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Yiddish ( יידיש)
speaker approx. 0.5 - at most 1.5 million
Official status
Recognized minority /
regional language in
Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina , Netherlands , Poland , Romania , Sweden , Ukraine
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3

yid (macro language)

Individual languages ​​included:

  • ydd (East Yiddish; Europe, North and South America, Israel)
  • yih (West Yiddish; Germany, Austria)

Yiddish (Yiddishיידיש or אידיש, literally Jewish, short for Yiddish-Daitsch or Jüdisch -Deutsch ) is a language almost a thousand years old that was spoken and written by Ashkenazi Jews in large parts of Europe and is spoken and written by some of their descendants to this day. It is a West Germanic language that emerged from Middle High German , which, in addition to High German, also has a Hebrew - Aramaic , a Romance and a Slavic component; More recently, there are influences from New High German and, depending on the current place of residence of the speakers, also from English , Iwrith and other co-territorial languages. Yiddish is divided into West and East Yiddish . The latter consists of the dialect associations Northeast Yiddish (“Lithuanian Yiddish”), Central Yiddish (“Polish Yiddish”) and Southeast Yiddish (“Ukrainian Yiddish”).

The Yiddish language spread in the Middle Ages, initially in the course of the settlement in the east, and later also through persecution- induced migration of Jews from the German-speaking area in Europe, especially to Eastern Europe, where East Yiddish finally emerged. With the emigration of millions of Eastern European Jews in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it then spread westward and reached the new Jewish centers in America and Western Europe , and later also to Israel .

Yiddish was one of the three Jewish languages ​​of the Ashkenazi Jews, alongside Hebrew and Aramaic, which were largely reserved for written use. It was used not only as spoken, but also as everyday language written and printed with Hebrew characters . A role similar to the Yiddish for the Ashkenazi Jews plays for the Sephardic Jews , the Jews Spanish .

While West Yiddish began to die out as early as the 18th century, East Yiddish remained the everyday language of the majority of Jews in Eastern Europe until the Jewish centers of continental Europe were destroyed in the Holocaust . Today, Yiddish is still spoken as a mother tongue by (often elderly) descendants of Eastern European Jews , by a small but lively number of so-called Yiddishists and especially by ultra-orthodox Ashkenazi Jews. The number of native speakers is estimated at a maximum of one million.

Because speaking, writing and cultural activity in Yiddish has been based almost exclusively on East Yiddish since the end of the 18th century, Yiddish is actually understood to be East Yiddish today , as long as West Yiddish is not explicitly mentioned . In this article, therefore, East Yiddish is at the center of the description.


Oldest surviving written testimony of a whole sentence in Yiddish from the Worms Machsor , 1272
Earlier spread of Yiddish dialects, yellow East Yiddish with the dialects Northeast (Lithuanian-Belarusian), Southeast (Ukrainian) and Central Yiddish (Polish Yiddish), green West Yiddish with actual West Yiddish in the west and transition Yiddish in the east. Green dashed line: borders of the sub-dialects Judaeo-Alsatian (in the southwest), Czech and Hungarian transitional Yiddish and Kurland Yiddish (in the Baltic States). Map of the Linguarium project at Moscow's Lomonosov University (Russian).
Yiddish dialects according to a different classification (French), West Yiddish here divided into Northwest, Midwest and Southwest Yiddish and transitional Yiddish hatched. Whether the Elbe or the Oder was the border to the transitional varieties is just as controversial as the affiliation of the Silesian Yiddish. Sub-dialects not shown.

In the Middle High German period, specifically Jewish forms of German developed in the German-speaking area, which Jews spoke to one another and were written using a Hebrew alphabet adapted for this purpose . A large number of borrowings from mostly post-biblical Hebrew and Aramaic and, to a lesser extent, some borrowings from Romansh ( French , Italian and Spanish ) are characteristic.

As a result of anti-Judaism and the persecution of Jews from the 11th century, especially the persecution of Jews at the time of the Black Death around 1348, Jews emigrated en masse from the German-speaking area to Eastern Europe, especially to the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania , and as a result there was one linguistically separate development: Yiddish in the West continued to develop in contact with German and was largely similar to it, especially in the course of the secularization and assimilation of German Jews from the 18th century, while Yiddish in the East more strongly preserved the medieval status of Jewish German and mainly developed in contact with Slavic languages through borrowings and by adopting morphological and syntactic elements from Slavonic. Yiddish is therefore divided into West Yiddish and East Yiddish .

West Yiddish was decisive for Yiddish book printing until the early 18th century. In the late 18th century, however, the East Central European printing locations had replaced the West Central European ones, and as a result, and because of the advanced assimilation of the Jews in Germany, East Yiddish established itself as the new standard of the Yiddish language. In the 19th century, non-religious publications also became more numerous. An epoch that lasted until World War II follows , which is often seen as the golden age of Yiddish literature. This period coincides with the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language and the rebirth of Hebrew literature.

Jewish emigrants on the German-Polish border in the emigration halls

With the mass emigration to North America and England in the late 19th century, Yiddish expanded increasingly into the English- speaking area and was accordingly increasingly influenced by English as a contact language. As a result of the large number of Yiddish-speaking immigrants, numerous Yiddish words have found their way into the colloquial vocabulary of American English. With the Yiddish edition of The Forward , a newspaper written in Yiddish still exists in New York today that goes back to this wave of immigration; other Yiddish papers are aimed at the ultra-Orthodox segment of the population who only came to America after the Second World War.

In the independent Ukrainian People's Republic , which existed from 1917 to 1920, Yiddish was an official language. The history of the Jews in the Soviet Union , however, was ambivalent. On the one hand, the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin pursued an actively anti-Jewish policy. She persecuted the Jewish religion, Bible study, the Zionist movement, and the Hebrew language. On the other hand, Yiddish language and literature were officially promoted at least until World War II. In the 1920s and 1930s, for example, Yiddish was, along with Russian, Belarusian and Polish, the state language in Soviet Belarus for several years . Between 1918 and 1923, under the leadership of the war veteran Simon Dimantstein, Jewish sections ("Evsekzija") were formed in the CPSU . They should build a “Jewish proletarian culture” which, according to Stalin, should be “national in form and socialist in content”. There were three major Yiddish newspapers: Der Emes (“Di warheit”, 1920–1939 in Moscow), Der Schtern (1925–1941 in Ukraine) and Oktyabr (“October”, 1925–1941 in Belarus). The establishment of a Yiddish school system was also promoted. In 1932, 160,000 Jewish children in the Soviet Union attended a Yiddish-language school. However, due to the lack of higher education opportunities in Yiddish and Stalin's increasingly anti-minority policies, these schools across the country were closed in the years that followed.

In 1925, the YIVO (Jidischer Wissenschaftlecher Institute) was opened in Wilno, Poland, as an academic institution for studying Yiddish and Eastern Jewish culture. Since 1940 the head office has been in New York ; In 1941 the Nazis looted the Vilna headquarters. Scientific institutes for research into the Yiddish language, literature and culture were also set up in Kiev and Minsk , and they published their work in Yiddish.

In 1928 the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (capital: Birobidzhan ) was founded in the eastern Soviet Union. Yiddish was to be introduced as the official language here, but the Yiddish-speaking population never reached a majority. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union , most of the Jews of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast have emigrated to Israel, Germany and the USA; Apart from the lettering of individual public buildings, streets and monuments, Yiddish is hardly present any more.

In 1939, according to various estimates, Yiddish had 11 to 13 million speakers, making it the third largest Germanic language after English and German .

Today's distribution

Today there are in some traditional, ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, especially in New York (in the Brooklyn district ) and in the New York suburbs Kiryas Joel , New Square and Monsey, in Montreal and in its suburb Kiryas Tosh, in London , in Antwerp and in Jerusalem ( e.g. in the Me'a She'arim district ) and the surrounding area have larger groups of speakers who use Yiddish as an everyday language and pass it on to the next generation. In addition to these speakers, there is also a small secular community of speakers who continue to cultivate Yiddish.

According to a 2015 estimate by Ethnologue, there are 1.5 million speakers of East Yiddish, whereas West Yiddish is said to have just over 5,000 speakers today. The figures relating to West Yiddish are, however, in need of interpretation and should almost exclusively relate to people who only have residual skills in West Yiddish and for whom Yiddish is often part of their religious or cultural identity.

