lundi 30 mars 2009

Thinking about Mamma Loshen.. Yiddisch


one of the few advantages of driving through large swathes of plain countryside in the USA, in a rented car, is the ability to listen to BBC World Services on their Satellite Radio in the Car. During this past visit, I was able to listen to many documentaries and of course the one on Yiddish touched me particularly.

Then I realized something, just to put it down in words. We, as children, used to refer other jews as MOT, member of our tribe. Now that I am peripherally involved in the resurgence of TRIBAL languages of north American Indians and Kristang of Malacca, Yiddish also fits into the true meaning of a TRIBAL language. For example,

French is spoken by natives of so many countries and as such it brings no symbolic meaning from the person speaking it, whether he is from cameroun or Cambodge… whereas if you meet an UmonHon language speaker, you know for sure that he belongs to the UmonHon tribe, very rarely have others managed to learn the language. Similarly, if one speaks Yiddisch, there is 99.5 % chance that the speaker is Jewish, particularly an Ashkenazi. I have heard of non jews speaking the Language fluently, including some old arabs wo had to learn the language when the Yiddisch speaking settlers came to Israel just after the WWII.

The golden era of Yiddisch from Eastern Europe to New York, ushered in a golden era in literature (which has all but died out, some yiddisch writers remain), music (flourishes as Klezmer music), art, theatre and produced one Nobel Prize in Literature winner. ( Isaac Bashevis Singer). After the WWII there was a tendancy to associate Yiddisch with a defeated people and Hebrew with a successful group of Jews; and in recent memory Yiddish is very strongly associated with SHOAH, the jewish holocaust.. Hopefully there would be a resurgence of the language, since it is an emotional language, in which all feelings concerning birth, marriage, childbirth, life and death can be expressed beautifully. Leave it to the Jews, to mix a rather unpleasant to hear language such as German (OK, I am prejudiced, olav ha shalom!) and mix it with Hebrew and produce such an emotional expressive idion, from teutonic to titanic, you could say.. They say there were six jewish French dialects all gone, the jewish arab and jewish Iranian dialects are almost gone, Ladino is weak.. so all the more important that Yiddisch remains alive.. not for just historical purposes of remembering, but as a tool to express UNIQUELY the jewish experience.. from Buenos Aires to BeerSheva…