[b-hebrew] Two X letters

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Oct 29 21:57:01 EDT 2007

On 10/30/07, Shoshanna Walker wrote:
> OK, here am I, not a scholar, just a person who grew up in a Torah
> observant home (in Queen, NYC) where both my parents and both sets of
> grandparents spoke Yiddish and (almost) Hebrew fluently, and me
> learning Hebrew since kindergarten, telling you that I always was
> under the impression that the relationship between Yiddish and Hebrew
> was that Yiddish was the vernacular adaptation in Poland, Russia,
> etc., to their main Love, (you know, it was the language of our
> liturgy and Torah) Hebrew - that Yiddish was a "Germanized" Hebrew,
> not vice versa.

Shoshanna, if you read Zuckerman's articles, you'll see he does not deny
Yiddish's Hebrew roots.  Yiddish is a Germanic language, that is, it is still
related very closely to German and English.  But Yiddish also has a large
dependence on literary variants of Hebrew that existed in the Middle Ages.
What Zuckerman says is that Yiddish -- a German with a large mixing of
Hebrew -- served as one of two main parents to Modern Hebrew.  The
other parent is Ancient Hebrew, including both Mishnaic and Biblical
Hebrew.  There are some interesting interplays that he discusses, such
as the phrase "xa$xu enav" -- a phrase from Biblical Hebrew that entered
Yiddish and through Yiddish also Modern Hebrew.  Because of the
dependence on Yiddish, a variant which more closely resembles the
Yiddish borrowing of the Hebrew phrase also exists in Modern Hebrew
 -- "niya lo xo$ex ba?enaim."  But because in Modern Hebrew there was
also the Biblical Hebrew parent, the phrase that is more common is
actually the Biblical phrase -- "xa$xu enav".  You can read about this
in p. 10 of the multiple causation article here:
So Zuckerman does not deny the Hebrew roots of either Modern Hebrew
or Yiddish.  By the way, when I used the term "hybrid language" I did not
mean specifically Zuckerman's theory, but I did use it being aware of a
large dependence in all layers of Modern Hebrew language on Yiddish
and other European languages.  But Zuckerman does offer a much more
involved and systematic analysis of my impressions.

Yitzhak Sapir

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