In Surbtal , Switzerland , whose West Yiddish dialects are commonly counted among those that have been spoken the longest, Yiddish died out as a living language in the 1970s. In Alsace , where West Yiddish has probably survived the longest, there are said to have been a few speakers of this linguistic variety at the beginning of the 21st century. The loss of this traditional language has hardly been noticed by the public.

Today there are a total of six chairs for Yiddish studies , two of them in Germany (Düsseldorf and Trier). Language courses and exercises are offered at other universities, mostly in the context of Jewish studies .


Yiddish speakers, called Jidden by their own name jid ( plural jidn ) by Yiddists , refer to Yiddish as mame-loschn (מאַמע-לשון, German "mother tongue"). The German word Yiddish is a relatively new made-up word. It is a borrowing from the English Yiddish, which in turn goes back to the Yiddish word Yidish brought to England by East Jewish emigrants . Yiddish (or Idisch ) means both “Jewish” and “Yiddish” in Yiddish. So-called Jewish German is a variant of West Yiddish that is very similar to German and was the colloquial and correspondence language of the majority of German Jews until around the middle of the 19th century.

In English, the word Yiddish has been used since 1886, first in the novel Children of Gibeon by Walter Besant with the explanation that it is a language mixed from Polish, German and Hebrew, but soon afterwards also through occasional use in linguistic studies Publications such as Alexander Harkavy's Dictionary of the Yiddish Language (New York 1898) and Leo Wiener's History of Yiddish Literature in the Nineteenth Century (London & New York 1899), although older terms such as Judaeo-German were initially used in such specialist publications until the 20th century still prevailed.

When the Yiddish word Yidish was Anglicized , the consonant “d” was doubled in order to preserve the monophthong -i- and to prevent the pronunciation -ei-, which is otherwise obvious in English . From here the word was also adopted into German in the form “Yiddish”, where it was first used in Gustav Karpeles ' History of Jewish Literature (Berlin 1909, there next to “Jewish-German”) and then in Solomon Birnbaum's essay Yiddish Poetry (1913 ) appears. Here stood Anglizismus Yiddish not only to the older names, but also to the sometimes inherited from the Ostjiddischen directly into High German designation in competition jidisch, as such. B. appears in the subtitle "Transmissions of Jewish folk poetry" for the collection of Ostjüdische Liebeslieder (Berlin 1920) by Ludwig Strauss .

It is largely due to Birnbaum's initiative and the influence of his Practical Grammar of the Yiddish Language (1918) as well as his numerous specialist publications and lexicon articles that Yiddish (and also in English Yiddish ) subsequently established itself as a technical term, initially primarily for the New East Yiddish, and then comprehensive for all language periods including Western Yiddish.


" Bovo d'Antona ", later "Bowe-Buch" or "Bowe-Majße" by Elia Levita from 1507/1508, first printed edition from 1541: the first completely preserved non-religious Yiddish book. The folk etymologically reinterpreted expression "bobe-majße", invented story, literally "grandmother's story", goes back to the title.

Yiddish is written using the Hebrew alphabet ( Aljamiado spelling), which has been adapted for the special purposes of this non-Semitic-based language. For example, certain signs that are used for consonants in Hebrew stand for vowels in Yiddish as well. Words of German and Slavic origin are largely written phonetically (with very few exceptions), while those of Hebrew and Aramaic origin (also with a few exceptions) are largely written as in Hebrew. In contrast to Ladino (Jewish Spanish), Yiddish is very rarely written in Latin letters - usually only if the text is aimed at a readership who is not (fully) able to speak Yiddish.

There are several transcriptions in Latin script that are equivalent if they allow a one-to-one correspondence between the character and the sound and can therefore be easily converted into one another. International spread in is YIVO -affinen circuits developed by the YIVO in New York transcription, is partly based on the English spelling. In the German-speaking world, this English base is often replaced by a German one; the place of y, z, s, v, ts, kh, sh, zh, ay, ey, oy occur then j, s, ß (or ss ), w z, ch, sh, sh, aj, ej , oj . Finally, in linguistics, transliteration is often used instead of transcription ; for y, ts, kh, sh, zh, tsh, ay, ey, oy of the YIVO one uses j, c, x, š, ž, č, aj, ej, oj .

Hebrew characters and Latin transcription

character YIVO
(in YIVO transcription)
א       shtumer alef
אַ a a a pasekh alef
אָ O O O comets alef
ב b b b beys
בֿ v w v veys
ג G G G giml
ד d d d daled
ה H H H hey
ו u u u vov
וּ u u u melupm vov
ז z s z zayen
ח kh ch x khes
ט t t t tes
י y j j yud
יִ i i i khirek yud
כּ k k k kof
כ ך kh ch x khof, long khof
ל l l l lamed
מ ם m m m mem, shlos mem
נ ן n n n well, longer now
ס s ß, ss s samekh
ע e e e, e ~ ə ayin
פּ p p p pey
פֿ ​​ף f f f fey, long fey
צ ץ ts z c tsadek, long tsadek
ק k k k kuf
ר r r r reysh
ש sh sch š shin
שׂ s ß s sin
תּ t t t tof
ת s ß, ss s sof
Yiddish special characters (digraphs)
character YIVO
German based
(in YIVO transcription)
װ v w v tsvey vovn
זש zh sh ž zayen-shin
טש tsh ch tes-shin
ױ oy oj oj vov yud
ײ ey ej ej tsvey yudn
ײַ ay aj aj pasekh tsvey yudn

The schtumer alef ( "dumb Aleph ", א) is in non-Semitic origin words before any incipient vowels (including diphthongs) except the AJEN (ע) and of course not before alef (אָ, אַ): So you wrote אייַז ( ajs «Ice»), אײ ( ej «egg»), איז ( is «is»), אױװן ( ojwn «oven»), און ( un «and»), but ער ( he «he»), אַלט ( old « old »), אָװנט ( ownt « evening »). This also applies (with the exception of the Soviet spelling variant ) within compounds , such as פֿאַראײן ( farejn "association") or פֿאַראינטערעסירן זיך ( farintereßirn "to find something interesting"). In more traditional spelling outside of the YIVO orthography, the schtumer alef is also used as a sound separator and letter separator; the YIVO spelling uses punctuation instead. An example of the former is רואיק ( ruik «calm», written after YIVO רויִק, thus with dotted jud ), two examples for the latter װאו ( wu «wo», written after YIVO װוּ) and װאוינען ( wojnen «live», after YIVO װוּינען written; both with dotted wow ).

Transcriptions in the comparison text

Two sentences from Awrom Sutzkewer's story »Griner Akwarium« serve as a demonstration for the YIVO and the German-based transcription as well as a scientific transcription :

YIVO transcription: Ot di tsavoe hot mir ibergelozn with yorn tsurik in mayn lebediker heymshtot an alter bokher, a tsedrumshketer poet, with a langn tsop ahinter, vi a frisher beryozever bezem. S'hot keyner nit gevust zayn noun, fun vanen er shtamt.
German based transcription: Ot di zawoe hot mir ibergelosn with jorn zurik in majn lebediker hejmschtot an alter bocher, a zedrumschketer poet, with a langn zop ahinter, wi a frischer berjosewer besem. ß'hot kejner not known sajn noun, fun wanen he is ashamed.
Transliteration: Ot di cavoe hot mir ibergelozn with jorn curik in majn lebediker hejmštot an old boxer, a cedrumšketer poet, with a langn cop ahinter, vi a frišer berjozever bezem. S'hot kejner nit gevust zajn noun, fun vanen er štamt. (The stressed and unstressed / e / sound can also be differentiated into ‹e› and ‹ə›.)
Translation: Years ago, in my lively hometown, an old bachelor left me with this legacy, a confused poet with a long braid at the back, similar to a broom made from fresh birch twigs. Nobody knew his name, his origin.



