YIDDISH           yiddish.jpg (4274 octets)

"Yiddish was the language of the heart..." (Leo Rosten)

"Yiddish is the language in which the Jews dream." (Max Weinreich)

"If one day the Yiddish disappears, Hitler will win, not only physically but spiritually." (Isaac Bashevis Singer)

It was the vernacular language of the Jews in Eastern Europe since the fifteenth century. Unlike the Hebrew language, employed in prayers and for religious discussions, Yiddish was used for laic and daily subjects. It is therefore not surprising that it has been used for musicals, theater plays, movies and songs, many of whose became real standards: 'Bay mir bistu sheyn', "Dona Dona', etc. The Yiddish rises from the medieval German from which he kept an important part of the vocabulary, and was taken by the emigrants to Eastern Europe as an autonomous language. He absorbed a few Hebrew, Polish, Russian and even Aramaic or Persian words, and, more recently, some English terms. As it was written in Hebrew types, hence without vowels, the pronunciation was different from one area to another. The liveliness and the compliance of the Yiddish language result in an inimitable savour, a truculence and an inimitable 'khutspe' (impudence) allowing to express so poetically misery, exile, death, resistance, hope and love (Mordekhai Gebirtig, Hirsh Glik, etc.) or, in another register, jokes full of self-mockery and philosophical wisdom (S. Landmann, etc.). The Jewish humor, traditionally practiced (in Yiddish) from generation to generation at weddings by the 'badkhn', a kind of professional merry-maker, inspired many contemporary comic actors like Mickey Katz, Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye and, more recently, Mel Brooks or Woody Allen. The German-speaking people can easily understand Yiddish, provided that they "feel" the most usual phonetic deformations. Thus:

A few years ago, Yiddish was on the verge of disappearing, surviving only in the Jewish quarters of the American big cities and among the orthodox communities in Israel. Now, it is taking a new flight thanks to young people -i.e. musicians- curious and proud to join their cultural origins...



  • Baumgarten Jean: Le Yiddish, Que sais-je, PUF, Paris 1993.
  • Baumgarten Jean: Le Yiddish, histoire d'une langue errante, Albin Michel,Paris, 2002 (special for linguists !)
  • Kerner Samuel &  Vaisbrot Bernard: Dictionnaire Français -Yiddish,  Ed. Bibliothèque Medem, Paris 2000
  • Landmann Salcia: Jiddish, Abenteur einer Sprache, München 1965.
  • Lockwood: Lehrbuch der yiddischer Sprache.
  • Niborski Yitskhok &  Vaisbrot Bernard: Dictionnaire Yiddish - Français, Ed. Bibliothèque Medem, Paris 2002.
  • Rosten Leo: The joys of Yiddish: a "dictionnary" mit Yiddishe tam!!
  • Shandler Jeffrey: College Yiddish, YIVO, New York.
  • Stutchkoff Nahum: Der oytser fun der yidisher shprach, YIVO, New York, 1950.
  • Weinstein Miriam: Yiddish, Steerforth Press, Vermont USA 2001 (the story of Yiddish and of the Ashkenazic Jews, to be read as novel!).
  • Weinstock Nathan: Le Yiddish tel qu'on l'oublie, Metropolis, Genève 2004 (recueil de textes).
  • Weissberg Josef: Yiddisch, eine Einführung, 1988.


    arcenciel.gif (479 octets)


    updated.gif (168 octets) 2007-12-21


    arcenciel.gif (479 octets)