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6 SHOFAR THE GEOGRAPHY OF ASHKENAZ: ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN ETHNOGEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM (EGIS) by Neil G. Jacobs Joseph c. loon Neil G. Jacobs is Assistant Professor of Yiddish language and linguistics in the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern languages and literatures, The Ohio State University . He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1984. He is the author of Economy in Yiddish Vocalism: A Study in the Interplay ofHebrew and Non-Hebrew Components (Otto Harrassowitz Verlag: Wiesbaden, 1990), as well as several articles on Yiddish linguistics. Joseph c. Loon is Assistant Professor in the Department of Geodetic Science and Surveying and the Department of Geography, The Ohio State University. He received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1978. His research and publication are in the areas of topographic mapping and land information science. 1. Ashkenaz and Geography: An Introduction Ashkenazic)ewish civilization traces its origins back approximately one thousand years. In his classic work History of the Yiddish Language,l Max iRistory of the Yiddish Language. 2 vots. (Chicago and London: U of Chicago Press, 1980). This is a translation of the first tWO volumes of Weinreich's four-volume Geshikhte fUll der yidisher shprakh: bagri)i/, faktn, lIletodn (New York: ¥NO, 1973). The first two volumes of Geshikhte consist of text, while volumes 3-4 consist of notes, references, and comments on the te.'(!. Volumes 3-4 currently remain unpublished in English translation. Vol. 10, No. 4 Summer 1992 7 Weinreich (p. 45ff) links the rise of Ashkenaz to that of Sepharad (at approximately the same time) as signaling the beginning of the "European period in Jewish history," a period which lasted until the current century. Weinreich describes this in terms of a shift of "the center of gravity" of Jewish existence-from earlier centers closer to the Middle East-to Europe. Ashkenazic Jewry arose when Jewish populations settled on German lands, came into contact with non-Jewish Germans (and others), and-in time-created a Jewish Diaspora civilization which was distinct from other Jewish Diaspora civilizations in language (yiddish), culture and way of life, religious observance, and more. According to the generally accepted view, as found in Weinreich,z Ashkenazic3 Jewry arose when significant numbers of Jews from parts of France and Italy began-over one thousand years ago-to settle "on the banks of the Rhine and Moselle, in the area designated by the Jews as Loter." With Later as the nucleus, the territory ofAshkenaz expanded through migration, primarily to the east, south, and southeast, beginning in the eleventh and twelfth centuries4 though later to the north and northwest as well. In this traditional view, the main geographic history of Ashkenaz is thus viewed almost solely in terms of expansion from Later outward, i.e.: (1) the birth of Ashkenaz on western German lands (Loter); (2) in the early centuries, the center of gravity of Ashkenaz still on German lands, but now including eastern German lands, i.e., Bavaria; (3) later expansion further eastward through Bohemia and Moravia; (4) still later expansion to Poland and other lands of Eastern Europe. More recently, it has been argued by WexIer5 -on linguistic and ather grounds-that the origins of Ashkenazic Jewry are to be found not on western German lands, but rather to the east, on lands historically 'History of the Yiddish Language, p. Iff. 3The name- Ashkenaz was used in medieval Hebrew 10 refer 10 German peoples and German lands. The name Ashkenaz predates the Jewish Diaspora. It is found in Genesis 10:3 as a male anthroponym, referring to a son of Gomer.·Weinreich, p. 3. sPaul Wexler. E.•plorations in Judeo-Slavic Linguistics. Lciden: E. ]. Brill, 1987; "Yiddish-The Fifteenth Slavic Language." International Journal of the Sociology of Language (1991): 9-150. 8 SHOFAR populated by both Slavic and Germanic populations. In Wexler's view, these Jews later encountered-via mutual migrations and settlements-a separate Jewish population which originated on western German lands, that is, in Loter. According to Wexler, even as these historically distinct Jewish groups eventually blended together, their earlier distinctness has left behind linguistic and other traces. While the precise details on the historical and...


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