Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America

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University of Wales Swansea, 1986 - Foreign Language Study - 172 pages
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This is the only book to seriously treat the intriguing linguistic and cultural phenomenon of the intimate contact between Yiddish and English over the past 120 years.

Yiddish arrived in America as the mother tongue of millions of Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe. Not only did this language without a homeland survive in the great American melting pot, it infiltrated the majority language, English, with a wide variety of new words and expressions and helped to establish a new ethnic language called "Jewish English." New Yorkers, in particular, have adopted a long list of Yiddish words, including the well-known "kosher," "chutzpah," "klutz," "yenta," "nosh," "mavin," "schlep," and "shmo."

Yiddish had first developed from language sharing as Jews of northern France and northern Italy migrated into the German-speaking region of the Rhine Valley in the Middle Ages. Sol Steinmetz traces the development of such words as bonhomme from the Old French meaning "good man" to the Yiddish of bonim, or shul for synagogue derived from the German schuol, meaning "school," which had come originally from the Latin schola, for example. With a rich collection of quotations from literature and the press, Steinmetz documents the unusually high lexical, semantic, and intonational exchanges between Yiddish and English in America. He offers more than 1,200 Yiddish words, expressions, idioms, and phrases that have melted into the English vernacular.

Yiddish and English is important for Judaica collections with its two appendixes-one on the romanization of Yiddish and another of Yiddish-origin words, a Jewish-English glossary, a selected bibliography, and an index. But this slim volume is so entertaining and informative for the general reader that it is recommended for anyone who delights in word derivations and language.

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Contents

A Brief History of Yiddish
10
The Americanization of Yiddish
30
Jewish English in the United States
76
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About the author (1986)

Barbara Ann Kipfer is a lexicographer, archaeologist, and the author of more than 25 books, including "How it Happens, 4,000 Questions for Getting to Know Anyone and Everyone, 14,000 Things to Be Happy About," and "The Order of Things,"
Sol Steinmetz is a well-known lexicographer and former editor-in-chief at Random House Reference.

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