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Re: Yiddish - medieval Ebonics?

Poster: GaryH2018@aol.com

In a message dated 6/11/98 2:11:01 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
corun@access.digex.net writes:

> 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.

YHWH is actually the Hebrew consonants without the vowels (since vowels
generally aren't written in Hebrew).  It's generally written with the vowel
pointers for "Adonai" (Lord) as a reminder that the reader is to substitute
Adonai instead of God's actual name.  Jehovah comes from non-Hebrew speakers
sticking the vowels for Adonai with the consonants for YHWH and latinizing it
- there isn't a "W" in Latin.
<more snip>

>  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.

AFAIK Hebrew died out as a *spoken* language sometime in the Second or Third
Century BCE.  Hebrew was the language of scholarship and religion - pretty
much as Latin was for the Christians.  So Jews had been using the local
vernacular as their primary language for some time before the Middle Ages.  I
suspect (without knowing) that the percentage of Jews who could speak Hebrew
was similiar to the percentage of Christians who spoke Latin.

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