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Vol. 10, No. 4 Summer 1992 123 Studies in Yiddish Linguistics, edited by Paul Wexler. Tiibingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1990. 216 pp. n.p.1. In 1915, the great linguist Edward Sapir complained that" ... little has yet been done in the way of scientifically examining the various dialects spoken by the jews of Lithuania, Russian Poland, Galicia, Southern Russia, and Roumania." I Indeed, until very recently there has been almost no mainstream linguistic study of Yiddish, by which I mean study that resembles in all relevant respects the contemporary linguistic studies of other languages. Nowadays, such studies would be synchronic descriptions of the syntax, semantics, morphology, or phonology of the language, carried out with the dual aim of deepening our understanding of the grammar of the target language and shedding light on general grammatical theory. In his introduction to Studies in Yiddish Linguistics (5n), Paul Wexler reiterates the lament, but suggests that we may have turned a corner in Yiddish linguistics, pointing out that 30 percent of the total number of Yiddish studies that have ever been published have appeared in the last ten years, and citing SYL itself as "givl ing] grounds for optimism regarding the future of the l1e1d.... " This seems to me to be a rather modest claim for an editor to make, and I lind the modesty appropriate. Studies in Yiddish Linguistics contains 11 articles and two review articles (one by Robert A.. Rothstein on Mordkhe Schaechter's dissertation Aktionen im Jiddischen 11951], and one by Edward Stankiewicz on Maria Brzezina's Polszczyzna Zyd6w 11986]). There are also seven book reviews, one by Neil G. jacobs, one by Stanley Dubinsky in conjunction with the editor of SYL, and the rest by the editor himself. A. rather unique sort of contribution is the report by Kazuo Ueda on Yiddish studies in japan, where we learn, among other things, that there is a Yiddish club in that faraway Ianel. Finally, there is an excellent bibliography of works on or referring to Yiddish published between 1979 and 1988. These (as well as some 1978 items) are listed alphabetically along with the references cited in the articles and reviews. The new entries are distinguished from the references by asterisks. While there are 500 new items on this list, it is striking how few of them could be construed as mainstream linguistics in IEdward Sapir, "NOles on ,Judea-German Phonoloh'Y," in Da\'id G. Mandelbaum, ed., Selected Writing,ยท of lid((lard Sapir in Language. Culture, and Personality (Berkeley: University of California Press. 1963). pp. 252-72. Originally appeared in The Jewish Quarterly RelJiellJ. 6 (1915). pp. 231-66. 124 SHOFAR the sense defined above. I find only 20 works in the SYL bibliography that could readily be considered mainstream linguistics, or about two per year on average, an incredibly small number in view of the number of linguists who know Yiddish or are interested in it. Things are, indeed, somewhat better in SYL. Of its 11 articles, two (Le., a whole year's average) are clearly mainstream linguistics in my sense (Louis Glinert's "Cause and Concession in Modern Yiddish" and Neil G. Jacobs' "The Faces of a Raising Rule in Yiddish"), and two are close to being so, but are primarily either historical or dialectological in orientation (Robert D. King's "On the Origin of the S-Plural in Yiddish" and Rakhmiel Peltz's "Spoken Yiddish in America: Variation in Dialect and Grammar"). These articles do indeed augur well for the future of Yiddish linguistics, and in fact, the last few years have actually seen the publication of a few articles on Yiddish in the most prestigious linguistic journals. The other seven articles in SYL, however, are of the rather peripheral and parochial type of tr\lditional Yiddishology. These are typically stuck in a few philological ruts: the nature of the non-German segments of the vocabulary of Yiddish (Mordkhe Schaechter's "The First Polish-Yiddish Dictionary ... ," Victor Swoboda's" Ukrainianisms in J. M. LilSic'sjudes-rusyser verter-bix," and Paul Wexler's "Two Comments on Yiddish Contacts with Indo-Iranian Languages"), the sociology of the use ofYiddish in different places and for different purposes (Christopher Hu([on's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 123-125
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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