On the Frontier between Eastern and Western Yiddish: Sources from Burgenland

In: European Journal of Jewish Studies
Author: Lea Schäfer
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Burgenland, the smallest state of current Austria, located on the border with Hungary, once had seven vibrant Jewish communities under the protection of the Hungarian Eszterházy family. There is next to nothing known about the Yiddish variety spoken in these communities. This article brings together every single piece of evidence of this language to get an impression of its structure. This article shows that Yiddish from Burgenland can be integrated into the continuum between Eastern and Western Yiddish and is part of a gradual transition zone between these two main varieties.


Burgenland, the smallest state of current Austria, located on the border with Hungary, once had seven vibrant Jewish communities under the protection of the Hungarian Eszterházy family. There is next to nothing known about the Yiddish variety spoken in these communities. This article brings together every single piece of evidence of this language to get an impression of its structure. This article shows that Yiddish from Burgenland can be integrated into the continuum between Eastern and Western Yiddish and is part of a gradual transition zone between these two main varieties.

Burgenland, the smallest state of Austria today, located on the border with Hungary, once had seven vibrant Jewish communities that stood under the protection of the Hungarian Eszterházy family. There is next to nothing known about the Yiddish variety spoken in these communities. Its geographical position, however, makes Burgenland interesting for Yiddish dialectology.

As Dovid Katz has postulated, it is on the southern end of a transition zone between Eastern and Western Yiddish.1 This article will show that Yiddish from Burgenland can be integrated into the continuum between Eastern and Western Yiddish and is part of a gradual transition zone between these two main varieties.

The Yiddish of Burgenland is no longer spoken. For this reason, we have to bring together every single piece of evidence of this language to get an impression of its structure. The sources are often not very suitable for proper grammatical analyses. But compared to the existing materials of other (Western) Yiddish dialects, the available data from Burgenland look quite promising. Beside a summary of known Yiddish sources from Burgenland, a transliteration of a new and neat source is given in the appendix.

Using all available sources, this article presents some idiosyncratic structures of Burgenland Yiddish in comparison with data from other Yiddish dialects. Due to our incomplete knowledge on Yiddish dialectal variation and the still small dataset of Burgenland Yiddish, this article discusses in the main phonological features.

1 Remnants of the Western Yiddish Vernacular

There are hardly any sources left from the spoken varieties of Western Yiddish. This is due to the Yiddish writing systems. Until the 18th century, Yiddish (Western Yiddish as well as Eastern Yiddish) had only been written down in a supra-regional variety known as shraybshprakh alef, “written language A.”2 As far as discovered, sources of this shraybshprakh alef indicate only a few reflexes of Yiddish vernacular. New writing systems came up in the mid-18th century in the Eastern Yiddish area. This change may have occurred because of the growing distance between the spoken and the written language and the divergent development between Eastern and Western Yiddish. In the Western Yiddish territory the old shraybshprakh a was still used in addition to German in the Hebrew alphabet known as Jüdisch-deutsch3 Both writing systems cannot render the spoken varieties of Western Yiddish in a sufficient way. There are only a few remaining sources left written in Latin letters or jüdisch-deutsch that show reflexes of the spoken language from the 19th century. Those texts are, for example, six Maskilic plays, such as Aaron Halle-Wolfssohn “Leichtsinn und Frömmelei” (1795/96) and Isaac Euchel “Reb Henoch oder was thut me dermit” (ca. 1793),4 from the early 19th century or an autobiography of a Berlin merchant.5

Linked to the difficulties of finding textualisations, Western Yiddish vernacular is the language’s vital core. The social state of Western Yiddish provokes the gradual language death of this variety. Along with the assimilation of the Jews in German-speaking countries in the 19th century, Western Yiddish was rejected. But the language death of Western Yiddish took more than a century to take effect. In some places, Western Yiddish stayed alive much longer. Interestingly, by the beginning of the 20th century we find such localities in which Western Yiddish vernacular was still spoken at the edges of the language area: East Frisia,6 Alsace,7 Switzerland and southern Baden8 and—as will be seen—the Burgenland.

2 Th “Siebengemeinden

Burgenland is the youngest and smallest province of Austria. Before 1921 it belonged to the kingdom of Hungary. It borders on Slovenia in the south, in the west on the Austrian provinces Styria (Steiermark) and Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), in the north it is contiguous to Slovakia. Its eastern frontier borders on Hungary. In keeping with its geographical position, Burgenland provides an example of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a multinational state. Apart from South-Central Bavarian German dialects,9 (Burgenland)-Croatian, Hungarian, Romani and Yiddish were spoken.

The discontinuous Jewish history of Burgenland begins in the first century ad with the settlement of Jews in the ancient Roman province of Pannonia. Indications of a larger number of Jewish settlers in the cities of Eisenstadt and Sopron (German Ödenburg) are found from the eleventh century onward.10 But the increase in Jewish communities in Burgenland started after 1496 when Emperor Maximilian I. banished all Jews from the Austrian provinces Styria and Carinthia (Kärnten) and the town Wiener Neustadt.11 They found refuge in western Hungarian cities like Sopron. Yet in 1526 they were expelled from there too. Many of them settled in Forchtenstein in the north and middle of the current territory of Burgenland, which was pledged to the Hungarian Esterházy family in 1622.

