June 20, 2016 2:34 pm at 2:34 pm #617862assurnetParticipant
Anyone have advice for picking up yiddish? I speak somewhat conversational modern hebrew but know all of like a dozen words in Yiddish. Given that is it incredibly hard to pick up? Is it harder than learning hebrew (or any easier with a hebrew background)? Any recommendations for learning resources?
I’d prefer answers from people who started learning yiddish at some point in their life rather than people who grew up with it please… thanks!June 20, 2016 3:00 pm at 3:00 pm #1157342
Going to shiurum given in Yiddish can be helpful.June 20, 2016 3:12 pm at 3:12 pm #1157343Avi KParticipant
Let the dead language (if it can be called a language and not a jargon) rest in pieces (the different dialects). Learn Chinese. That is the wave of the future.June 20, 2016 3:13 pm at 3:13 pm #1157344
Yiddish is closer to german than it is to hebrew. its a Germanic Language mot a Hebraic Language
that being said, the easiest way to learn is to listen to it being spoken especially about a topic that you know about (ie the speaker tell you before what he is speaking about so you can get ideas what is being said)
there are also some old Yiddish movies that would help you and give you visial clues of what is being said so you can figure out the words.
Just going to a shiur and listening to a speaker likely wont work unless you know what the topic isJune 20, 2016 3:35 pm at 3:35 pm #1157345
Avi: A language spoken by hundreds of thousands as a first language from childhood on, and many more as a second language and/or scholarly language, and growing much faster than any other Jewishly-spoken language, is as alive as live gets.June 20, 2016 3:41 pm at 3:41 pm #1157346ubiquitinParticipant
I don’t meet your criteria for someone who started learing later. Howqever if you have a passing familiarity with Yiddish I have friends who have furthered their comfort by both listening to shiurim and reading childrens books.
stay away from guides to teach Yiddish, because today (at least among chasidim) there is no formal Yiddish teaching with grammar and such. You pick up what people around you say. So for example wheras in “real” Yiddish as in Hebrew nouns are either feminine and masculine. In spoken Yiddish you say what “sounds right” so an emphasis on grammar is a bit misplaced
Good luckJune 20, 2016 3:54 pm at 3:54 pm #1157347
1. Most textbooks (even the one from a frum source) tend to reflect Yiddish as it was spoken before the holocaust. The language has significant evolved. Assuming you want the modern language (spoken primarily among Hasidim in places such as Williamsburg, Antwerp, Bnei Brak) you have a problem. On the bright side, living Yiddish is heavily influence by English and Hebrew (whereas pre-war Yiddish was influence primarily by German and secondarily by Slavic).
2. For other languages a good way to learn is through newspaper and mass media (TV, movies). While there are Yiddish online shiurim, newspapers and some videos, they are relatively limited. Considering get Yiddish children’s books (the one’s sold to Yiddish-speaking children, not the translations into pre-war literary Yiddish). Live in a place where Yiddish is spoken by the children on the street.
3. If you want pre-war Yiddish (e.g. you aspire to be a historian), there are newspapers, recorded radio shows and lots books and textbooks. Arguably Yiddish has three “periods”, an early one in which it was basically German with Hebrew words thrown in, a relatively modern one in which there is a large secular literature, and the post-holocaust “frum” Yiddish which appears to be holding its own (based on the number of children growing up in Yiddish-speaking households).June 20, 2016 4:02 pm at 4:02 pm #1157348
The YIVO gives lessons in Yiddish, however that is more the secular Yiddish as opposed to the frum YiddishJune 20, 2016 4:47 pm at 4:47 pm #1157349blubluhParticipant
This could be an opportunity to perform a mitzvah while learning Yiddish. There are still quite a few people in old age homes who speak Yiddish and would love to get visitors, even strangers who don’t know “a bissel” from a carpet sweeper.
If you have such a place close to home, you might give that some thought.June 20, 2016 5:01 pm at 5:01 pm #1157350
google Yidddish Language Lessons there are many free on line resources.
