- Paperback: 285 pages
- Publisher: The Workmen's Circle / Arbeter Ring; 1St Edition edition (January 1, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1877909661
- ISBN-13: 978-1877909665
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Yiddish: An Introduction to the Language, Literature and Culture, Vol. 1 1St Edition Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The vocabulary introduced in the very first lesson is relevant and usable, which is unfortunately high praise for a language text. I don't know why, but language text writers think you need to know how to say things like "Is it customary to tip the wine steward?" or "May I accompany you on the harpsichord?" and it is not until the very last chapter that you learn the verb "to be."
Similar praise for her vocabulary lessons; in addition to covering useful topics, they are lively, and just right: not too much, not too little, and they never become drudgery.
I'll admit that I was a step ahead on the vocabulary, because my Hebrew is good, so I knew the loan words; howsoever, by the third chapter, I was eavesdropping on the older members of my congregation, and by the time I'd finished the book, I was helping them with their subjunctive verbs. All right, I'm kidding about the last one, but before I'd finished the book, I was already making conversation.
You'll probably find, as I did, that people are ready to talk with you, and put up with imperfect Yiddish as you improve, because they love to see more people learning the language. This makes the concept of a self-teaching text viable, so don't let the idea scare you. If you are regularly involved in a community with some Yiddish speakers, then this self-teaching text will speed by.
Heck, I even wrote Sheva Zucker a thank you note.
I have studied other languages with beginners' textbooks (as well as intermediate and advanced)- Russian, Polish, German, French - and I find that this book is excellent!
The other reviewers' descriptions of the book's flaws are accurate. I teach a small (9 students) Yiddish class in an orthodox synagogue using this text, and we're having a great time. I do point out the many differences between this book's secular tone and the Brooklyn Yiddish-speaking community's customs, as well as alternative accents and spellings. (YIVO has taken over Yiddish spelling, and this book is according to their standard. The fact is that most people whose native language is Yiddish do NOT spell according to the YIVO standard. But the differences are easy enough to get around. Zucker, however doesn't even mention the idea of variant spellings until somewhere in the second volume.)
One thing that I LOVE about this book is that transliteration is not permitted to be a crutch. Yiddish should not be written only in transliteration. Yiddish needs its "alef-bays" to be authentic.
Some of the poems and songs, etc., while being authentic, moving, and charming, do indeed go against the grain of the orthodox (who comprise the majority of people who actually speak Yiddish in their daily lives), but this book was not written for the orthodox alone. I do not feel that Zucker is in any way disrespectful to orthodox tradtion. She very capably presents Yiddish as a language and a culture that, while inextricably connected to Judaism, is not used exclusively for religious purposes.
Personally, I think that my fellow religious Jews should get a life and realize that diversity is a good thing...Read more ›
* Not knowing the Hebrew alphabet to start, this was pretty daunting. It does have pages devoted to learning the letters but they're spread out all over the book.
* Not really beginner-focused. The introduction says, "Many of you may already speak and just want to know how to write..." As a person not in that group, this sucker did not leave ANY time for ramping up on all the missing background information. Oy!
In summary, I ended up going with some other course. This was just too much too fast and I had to go get a solid grounding elsewhere.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The reader should be aware that this book is almost useless as a self-study text as it does not provide answers to its many exercises. You must have a teacher to use this book.Published 16 months ago by Eclectico
This book works for me. I read and speak Hebrew and I took German in college, both of which make Yiddish easier to pick up. Now I just need to make the time to go through the book. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Mark M
The book itself was fine but the person who owned it before me wrote in the book,Published 20 months ago by dvashs
This book was not very helpful to me because I do not know Hebrew alphabet. Yiddish words in the book are written using Hebrew alphabet. So I could not read anything in Yiddish. Read morePublished on April 9, 2014 by Rose Thorn
This book would benefit greatly by using a technical editor and copy editor. The inconsistencies in the structure of the book makes it unnecessarily difficult for a novice to learn... Read morePublished on February 22, 2014 by H-Squared