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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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Romance elements

Romance elements

(p.375) 4 Romance elements
Origins of Yiddish Dialects

Alexander Beider

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows the existence of close linguistic links between medieval Ashkenazic communities and those from northern France. The analysis of toponyms and given names and the study of words from the general lexicon imply that certain ancestors of Rhenish Jews came to the Rhineland bringing with them ready-made toponyms formed in the territory where Old French was spoken. A consideration of the particularities of Western Yiddish Romanisms allows us to establish approximate time frames for the development of the Romance substratum present in the language spoken by medieval Jews of western Germany. It was during the eighth and ninth centuries that the Romance substratum of Western Yiddish became independent from the phonological development of the Gallo-Romance ancestor of French. Despite the substratal character of certain Gallo-Romance lexical elements in the vernacular language of Ashkenazic Jews from the last centuries of the First Millennium CE, this language had no structural influence on Yiddish.

Keywords:   Western Yiddish, substratum, early Yiddish texts, Gallo-Romance, Old French, Jewish toponyms, Jewish given names

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