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Soviet YiddishLanguage-Planning and Linguistic Development$
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Gennady Estraikh

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198184799

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184799.001.0001

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Language planning of the 1930s

Language planning of the 1930s

(p.62) 3 Language planning of the 1930s
Soviet Yiddish

Gennady Estraikh

Oxford University Press

In the 1930s, conflicts between competing groups of Yiddish language planners intensified. Adherents of the further Russification of Yiddish (at the expense of Hebrew-Aramaic and German components) crossed swords with the Kiev and Moscow cultivators of a ‘pure proletarian Yiddish’. The climactic event was the 1934 conference in Kiev which accepted basic principles of lexical innovation in Soviet literary Yiddish which, as a matter of ideology, rejected massive direct borrowings from Russian. Despite the ostensible rejection of Russification, the conference demonstrated that, in practice, nearly all lexical innovations, whether coined on the basis of Hebrew, German, or Slavonic elements, were loanwords or calques from Russian. Three years later, in 1937, various aspects of Soviet Yiddish language planning were once again discussed on the eve of a conference, scheduled to be convened in Birobidzhan. The conference never took place, due to the purges of 1937, when many Yiddish activists perished in the Gulag. This chapter discusses the Soviet Yiddish Empire of the early 1930s, the Odessa language, and similarities between Soviet Yiddish and Soviet German.

Keywords:   Yiddish, Russification, conference, Russian, language planning, lexical innovations, loanwords, German, Yiddish Empire, Odessa

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