On 25 July 1670, Emperor Leopold i expelled approximately 3,000 Jews from the Vienna ghetto Leopoldstadt. The majority found refuge in Burgenland. Under the watch of the Esterházys, the situation of the Jews was relatively safe and they could settle in the eight townships of Eisenstadt, Mattersdorf (today Mattersburg), Kobersdorf, Lackenbach, Frauenkirchen, Kittsee, Deutschkreutz (yid. צלם tselem) and Neufeld (cf. Fig. 1). In 1739, the Jewish community of Neufeld was disbanded. The remaining seven Jewish communities are known as the “Siebengemeinden” (Seven Communities). Up until 1848 the Jews in Burgenland stood as ‘Schutzjuden’ under the special protection of the Esterházys. In Austria, such exceptional living conditions for Jews are known only for the Jewish Community in Hohenems (Vorarlberg) in the western border of Austria.12 Figure 1 above shows the position of the Siebengemeinden in the Austrian state of Burgenland.

figure 1
figure 1The Siebengemeinden

Citation: European Journal of Jewish Studies 11, 2 (2017) ; 10.1163/1872471X-11121090

3 Previous Research and Materials

Most of the Jews living in the Siebengemeinden came from Vienna and Wiener Neustadt and spoke a variety of Western Yiddish. Unfortunately, barely any sources of Yiddish from the South and Central Bavarian regions have survived. This has to do with the policies of Emperor Joseph ii. His ‘Patents of Toleration’ from the 1780s helped, on the one hand, to advance Jewish assimilation; on the other, he strictly prohibited the use of written Yiddish and Hebrew for official matters. This can be found especially in §15 of the Edict of 2 January 1782:

15. The use, orally or in writing, of the Hebrew and so-called Jewish language (Hebrew mixed with German) languages in any public judicial or extrajudicial procedures is forbidden henceforward; instead, the locally current language is to be used. A two-year grace period from the day of issue of this patent is allowed; thereafter all documents written in Hebrew or Yiddish will be invalid and rendered null and void.

15. Der Gebrauch der hebräischen und hebräisch mit deutsch vermengten sogenannten jüdischen Sprache und Schrift wird in allen öffentlichen in- und außergerichtlichen Handlungen aufgehoben, statt deren sich künftighin der landesüblichen Sprache zu bedienen ist. Es wird dazu eine Frist von zwei Jahren vom Tage dieses Patentes bestimmt, wornach alle mit hebräischen und jüdischen Buchstaben geschriebenen Instrumente für ungiltig und nichtig erklärt werden.13

This coincides with the period where Western Yiddish dialects were being written down for the first time. At this very same time, the written language was being prohibited in Austria.14 But this had less of an effect on the situation of the Yiddish vernacular than the Jewish enlightenment and its support of using Standard German and Hebrew for service. Yiddish was the vernacular of most Austrian Jews in the 19th century.

The special multilingual situation in the Hungarian parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the sheer number of Yiddish speakers in the Burgenland, however, made it possible for Yiddish to be preserved in some written sources. Thanks to this circumstance, we have an exceptional language situation in Burgenland compared to their neighbors in Vienna, Wiener Neustadt or Graz.

We can assume exchanges between the eastern parts of Hungary, the south of Slovakia and Burgenland Jewish communities, because of the political and geographical situation. It has yet to be shown how these linguistic contacts influenced Yiddish dialects. Fortunately, there are some useful descriptions of the Yiddish varieties in Hungary and Slovakia that can be compared with data from Burgenland.15

The current state of research on the Jewish communities in Burgenland, with regard to its areal reach and compared to studies on other (much larger) Jewish communities in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, or Czechia, is quite good and began in early times. But there is no explicit work on the Yiddish of Burgenland. There are some written sources from Burgenland Yiddish and a few sound recordings of the last native speakers. The written sources date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century while the recordings were made in the mid-twentieth century.

The Viennese rabbi Max Grunwald conducted some preliminary workon the folklore of Burgenland Jews.16 R. Stalek and J. L. Cohen published mainly the same texts as Grunwald in Yiddish publications.17 Their collection of songs, poems and stories represents a Yiddish that is linguistically heterogeneous. According to Stalek, the songs were popular in Burgenland during the 1880s and 1890s. All three of these collections are focused on sources from Mattersdorf, the largest Jewish Community in the Siebengemeinden.

In addition to the folkloristic collections, there is an anthology of Yiddish jokes called ‘Torres Lokschen. Allerlei Lotzelech’ from an author who called himself the “Mattersdorfer-Marschelik” (‘the jester from Mattersdorf’). These were printed in 1900 by the Verlag der Buchhandlung Zur Pannonia in Budapest. This short text may not present Yiddish from Burgenland in its pure form because it may have been strongly influenced by Budapest Yiddish. However, it shows for itself the link between the rural Burgenland and Budapest located 250 km away.