Yiddish has numerous sound changes in common with many Upper and especially Central German dialects: rounding of the high tongue vowels mhd. Ö> e, ü> i ( e.g. mhd. Jüde > jidd. Jid ), the diphthongization of mhd. Or regional-earlyhd. long ê> ej, ô> ou or in East Yiddish continue> / oi /, œ (> ê)> ej ( e.g. mhd. gên > jidd. gejn, mhd. brôt > jidd. brojt, mhd. schœne > yidd . Schejn ) or the dulling of the long central vowel mhd. â> ô / û ( e.g. mhd. schlâfen > nordostjidd . schlofn, südjidd. schlufn ).

Middle High German Standard German Standard Yiddish Example word
a / ā a [aː] אָ (O) Sheep, שאָף (schof)
a a [a] אַ (a) Salt, זאַלץ (salt)
æ [æː] ä [ɛː] ע (e) heavy, שווער (heavy)
ō [ɔː] o [oː] וי (oj) Loaf, ברויט (brojt)
ō [œː] ö [øː] יי (ej) angry, בייז (bejs)
e [e] e [eː] Ass, אייזל (ejsl)
ē [ɛː] e [eː] forever, אייביק (ejbik)
o [ø] ö [œ] ע (e) Heads, קעפּ (kep)
e [e] e [ɛ] closely, ענג (closely)
ü [ʏ] , [yː] ü [ʏ] , [yː] י (i) over, איבער (iber)
ou [ɔu] au [ao] וי (oj) Eye, אויג (ojg)
ū au [ao] House, הויז (hojs)
ei [ɛi] egg [ae] ײ (ej) Stone, שטיין (schtejn)
ī egg [ae] ײַ (aj) Wine, ווײַן (wajn)
iu eu [oe] New, נײַ (naj)

The development of mhd. / Ei /, / øː / and / iu / did not always go directly to the New Yiddish sounds, but partly through the intermediate stages / ei /> / eː /> / ej / (e.g. bein > bēn > bejn ); / øː /> / eː /> / ej / ( beautiful > beautiful > Schejn); / iu /> / yː /> / iː /> / aj / (e.g. niuwe > nü (we) > > naj ).


Yiddish almost completely reflects the high German sound shift . Germanic / p / is shifted to / f / in Yiddish in words like sleep, run, help, hope as in standard German: schlofn, lojfn, helfn, hofn . As in East Central German , the final Germanic / p / in head, braid, pot has remained unchanged, however, it is called Yiddish kop, zop, top and thus also kepl, tepl (little head, potty). In the case of initial / pf / as in pan, pepper, whistle, arrow, horse, plant , Yiddish also behaves like East Central German and knows the shift from / p / to / f /: fan, fefer, fajfn, fajl, ferd, flanzn - different from West Central German, which here preserves / p /, and different from Upper German, which has moved to / pf / here. West Germanic / p / ultimately remains in Yiddish as / p /, for example in epl, schepn (German, however, apple, scoop ).

Proto-European Standard German Yiddish
* slē p aną schla f s שלאָ פֿ ןschlo f n
* p annōn Pf anne פֿ אַן f at
* a p laz A pf el ע פּ לe p l

כ / ך / חAs in many Bavarian and Alemannic dialects, (ch) becomes after light vowels such asי (i), יי (ej), ײַ (aj) and after ר(r) pronounced as [x] :ליכט light [lɪxt] .


Yiddish grammar is basically German-based, but also has numerous proprietary developments and shows various Slavic and certain Hebrew influences.


Yiddish has three genera (m., F., N.) And 4 cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative). A relatively extensive reduction in the number of endings has taken place. In the dialects there are significant deviations from the standard Yiddish rule in terms of gender and case.

Case inflection

Yiddish only shows remnants of case inflection in the noun.

  • The general genitive ending is -ß, regardless of gender: the manß book, the frojß book, the kindß book (the book of the man, the woman, the child). However, the use of the genitive is severely restricted compared to German.

Special cases are:

  • der tate (father) - genitive dem tatnß, dative and accusative dem tatn; also: sejde (grandfather), rebe (Hasidic rabbi, traditional school teacher).
  • der Mensch (Mensch) - genitive to mentsch, dative and accusative to mentsch or mentschn; also: jid (Jew, Jewish man).
  • di mame (mother) - genitive der mameß, dative der mame or der mamen, accusative di mame; also: bobe (grandmother), mume (aunt).
  • Personal names in the dative and accusative case always have the ending - (e) n, when combining first and last name, the ending only comes with the surname: Ich se Dowidn (I see David), I know Arn Barnbojmen (I know Aaron Birnbaum) . The ending can be omitted for stylistic reasons.
  • Frozen endings occur in in, zum harzn (in, to the heart, figuratively speaking ), in der emeßn (in truth), in der luftn (in the air), in wochn (during the week), far eight togn (eight days ago), ba lajtn (among decent people).

Plural formation

The inflection of the nouns does not differ from that of the German standard language in principle, but it does differ greatly in individual cases. Inflection by umlaut and by {-n} are much more common than in standard German (the former partly corresponds to the relationships in German dialects); conversely, the German ending {-e} is unknown in Yiddish. Then Yiddish with the endings {-ß} or {-eß} and {-im} knows morphemes, which are borrowed from Hebrew. {-im} occurs almost only with Hebrew-derived nouns, the former both in Hebrew as well as German and Slavic-derived words. The spelling of {- (e) ß} is done according to Hebrew for words of Hebrew origin, and according to phonological orthography for words of German and Slavic origin. The formation of the plural by means of {-im} is then usually associated with a vowel change, sometimes with a consonantic change and often with a shift in emphasis from the first to the middle syllable.

Examples that demonstrate what has been said above as well as the differences between German and Yiddish inflection and also show how the endings from different languages ​​are sometimes used in the other components (each singular - plural):

  • sweaty (sister) - sweaty
  • table (table) - table; of Hebrew descent : jam (sea) - jamen; Slavic origin : kojsch (basket) - kojschn
  • tog (day) - teg;
  • gortn (garden) - gertner; of Hebrew origin : kol (voice) - keler; Slavic origin : ßod (orchard) - ßeder
  • schtekn (Insert) - schteknß or mume (aunt, aunt ) - mumeß; of Hebrew descent : chaje (animal) - chajeß; of Slavic origin : nudnik (Langweiler) - nudnikeß [originally Semitic ending; however, words of Hebrew origin on the one hand and German and Slavic words on the other hand are spelled differently]
  • pojer (farmer) - pojerim; of Hebrew origin : neß (miracle) - nissim or schetech (area) - shtochim or malbesch (item of clothing) - malbúschim [originally Semitic ending]

Diminutive I (reduction)

Here, -l is added in the singular ; the plural is formed with -lech : bet (bed) - Dim. I betl, plural betlech . If possible, diminution is combined with umlaut: hant (hand) - Dim. I hentl .

Diminutive II (Imminutive)

The diminutive II is a more affective variant of the diminutive I. In the singular, -ele is added; the plural formed with -elech : bet (bed) - Dim. II betele, plural betelech . If possible, diminution is combined with umlaut: hant (hand) - Dim. II hentele .


The indefinite article, which occurs only in the singular is, before consonants a, before vowels to , and is not inflected: a man, a Froj, a kind (dt a / an / a Man, / a woman a / a child. )

The definite article is inflected according to gender, case and number, whereby a strong syncretism has taken place in comparison with German .


  • masculine

der = dt. der (nom.), e.g. B. the one the man
dem = dt. Des (Gen.), the (Dat.), The (Acc.) B. to the man's man, to the man, the man

  • feminine

di = dt. the (nom. and acc.), e.g. B. di froj die Frau
der = dt.
Der (Gen. and Dat.), Z. B. the frojß of women (Gen.), the froj of women (Dat.)

  • neutral (unknown in northeast Yiddish)

doß = dt. that (nom. and acc.), z. B. dosed the child
dem = dt.
Des (Gen.), dem (Dat.), Z. B. the child of the child, the child for the child


  • di for all genera and all cases, e.g. B. di mener / frojen / children sing the men / women / children sing, I give this book di mener / frojen / children I give the book to men / women / children


Basic form

The inflection of adjectives differs fundamentally from the German rules in that (with very few exceptions) it does not differentiate between strong and weak inflection.


  • Nom. Mask .: an alter man (dt. An old man), der alter man (the old man)
  • Date fem .: an alter froj (dt. an old woman, dative), der alter froj (dt. the old woman, dative)
  • Nom.ntr .: a klejn kind (dt. A small child), but: doß klejne kind (dt. The small child)


The comparative ends in -er, the superlative on- Essen, for example siß, sisser, zum siisstn (German: sweet, sweet, sweetest).

