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Testimonies in Responsa and What They Tell Us About the Development of Spoken Yiddish

Hosted By: YIVO

Since the 15th century, testimonies in “Loshn Ashkenaz” (referring to both Yiddish and German) have been preserved in responsa, which are rabbinic pronouncements on Jewish law. These testimonies appear in rabbinical court records, written in Hebrew, and contain many words of Hebrew/Aramaic origin from everyday Yiddish usage. The records provide valuable insights into the syntax, morphology, and lexicon of Early Modern Yiddish, with many phenomena from the 17th century appearing at least one century earlier than previously thought.

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