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Announcing a new book by Prof. Jeffrey Shandler

YiddishYiddish: Biography of a Language, published by Oxford University Press (2020). 

Yiddish: Biography of a Language presents the story of this centuries-old language, the foundational vernacular of Ashkenazi Jews, from its origins to the present, spoken by Jewish communities—as well as some non-Jews—located around the world. The most widely spoken Jewish language on the eve of the Holocaust, Yiddish continues to play a significant role in Jewish life today in a diversity of contexts, from Hasidim for whom it is a language of daily life to avant-garde writers and performers who turn to Yiddish for artistic inspiration. This book uses the rubric of a biographical profile to examine the uses of Yiddish and the values invested in it through a series of thematic chapters, from “Date and Place of Birth,” “Residence,” “Name,” and “Gender” to “Occupation,” “Political Affiliation,” “Personality,” and “Life Expectancy.” Through this approach, Yiddish: Biography of a Language explores the dynamic interrelation of Yiddish, its speakers, and the cultures that have been realized in this language.  

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