Home » A sociolinguistic study of Yiddish English in New Yorks Lower East Side, from the Fifties to the Present by Ruchel Jarach-Sztern
A sociolinguistic study of Yiddish English in New Yorks Lower East Side, from the Fifties to the Present Ruchel Jarach-Sztern

A sociolinguistic study of Yiddish English in New Yorks Lower East Side, from the Fifties to the Present

Ruchel Jarach-Sztern

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For more than one century, Yiddish has been in contact with American English. In this thesis, we examine the linguistic traces thereof. To this end we first retrace the background of Jewish immigration to the United States and present a history ofMoreFor more than one century, Yiddish has been in contact with American English. In this thesis, we examine the linguistic traces thereof. To this end we first retrace the background of Jewish immigration to the United States and present a history of Yiddish as a “contact language”.We then proceed to the diachronic, synchronic and sociolinguistic analysis of Yiddish features in American English as expressed by the New York Ashkenazi Jewish people. Our primary sources are of four different types and cover a time span of sixty years: seven shops signs from the fifties and sixties in the Lower East Side- the book A Bintel Brief (foreword, introduction and English translation), dated 1971- twenty-nine articles from The Forward in English, dated 2003-2009- extensive extracts from American Jewish websites and forums, dated 2008-2009. In these sources we examine the lexical, morphological and syntactic features characterizing the presence of Yiddish in American English. When we study the evolution which took place in the last sixty years regarding Yiddish and its presence in American English, our conclusion, when making the link between this data and the sociological determiners involved, is that after a period of assimilation and fading, we witness today the revival of Yiddish words features in American English, especially morphological ones- the ethnic/ religious commitment of a young generation of “connected” observant Jews brings about a modified American English compared to the previous generation.