Book

Soviet Yiddish

Gennady Estraikh

Published in print February 1999 | ISBN: 9780198184799
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191674365 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184799.001.0001

Series: Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs

Soviet Yiddish

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This book studies Yiddish in the former Soviet Union. A chronicle of orthographic and other reforms from the state of the language in pre-Revolutionary Russia, through active language-planning in the 1920s and 1930s, repression, and subsequent developments up to the 1980s, is recreated from contemporary publications and archival materials. Later chapters draw on personal experience as a Yiddish writer and lexicographer in Moscow. At a time when the Bolshevik party's Jewish sections held an influential position, Yiddish attained a functional diversity without precedent in its history; but underlying contradictions between ideas expressed in the slogans ‘Proletarians of all countries, unite!’ and ‘The right of nations to self-determination’ led to extremes in language-planning. A golden mean was achieved after the 1934 Yiddish language conference in Kiev. Using contemporary literary works as a source of linguistic and sociolinguistic information, this book charts the development of the resultant variety of the language, ‘Soviet Yiddish’; the effects of severe repression in the late 1930s and 1940s; and the subsequent decline in usage. Comparisons are drawn between Soviet Yiddish language-planning and concurrent reforms in Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, and German; and the features and types of Soviet Yiddish word-formation are analysed, notably univerbation, or compressing a phrase into one word.

Keywords: Yiddish; Soviet Union; orthographic reforms; pre-Revolutionary Russia; active language-planning; repression; contemporary publications; archival materials; author's experience; lexicographer

Book.  227 pages. 

Subjects: Literature

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Soviet Yiddish

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Conclusion in Soviet Yiddish

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