Even though poetic and especially rhyming language is in general not the best source for a linguistic investigation. Poetic texts can be used as one source among others to describe the Yiddish of Burgenland. Considering of the lack of better sources, we have to take what is left.

Among our written sources, there is one outstanding text that has exceptional qualities. This is a double-sided form containing the translation of 40 sentences from German into Yiddish from about 1926. This is part of a larger survey conducted by Georg Wenker for his Sprachatlas des Deutschen Reiches. Between 1879 and 1888, Wenker and his assistants sent out a template with 40 standard German sentences to every school in the German Reich (and later also to other German-speaking countries Luxembourg, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and South Tyrol). The teachers were asked to translate these sentences into the local dialect using the help of a native speaker (most often a student). Then they had to send their translation back to Georg Wenker. In this way, Wenker collected over 50,000, mostly hand-written surveys with translations of the 40 sentences known as “Wenkerbögen” from every German-speaking region in Europe. It was thereby possible to map the linguistic features that are contained in the 40 sentences. Additionally, for some locations in which no or not enough speakers of German could be found, the teachers translated the sentences into the language of the local majority. There are “Wenkerbögen” which document other languages such as e.g. Danish, French, Croatian, Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Yiddish. So far three Yiddish translations of the 40 sentences have been discovered. A possible reason why there are not more translations into Yiddish might be that Yiddish was a minority language that did not have the distinction of a “language.” The three detected Wenkerbögen that document Yiddish varieties come from the south of the province Posen (Kobyla Góra), Warsaw and Burgenland (Frauenkirchen).18

The benefit of the 40 translated sentences lies in the fact that we are provided with a parallel text that allows us to compare different varieties directly. In the case of the translation from Frauenkirchen, we are fortunate to have two more translations of the 40 sentences into the local South-Central Bavarian dialect in addition to the Yiddish one. This allows us to compare the local Yiddish and German lects directly.

The translators of the Yiddish Wenkerbögen from Burgenland are the headmaster of the israelitische Volksschule Frauenkirchen (‘Israelite elementary school Frauenkirchen’) Moses Krauß and an anonymous informant (presumably a native speaker from Frauenkirchen). As can be read on the front of the survey, Moses Krauß was born 150 km away from Frauenkirchen in Jác (Slovakia) and was 37 years old when he finished the translation. His informant for the local dialect is a 40-year-old woman. Unfortunately, there is no date as to when the sentences were translated. The Wenkerbögen were distributed in Austria between 1926 and 1930,19 the Yiddish translation can be dated from around that time.

In addition to the written sources of Yiddish from Burgenland mentioned above, there are some sound recordings that can be consulted. The survey of the Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry (lcaaj) collected over 6000 hours of sound recordings of Yiddish native speakers between 1959 and 1972. However, they furnish more information about the social situation of the Jewish population in Burgenland of the 1920s and 1930s than on their language. There are three recordings from the Burgenland communities Kobersdorf, Lackenbach, and Mattersdorf as well as one from speakers from Wopfing, a village near Wiener Neustadt,20 and Tét, a village located 100 km from Eisenstadt in the centre of Hungary. The records are available under the German version of the eydes21 project webpage,22 an appendix of the lcaaj project. The researchers of the lcaaj thought that Western Yiddish was no longer a living and spoken language. That is the reason why the investigators of the lcaaj made much shorter interviews with potential Western Yiddish speakers than with speakers of Eastern Yiddish and concentrated only on the Semitic component in the lexicon of the speakers.23 But despite the lack of data on Western Yiddish grammar, the recordings provide evidence for some features of the former vowel system of Burgenland Yiddish.

A more fruitful recording (from a linguistic point of view) is of an interview with an elderly female informant from Lackenbach I found in the archive of Florence Guggenheim-Grünberg,24 who did pioneering research on Swiss and Alsatian Yiddish. But sadly, the informant’s voice is very coarse and inarticulate, which makes the recording nearly useless. Furthermore, a woman in the background (maybe a daughter or even a close relative of the informant) tries to influence the answers of the informant by forcing forms known from Western Yiddish.

All in all, the sound recordings we have from Burgenland are not the best type of language source we have from this region. But the sum of all written and spoken sources of the Yiddish from Burgenland of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century can be used for obtaining an impression of the phonology of this variety of Yiddish and also can be compared with other Yiddish dialects.

As shown, Burgenland is a region from which language data of the Yiddish vernacular has survived, in contrast to many other regions where Yiddish was spoken. The following list summarises the sources that provide the basis for the characteristics of Burgenland Yiddish. The abbreviations given in brackets will be used in the following examples to refer to their respective source.25

  • Mattersdorfer-Marschelik (pseud.), ‘Torres Lokschen. Allerlei Lotzelech’, 1900 [mm]
  • Grunwald, ‘Mattersdorf’, 1925 [gm]
  • Stalek, “מאַטעריאַלן צום בורגענלענדער יידיש”, 1928 [sm
  • Cohen, “פראָבעס פון דער יידישן פאָלקלאָר אין בורגענלאַנד”, 1931 [cm]
  • Wenkerbogen from Frauenkirchen, 1920s [wf]
  • lcaaj recordings from Kobersdorf [lk], Lackenbach [ll], Mattersdorf [lm], Wopfing [lw], and Tét [lt], 1960s
  • Guggenheim-Grünberg sound recording from Lackenbach, from the 1960s [gl]

