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Yiddish : Biography of a Language

Shandler, Jeffrey (Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies, Distinguished Professor of Jewish Stud
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Published: January 20, 2021
ISBN: 9780190651961
264 pages, 16 illustrations
Country of publication: United States

£18.99

The most widely spoken Jewish language on the eve of the Holocaust, Yiddish continues to play a significant role in Jewish life today, from Hasidim for whom it is a language of daily life to avant-garde performers, political activists, and LGBTQ writers turning to Yiddish for inspiration. Yiddish: Biography of a Language presents the story of this centuries-old language, the defining vernacular of Ashkenazi Jews, from its origins to the present. Jeffrey Shandler tells the multifaceted history of Yiddish in the form of a biographical profile, revealing surprising insights through a series of thematic chapters.

He addresses key aspects of Yiddish as the language of a diasporic population, whose speakers have always used more than one language. As the vernacular of a marginalized minority, Yiddish has often been held in low regard compared to other languages, and its legitimacy as a language has been questioned. But some devoted Yiddish speakers have championed the language as embodying the essence of Jewish culture and a defining feature of a Jewish national identity.

Despite predictions of the demise of Yiddish-dating back well before half of its speakers were murdered during the Holocaust-the language leads a vibrant, evolvinglife to this day.

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