Tag Archives: Leonard Mathless

Judeo-German vs. Yiddish

Being a subscriber for somewhat over a year, I have not seen a dis-
cussion on Mendele of this subject [cf. 5.178] except for a mention in a
posting of last week. My interest in having this issued aired stems from
both scholarly and professional concerns. Apropos of the latter, the
Library of Congress does not recognize Judeo-German as an independent
entity but refers from it to Yiddish. Does this mean that Moses
Mendlessohn’s famous “Be’ur” is written in Yiddish and not German that
has been transliterated into Hebrew letters? I would like to know if
there are clear lines of demarcation between the two and what are the the
linguistic issues involved. Would a full-scale discussion of these
issues on Mendele be appreciated by other subscribers?

Leonard Mathless


My only reaction to the otherwise helpful article on romanization is that
the issue of romanizing Hebrew words in a Yiddish context has not been
addressed fully enough. Those of us in the library world are aware of the
dictum of LC which I shall quote from Paul Maher’s “Hebraica Cataloging”
(p. 22): “Questions do arise however, regard- ing the vocalization of
Hebrew words in a Yiddish context. For this Weinreich’s ‘Modern
English-Yiddish, Yiddish-English Dictionary’ is followed. This applies
for the most part to vowels, not to conso- nants.” What about the large
number of Hebrew words that does not appear in Weinreich and that can
appear in a Yiddish context? I think the de facto LC practice is to
romanize according to the Hebrew vocalization, and, thus you would get
the anomalous situation of two or more Hebrew words used in a Yiddish
context, one being romanized according to the LC-Weinreich rule and the
others being romanized according to Hebrew. This is strange and looks
bad in context. A tenable resolution of this issue is certainly called

Leonard Mathless