4 Characteristics of the Yiddish from the Burgenland

The distinguishing feature between Eastern and Western Yiddish is the merger of the vowels V24 (E4, mhg ei) and V44 (O4, mhg ou) to a:. This development had occurred in an early stage of Western Yiddish, but did not take place in Eastern Yiddish where V24 (E4, mhg ei) was preserved as ey and V44 (O4, mhg ou) changed to the diphthong oy.26 The Western Yiddish merger as in (1) can be found in every written source from Burgenland. In the recordings, only glshows this merger. The lcaaj recordings do not provide evidence for this merger or even a monophthongisation of V24 or V44, but the interviewer does not specifically inquire about words with these vowels. Only in lt do we find a: in the position of V44.


  1. gm: hast/haßt “means” (p. 447, 470), gekaft “bought” (p. 447, 469), glab “believe” (p. 465), Bam “tree” (p. 465)
  2. wf Ea “eggs” (p. 1), Klader “clothings” (p. 1), elan “alone” (p. 1), zwa “two” (p. 1), glab “believe” (p. 1), vakafn “sell” (p. 1), dar’chgelaffn “got footsore” (p. 1)
  3. sm: kâner “no one” (p. 273), štân “stone” (p. 277), laft “run” (p. 270, 267, 275, 277), g’kâft “bought” (p. 277), âch “also” (p. 275)
  4. mm hast “means” (p. 13), ka “no” (p. 15, 19), zwa “two” (p. 20), wanst “you cry” (p. 27), kafen “buy” (p. 3, 19, 23), glab “believe” (p. 12, 20), ach “also” (p. 19), lafst “you run” (p. 34)
  5. cm פלאַאַש “meat” (p. 203), “two” (p. 203 דראַ “three” (p. 203), ראַז “journey” (p. 205), אַאַג-הינאָר “corn (clavus)” (p. 203)
  6. gl: ban “leg,” shta “stone”
  7. lt: rachen “smoking” (24min.), bame “trees” (min. 53), gekaft “bought” (min. 54)

This merger is attested for Hungarian Yiddish and is documented for the Yiddish in Bohemia, Moravia and the west of Slovakia.27 Regarding this phonological feature, Yiddish from Burgenland fits into what we know about the diatopic spread of this phenomenon.

A special form found in Burgenland coincides with the monophthongisation of V24 to a: in the position of V34 (I4, mhg î), which is not very common in Yiddish dialects. V34 (I4, mhg î) as a: can be found in Southeastern Yiddish and the eastern parts of Slovakian Yiddish but without the Western Yiddish merger of V24 and V44.28 In fact, the merger between V24, V44 and V34 to a is known for particular lexemes in Western Yiddish from Frisia, for the Yiddish of the southern transition zone between Eastern and Western Yiddish, such as southern Poland, and can be found in particular words in three of the written sources from Burgenland (2a–c).29 But other sources, e.g. the Wenkerbögen from Frauenkirchen (2d), show the monophthong only in the position of V24 and V44 and have a diphthong in the position of V34 (I4, mhg î). This can be a form influenced by the coterritorial South-Central Bavarian dialects, where MHG î was diphthongised to ai, as we can see in the Bavarian Wenkerbögen from Frauenkirchen (2e).30


  1. sm mâne “my” (pp. 275, 277), drâ “in it” (p. 275)
  2. gm: Wab “woman” (p. 446)
  3. cm: וואַב “woman” (p. 206), מאַן “my” (p. 206)
  4. wf: Habts ka Stickl waiße Saf fa mir af maj Tisch gefüne? “Haven’t you found a piece white soap for me on the table?” (sentence no. 32) [underlining by l.s.]
  5. Bavarian Wenkerbogen (no. 300447): Habts ka stickl waiße Saf far mir af maj Tisch gefüne? “Haven’t you found a piece white soap for me on the table?” (sentence no. 32) [underlining l.s.]

A feature Burgenland Yiddish shares with Central and Southeastern Yiddish is the diphthong oy at the position of V42 (O2, mhg ô) as found in most of the sources (cf. examples 3a–f). Interestingly, the Wenkerbogen from Frauenkirchen (wf) shows the diphthong ay systematically at the position of V42, as in example (3g) below. In one lexeme, we also find this form in gm (3b). According to the lcaaj, this form is only known for Northeastern Yiddish and has not been attested for any other Western or Eastern Yiddish dialect before.31 An influence from the surrounding German dialects, in which mhg ô is widely preserved as o:, is impossible.32 But V42 as ay is also attested for most of the Yiddish dialects in Hungary.33 Therefore, Burgenland Yiddish forms might be influenced by contact with Hungarian Yiddish.


