Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Colloquial Yiddish

Uriel Weinreich “College Yiddish” was once the go-to book for students interested in breaking ground in mame loshon.  Now we have Lilly Kahn’s Colloquial Yiddish, part of the “Colloquial” series by Rutledge, poised to take Weinerich’s place.

It is probably time.  College Yiddish is out of date in many respects, while Kahn’s effort is very up-to-date, including references to computers, the internet, and other post-modern paraphernalia.  While Weinreich’s textbook is important and honest, it already has the moribund feel of a marker of the death of Yiddish.

Colloquial Yiddish at least gives the language the feel that it is just that, colloquial and secular.  This is not a primer for Yeshiva Yiddish, but a tour through the language as it is or would have been had World War II and linguistic assimilation not occurred.

So, the reader gets to learn Yiddish while at the same time playing out a fantasy with a dormant, nearly dead language.

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