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  • Author or Editor: Tal Hever-Chybowski x
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The article discusses the ideological role played by the Semitic component in Yiddish in four major texts of Yiddish philology from the first half of the 20th century: Ysroel Haim Taviov’s “The Hebrew Elements of the Jargon” (1904); Ber Borochov’s “The Tasks of Yiddish Philology” (); Nokhem Shtif’s “The Social Differentiation of Yiddish: Hebrew Elements in the Language” (); and Max Weinreich’s “What Would Yiddish Have Been without Hebrew?” (). The article explores the ways in which these texts attribute various religious, national, psychological and class values to the Semitic component in Yiddish, while debating its ontological status and making prescriptive suggestions regarding its future. It argues that all four philologists set the Semitic component of Yiddish in service of their own ideological visions of Jewish linguistic, national and ethnic identity (Yiddishism, Hebraism, Soviet Socialism, etc.), thus blurring the boundaries between descriptive linguistics and ideologically engaged philology.

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In: Philological Encounters