  1. sm: Šłojf/schleuf “sleep” (p. 268, 267), rôjti “red” (p. 268), brôjti “bread” (p. 268)
  2. gm: Loib “praise” (p. 445), groissen “big” (p. 446, 447, 465), woil “well” (p. 446), schleuf “sleep” (p. 466), but also schlajf “sleep” (p. 467)
  3. gl: schloyfst “you sleep,” Broyt “bread,” Moyre “fear”
  4. lk: geloybt “praised” (min. 35), moyre “fear” (min. 35)
  5. ll: boydem “ground” (min. 38)
  6. lt: groysn “big” (70min. 70)
  7. wf: Kajln “coals” (p. 1), grajß “big” (p. 1), schaj “already” (p. 1), geschlajfn “slept” (p. 1), tajt “dead” (p. 1), Brajt “bread” (p. 1)

The Western Yiddish diphthongs au or ou are not used in the sources from Burgenland. This stands in contrast with the Slovakian Yiddish, in which V42 has become ou and sometimes .34 With Burgenland the Eastern Yiddish form oy extends into the southwest.

Another peculiarity that Yiddish from Burgenland shares with Hungarian Yiddish is the palatalisation of u (< mhg û and uo = V51/U1), V52/U2, V53/U3). While in the Alsace only the long vowel u: was palatalised—simultaneously with the co-territorial Alemanic dialect35—in Burgenland short and long u became y (as in the examples under 4). The lcaaj documents this for Budapest and Burgenland Yiddish, but we can find it as well in the south of Poland.36 The evidence provided here is indicative of a transition form from the historical Western and Central Yiddish u to the southern Yiddish shift from u > i. The vowel y found in Burgenland and Hungarian Yiddish is a remnant of the fronting from the shift u > y > i that occurred in the south of the Yiddish language area.


  1. gm: “to” (p. 438), üm “for” (p. 438), kümmen “come” (p. 438), Schül “synagogue” (p. 438), vün “from” (p. 455), Wünder “miracle” (p. 446), “you” (p. 446), Hünger “hunger” (p. 446), güt “good” (p. 446)
  2. sm: müter “mother” (p. 270), gnüg “enough” (p. 270), “where” (p. 270), ünter “under” (p. 270), kümmt “comes” (p. 270), füm “from” (p. 270), “to” (p. 270), ün “and” (p. 270), Nün “now” (p. 270), Rüf “call” (p. 270), tüt “does” (p. 268), gerüfen “shouted” (p. 271)
  3. wf: Lüft “air” (p. 1),erüm “around” (p. 1), “to” (p. 1), güte “good” (p. 1), ün “and” (1), dü “you” (p. 1), genük “enough” (p. 1)
  4. mm: vün “from” (p. 3), Worüm “why” (p. 27), “to” (p. 28), güt “good” (p. 29), ünterhalten “converse” (p. 29), “you” (p. 30), gekümmen “come” (p. 39), ünd “und” (p. 38)
  5. lt: Mütter “mother” (min. 34), güt “good” ( min. 15)
  6. lm: Schül “synagogue” (min. 35)
  7. lk: Aufgerüfen “called” (min. 24), Schül “synagogue” (min. 32, min. 37), Sünnteg “Sunday” (min. 35)
  8. gl: Schül “synagogue”

An idiosyncrasy of the Yiddish from Burgenland is the phonological form of the diminutive plural as -loch (like in example 5a–d). The suffix with the vowel o is not known for any other Yiddish variety. But the system appears to be strangely heterogeneous. Some sources, like gm and sm, show three different vowels with the diminutive plural suffix: -loch, -lech and -lach . Neither a phonological nor lexical condition that causes the forms is visible. This suffix may display uncertainties with writing the vowel. It is possible that this vowel was centralised like /ɐ/ or /ə/. But the variation can indicate an unstable system, possibly caused by language contact or language shift. Despite all this variation, Yiddish from Burgenland did not use the Western Yiddish form –lich.37 This shows once more a link with Eastern Yiddish forms.


  1. cm: מאַאַדלאָך “girls” (p. 203), קינדערלאָך “children” (p. 204); but Schäfelech “sheep” (p. 218), Welfelech “wolves” (p. 218)
  2. sm: šweibeloch “matches” (p. 270), mâdeloch “girls” (p. 270); but šeifilech “sheep” (p. 268), Kinderlech “children” (p. 267); and Schefelach/Schäfelach “sheep” (p. 267)
  3. gm: Kinderloch “children” (p. 446); but Kinderlech “children” (p. 466), Jidelech “Jews” (p. 446), Schefelech “sheep” (p. 466); and Schefelach/Schäfelach “sheep” (pp. 466, 467)
  4. wf: Ohrwaschtloch “ears” (p. 1), Eppeloch “apples” (p. 1), Schefeloch “sheep” (p. 1); but Vegelech “birds” (p. 1)
  5. mm: Kinderlach “children” (pp. 39, 49)
  6. lm: Scheigetzlach/Skozemlach “non-Jewish children” (min. 16)

Yiddish from Burgenland as it is presented in the examined sources was still a spoken language in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. From the lcaaj recordings, we can learn about the multilingualism in Burgenland. In ll (min. 23) the informants switch from Yiddish to Hungarian and in lm (min. 19) we find the statement that German and Hungarian were spoken beside Yiddish and that there were even a few Christians who spoke Yiddish as well. In this multilingual situation, Yiddish could be preserved for a relatively long time. Compared with other Western Yiddish sources from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, like Alsatian Yiddish,38 the local German dialect only had a little influence on the Yiddish from Burgenland. We can see that in the 40 sentences of the Wenkerbögen from Frauenkirchen, as they were translated into the Bavarian dialect as well.39 Hungarian Yiddish has impacted on the Yiddish from Burgenland much more deeply than the surrounding languages (German, Hungarian, Croatian).