As in German, umlaut can occur, for example
old, elter, zum eltßtn (dt. Old, older, oldest)
coarse, greber, zum grebßtn (dt. Thick [coarse], thicker [coarser], am thickest [most coarsely])
big, bigger, zum greößn (German: big, bigger, biggest)
young, jinger, zum jingßtn (German: young, younger, youngest).
Historically, the vowel change has a different background in klejn, klener, zum klenßtn (German small, smaller, smallest) and schejn, schener, zum habenschtn (German beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful).

In a few cases, suppletion occurs , for example, good, better, zum bessn (dt. Good, better, best), bad, more severe, to gassn (dt. Worse, worse [anger], worst [worst]).


Like German, Yiddish has a large number of unflexed adverbs.


Like German, Yiddish knows strong and weak verbs as well as a small number of very irregular verbs. In addition, verbs of Hebrew origin have a periphrastic conjugation that is unknown to German. Unlike German, Yiddish has neither a past tense nor a subjunctive.

Examples (infinitive - 3rd person singular present tense - past participle):

  • strong guys:

schrajbn (dt. to write) - schrajbt - schribn
singen (dt. to sing) - sings - sung
schlofn (dt. to sleep) - to sleep - to sleep

  • weak types:

machn (dt. to make) - make - done
redn (dt. to talk) - to talk - to talk
ßtraschen (to threaten) - to ßtraschet - to betraschet

  • irregular:

hobn (dt. to have) - hot - gehat
weln (dt. to want) - wil (full verb) / wel (auxiliary verb) - gewolt

  • periphrastic:

mojde sajn (dt. admit) - is mojde - mojde gewen

A Slav-inspired system of types of action is very pronounced in Yiddish. These distinctions are especially vivid in Yiddish, which is spoken in Slavic surroundings; in American Yiddish it is quickly lost.


  • schrajbn = German to write, as a state - onschrajbn = to finish something by writing: I schrajb a book = German I am about to write a book, but: I raised ongeschribn a book = the book is finished
  • interest oneself = German interest, as a state - far interest oneself = German interest in something

In standard Yiddish, the perfect tense is formed with sajn (dt. To be) or hobn (dt. To have): he has gone, he made hot, although the distribution of auxiliary verbs may differ from (North and East) German: he is geschtanen, si is geschlofn ( Eng .: he has confessed, she has slept). Northeast Yiddish (originally spoken in Lithuania and Belarus) only knows hobn as an auxiliary verb.

The Yiddish conditional is formed with wolt (originally to weln, dt. Want to belong) plus past participle: he wolt holfn (dt. He would help / he help).


The numbers transcribed in Latin:

  • 0 nul
  • 1 ejnß
  • 2 two
  • 3 draj
  • 4 fir
  • 5 finf
  • 6 sec
  • 7 sibn
  • 8 eight
  • 9 najn
  • 10 zen
  • 11 eleven
  • 12 twelve

from 13 drajzn it runs analogously to the German -zn; but note: 14 ferzn; 15 sighs

From the age of 20 zwanzik comes -unzwanzik

After 30 drajßik comes -zik; but note: 40 ferzik; 50 fufzik; 70 sibezik

100 hundred; 1000 tojsnt; 1000000 miljon

928.834 najn one hundred eight un zwanzik tojsnt eight hundred fir un drajßik


There is only a very manageable number of conjunctions in Yiddish, which, like in German, can be associated or subordinate. Some of them are of Slavic or Hebrew origin. The conjunctions have no influence on the mode or the position of the verb.

Coordinating conjunctions

German transcription Yiddish
and U.N אוּן
or or אָדער
but upper אָבער
because wajl װײַל

Subordinate conjunctions

German transcription Yiddish
although hagam (hebr.) / chotsch (sl.) הגם / כאָטש
that as אַז
if ojb אויב
in order to bechdej (hebr.) בכדי
as well ... as hen ... hen (hebr.) הן… הן
either ... or or or אָדער… אָדער

Yiddish culture

“Yiddish worker”, “l'Ouvrier juif”, Paris. The newspaper was founded in 1911 and ceased to appear in 1914.
Poster in Yiddish and Polish for "Tewje der Milchiker" (Tewje the milkman) by Scholem Alejchem, Vilna
Yiddish poster, First World War (1917), USA, title: spajs wet gewinen di krieg!
Yiddish posters in Brooklyn , New York, 2009
Sign in English and Yiddish for a bus stop in Kiryas Joel , NY

Yiddish literature

Early Yiddish-language testimonies are religious texts, the oldest completely preserved non-religious Yiddish book was written at the beginning of the 16th century. The beginnings of Yiddish literature can be traced back to the 13th century. Epics about characters from the Bible, heroic songs from Germanic sagas, fables, folk books, religious learning and practical literature or the verse novels of Elia Levita (1469–1549) inspired by the adventure stories of the Italian Renaissance show the diversity of older Yiddish literature. Yiddish literature experienced a further boom from the 19th century. Modern Yiddish literature originated mainly in Eastern Europe. Her classics are Scholem-Jankew Abramowitsch, known as "Mendele Mojcher-Sforim" (1836–1917), Scholem Aleichem (1859–1916) and I. L. Peretz (1852–1915). In the period between the two world wars, literary production in Yiddish could easily keep up with that of any other world language. Important literary and artistic centers at that time were Warsaw, Wilna (today: Vilnius) and New York. The most important Yiddish authors of the post-war period include the poet Avrom Sutzkever (1913-2010) and the narrator and writer Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991), who was awarded the 1978 Nobel Prize for Literature.

  • The “Bove Book” by Elia Levita from 1507/1508, first printed edition in 1541, is the oldest completely preserved non-religious Yiddish book.
  • Ma'assebuch - a collection of orally transmitted literature, first printed in Basel in 1602 by Konrad Waldkirch.
  • Glikl bas Judah Leib (1645–1724) wrote the first surviving autobiography of a woman in Germany. Her memoirs, written in West Yiddish, have since been translated into many languages.
  • Mendele Mojcher Sforim (1836–1917), also known as "Mendele the bookseller", is considered the founder of the new Yiddish literature. He drew a humorous and realistic picture of the Eastern Jewish milieu.
  • Jizchok Lejb Perez (1852–1915), author of short stories and novels, founder of the “ Yiddish Library ” magazine and promoter of Yiddish literature and Yiddish theater in Warsaw
  • Scholem Alejchem (actually Salomon Rabinovic, 1859-1916) is considered one of the greatest Yiddish authors. His "Tales of Tewjes, the Milk Merchant" became world famous , not least because of the musical " Anatevka ".
  • David Edelstadt (1866-1892), poet
  • Mordechaj Gebirtig (1877–1942), author and composer of Yiddish songs
  • Pinchas Kahanowitsch , literary pseudonym Der Nister (1884–1950), best known as the author of the epic “The Maschber Brothers”.
  • Jizchak Katzenelson (1886-1944), known for his oppressive ballad "Dos lid vunm ojsgehargetn yidischen folk" ("The song of the exterminated Jewish people"), which was written in a concentration camp.
  • Israel Joshua Singer (1893–1944), writer of short stories
  • Itzik Manger (1901–1969) describes in his poems and ballads the world of Eastern European, non-assimilated Judaism, which perished with the annihilation in the Holocaust of 1942–1945.
  • Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902–1991) received the 1978 Nobel Prize for Literature . Both in his Nobel Lecture and in his Banquet Speech , he dealt with the special meaning that the Yiddish language has for him and his writing. His family novels and short stories depict the life of Jews in Eastern Europe in the dichotomy between tradition and modernity. His short story Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy was filmed as Yentl in 1983 by Barbra Streisand .
  • Rajzel Zychlinski (1910-2001), poet.
  • Hirsch Reles (April 23, 1913, Tschaschniki - September 18, 2004, Minsk)
  • Hirsch Glik (1922–1944), poet and partisan from Vilnius , known for the Yiddish partisan hymn "Sog nit kejnmol, as du gejsst die last way" ("Never say that you go the last way")
  • Chava Rosenfarb , Chawa Rosenfarb (1923–2011), born in Łódź , lived and died in Canada. Since 1939 she has written a “Lodz Trilogy”, about 1000 pages, which first appeared in English (“The tree of life”), in 1972 in the original language and, since 2007, in French, L'arbre de vie .
  • Oleksandr Bejderman (* 1949), poet from Odessa
  • Boris Sandler (* 1950 in Belts, Bessarabia), short stories and novels

Yiddish theater

Yiddish press

There are around 100 larger and smaller Yiddish-language newspapers, magazines and radio programs worldwide. The publications include, for example, Dos Jidisze Wort (Poland), The Forward (USA), Der Algemeiner Journal (USA), the Birobidshaner Schtern (Russia) or the cultural magazines and Di Zukunft (USA). Recently, numerous new Charedic publications (partly as print, partly as online) have come onto the market in the United States, such as Der Jid, Der Blat, Di Zajtung, Weker, Mejleß and Di charejdische Welt, then also the secular online -Newspaper Der Yidischer Moment .

For the history of the Yiddish press, see the article Newspapers and Periodicals in the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe .

However, many Yiddish-language periodicals have disappeared, such as Der yidisher arbeyter, founded in 1896 and, most recently, Lebnsfragn (Israel) in 2014 .

Yiddish film

Yiddish film developed from the Yiddish theater in Europe and the USA . It experienced its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s in Europe and then in the USA until around the 1950s. In total, around 100 to 200 feature films were made. The most famous directors of Yiddish films include Sidney M. Goldin and Joseph Seiden . The actors often came from well-known Yiddish theater groups. Filmmakers who were also known in the regular Hollywood film industry were also involved in Yiddish film. For example the actress Molly Picon and the director Edgar G. Ulmer .

Well-known Yiddish films
  • The dibbuk . 1937 based on the popular play of the same name by Salomon An-ski , Poland 1937, with Abraham Morewski , Ajzyk Samberg , Lili Liliana , Mojżesz Lipman, Leon Liebgold , directed by Michał Waszyński.
  • East and west . Austria 1923, with Molly Picon , Jacob Kalich, director: Sidney M. Goldin .
  • A briwele of moms. Poland 1938 with Lucy Gehrman, Alexander Stein, Izchak Grundberg, Gertrude Bulman, directed by Joseph Green.
  • Jidl mitn Fidl . Poland 1936, based on a book by Konrad Tom, with Molly Picon, Simche Fostel, Leon Liebgold, Max Bozyk . Directed by Joseph Green and Jan Nowina-Przybylski.
  • Tevye the milkman. USA 1939 with Maurice Schwarz, Rebecca Weintraub, Miriam Riselle, Paula Lubelsky, directed by Maurice Schwarz. See also Anatevka .
  • Ivan and Abraham. Belarus 1993, directed by Yolande Zaubermann, with Aleksandr Jakowlew and Roma Alexandrowitsch.
  • Menashe . USA 2017, directed by Joshua Z. Weinstein, with Menashe Lustig, Ruben Niborski, Yoel Weisshaus and Meyer Schwartz.
  • Unorthodox . Germany 2020; the series is largely in Yiddish.

In Vienna in the 1920s there was a Yiddish independent film scene. The only film produced in Germany in Yiddish is Herbert B. Fredersdorf's feature film about Holocaust survivors, Lang ist der Weg (1948). From the more recent Hollywood films is z. One example is the Coen brothers' film A Serious Man , which contains about five minutes of Yiddish dialogue. In 2013 director Naomi Jaye Di Shpilke / The Pin made Canada's first Yiddish film .

The Internet Movie Database lists early 2006 174 international films with Yiddish dialogue. This also includes films that only have short dialogue scenes in Yiddish.

Yiddish music

Yiddish songs can be found on many sound carriers. Numerous songs that are now considered folk songs were written for the Yiddish theater in the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. For the types of songs and known performers, see also under Klezmer .

Klezmer music and other traditional Jewish or Yiddish music have experienced a renaissance in recent decades. More recently, influenced by jazz and other genres of music, klezmer has also become a modern variety with bands like The Klezmatics .

Apart from klezmer, the playful handling of the extensive legacy of Jewish (and Yiddish) music and singing tradition sometimes produced curious results, as shown by the publications of the Canadian producer and DJ socalled , who among other things has known hip-hop versions of traditional songs contemporary Jewish musicians, including the singer Theodore Bikel . The Berlin actress and singer Sharon Brauner and the Berlin bassist and producer Daniel Zenke (Lounge Jewels: Yiddish Evergreens) wrapped Yiddish evergreens in a modern musical garb and spiced up the songs with swing, jazz and pop as well as Balkan polka, arabesques and South American rhythms , with reggae, waltz, tango and even country elements. In Tel Aviv, Israel, there is even Yiddish hip-hop and punk.

Research and language maintenance


  • YIVO - Yidisher visnshaftlekher institut, New York
  • The National Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, MA, is active in literature and education. Its Yiddish Book Center's Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library aims to put all of Yiddish literature online.
  • Maison de la Culture Yiddish , Paris
  • Harashut leumit letarbut hayidish (Nazionale instanz far Yiddish culture / National Authority for Yiddish Culture), Tel Aviv.
  • Yiddish Studies - FB II at the University of Trier (since 1990).
  • Institute for Jewish Studies at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf . The institute exists
    • from the chair for Yiddish culture, language and literature (Marion Aptroot), which has existed at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf since 1996
    • and the subject of Jewish Studies, which was relocated from the Gerhard Mercator University Duisburg to Düsseldorf in the winter semester of 2002/2003 (2003: Dagmar Börner-Klein, Michael Brocke, Stefan Rohrbacher). This is considered to be a close connection, unique in Europe, between 'Jewish Studies' and 'Yiddish Studies'; Since the relocation, Düsseldorf has been the most important university location in the field of Jewish studies in Germany.
  • The Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies is an affiliate of the University of Potsdam . It is significantly involved in the “ Jüdische Studien / Jewish Studies” course. His research interests are in the history, religion and culture of the Jews and Judaism in the countries of Europe. The Moses Mendelssohn Center has a publicly accessible special library with around 50,000 volumes.
  • The Department of Jewish History and Culture at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich (LMU) regularly offers both Yiddish language courses at various levels and seminars on the Yiddish language and culture. Once a year in Munich there is a scientific lecture in Yiddish (Sholem Aleykhem Lecture), a unicum at European universities. The LMU University Library and the Bavarian State Library hold one of the largest Jiddica collections in Germany, including old Yiddish manuscripts as well as rare Eastern European first editions.
  • The University of Jewish Studies (HfJS) is a private, state-recognized university in Heidelberg founded in 1979 . It is supported by the Central Council of Jews in Germany and financed by the federal and state governments. It cooperates closely with the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität and is open to applicants of any denomination.

Language courses

Yiddish language courses take place at many universities and other institutions, for example in New York, Paris, Vilnius, Warsaw, Vienna, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Birobidzhan.

  • New York: The Uriel Weinreich Program in Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture has the longest tradition. It takes place every summer, is a joint project between YIVO and Bard College (originally YIVO and Columbia University) and lasts six weeks.
  • Brussels, Paris, Strasbourg: in these three cities there are alternating summer courses in Yiddish language, literature and culture. The Parizer zumerkursn fun yidisher shprakh un literature are held in the “Parizer yidish-tsenter” and last three weeks, the Strasbourg courses are organized by the “Théâtre en l'Air - the LufTeater” and last two weeks.
  • Berlin: The Summer Program of Yiddish Language and Literature in Berlin, first held in 2017, is a joint venture of the Parisian Maison de la culture yiddish, the Free University of Brussels and the Free University of Berlin.
  • Vilnius: As part of the Summer Program in Yiddish Language and Literature of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute at Vilnius University , four-week Yiddish courses take place every year, with singing, music, dance or literature courses introducing Jewish culture. There are also excursions about the city's Jewish history.
  • Warsaw: The International Summer Seminar in Yiddish Language and Culture held every July by the Yiddish Cultural Center lasts three weeks and places particular emphasis on the past and present of Polish Jewry.
  • Tel Aviv: The Naomi Prawer Kadar International Yiddish Summer Program takes place every June / July at “The Goldreich Family Institute for Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture” and also lasts four weeks.
  • Jerusalem: Beit Ben Yehuda - International Meeting Center offers in collaboration with the Chair of Yiddish at the Hebrew University and the Jung Yehuda Cultural Center . Winter courses.
  • In Birobidzhan, the capital of the Jewish Autonomous Region, the Far Eastern Research Center for Jewish Culture and Yiddish held temporary Yiddish courses.
  • In Germany, several adult education centers offer Yiddish courses, for example the Hamburger Volkshochschule in cooperation with the Israelitische Töchterschule Dr. Alberto Jonas House and the Jewish Adult Education Center Berlin.
  • In Austria, the Jewish Institute for Adult Education in Vienna offers courses.

Reading example

The example below is the beginning of the first book of Moses , in Hebrewבְּרֵאשִׁית Bereschit or in Ashkenazi pronunciation Bereyschis (German 'at the beginning'), in ancient Greek Γένεσις Genesis (German 'creation'):

Original Hebrew text modern Yiddish translation modern Yiddish translation in YIVO transcription German standard translation

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ: 1
וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָיְתָ֥ה תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל-פְּנֵ֣י תְהֹ֑ום וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל-פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם: 2
וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים יְהִ֣י אֹ֑ור וַֽיְהִי-אֹֽור: 3
וַיַּ֧רְא אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶת-הָאֹ֖ור כִּי-טֹ֑וב וַיַּבְדֵּ֣ל אֱלֹהִ֔ים בֵּ֥ין הָאֹ֖ור וּבֵ֥ין הַחֹֽשֶׁךְ ׃ 4
וַיִּקְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ לָאֹור֙ יֹ֔ום וְלַחֹ֖שֶׁךְ קָ֣רָא לָ֑יְלָה וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר יֹ֥ום אֶחָֽד׃ 5

אין אָנהייב האָט גאָט באַשאַפֿן דעם הימל און די ערד 1
און די ערד איז געווען וויסט און ליידיק, און פֿינצטערניש איז
געווען אויפֿן געזיכט פֿון תּהום, און דער גייַסט פֿון גאָט האָט
געשוועבט אויפֿן געזיכט פֿון די וואַסערן 2
האָט גאָט געזאָגט: זאָל ווערן ליכט. און עס איז געװאָרן ליכט 3
און גאָט האָט געזען דאָס ליכט אַז עס איז גוט; און גאָט האָט
פֿאַנאַנדערגעשײדט צװישן דעם ליכט און צװישן דער פֿינצטערניש 4
און גאָט האָט גערופֿן דאָס ליכט טאָג, און די פֿינצטערניש האָט ער גערופֿן נאַכט. און עס איז געװען אָװנט און עס איז געװען פֿרימאָרגן, אײן טאָג 5

1 In onheyb hot got bashafn dem himl un di erd.
2 Un di erd iz geven vist un leydik, un fintsternish iz geven oyfn gezikht fun thom, un der gayst fun got hot geshvebt oyfn gezikht fun di vaser.
3 Hot got drawn: zol vern likht. Un es iz gevorn likht.
4 Un got hot gezen dos likht az es iz gut; un got hot fanandergesheydt tsvishn the likht un tsvishn the fintsternish.
5 Un got hot gerufn dos likht tog, un di fintsternish hot er gerufn nakht. Un es iz geven ovnt, un es iz geven frimorgn, eyn tog.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;
2 But the earth was desolate and confused, darkness lay over the primordial flood, and God's spirit hovered over the water.
3 God said, Let there be light. And there was light.
4 God saw that the light was good. God separated the light from the darkness
5 and God called the light day and the darkness he called night. Evening came and morning came: first day.

See also


General introductions and overviews

  • Jacob Allerhand : Yiddish. A textbook and reading book. Mandelbaum, Vienna 2002, ISBN 3-85476-055-8 .
  • Marion Aptroot, Roland Gruschka: Yiddish. History and culture of a world language. C. H. Beck Taschenbuch, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-52791-3 .
  • Jean Baumgarten: Le yiddish. Presse universitaire de France, Paris 1990 ( Que sais-je ?, 2552), ISBN 2-13-044193-9 (French).
  • Otto F. Best : Mame Loschen. Yiddish - a language and its literature. Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1988, ISBN 3-458-15786-7 .
  • Joshua A. Fishman: Planning and Standardization of Yiddish. In: The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe . Edited by David Gershom Hundred. Yale University Press, New Haven / London 2008, pp. 987-991. Also online .
  • Arnold Groh: Yiddish word for word. Kauderwelsch Volume 110, 4th, revised and improved edition, Reise Know-How Verlag GmbH, Bielefeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-8317-6401-3 .
  • Christoph Gutknecht : Gauner, Großkotz, kesse Lola - German-Yiddish word stories. Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-86124-696-1 .
  • Neil G. Jacobs: Yiddish. A Linguistic Introduction . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2005, ISBN 978-0-521-77215-0 .
  • Dovid Katz : Yiddish. In: The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. Edited by David Gershom Hundred. Yale University Press, New Haven / London 2008, pp. 979-987. Also online .
  • Ulrike Kiefer: Yiddish in relation to Middle High German. In: Werner Besch u. a. (Ed.): History of language. A handbook on the history of the German language and its research. W. de Gruyter, Berlin 1985, half volume 2, pp. 1201–1210, ISBN 3-11-009590-4 [title of the article is quite misleading].
  • Salcia Landmann : Yiddish. The adventure of a language. Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 3-548-34994-3 (1st edition 1962).
  • Christoph Landolt : Yiddish. In: Janet Duke (Ed.): EuroComGerm. Learn to read Germanic languages. Volume 2: Less commonly learned Germanic languages. Afrikaans, Faroese, Frisian, Yenish, Yiddish, Limburgish, Luxembourgish, Low German, Nynorsk. Shaker, Düren 2019, ISBN 978-3-8440-6412-4 , pp. 127–160 and 298 ( PDF ).
  • Leo Rosten, Lutz-Werner Wolff: Yiddish. A little encyclopedia. (Updated and annotated by Lawrence Bush, illustrated by R. O. Blechman.) Dtv 24327, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-24327-9 . New edition as dtv 20938, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-423-20938-0 .
  • Robert Schläpfer : Yiddish. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  • Josef Weissberg: Yiddish. An introduction. Peter Lang, Bern, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Paris 1988, ISBN 978-3-261-04069-5 .


  • Salomon Birnbaum : Grammar of the Yiddish Language . Helmut Buske Verlag, Hamburg 1988 5 (1st edition: Vienna and Leipzig 1918), ISBN 3-87118-874-3 .
  • Solomon Birnbaum : Yiddish: a survey and a grammar . Manchester University Press, Manchester 1979, ISBN 0-7190-0769-0 . - Second edition, With new introductory essays by Eleazar Birnbaum, David Birnbaum, Kalman Weiser, and Jean Baumgarten. University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, Toronto 2015, ISBN 978-1-4426-1433-8 (English).
  • Dovid Katz: Grammar of the Yiddish language . Duckworth, London 1987, ISBN 0-7156-2161-0 (English).
  • William B. Lockwood: Textbook of the modern Yiddish language: with selected reading pieces. Buske, Hamburg 1995, ISBN 3-87118-987-1 (arranged as grammar despite the title).
  • Rebecca Margolis: Basic Yiddish: A Grammar and Workbook. Routledge, London 2011, ISBN 978-0-415-55522-7 .
  • Yudel Mark : grammar fun the Yidish klal-schprach. alweltlecher yiddish culture congress, New York 1978 (yiddish).
  • Bernard Vaisbrot: Grammaire descriptive du yidiche contemporain. Edition Suger, Paris 2012 (French), ISBN 978-2-912590-35-0 .
  • Ludoviko Lazaro Zamenhof : Gramatiko de la jida lingvo. Monda Asembleo Socia, Embres-et-Castelmaure 2019, ISBN 978-2-36960-176-0 (epub: 978-36960-177-7) (in Esperanto).


