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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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Slavic elements

Slavic elements

(p.414) 5 Slavic elements
Origins of Yiddish Dialects

Alexander Beider

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows that there were two separate regions where, during the Middle Ages, local Jews spoke the languages of their Slavic Gentile neighbors in their everyday life. The first region corresponds to Bohemia and Moravia where members of Jewish communities spoke Old Czech before the fourteenth century. To them we owe a tiny Eastern Yiddish (EY) substratum encompassing several dozen words and given names. The second region is composed of territories that until the thirteenth century belonged to Rus’. Only a few given names are inherited from local Jews by EY. During the following centuries, Polish had an important adstratal influence on all of EY, while Ukrainian and Belarusian influenced local Yiddish dialects. The structural changes found in almost all systems of EY are due not to its Old Czech substratum but to later borrowings from Polish and East Slavic languages.

Keywords:   Eastern Yiddish, linguistic substratum, Old Czech, Jewish given names

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