Western Yiddish, the spoken language of the traditional Jewish society in the German- and Dutch-speaking countries, was abandoned by its speakers at the end of the 18th in favour of the emerging standard varieties: Dutch and German, respectively. Remnants of Western Yiddish varieties, however, remained a medium of discourse in remote provinces and could be found well into the 19th and sometimes the 20th century in some South-western areas of Germany and Switzerland, the Alsace, some areas of the Netherlands and in parts of the German province of Westphalia. It appears that rural Jewish communities sometimes preserved in-group vernaculars, which were based on Western Yiddish. Sources discovered in 2004 in the town of Aurich prove that Jews living in East Frisia, a Low-German speaking peninsula in the North-west of Germany, used a variety based on Western Yiddish until the Second World War. It appears that until the Holocaust a number of small, close-knit Jewish communities East Frisia, which depended economically mainly on cattle-trading and butchery, kept certain specific cultural features, among them the vernacular which they spoke alongside Low German and Standard German. The sources consist of two amateur theatre plays, a memoir and two word lists written in 1902, 1928 and the 1980s, respectively. In the monograph these sources are documented and annotated as well as analyzed linguistically against the background of rural Jewish life in Northern Germany. The study focuses on traces of language contact with Low German, processes of language change and on the question of the function of the variety in day-to-day life in a rural Jewish community.
|Place of Publication||Wiesbaden (DE)|
|Number of pages||247|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 2007|