Yiddish in the 21st Century: New Media to the Rescue of Endangered Languages

Yiddish in the 21st Century: New Media to the Rescue of Endangered Languages

Agnieszka Legutko
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3435-9.ch036
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


This chapter offers the first scholarly analysis of teaching the Yiddish language in the digital age, and argues that new media have a tremendous potential for rescuing endangered languages. It investigates the pedagogical advantages and disadvantages of using digital technologies in teaching languages, as well as the ensuing challenges for teachers and students. A brief overview of the history of the Yiddish language and culture is followed by examination of such new digital platforms as Yiddishpop.com, Mapping Yiddish New York, The Grosbard Project, Yiddish audio and visual materials available online, such as videos, sound archives, online newspapers and dictionaries, as well as distance learning opportunities.
Chapter Preview

1. A Short History Of The Yiddish Language And Culture

1.1. The Language

Yiddish, the vernacular language of the Ashkenazic (Central and East European) Jews, traditionally categorized as a Germanic language, is a fusion language (M. Weinreich, 1973) that combines characteristics from the Semitic, Germanic, and Slavic language families. It emerged in the tenth century in the Rhineland or Bavaria regions (Dovid Katz, 1987; Wexler, 1991) in Germany, but as a result of the migration of its speakers to Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, it underwent a substantial process of Slavicization. Thus, the modern Yiddish language consists of three main vocabulary components: German, Hebrew-Aramaic, and Slavic (Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Czech, Slovak, etc.), and its syntax and underlying structure are influenced by Slavic patterns. Yiddish is written in the Hebrew alphabet (right to left); but unlike Hebrew, which uses an abjad writing system (a consonantal script of 22 letters with vowels marked diacritically), Yiddish uses a phonemic orthography, in which all vowels are represented by separate symbols. Several other studies are recommended for more information on the history and linguistic structure of the Yiddish language (Birnbaum, 1979; M. Weinreich, 1973; J. E. Fishman, 1991; Jacobs, 2005; Dovid Katz, 2004;).

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: