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Re: Yiddish - medieval Ebonics?

Poster: Corun MacAnndra <corun@access.digex.net>

Lyanna wrote:
>Acronyms are as ancient as written language and were in use during the
>Middle Ages.
>The acronym of YHVH is a perfect example.  I agree that we should avoid
>using modern acnonyms as in
>the  case of prote for  proteges and the like.

Actually, we were talking about spoken language and thus spoken acronyms,
not written ones. Modern acronyms are, more often than not, spoken as words
unto themselves, ie. DOS for Disk Operating System, and some of the more
colourful words that saw their usage among those in military service during
WWII. Also, prote is an abbreviation, not an acronym. An improper
shortening of the word protege. An acronym is a group of letters made,
usually, from the first letters of each of several other words (see DOS

Regarding your example above, unless I am mistaken, YHVH is a shortening of
the Hebrew word for Jehovah, a name of God that, according to Talmudic Law
is not to be spoken or written. Mar Yakov can explain this much better than
I, he being a Talmudic scholar. And though half my family is Jewish, I was
not raised so, and so I am relatively unschooled in Judaism. Anyway, YHVH
is also not an acronym, but an abbreviation. A better example would have
been INRI, which is an acronym for Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum. Or in
English, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. But again, INRI was only
written, not spoken.

WARNING -- the following commentaries are riddled with my opinions. They
are both personal and informed, and I firmly believe that an informed
opinion is the only opinion anyone is entitled to since anything less is
mere speculation. Any discussion that might ensue hereafter would probably
be best consigned to private email as it has the potential for getting
heated. My apologies in advance to anyone who may take offense. It is not
my intention to do so.

>I must be nitpicky on the Ebonics quip though. :)
>Ebonics is essentially a ghetto language.  The question is "Is Ebonics a
>fledged language?"   Some school boards in California think so.

Some school boards should also be fired wholesale and replaced with people
who are more concerned about giving our children a proper education. Don't
get me started on Ebonics or the lowering of the SAT scores. And for the
record, my sister is a school teacher and is as outraged by these things as
I. Please let's not get into this discussion. It's a very sore subject with
me and way off topic for this mailing list.

>Yiddish is also a ghetto language that was spoken by German and Eastern
>European Jews.
>It's an amalgam of mostly German, Slavic Languages and Hebrew. (there
>are smatterings of other languages too) It is written in Hebrew
>characters but
>it sounds like a very strange German dialect.  Some argue that Ebonics
>is a full fledged language.  Others 
>say Ebonics at present is really a very strong English dialect.  So far,
>I haven't heard of any "Great Books" in
>Ebonics but we don't know what will eventually happen as it evolves.
>I'm not a linguist so I can't quote any hard facts on this one.

I'm very familiar with Yiddish as a language, which is mostly German mixed
with Hebrew. As I said above, half my family is Jewish and those that
survived the pogroms, conscription in the Czar's amry and WWII came from
Eastern Europe, mainly Poland, Germany and Russia. My father is first
generation American. But don't confuse an amalgam of several languages that
create a separate one with slang and an improper use of English. The Jews
of the Middle Ages were well educated and therefore blended Hebrew with the
Germanic language they encountered when they settled in Europe in order to
survive, since no one not a Jew would deign to learn Hebrew. It was a
simple matter of survival. What's spoken in the streets of our poorer,
modern neighborhoods is slang and improper pronunciation and grammar. There
are a lot of social and economic issues at play here as to the whole
ebonics issue, so let's not go there. Suffice to say you simply can't
compare it to Yiddish.

>There are numerous great authors who wrote in Yiddish as well as a
>plethora of 
>Yiddish music and so on that date from the Middle Ages to today.

>From when in the Middle Ages? I'm curious as to how early you can date some
of this Yiddish literature and music.

>The moral of the story - be careful how you label languages. 

I am always careful. That's why I don't believe anyone wanting an education
should settle for the lowest denominator. Nor should anyone wishing to
educate do so from that same denominator. If you treat everyone as a third
grader you end up with a world full of third graders. Lowering the SAT
standards indeed. As my friend Aelfgar Greyseas is wont to say from time to
time, "the Republic is doomed."

In service,

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