3 Conclusion

The previous examples of a few idiosyncratic phonological features show that the Yiddish in Burgenland shares characteristics known from both Western and Eastern Yiddish as well as features of the Yiddish from central and eastern Hungary. It cannot be characterised as a pure Western or Eastern Yiddish dialect. Together with Hungarian Yiddish, it forms a southern transition zone between Southwestern and Southeastern Yiddish. Yiddish from Burgenland shows that there is no straight frontier between Eastern and Western Yiddish, but rather a transition zone.

Lea Schäfer, Ph.D. (2015) Philipps-Universität Marburg; Research assistant at the project “Western Yiddish in the (long) 19th century” (2011–2016); Publications on language structure of Western Yiddish, the use of Yiddish in German fiction, dialect imitation and language contact. Parts of her dissertation have been published as Sprachliche Imitation—Jiddisch in der deutschsprachigen Literatur (18–20. Jahrhundert (Berlin: Language Science Press, 2017).


Dovid Katz, “Zur Dialektologie des Jiddischen,” in Dialektologie: Ein Handbuch zur deutschen und allgemeinen Dialektforschung 1.2., eds. Werner Besch et al. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1983), 1018–1041.


Dov-Ber Kerler, The Origins of Modern Literary Yiddish (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), 21.


Steven Lowenstein, “The Yiddish Written Word in Nineteenth-Century Germany,” LBI Year Book 24 (1979): 179–192.


Marion Aptroot and Roland Gruschka (eds.), Isaak Euchel, Reb Henoch, oder: Woß tut me damit. Eine jüdische Komödie der Aufklärungszeit (Hamburg: Buske, 2004).


Cf. Lea Schäfer, “Jiddische Varietäten im Berlin des 19. Jahrhunderts: Analyse der ‘Lebenserinnerungen’ Aron Hirsch Heymanns,” Aschkenas 21 (2013): 155–177.


Cf. Gertrud Reershemius, Die Sprache der Auricher Juden: Zur Rekonstruktion westjiddischer Sprachreste in Ostfriesland (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2007); Gertrud Reershemius, “Language as the Main Protagonist? East Frisian Yiddish in the writing of Isaac Herzberg,” LBI Year Book 59 (2014): 123–140.


Cf. Richard Zuckermann, “Alsace: An Outpost of Western Yiddish,” in The Field of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Folklore and Literature, ed. Uriel Weinreich (The Hague: Mouton,1969), vol. 3, 36–57.


Cf. Florence Guggenheim-Grünberg, Surbtaler Jiddisch: Endingen und Lengau. Anhang: Joddosche Sprachproben aus Elsaß und Baden, Schweizer Dialekte in Text und Ton, 1: Deutsche Schweiz 4 (Frauenfeld: Sauerländer, 1966); Florence Guggenheim-Grünberg, Jiddisch auf alemannischem Sprachgebie: 56 Karten zur Sprach- und Sachgeographie (Zurich: Juris Druck & Verlag, 1973); Jürg Fleischer, Surbtaler und Hegauer Jiddisch: Tonaufnahmen und Texte zum Westjiddischen in der Schweiz und Südwestdeutschland (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2005).


The German dialects of the Burgenland are themselves located in a transition zone between Central and Southern Bavarian (cf. Peter Wiesinger, “Die Einteilung der deutschen Dialekte,” in Dialektologie: Ein Handbuch zur deutschen und allgemeinen Dialektforschung 1.2 [Berlin: De Gruyter, 1983], 807–900).


Gertraud Tometich, Als im Burgenland noch das Schofarhorn ertönte: Die Geschichte der jüdischen Gemeinde von Mattersburg und Umgebung (Mattersburg: Edition Marlit, 2013), 9.


This is coincidentally the same year King Manuel i expelled all Jews from Portugal.


Tometich, Als im Burgenland noch das Schofarhorn ertönte, 12.


Source: William Hagen (ed.), “Toleranz-Patent Joseph II. Für die niederösterreichischen Juden (2. Januar 1782),” in Deutsche Geschichte in Dokumeten und Bildern, vol. 2, Vom Absolutismus bis zu Napoleon 1648–1815, ed. idem, http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/docpage.cfm?docpage_id=4248&language=german (accessed 11 March 2015).


On the rise of Western Yiddish dialect literature, see Lowenstein, “The Yiddish Written Word in Nineteenth-Century Germany.”


