Is Yiddish Hebrew

What is yiddish



Yiddish is the everyday language of the unassimilated Ashkenazi Jews. Yiddish is a land-free language spoken all over the world. It is the most important vernacular of the Jews living in or from Central and Eastern Europe.


Yiddish is the most important group lingua franca of Ashkenazi Jews in the Diaspora. It belongs to the West Germanic part of the Germanic languages, but is not typical of this language family. It is written in Hebrew characters - from right to left.

Origin and development

Yiddish originated in southwest Germany between the 9th and 12th centuries. Hebrew words were added to German; Romanesque elements have also been preserved from the pre-German period. When the majority of European Jews moved to the predominantly Slavic-speaking Eastern Europe, Slavic became more influential. As a result of the waves of emigration overseas and the expulsion of Jews from Europe during the National Socialist rule, elements from the languages ​​of the new homeland were also incorporated into Yiddish, e.g. American English or Latin American Spanish. In addition to a few peculiarities in the vocabulary, today's Yiddish differs from modern German primarily through a different expansion of the grammar and the syntax influenced by the Slavic languages. The pronunciation of Yiddish was also heavily influenced by the Slavic languages.

Dialectal structure

There are two large dialect groups in Yiddish, each of which can be further subdivided: West Yiddish, which was mainly spoken in the German-speaking areas of Western Europe, and the more widespread East Yiddish, which is also called New Yiddish or modern Yiddish.

Spread of Yiddish

It is estimated that by the beginning of the 20th century, Yiddish was spoken by eleven million people, mainly in Eastern Europe and the United States. About half of these people were murdered during the mass extermination of the Jews in World War II. Today there are still around four to five million speakers who live all over the world. Partly with great efforts to maintain the Yiddish-speaking cultural heritage (USA, Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, France, Israel - to name the most important communities in unspecific order). Iwrit (modern Hebrew) is predominantly spoken in Israel.

Yiddish literature

Yiddish can look back on a large literary production that began around the 13th century in Germany and then spread with the migration of Jews to Holland, Italy and the Slavic countries. At the end of the 19th century, the literary classics of Yiddish emerged. Yiddish-language literature was crowned with the award of the 1978 Nobel Prize for Literature to the writer Isaak Baschewis Singer.

Yiddish at the University of Trier

The Yiddish language is now little known in Germany, but some have already heard a Yiddish song (e.g. »Dona Dona «) belongs. Research into the Yiddish language, its development and further training is still in its infancy. After just a few semesters of study, young scientists at the University of Trier have many opportunities to work on exciting research projects.


The focus of Yiddish studies in Trier is on older Yiddish, i.e. those linguistic stages of development that occurred in German-speaking areas before the Enlightenment.


Yiddish Studies is located at the University of Trier in the German Studies (German) subject. Studying Yiddish enables a comparative look at many linguistic or literary topics and opens up the diverse Ashkenazi-Jewish culture.