Politics Magazine

How Close Is Yiddish to English?

Posted on the 17 April 2015 by Calvinthedog

Here.

Yiddish: A matone di ale vos bay zeyere kinder in moyl vet yidish lebn.

English: A gift to all those in whose children’s mouths Yiddish will live

Interlineal translation: I am guessing at meanings, but even where the definitions are wrong, that is not of much importance. For instance, if I read zeyere as their then that is successful bilingual communication on my part, even if zeyere does not mean their. I assigned it a token meaning that works perfectly in this context and communication is all that matters in bilingualism, not perfect definitions:

A matone di ale vos   bay zeyere kinder   in moyl    
A        to all those     their  children in mouths

vet yidish  lebn.
yet Yiddish learn.

Not bad. Notice all the cognates. You can do much the same with any German or Frisian or possibly even Dutch sentence.

Yiddish is only a German dialect, closely related to the Palatinian German language as spoken along the Rhine. It is so close to the Mannheim and Speyr dialects Palatinian that it may be nearly intelligible with them. Yiddish has also incorporated a lot of Slavic and Hebrew loans which complicate matters.

German and English are separated by 1,900 years. So after 2,000 years separation, really there is nothing left. An English speaker cannot understand one single word of spoken German. I know this because I have listened to German speakers and I can’t get even one word of their speech. This is true even though German and English are loaded with cognates. But you can’t recognize the cognates because they are “masked.”

So in the sentence above, the English speaker might hear kinder, moyl and lebn, all of which have obvious English cognates, but they still would not make sense of them because they were not recognize the fact that they are cognates. That is, they would hear the word kinder, but have no idea that that referred to children, etc.

If you can’t sort out the cognates and recognize them and connect them up to some word in your own language, they are as good as useless.


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