Works on Hungarian Yiddish are: Paul L. Garvin, “The Dialect Geography of Hungarian Yiddish,” in The Field of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Folklore, and Literature, ed. Uriel Weinreich (The Hague: Mouton, 1965), vol. 2, 92–115; Claus Jürgen Hutterer, “The Phonology of Budapest Yiddish,” in The Field of Yiddish, ed. Uriel Weinreich (The Hague: Mouton, 1965), vol. 2, 116–146; Claus Jürgen Hutterer, “Jiddisch in Ungarn,” in Westjiddisch: Mündlichkeit und Schriftlichkeit, ed. Astrid Starck (Aarau et al.: Sauerländer, 1994): 43–60; The only work on Yiddish in Slovakia is: Franz J. Beranek, “טשעכאָסלאָוואַקיי אין יידיש,”ייוואָ בלעטער [yivo-Bleter] 9 (1936): 63–75.


Max Grunwald, “Mattersdorf,” Mitteilungen zur jüdischen Volkskunde 18 (1925): 402–563.


R. Stalek, “: פֿאָלקלאָר און דיאַלעקט מאַטעריאַלן צום בורגענלענדער יידיש,” פילאָלאָגישע שריפטן 2 (1928): 265–280; Yude Levb Cohen, “פראָבעס פון דעם יידישן פאָלקלאָר אין בורגענלאַנד”, ייוואָ בלעטער [yivo-Bleter], 3 (1931): 200–233.


For more information on the Yiddish materials from the Wenker survey and a transliteration of the Wenkerbögen from Kobyla Góra, see Jürg Fleischer and Lea Schäfer, “Jiddisch in den Marburger Wenker-Materialien,” Jiddistik-Mitteilungen (2015): 1–34.


Cf. Oliver Schallert, “Syntaktische Auswertung von Wenkersätzen: Eine Fallstudie anhand von Verbstellungsphänomenen in den bairischen (und alemannischen) Dialekten Österreichs,“ Strömungen in der Entwicklung der Dialekte und ihrer Erforschung: Beiträge zur 11. Bayrisch-Österreichischen Dialektologentagung in Passau September 2010, Regensburger Dialektforum 19, ed. Rüdiger Harnisch (Regensburg: Edition Vulpes, 2013), 208–233 and 513–515.


The father of the informant from Wopfing was from Mattersburg, the mother from Wopfing.


The abbreviation eydes stands for Evidence of Yiddish Documented in European Societies.


The index page for all digital records available can be found at http://www.eydes.de/Usr611246EDZN/index/li/li.html (accessed 5 February 2015).


Steven Lowenstein, “Results of Atlas Investigations among Jews of Germany,” in The Field of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Folklore, and Literature, ed. Uriel Weinreich (The Hague: Mouton, 1969), vol. 3, 16–35.


For their kind help and cooperation, I wish to thank Ralph Weingarten (Florence Guggenheim Grünberg Archive Zurich), and for digitalising some of the recordings, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Dieter Studer-Joho from the Phonogrammarchiv Zurich.


The records will be cited according to the yivo transcription system.


Cf. Erika Timm, Graphische und phonische Struktur des Westjiddischen: Unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Zeit um 1600 (Tübingen: De Gruyter, 1987), 186–193.


See Hutterer, “The Phonology of Budapest Yiddish,” 141; Garvin, “The Dialect Geography of Hungarian Yiddish;” Beranek, “טשעכאָסלאָוואַקיי אין יידיש ,” 71–72.


Marvin Herzog et al., Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry (Tübingen: De Gruyter, 1992), vol. 1, map no. 28; Beranek, “טשעכאָסלאָוואַקיי אין יידיש ,” 71.


Reershemius, Die Sprache der Auricher Juden: Zur Rekonstruktion westjiddischer Sprachreste in Ostfriesland: cf. “sane” [his], 125, 127, 131, “mane” [my], 127, “daane” [your], 128, “Fratig” [Friday], 152; Fleischer and Schäfer, “Jiddisch in den Marburger Wenker-Materialien.”


Cf. Paul Rauchbauer, Deutsche Mundarten im nördlichen Burgenlande (diss., Vienna, 1932), 53–56.


Cf. Herzog et al., Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry, map no. 30.


Cf. Rauchbauer, Deutsche Mundarten im nördlichen Burgenlande, 64–65.


Garvin, “The Dialect Geography of Hungarian Yiddish;” Hutterer, “The phonology of Budapest Yiddish,” 141.


Beranek, “טשעכאָסלאָוואַקיי אין יידיש,” 69; Hutterer, “The Phonology of Budapest Yiddish,” 141.


Timm, Graphische und phonologische Struktur des Westjiddischen, 171–172.


Cf. Herzog et al., Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry, map no. 34; Hutterer, “The Phonology of Budapest Yiddish,” 141; Garvin, “The Dialect Geography of Hungarian Yiddish;” Fleischer and Schäfer, “Jiddisch in den Marburger Wenker-Materialien.”


Cf. Guggenheim-Grünberg, Jiddisch auf alemannischem Sprachgebiet, 94–95.


Cf. Lea Schäfer, “Morphosyntaktische Interferenzen im jiddisch-alemannischen Sprachkontakt: Eine Untersuchung anhand westjiddischer Dialektliteratur des Elsass,” Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik 155 (2014): 247–260.


