects, comparative analysis

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