I took Yiddish as a foreign language at my public high school in New Haven back around 1970. They also offered 17 other foreign languages.June 20, 2016 5:32 pm at 5:32 pm #1157351
CTLawyer: But most of the instruction in colleges and online resources will teach you Yiddish the way it was spoken before the holocaust. The war changed a lot. For starters, the “Litvaks” were close to a majority before the war, but only a small minority of Yiddish speakers afterwards. The increased influence of Hebrew and Yiddish seriously undermines a lot of Yiddish grammer (use of “case”, use of the “neuter”). Yiddish as a living language is undergoing rapid evolution, and the texts in most colleges are about as relevant as would an English class based on 16th century “Shakespearean” English.June 20, 2016 5:46 pm at 5:46 pm #1157352
I dont think high schools teach yiddish as a foreign language. Some colleges do, but only on a scattered basesJune 20, 2016 6:15 pm at 6:15 pm #1157354cherrybimParticipant
Here we go again.June 20, 2016 9:18 pm at 9:18 pm #1157355
Things change over time. The postwar baby boom is over. When mys siblings and I went to school in New Haven, both Hebrew and Yiddish were offered along with 10 other foreign languages. Now there is Spanish and Chinese.
As for those who write about prewar Yiddish and post war Yiddish. 90% of the Yiddish I use is with people speaking the former and whatever reading is of classic material, not modern Jargon.
I learned Yiddish for business purposes. My father was in the clothing business and it was useful for buying trips in NYC. Our family having arrived in the USA in the late 1860s from Suwalki and took academics in the public high school afternoons. Hebrew and Yiddish assured that 2 of 4 classes were all yidden.June 20, 2016 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm #1157356
Part of my post disappeared:
should read: Our family having arrived from Suwalki and Germany in the late 1860s there were no members left who learned Yiddish at home. It was not the Mameh loshen. We attended the local yeshivah high school in the mornings and took academics at the public high school afternoons.
Being fluent in both Hebrew (Ivrit) and German made learning Yiddish easy.June 21, 2016 6:53 am at 6:53 am #1157357assurnetParticipant
Thanks all – for more clarification based on the responses I’m looking to learn modern yiddish (I’d like to be able to converse with people – no academic aspirations). I’ve heard there are different dialects but I live in Yerushalayim so I guess I’d like to learn the Israeli one.
I like the idea about shiurim or speaking with people at an old age home but I work full time and B”H have several young kids at home to help tend to after work so I don’t really have so much time and any shiurim I go to or listen to would be in English or Hebrew.
As far as children’s books – if you don’t already have some sort of background in Yiddish how are you supposed to understand the story? I tried reading a kid’s book once but couldn’t understand anything.
Are there any English/Yiddish dictionaries anyone would recommend?June 21, 2016 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm #1157358
There are Yiddish-English dictionaries. Google Translate also translates between Yiddish and English, Hebrew and many other languages.June 21, 2016 2:13 pm at 2:13 pm #1157359
Google translate for Yiddish is a waste of time because of its many inaccuracies.
Children’s books with nekidos that you are familiar with the story will probably be easier than just taking any kid’s book off the shelf. Even better is if you can get your hands on both the Hebrew and Yiddish version of the same book. (Machanayim books come to mind first, but it’s not really modern Yiddish.)
Check local bookstores; many illustrated, short-story (about 15 page) Yiddish books are printed in E. Yisroel and I believe are actually translated from Hebrew to Yiddish. You’d need a store that carries both versions, or check for Yiddish versions of books you have at home.
Good luck!June 21, 2016 2:29 pm at 2:29 pm #1157360
Mammele, if someone cannot read/understand Yiddish, Google Translate can provide a somewhat decent or better translation of a paragraph where otherwise the person would have completely not been able to understand it at all. Google Translate is also good to translate individual words to or from Yiddish.
As far as children’s books, those thin blue story books “???????????? ??? ??????” have dozens of the same titles available in Yiddish, English and Hebrew. They’ve been around for half a century or so and are still popularly available in Seforim stores.June 21, 2016 3:57 pm at 3:57 pm #1157361ApragerParticipant
R. Azriel Auerbach told me that it is a Mitzvah to learn Yiddish because it enables you to listen, understand and enter a world of Torah and Talmidei Chachomim that would otherwise have been inaccessible. He stressed that it is definitely worth the investment of one’s time.June 21, 2016 4:00 pm at 4:00 pm #1157362apushatayidParticipant
Hang out at Satmar in Williamsburg for a few days. You will pick it up quickly.June 21, 2016 5:38 pm at 5:38 pm #1157363
???????????? ??? ?????? are the ones I meant by Machanayim Publishers. Although perhaps not the best choice for current conversational Yiddish they will give you a good grasp of Yiddish vocabulary regardless. And these books are easy to locate — you probably have some lying around your house.June 22, 2016 2:34 am at 2:34 am #1157364
Mammele, what kind of Yiddish do the Machanayim titles utilize?June 22, 2016 5:03 am at 5:03 am #1157365
Joseph: You mentioned they’ve been around for 50 years or so. I don’t think they updated anything since. The stories don’t have any technological items or even something as simple as a ball in them – they’re very educational stories of tzaddikim and midrashim – but nothing recent.
