Friday, February 29, 2008

A Jewish Dialect Lives in Bavaria

Schopfloch is a small village in Bavaria with little more tha 2000 people, located in the northern part of the Black Forest. What distinguishes it is its dialect which contains numerous words of Hebrew origin. It uses , for instance, mayim and yayin as words for water and wine, of course using German orthography. The speakers of this dialect are not descended from Jews, but the neighbours of Jews who developed the dialect in the course of doing business with teir Jewish neighbours. Undoubtedly, the higher percentage of Jews in thi remote location created the circumstances under which the linguistic variant could develop and flourish.
The phenomenon of Hebraicisms in German dialects and slang is not unique to Schopfloch. I heard the word "Malocher", (which is a cognate form of malocha, meaning work ) used to describe a person who does heavy physical labour. The word "Kies", also from Hebrew has made it into the lexicon of German slang.
Jews lived for centuries in Germany. Indeed, Germany was the birthplace of Yiddish. There is ample work for any linguist who wishes to study the influence of Hebrew and a Jewish presence on colloquial forms of spoken German. Dialects fade from the world stage with saddening regularity. Hopefully,no time will be lost in the study of this interesting variant of German.
Copyright 2008 By Magdeburger Joe Sphere: Related Content

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