  • Harry (Chajim) Bochner, Solon (Scholem) Beinfeld (Hrsg.): Arumnemik Jidisch-englischwerterbuch / Comprehensive Yiddish-English Dictionary, afn jeßod fun Jidisch-franzejsisch werterbuch / based on the Dictionnaire yiddish-français, Paris, Bibliothèque Medem, 2002 , fun / by Yitskhok Niborski, Berl / Bernard Vaisbrod, Schimen / Simon Neuberg. Indiana University Press, Bloomington / Indianapolis 2013, ISBN 978-0-253-00983-8 .
  • Alexander Harkavy: Yidish-English-Hebrew book of values. Yiddish-English-Hebrew Dictionary. iberdruk fun of the tswejter fargreßerter edition fun 1928, with a najem arajnfir fun Dovid Kaz [Katz]. New York 1988 5 (1st edition. 1925).
  • Juda A. Jofe, Yudel Mark: great book of values ​​fun of the Yidish language. Vol. 1 ff. New York 1961. (Yiddish-Yiddish; so far four volumes, not completed).
  • Alfred Klepsch: West Yiddish Dictionary. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2004, ISBN 3-484-73060-9 .
  • Ronald Lötzsch , Simon Neuberg: Yiddish dictionary. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Dudenverlag, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-411-06243-0 .
  • Jizchok Niborksi (with the help of fun Schimen Neuberg): Werterbuch fun loschn-kojdesch-schtamike Werter in Yidish. Medem-Bibliotek, Paris 1987, ISBN 2-9511372-0-6 (Yiddish-Yiddish; dictionary of Hebrew-derived words in Yiddish), expanded new edition, ibid. 2012.
  • Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath, Paul Glasser (Ed.): Comprehensive English – Yiddish Dictionary. Indiana University Press, Bloomington 2016, ISBN 978-0-253-02282-0 .
  • Nochem schtutschkow ( Nahum Stutchkoff ): the ojzer fun who spoke Yidish. YIVO, New York 1991 (reprint of the 1950 edition), ISBN 0-914512-46-3 (Yiddish; THE Thesaurus).
  • Uriel Weinreich : Modern English-Yiddish Yiddish-English Dictionary. YIVO, New York 1990, ISBN 0-914512-45-5 .

Teaching aids

  • Marion Aptroot, Holger Nath: Introduction to the Yiddish language and culture / arajnfir in the Yidish language and culture. Buske, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-87548-249-2 (with the exception of the explanations of words, consistently in Yiddish).
  • Lily Kahn: Colloquial Yiddish. Routledge, London 2011, ISBN 978-0-415-58022-9 (English, with 2 CDs).
  • Miriam Hoffman: Key to Yiddish. Textbook for Beginners / finally to Yidish. a study book far onhejber. 2nd Edition. Columbia University, New Yor City 2011, ISBN 9781461170020 .
  • Mordkhe Schaechter: Yiddish II. An Intermediate and Advanced Textbook. New York 1993, 4th edition 2004, ISBN 0-89727-052-5 / 0-89727-052-5 (English, for advanced users).
  • Uriel Weinreich: College Yiddish. YIVO, New York 1949, 6th edition 1999 (English), ISBN 978-0-914512-26-4 .
  • Sheva Zucker: Yiddish. An Introduction to the Language, Literature & Culture. 2 volumes, Workmen's Circle, New York 1994 and 2002, ISBN 1-877909-66-1 , ISBN 1-877909-75-0
  • The above-mentioned grammars by Katz (1987) and Lockwood (1995) are geared towards learners.


  • Ewa Geller: Warsaw Yiddish. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2001, ISBN 3-484-23146-7 .
  • Marvin Herzog: The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland. Its geography and history. Indiana Univ., Bloomington and Mouton & Co., The Hague 1965.
  • Dovid Katz: On the dialectology of Yiddish. In: Werner Besch u. a. (Ed.): Dialectology. A manual for German and general dialect research. W. de Gruyter, Berlin 1983, half volume 2, pp. 1018-1041 ISBN 978-3-11-009571-5 .
  • Ulrike Kiefer: Spoken Yiddish. Text witnesses to a European-Jewish culture. Max Niemeyer, Tübingen 1995 (supplement to the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry, Vol. 1), ISBN 3-484-73101-X .
  • Steffen Krogh: The Foundations of Written Yiddish among Haredi Satmar Jews. In: Marion Aptroot, Björn Hansen (Eds.): Yiddish Language Structures. Empirical Approaches to Language Typology. W. de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2013 (Empirical Approaches to Language Typology 52), pp. 63-103.
  • Gertrud Reershemius: The language of the Aurich Jews. For the reconstruction of West Yiddish language remnants in East Friesland. Harrassowitz, 2007, ISBN 978-3-447-05617-5 .

Language atlases

  • The Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry / der Yiddischer schprach- und Kultur-Atlas. Edited by Vera Baviskar, Marvin Herzog a. a. Vol. 1 ff. Max Niemeyer, Tübingen 1992 ff.
  • Franz J. Beranek : West Yiddish Language Atlas. N. G. Elwert, Marburg / Lahn 1965.
  • Florence Guggenheim-Grünberg : Yiddish in the Alemannic language area. 56 maps on linguistic and subject geography (=  contributions to the history and folklore of the Jews in Switzerland. Volume 10). Juris Druck + Verlag, Zurich 1973, ISBN 3-260-03438-2 .
  • Leiser Wilenkin: Yidischer schprachatlas fun ßowetnfarband, afn grunt fun di dialectological materials, where sajnen zuojfgesamlt won through the schprachkomißje fun Yidischn ßektor fun of the Vajßrußischer Wissenschaftnschaft-Akademie under M. Wengerß onfirung. Minsk 1931.
  • Dovid Katz: Litvish. To Atlas of Northeastern Yiddish. In processing.

Language history

  • Salomon Birnbaum: The Yiddish Language: A Brief Overview and Texts from Eight Centuries . Buske, Hamburg 1997 (1st edition ibid. 1974), ISBN 3-87548-098-8 .
  • Gennady Estraykh: Soviet Yiddish. Language Planning and Linguistic Development. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1999, ISBN 978-0-19-818479-9 and ISBN 0-19-818479-4 .
  • Dovid Katz: Words on Fire. The Unfinished Story of Yiddish. Basic Books, New York 2004, ISBN 0-465-03728-3 .
  • Dov-Ber Kerler: The Origins of Modern Literary Yiddish. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1999, ISBN 0-19-815166-7 (about the replacement of West Yiddish by East Yiddish printer language and thus about the basics of today's standard Yiddish).
  • Matthias Mieses : The origin of the Jewish dialects . R. Löwit, Vienna 1915; Helmut Buske, Hamburg 1979, reprint of the Vienna 1915 edition, ISBN 3-87118-392-X .
  • Matthias Mieses: The Yiddish Language: A Historical Grammar of the Idiom of the Integral Jews of Eastern and Central Europe . B. Harz, Berlin 1924.
  • Bettina Simon: Yiddish language history: attempting a new foundation. Jüdischer Verlag, Frankfurt 1988, revised. Version by Jüdischer Verlag published by Suhrkamp Verlag, 1999.
  • Sol Steinmetz: A Century of Yiddish in America. Yiddish and English. University of Alabama Press, Alabama 1986 (including on the influence of Yiddish on English in North America).
  • Max Weinreich : History fun der Yidischer schprach, bagrifn, faktn, metodn. 4 volumes, YIVO, New York 1973. - English translation: History of the Yiddish Language . Chicago 1980 and New Haven 2008.
  • Paul Wexler: Two-tiered relexification in Yiddish. (The Jews, Sorbs, Khazars and the Kiev-Polessian dialects) . Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-11-017258-5 .

