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Looking for a good Yiddish book?
Yiddish goes back a thousand years. It is mostly (note: mostly, not entirely) derived from German of the time. But much of its vocabulary and grammar come from other sources. The most obvious, of course, is Hebrew. The Encyclopedia Judaica also lists Aramaic, Slavic languages (such as Polish, Ukrainian, Belorussian), Romance (as in bentshen=benediction), other Central European languages (mix in a little Hungarian, Romanian, Lithuanian, and Latvian), and others. These days, you could add Russian and now also English.
As the Encyclopedia says, "Numerous syntactic-semantic distinctions are capable of being systematically conveyed by the melodic modulation of sentences." In other words, in Yiddish, it's not only which words you use. It's how you use them. Leo Rosten, in The Joys of Yiddish, has a wonderful story to illustrate this in his entry on Aha. A man eats the same food in the same restaurant every night. One night, he calls over the waiter to taste the soup. The waiter tells him he's crazy: he's been eating there for twenty years, and now he wants him to taste the soup? The diner insists, and the waiter buckles. "I'll taste—where's the spoon?"
"Aha!" cries the diner.
Here are books on Yiddish for you. Enjoy...
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