Abstract

Abstract:

During and immediately after World War II, East European Jewish intellectuals perceived a radical transformation in the Yiddish language. This perception inspired some to create dictionaries or glossaries that could map and decode these new linguistic developments. While these glossarists approached the Holocaust Yiddish vocabulary from different conceptual and political positions, their texts nonetheless point to common words, themes, and pressure-points from within this catastrophe-inflected dialect. Of these prominent themes, this essay investigates three: theft, animals, and the sexual body. Based on the way that these themes are addressed, I argue that the glossaries not only explain the meaning of new Yiddish words; they also reveal new types of verbal practice and new ways in which Yiddish speakers behaved toward language. In sum, the glossaries testify to a specific sensation of speech and offer a new lens through which to read Yiddish works on and from the Holocaust.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1553-0604
Print ISSN
0021-6682
Pages
pp. 161-193
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-30
Open Access
No
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