For current conversations a vaser-treger is less relevant than a sink… However, it’s still good background info to have — but not necessarily as a starting point.
Current childrens’ books may be less educational, but include trips to the zoo, kid’s games etc.
The Yiddish itself is mostly proper Yiddish, perhaps with a slight Chabad slant, the style a bit more verbose than your average conversation (which is the case with most good writing material). The OP wrote he wants to converse with people, so I thought other books might be more relevant, at least at first. If he wanted to attend a Gemara shiur, Machanayim might be more informative.June 22, 2016 10:44 am at 10:44 am #1157366
There isnt exactly anything as “proper yiddish” anymore
Most languages (except english) have institutes that determine what words are deemed to be words in that language, they also determine proper spelling and grammar. The Yivo is the institute for yiddish, however the people who mostly speak yiddish today do not care what the yivo says, so if a word creeps into yiddish in the chassidic world and the yivo says not a word , they dont care and they will use it anyway.June 22, 2016 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm #1157367
RE: “There isnt exactly anything as “proper yiddish” anymore”
1. Most languages do not have official institutes, and the one’s that do are usually ignored. For example, the French and Israeli language academies keep trying to invent local words to use rather than words based on English, and fail miserably. YIVO was set up by a bunch of secular fanatics to try to invent a standard Yiddish (taking vowels from one dialect and consonants from others) – they never were taken seriously be actual Yiddish speakers.
2. By “proper” in a language you mean spekaing the language the way someone spoke 300 years ago? Do speakers of proper English still use the 2nd person familiar (Thou) or the subjunctive (as in “I be”)? Dead language have “proper” rules, living languages evolve because people keep inventing new words without ever bothering to talk to professors or official language commissions.
3. Yiddish never developed a standard in part since Jews never used it for serious books (though some ultra-seculars tried in the pre-WWII era). Yiddish is/was for fun stuff, the popular press, children’s books and as an aid for those lacking the intellectual skills to read Hebrew. Serious literature was alwayws Yiddish speakers was written in Hebrew, a langauge all children learned and the language used for official documents by Jews (such as court records). To cite an example, the famous sefer by the Satmar Rebbe telling people to use Yiddish, is written in Hebrew.June 22, 2016 2:15 pm at 2:15 pm #1157368
Do a little research Every language (except some minor ones) have an institute
French has one, Spanish has one, Hebrew has one even Ladino has one. Only english does not
There was plenty of serious books written in yiddish most famously Tevye the Milkman (Fiddler on the roof) by Sholom Alecheim. Issac Bashevis Singer (Yentl) won a Nobel Prize in Literature for writing in Yiddish.
Proper means sentance structure, how to congrugate nouns , verbs etc (English grammar is pretty simple as there are no masculine and feminine congrugation)June 28, 2016 2:49 pm at 2:49 pm #1157369LerntminTayrahParticipant
Ways of learning Yiddish:
1. Eezy shmeezy yiddish book by Moshe Sherizen. Good basic words
2. “Back 2 Basics” sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, which have a linear English translation into English. Most of these predate the 1979 “atzmiyus” sicha, so should be fine even for shtark misnagdim for learning Yiddish
3. Zundel Berman seforim stores sell tehillim and chumashim with a modern Yiddish translation.
4. There is an old Yiddish primer called Der Yiddisher Lehrer.
5. There are a few good “Workmen’s circle” (secular Bundist) Yiddish primers, by Lilly Kahn and Sheva Zucker. Good Yiddish, but disturbing phrases like “Oyf shabbes geyt min tzum kretchma” (On Shabbos we go to the pub).
6. Heinteger American Yiddish gets diluted with English words and changes spellings of some words. You can get free easy Yiddish examples from Chinuch.org
7. You can listen to the Daf Yomi shiurim of Rav Avrohom Karp on Kol Avrohom or the Yiddish mussar shmuzzin of Rav Avigdor Miller on Kol Halashon. As you listen, your mind will get more and more used to it. The first time you listen, you may barely get anything, even after hours of Yiddish study. A few weeks later, you are getting much more.
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