Some aspects of the multilingualism of Estonian Jews
The topic of the present article is the socio-cultural history of Estonian Jews as well as main patterns of their linguistic behavior. This atypical Jewish community definitely deserves more scholarly attention than it has received. It is important to stress that not all Jews living in Estonia today are considered to be Estonian Jews. Only those who were born and/or whose socialization took place in independent Estonia (1918-1940) and their descendants are included in this group. Those who migrated to Estonia after 1940 belong socio-culturally and linguistically to a different community (Russian language and cultural orientation). Estonian Jews are multilingual as a rule (Estonian, Yiddish, Russian, German); however, reasons for their multilingualism differ from those of a traditional Jewish community. In our case these reasons include: small size of the minority, high rate of urbanization, lack of strict orthodoxy, acculturation and modernization. Yiddish dialect spoken in Estonia, or Estonian Yiddish, is highly valued by its speakers. The status of Yiddish among other co-territorial languages is discussed in this paper. Linguistic behavior is based largely on a high degree of linguistic awareness (speakers enjoy their multilingualism). However, the number of Yiddish speakers is constantly decreasing due to certain historical events (Soviet and Nazi occupation of Estonia, abolition of cultural autonomy, Soviet ethnic policy, etc). The possibilities of future developments -a shift to other languages, the emergence of a Yiddish-Estonian-Russian mixed variety, a new multilingualism of Yiddish-speaking immigrants -should all be taken into consideration.
Link to article (paywalled), Some aspects of the multilingualism of Estonian Jews
Some aspects of the multilingualism of Estonian Jews. 1999: 49–68. https://archive.jpr.org.uk/10.1515/ijsl.1999.139.49