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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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Sound changes and dialects

Sound changes and dialects

(p.459) 6 Sound changes and dialects
Origins of Yiddish Dialects

Alexander Beider

Oxford University Press

Taking into account stressed vowels, this chapter provides detailed schemes showing the derivation of all modern Eastern Yiddish (EY) dialects from one Proto-EY. For numerous shifts, approximate periods and areas of inception are suggested. It also demonstrates that EY and the Yiddish dialects of the Czech lands and eastern Germany could have one common Jewish ancestor: the one based on the Bohemian dialect of German. Yet, no Proto-Yiddish has ever existed: Western Yiddish (WY) cannot be derived from the same ancestor. Moreover, even the notion of Proto-WY (looking as though related to East Franconian) is purely instrumental and does not correspond to any historical reality. Before the sixteenth century, western Yiddish varieties, based on local German dialects, underwent a gradual standardization. The chapter suggests a new classification of Yiddish dialects based on their history. It also elaborates theoretical notions of transitional and mixed dialects in their application to Yiddish.

Keywords:   Eastern Yiddish, Western Yiddish, sound changes, classification of dialects, proto-dialects, proto-vowels

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