Yiddish Beginner II

Course Status: 
CEU code: 
SLTG 5010
CEU credits: 
ECTS credits: 
Academic year: 
Start and end dates: 
9 Jan 2017 - 31 Mar 2017
Szonja Ráhel Komoróczy

SLTG 5010 - Yiddish Beginner II 

Introduction to the language and culture of Ashkenazi Jews


Language course, 2 credits

2016/17 Winter Term


Instructor: Szonja Ráhel Komoróczy

e-mail: komoroczys@ceu.edu


Office Hours: by appointment




Yiddish is 1000 years old, with a very rich linguistic, cultural, literary heritage, its first written literary source dating from 1272. Yiddish was the language spoken by most Ashkenazi Jews until the Holocaust, and it has over half a million speakers today. Yiddish can be important in the fields of history, anthropology, sociology, cultural heritage studies, women’s studies, and many more fields.


As Jewish languages in general, Yiddish is written with the Hebrew alphabet. But having developed in the homeland of Ashkenazi Jews, from a dialect of Middle High German, it contains approximately 70% Germanic elements in vocabulary and grammar – and it is therefore fairly easy to learn for speakers of other Germanic languages. The two-term course is designed to introduce students with no, or very little previous knowledge to Yiddish language and written heritage.


Goals and learning outcomes

The objectives of the course are twofold. In course of the two terms, students should master basic Yiddish: reading, writing and conversation. And they should get an overview of Yiddish written sources, ranging from historical sources through folksongs to literature. By the end of the second term, students will be able to engage in simple conversations, will be more confident to read aloud, and will have had experience with reading literary texts of various periods and genres.



Classes will be based on active student participation, and will focus on reading and speaking skills. There will be homework assigned regularly – these assignments are essential for progress and will be discussed in class. Students should be aware that in order to successfully participate in the course, they will have to dedicate extra time outside the classroom (at least double the time we spend in the classroom).


As a complementary to the course, there will be a weekly Yiddish reading circle, where we will read memoirs, poems and literature.



Regular attendance (at least 10 sessions out of 12) is mandatory for everyone, including those who are registered only for Audit. (According to the SLTG Guidelines, students signed up for Audit who fail to meet this requirement will be given a W, or withdraw, grade.)



Student performance will be assessed by regular tests (20%), a written exam mid-term (week 6) (15%) and end of the term (week 12) (15%), homework and class work (50%).



Classes will be based on Uriel Weinreich, College Yiddish. An Introduction to the Yiddish Language and to Jewish Life and Culture (New York: YIVO, several editions) and Sheva Zucker’s Yiddish: An Introduction to the Language, Literature and Culture (NY: Workmen’s Circle, 1994).



Week 1

• Introduction

• Revision of gender, cases, nouns, adjectives

• Reading: Hershele Ostropoler


Week 2

• Revision of word order

• Consecutive word order

• Reading: Tsvey brider

• Hasidic Yiddish, song: Bes hamikdesh


Week 3

• Revision of conjugation, imperative

• Dimunitive forms

• Reyzele


Week 4

• Revision of basic past tense

• Past participle forms (with ge-, without ge-)

• Reading: Sholem Aleichem: London, farvos brenstu nisht?


Week 5

• Revision of personal pronouns

• The cases of personal pronouns

• Reading: Sholem Aleichem: London, farvos brenstu nisht?

• Revision


Week 6

• Mid-term test

• Reading: Sholem Aleichem: London, farvos brenstu nisht?

• Use of “es” as impersonal subject


Week 7

• Reflective pronoun

• Possessives

• Reading: Sholem Aleichem: London, farvos brenstu nisht?


Week 8

• Numbers

• Reading: Jokes


Week 9

• Telling time

• Reading: A gvirishe prezhenitse


Week 10

• Declension of names, of nouns

• Reading / conversation: In a yidishn restoran


Week 11

• Revision

• Reading: A mayse mit a henglaykhter


Week 12

• Written Exam