The Wenkerbögen from Frauenkirchen mostly show lexical borrowing from Bavarian, like Ohrwaschtloch [ears] (wf p. 1) vs. Oawaschl [ears] (South-Central Bavarian Wenkerbögen no. 42662 and 42661 from Frauenkirchen, 1).


Digital scans are available at http://www.regionalsprache.de/Wenkerbogen/Katalog.aspx (accessed 5 February 2015).


Transliteration of theWenkerbögen from Frauenkirchen (No. 42663, duplicate copy No. 300447)40

[front 2]

Schulort: Isr. Volksschule Frauenkirchen

Name des Lehrers: Moses Krauß—Schulleiter

Geburtsort des Lehrers: Jác [Slovakia]

  1. Durch den Lehrer und durch eine Mittelsperson
  2. 37 Jahre, Mann; 40 Jahre, Frau
  3. ungarisch, unter 15%Es bezieht sich alles nur auf die jüdische Bevölkerung insofern nicht hochdeutsch gesprochen wird! (Schriftsprache)
    1. Frauenkarchen
    2. in Fraun
  4. haß jüngna krümmblau Sünntïggrau Muntïgschlugn DienstigHand MittwochHelm Danstig [corrected to] = DanschtigFlachs FreitigEr wachst SchabesBesn elveZwetschkn fünfzeneBrief sechzeneHajf fünfzig

[page 2]

  1. Im Winter fliegn de darre Blätter in de Lüft erüm.
  2. Es hert gleich auf zü schneib’n, dann wat ds Wettr wiederüm bessa
  3. Ti Kajln in Ajwen, daß die Milsch ohebt zü Kochen
  4. Der güte alte Mu is mit’n Roß darchn Eis gefalle ün in Kalten Wasser gefalle
  5. Er is vor vier oder sechs Wachn gestarben
  6. Des Feier wur zü stark, de Kü’chn sen ja unten ganz schwarz gebrennt
  7. Er eßt de Ea alleweil ohne Salz ün Pfeffer.
  8. De Fiß sin mir esaj weh, ich glab, ich hab se dar’chgelaffn
  9. Ich bin bei’ne Weib gewesen, ün hab ihr gesugt, ün sie sugt, sie hats gewellt ihrer Tochter sug’n
  10. Dus wor ech doch nimer tu!
  11. Ijch schlup dech glajech midn Kochleffel, über de Ohrwaschtloch, dü Aff!
  12. Wie gehste hin, soll ma mitgeh?
  13. Es sen schlachte Zeiten
  14. Mei lieb Kind, bleib ünten steh, die besn Gens bajßn d’ch tajt.
  15. Dü hast hajt am meisten gelernt, bist (–) gewesen tuerst hajt friera a ham gehn, als de andern
  16. Dü bist nach nit grajß genük um a Flaschl Wein zü trinken, dü müßt noch epes wahsen ün greßer wan.
  17. Geh, saj saj güt un sug dei Schwester, sie soll de Klader far euker Mütter fartig nehne ün mitde Barscht rein mache
  18. Hest’n nar dü gekennt, dann wers anderscht gekümme, ün es tet besser üm ehm stehn.
  19. Wer hat mir mei Korb mit Flaasch gestajln.
  20. Er tüt esoj, als hettn se ehm züm Dreschn bestellt, se hom es aber elan gemacht
  21. Wem hat er de naje Geschicht erzehlt?
  22. Me müß laut schreie, sünst versteht er üns niks
  23. Mr seu mid ün ham e Darscht.
  24. Als mr gestern uvend sen zürückgeküme, daj sen de andern schajn im Bett gelegn ün ham schaj fest geschlajfn.
  25. Dr Schnee is de Nacht bei üns liegn geblibn, aber hajt früh is er zerschmolzn.
  26. Hinter ünser Haus stehn draj schene Eppelbam, mit rajte Eppelsch.
  27. Kennt ez nicks e Menüt warten af üns, daj geh mer mit enk.
  28. Ez darfts nicks salche Kindereien trajbn
  29. Unsere Barg sen nicks hajech, enkere sen viel hecher.
  30. Wieviel Pfund Warscht ün wieviel Brajt welt ez huben.
  31. Iech versteh’ euk nicks, ez müßt e bisl hecher reden.
  32. Habts ka Stickl waiße Saf fa mir af maj Tisch gefüne?
  33. Sein Brüder will sach zwa schene Hajser in enker Garten baue.
  34. Der Wort is ehm vüm Harz geküme.
  35. Dus wur Racht fün ihne.
  36. Wus sitzen daj far Vegelech auf enker Majerl.
  37. De Pauern ham gehat fünf Achsen ün najn Kih ün zwelf Schefeloch van Dorf gebrengt, de ham se gewellt vakafen.
  38. De Lajt sen hajt alle draußen am Feld ün mehne
  39. Geh nar, der Hünd tüt d’r nicks
  40. Iech bin mit de Leit daj hinten in Korn erein geführen über de Wiese

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