Paper XII: Yiddish
Yiddish can be taken as Special Subjects (Paper XII) in the Final Honour School. It can be taken as either A Yiddish Literature or B Yiddish Linguistics
A The reading list for Yiddish Literature is as follows:
- Sholem Aleykhem: Gants Tevye der Milkhiker [Tevye the Dairyman (Stories)] (Vilna: Kletskin, 1925 or any other full Yiddish text).
- Sh. An-Ski [Shloyme-Zanvl Rappoport]: Der dibek [The Dybbuk] (in Di yidishe drame fun tsvantsikstn yorhundert [ New York, 1977], vol. ii or any other full Yiddish text.
- Dovid Bergelson: Opgang [Descent] edited by Joseph Sherman (New York: Modern Language Association, 1999).
- Isaac Bashevis [Singer]: selected stories from Der shpigl un andere dertseylungen [The Mirror and Other Stories] (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1979).
- Poetry: selections from the work of Dovid Hofshteyn, Peretz Markish, Leyb Kvitko and Moyshe Kulbak in A shpigl oyf a shteyn [A Mirror on a Stone] (Tel-Aviv: Peretz-farlag, 1964) (the work of Soviet Yiddish poets murdered by Stalin).
B The requirements for Yiddish Linguistics are as follows:
This papers offers the opportunity to study the linguistic structure and sociolinguistic context of Yiddish – a language related to German but unique in its own right. The historic vernacular of Ashkenazic Jews, Yiddish is a language without country that wears the settlement history of its speakers on its sleeve, having fused Hebrew-Aramaic, German, Romance and Slavic elements into a new linguistic form. Jewish multilingualism meant that for most of its life, Yiddish existed in a diglossic relationship with Hebrew. However, changes to European Jewish life at the end of the nineteenth century fundamentally changed the sociolinguistic situation of Yiddish, and saw Yiddish become a symbol of Jewish nationalism and thus subject to language planning efforts and normative demands. Yiddish also provides a case study of language shift, loss and maintenance as a language that has often been pronounced dead but is still very much alive!
Areas of study may include the following: (i) the origins of Yiddish, (ii) Proto-Yiddish, (iii) structural and lexical aspects of Yiddish as a language in contact, (iv) Yiddish dialectology, (v) external and internal Jewish multilingualism, (vi) Yiddish standardisation and (vii) Yiddish language maintenance.
While candidates need not be fully competent in Yiddish, the paper will require prior knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet (which is easily learned!) and willingness to acquire a basic knowledge of Yiddish grammatical structures. Examination of this paper is by three-hour examination.
(i) indispensable and accessible introductory reading:
Katz, Dovid (2004). Words on fire: the unfinished history of Yiddish. New York: Basic Books.
(ii) see also:
Aptroot, Marion (to appear, 2007). Jiddisch: Geschichte und Kultur einer Weltsprache. Munich: Beck.
Birnbaum, Solomon A. (1979). Yiddish: a survey and a grammar. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Estraikh, Gennady (1996). Intensive Yiddish. Oxford: Oksforder Yidish Press.
Landis, Joseph C. (ed.) (n.d.). Yiddish then and now: studies in the life of a language. Flushing, NY: Yiddish Books, Queens College.
Peltz, Rakhmiel (2003). Yiddish. In Deumert, A. & Vandenbussche, W. (eds.), Germanic standardizations: past to present. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 455–69.
Weinstein, Miriam (2002). Yiddish: a nation of words. New York: Ballantine.