Web links

Commons : Yiddish  - collection of images, videos, and audio files
Wiktionary: Yiddish  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikisource: Yiddish dictionaries  - sources and full texts


Transcription and typography

Individual evidence

  1. European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, sometimes referred to as "Yiddish", sometimes as "Jewish".
  2. A compilation of Hebraisms, Aramaisms and Slavisms in particular can be found in Christoph Landolt: Jiddisch. In: Janet Duke (Ed.): EuroComGerm. Learn to read Germanic languages. Volume 2: Less commonly learned Germanic languages. Afrikaans, Faroese, Frisian, Yenish, Yiddish, Limburgish, Luxembourgish, Low German, Nynorsk. Shaker, Düren 2019, pp. 127–160 and 298 ( PDF ), here pp. 130 f. on symbiosis and 136 and 154–159 on vocabulary.
  3. EASTERN EUROPE YIDDISH LITERATURE . ( uni-salzburg.at [PDF; accessed on July 28, 2020]).
  4. More recently, Paul Wexler (2002) has advocated the thesis, which contradicts conventional research opinion , that East Yiddish was not a Germanic language, but a result of the relexification of Slavic languages: in a first early phase through German and Hebrew relexification of Upper Sorbian and in a second phase during the 15./16. Century through the German, Hebrew and Yiddish relexification of East Slavic in Ukraine and Belarus.
  5. The reason for the lack of clarity is that Northwest Yiddish and Eastern Midwest Yiddish were changed from High German a. a. Languages ​​of the Christian population have been displaced and are therefore little researched. See e.g. B. the overview in this master's thesis p. 3–12 ( Memento of October 30, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  6. ^ Neil G. Jacobs: Yiddish. A Linguistic Introduction . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2005, p. 3.
  7. According to the American Community Survey, quoted in the Yiddish Forward of January 10, 2013, p. 14, at the end of 2012 85,000 people (presumably mostly Kharejdish) spoke Yiddish at home in the New York borough of New York, including around 50,000 living in the three suburbs mentioned Yiddish speaking Charejdim come.
  8. ^ Yiddish, Eastern. Retrieved June 9, 2020 .
  9. Yiddish, Western. Retrieved June 9, 2020 .
  10. Jürg Fleischer : West Yiddish in Switzerland and Southwest Germany. Sound recordings and texts on Surbtaler and Hegauer Yiddish. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2005, p. 6: “This 'Jewish-flavored German' still exists today, at least in Switzerland: descendants of old Surbtal families still speak 'Yiddish' today; this means what is then, for example, paraphrased in Zurich German as [...] 'Jewish expressions' and is nothing other than a Swiss German dialect that is provided with Hebraisms in the manner described; this variety can be characterized as Jewish Swiss German ”.
  11. Jürg Fleischer: West Yiddish in Switzerland and Southwest Germany. Sound recordings and texts on Surbtaler and Hegauer Yiddish. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2005 (supplements to the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry 4), p. 16 f.
  12. Jürg Fleischer: West Yiddish in Switzerland and Southwest Germany. Sound recordings and texts on Surbtaler and Hegauer Yiddish. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2005, p. 1 f .; according to Astrid Starck.
  13. Stefan Hess : The myth of the four national languages. Once there were more than just four languages ​​- how it came about that Switzerland has been officially four languages ​​since 1938 . In: Basler Zeitung, September 20, 2011, pp. 35, 37.
  14. ^ Salcia Landmann : Yiddish. The adventure of a language. 6th edition. Ullstein, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-548-34994-3 , p. 46 et passim.
  15. Paläographie Workshop "Jewish German" at the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt (2007) ( Memento of 10 November 2013, Internet Archive ) (PDF, 1.3 MB); Retrieved November 10, 2010.
  16. Joseph Ahrons, Leopold Zunz: Das Lied vun die Kuggel, a West Yiddish parody of Schiller's Song of the Bell .
  17. Christoph Landolt: Yiddish. In: Janet Duke (Ed.): EuroComGerm. Learn to read Germanic languages. Volume 2: Less commonly learned Germanic languages. Afrikaans, Faroese, Frisian, Yenish, Yiddish, Limburgish, Luxembourgish, Low German, Nynorsk. Shaker, Düren 2019, pp. 127–160 and 298 ( PDF ), here p. 133 f.
  18. ^ Translation by Jost. G. Blum, Jüdischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1992. His own transcription is incidentally a mixture of that of the YIVO and the German-based variant: Ot di tsawoe hot mir ibergelozn with jorn tsurik in majn lebediker hejmschtot an alter bocher, a tsedrumschketer poet , with a long tsop behind, wi a fresh berjozewer bezem. s'hot kejner nit gewust zajn noun, fun wanen er schtamt.
  19. ^ Salomon Birnbaum: The Yiddish Language. Hamburg 1974, 1986, 1997.
  20. For an overview see Christoph Landolt: Jiddisch. In: Janet Duke (Ed.): EuroComGerm. Learn to read Germanic languages. Volume 2: Less commonly learned Germanic languages. Afrikaans, Faroese, Frisian, Yenish, Yiddish, Limburgish, Luxembourgish, Low German, Nynorsk. Shaker, Düren 2019, pp. 127–160 and 298 ( PDF ), here pp. 136–145.
  21. Christoph Landolt: Yiddish. In: Janet Duke (Ed.): EuroComGerm. Learn to read Germanic languages. Volume 2: Less commonly learned Germanic languages. Afrikaans, Faroese, Frisian, Yenish, Yiddish, Limburgish, Luxembourgish, Low German, Nynorsk. Shaker, Düren 2019, pp. 127–160 and 298 ( PDF ), here p. 137.
  22. Christoph Landolt: Yiddish. In: Janet Duke (Ed.): EuroComGerm. Learn to read Germanic languages. Volume 2: Less commonly learned Germanic languages. Afrikaans, Faroese, Frisian, Yenish, Yiddish, Limburgish, Luxembourgish, Low German, Nynorsk. Shaker, Düren 2019, pp. 127–160 and 298 ( PDF ), here p. 137 f.
  23. ^ Nobel Lecture of December 8, 1978, the last two paragraphs
  24. ^ Banquet Speech, December 10, 1978
  25. ^ Newspapers and Periodicals ( English ) YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  26. Volker Weidermann: "Unorthodox", the new German Netflix series: Berlin, a fairytale city. In: Spiegel Online . March 26, 2020, accessed May 13, 2020 .
  27. National Yiddish Book Center (English).
  28. Dirk Schümer: Why you should definitely learn Yiddish. In: Die Welt from August 2, 2015.
  29. Harashut leumit letarbut hayidish (Hebrew).
  30. uni-trier.de : “The anchoring of Yiddish studies at a German university in the context of German studies has its justification: while research outside Germany (especially in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, New York) is primarily concerned with East Yiddish literature of the 19th century. During the 20th and 20th centuries and the Yiddish dialects that are still spoken, Yiddish studies in Germany concentrate on areas for which a knowledge of German and German language history is essential, namely the Yiddish language and literature within the German-speaking area - so-called West Yiddish - from the beginnings in the Middle Ages to the decline in the aftermath of the Enlightenment as well as to the remains that are still alive in the contemporary German language. The main research areas are historical grammar, semantics, lexicography, the edition of older texts, the contrast between the Yiddish and German language history, the Yiddish-German language relations and the history of science in Yiddish studies.
  31. www.uni-duesseldorf.de: Yearbook 2003
  32. ^ Uriel Weinreich Program in Yiddish Language, Literature & Culture
  33. Parizer zumerkursn fun yidisher shprakh un literature ( Memento from November 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  34. LufTeater
  35. ^ Yiddish in Berlin , accessed on July 15, 2019.
  36. Vilnius Yiddish Institute: Summer Program ( July 9, 2009 memento in the Internet Archive ), accessed July 21, 2009.
  37. Language travel in a lost world , dw-world.de (“Language”), Robert B. Fishman (EURANET); January 7, 2009 ( Memento from February 10, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  38. International Summer Seminar, Warsaw ( Memento from August 31, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  39. tau.ac.il International Yiddish Summer Program
  40. ^ Beit Ben-Yehuda
  41. ^ Far Eastern Research Center for Jewish Culture and Yiddish, Birobdischan
  42. ^ Yiddish at the VHS Hamburg ( Memento from February 15, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  43. Yiddish at the VHS Berlin ( Memento from February 1, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  44. ^ The Vienna Adult Education Centers ( Memento from December 19, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  45. Breyshis (PDF; 843 kB) University of Haifa .
  46. Gen 1,1  EU The book of Genesis according to the standard translation.
  47. ^ Critical review of Florence Guggenheim-Grünberg in the Zeitschrift für Mundartforschung 33, 1966, pp. 353–357 and 35, 1968, pp. 148–149.
  48. ^ Critical review of Salomon Birnbaum in Teuthonista 9, 1933, pp. 179–181.