Topics: Main Topic: Other, Coronavirus/Covid, Haredi / Strictly Orthodox Jews, Health Education, Health, Yiddish
Abstract: This article documents a recent project translating COVID-19 information into Yiddish for the benefit of the Hasidic Jewish communities in London’s Stamford Hill and in Manchester in the UK. The translation work developed as a response to the urgent need for Yiddish-language resources specifically designed for the Hasidic community near the beginning of the pandemic. The translations were undertaken by a team consisting of linguists and native speakers of Hasidic Yiddish and took place within the framework of a research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, dedicated to linguistic and sociolinguistic analysis of contemporary Hasidic Yiddish worldwide. In this article we discuss the sociolinguistic background to the translations and investigate the reasons why they were so urgently needed, before going on to address the issues encountered during the course of the translation process and the decisions taken in order to resolve them. These issues include the type of Yiddish chosen for the translations, the translation of medical terminology, gender-based linguistic differences affecting the translations, and specific cultural considerations that needed to be taken into account.
On Morphological Gender and Case-Marking in Hasidic Yiddish: Initial Evidence from the Stamford Hill Hasidim
Complete loss of case and gender within two generations: evidence from Stamford Hill Hasidic Yiddish
Abstract: Yiddish was the everyday language spoken by most Central and East European Jews during the last millennium. As a result of the extreme loss of speakers during the Holocaust, subsequent geographic dispersal, and lack of institutional support, Yiddish is now an endangered language. Yet it continues to be a native and daily language for Haredi (strictly Orthodox) Jews, who live in close-knit communities worldwide. We have conducted the first study of the linguistic characteristics of the Yiddish spoken in the community in London’s Stamford Hill. While Krogh (in: Aptroot, Aptroot et al. (eds.) Leket: Yiddish studies today, Düsseldorf University Press, Düsseldorf, pp 483–506, 2012), Assouline (in: Aptroot, Hansen (eds.) Yiddish language structures, De Gruyter Mouton, Berlin, pp 39–62, 2014), and Sadock and Masor (J Jew Lang 6(1):89–110, 2018), investigating other Hasidic Yiddish-speaking communities, observe what they describe as morphological syncretism, in this paper we defend the claim that present-day Stamford Hill Hasidic Yiddish lacks morphological case and gender completely. We demonstrate that loss of morphological case and gender is the result of substantial language change over the course of two generations: while the case and gender system of the spoken medium was already beginning to undergo morphological syncretism and show some variation prior to World War II, case and gender distinctions were clearly present in the mental grammar of both Hasidic and non-Hasidic speakers of the relevant Yiddish dialects at that stage. We conclude the paper by identifying some of the language-internal, sociolinguistic and historical factors that have contributed to such rapid and pervasive language change, and compare the developments in Stamford Hill Hasidic Yiddish to those of minority German dialects in North America.