An Indo-European language and a member of the West Germanic group, spoken as a first language probably by c. 200,000 people mainly in central and eastern Europe, with some further speakers in the USA and Israel, and by over 2 million others as a second language all over the world; also called Judaeo-German.
Yiddish was the chief vernacular of Ashkenazic Jews who inhabited central and eastern Europe. It began to emerge in the 9th century as a mixture of Middle High German dialects and Semitic elements. The earliest written records date form the 12th century. Today the language is spoken in two main dialects, western and eastern, the latter being the basis of the modern standard language. Yiddish literature has flourished in the 20th century in both Europe and the USA. The Nobel Prize laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer is among the most prominent names.
CLASSIFICATION = Indo-European family, SCRIPT = Hebrew*
(* The language is spelt in the Hebrew alphabet in several spelling conventions. Steps towards standardization are being taken at the Yiddish Scientific Institute in New York.)
|Traditional Yiddish song and dance
||YIDD LFICT 1(CD)