Good ways to go about learning Yiddish

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  • #894816

    iced
    Member

    There is a quantitative difference between Loshon Kodesh, which is utilized for prayer and writing Torah based Seforim, and Ivrit, which is a modern-day concoction used for everyday street speech.

    Loshon Kodesh was never a street language.

    #894817

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    If the yiddish childrens books are as good as the english jewish books (Childrens or Adults) you want to stay far far away from them

    #894818

    blubluh
    Participant

    Pick up a copy of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Yiddish” by Rabbi Benjamin Blech (please don’t take offense at the title). While you won’t become a Yiddish speaker from this book alone, the author offers valuable suggestions and references for further study.

    #894819

    twisted
    Participant

    Also try tracking down (sorry lost the info) a book of Yiddish idiom and expressions, because sometimes, there is no substitute for the insight, wit, and shear genius that only Yiddish can express. Even for those one or two generations removed from actual fluency.

    #894820

    aurora77
    Participant

    Thank you to all for the suggestions about ways to learn Yiddish. I live several hours from New York City, so unfortunately I will not be able to take advantage of in-person resources there. The suggestion of children’s books is one I hadn’t even thought of! I will see if Rosetta Stone offers anything too, as was also suggested. I didn’t realize that there was a Complete Idiot’s Guide that would be relevant, but I guess that’s not surprising since they seem to have one for everything! Although I would still have to travel some distance to the nearest big city of Philadelphia, I may see if there are any Yiddish language courses there somewhere, as someone else recommended. I would love to get my feet wet with a book of idiom and expressions — I have a very tiny expression book at present, and it is heart-warming for me to look through it again and again to pick out the ones that my MomMom used to say. A sefer teaching the basics of Yiddish is another recommendation that may really help me build some kind of language base. The grammar book suggestion would no doubt be very helpful in that regard as well. All great ideas — many thank yous!

    #894821

    iced
    Member

    aurora: You’re mother spoke some Yiddish words even though she was brought up as a non-Jew?

    #894822

    aurora77
    Participant

    Hello iced,

    My MomMom (my mother’s mother) spoke it. I believe that she was brought up Jewish in Germany between the World Wars, until the family fled to Brazil and eventually came to the US.

    #894823

    Nechomah
    Participant

    Aurora I saw that you mentioned somewhere that you’re in Pennsylvania. Just so you know that New York itself is not the only location of a frum Jewish community, if you are in Northern Pennsylvania, there is a community in Scranton or if you are in Western Pennsylvania, then there are cities in Ohio, including Cleveland, which may be more within your short distance traveling range. Even if you are in more Southern Pennsylvania, Baltimore may not be too far. And there is Silver Spring in Maryland as well. I don’t know what to suggest if you are in the Northwestern part of Pennsylvania, but maybe other people here might have some suggestions. A lot of times people get tunnel vision on New York, but really there are a lot of resources, including families to go to for Shabbos and holidays that won’t tax you too much to get to them.

    Hatzlacha (good luck)!

    #894824

    Avi K
    Participant

    The worst anti-religious were the yiddishist Bundists. Let the dead language rest in pieces (considering all of the different dialects).

    #894825

    aurora77
    Participant

    Thank you Nechomah for your helpful suggestions! I am about an hour from Philadelphia, where I am thinking about trying to find Hebrew and Yiddish language courses.

    #894826

    vochindik
    Member

    Actually the worst anti-religious were the Zionists. Especially the inventor of Ivrit, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda.

    Yiddish, on the other hand, is spoken as a living language by hundreds of thousands and is learnt in as a primary Torah setting in many Yeshivas.

    #894827

    Curiosity
    Participant

    The bottom line is that Ms. Aurora already said she is trying to learn both, so can we stop ripping on each other like little kids? This bickering is despicable and a chilul Hashem.

    #894828

    Working Mom
    Member

    I lurk occasionally in the Coffee Room, and don’t post often. I came to this thread because I too have been trying to learn Yiddish. In case you are interested in flaming me for this, I already speak and read Hebrew. Hebrew is the language of instruction in the college courses that I teach (I live in Israel).

    I don’t understand what the problem is. My older, and also some younger relatives can’t stand that I don’t get their jokes. Frankly, I do feel stupid myself when I miss the punchline. When in Europe, it is still very useful for communication in the Jewish communities. Lastly, as a professional in Israel who works with children and adults, I occasionally don’t have a common language to communicate with my patients and Yiddish would help. I don’t think that any of these reasons are political, or should be charged with as much emotion as I have read on this thread.

    Thank you to all those who posted practical suggestions and can everyone else calm down please.

    #894829

    Nechomah
    Participant

    No problem. I am sure that Philadelphia has a terrific community as well since there is a very well known yeshiva there. I am not from that part from the US, so I am not familiar with locations, but maybe other posters here can contribute contact information for Aurora so that she can perhaps go to someone for a meal during Chol HaMoed or even on Yom Tov itself. There are so many opportunities coming up.

    #894830

    twisted
    Participant

    Aurora don’t despair of getting the right stuff. There are many book sellers that publish their inventory and they are generally happy to ship.

    #894831

    thehock
    Member

    For someone like yourself with an affinity and knack for languages, I would recommend what the multilinguists I know do: immerse yourself as much as you can in the language.

    1. If there exists a Yiddish-language radio station you can listen to, try getting the news or a topic you are familiar with on a regular basis so you can pick up the spoken method.

    2. A newspaper could be helpful (those definitely exist) but you would first have to learn the alef bais.

    3. If there are people you can talk to (and CAP was right – it’s less intimidating to try to talk to kids [or, I’ll add, to old people – maybe in an old age home near you?]), that’s probably a good next step.

    Good luck!

    #894832

    aurora77
    Participant

    I truly appreciate the encouraging replies from recent posters!

    Working Mom, it is comforting to know that we, though thousands of miles apart, are in a similar boat, so to speak. I would very much like to have this ability to converse in Yiddish as well — I was thinking that it could really help as I get deeper into trying to find out just what happened on my mother’s side of the family when they left Germany for Brazil between the World Wars. Good luck in your journey of learning Yiddish; I’d be very interested to hear how it goes for you.

    Nechomah, twisted, and thehock, thank you for all of your helpful suggestions! I had not even thought of the possibility of Yiddish radio. I think I will look into the yeshiva in Philadelphia as well and try to find some good books on line.

    #894834

    lesschumras
    Participant

    I really don’t understand the issue. Speak Yiddish, speak Avrit, speak both or speak neither. Why the need to delegitamize the other? However, Yiddish does have one thing in common with Ivrit. Neither is holy. Yiddish was born out of Haifa. When medieval Jews were expelled from German states, they were welcomed by the Polish kings. The Jews accepted the invite but they were still Germans. Even back then they considered Slavs to be savages snd refused to speak Polish. They continued to speak their native German which developed into Yiddish

    #894835

    lesschumras
    Participant

    It was supposed to be gaiva , not Haifa

    #894836

    Curiosity
    Participant

    Ivrit is just LK with some contemporary additions. I don’t understand the big deal in denying that it is LK. It’s like Ye Olde English and New English: Both are English, just one sounds funny if you use it in daily conversation.

    #894837

    iced
    Member

    HaGaon HaRav Dovid Cohen shlit”a has a Sefer called “Yiddish: The Holy Tongue” (written in Yiddish, of course.)

    #894838

    aurora77
    Participant

    Thank you iced, I’ll aspire to reading it in Yiddish someday!

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