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Yiddish: An Introduction to the Language, Literature and Culture, Vol. 1 1St Edition Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1877909665
ISBN-10: 1877909661
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Yiddish: An Introduction to the Language, Literature and Culture, Vol. 1
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  • Modern English-Yiddish / Yiddish-English Dictionary (English and Yiddish Edition)
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  • Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning Yiddish
Total price: $70.60
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Product Details

  • 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)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an excellent text. I'm quite grateful to Sheva Zucker for writing a new text on Yiddish, since the others that are still in print are dated, and don't seem to have been especially relevant to begin with.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Four and two-thirds stars.

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...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very helpful introduction to the Yiddish language. It has lots of exercises and written assignments to help you use the language. My only critique is its lengthy vocabulary lists. There may be over twenty words per list, and it becomes cumbersome to process. A reader needs to develop a practical way to learn the words. (Personally, I write them in sentences or in short stories. It is a fun way to learn vocabulary!) I'd also recommend two other books, THE COMPLETE IDIOTS GUIDE TO LEARNING YIDDISH and 201 YIDDISH VERBS. (This latter book is a must!)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book, rather obviously, to learn Yiddish from the ground up. Here are my observations to date:

* 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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was looking for a Yiddish book to get me started building my vocabulary. I find this book difficult to follow. However, maybe in a class with an instructor it might be better. Not going to give up though.
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Format: Paperback
This book, which I have completely read is obviously the product of some very hard work. It has a great deal of variety in its content compared to other language self-study books. The author's special talents include incorporating humor and engaging the reader actively. However, the book, despite being one of the best language textbooks that I have read, (I have previously studied Russian), does not fully consider the sensibilities of her religious readers. A large majority of the Yiddish speaking population today is either religious or chasidic. Many of these people will find things in this book that come close to offending their sensibilities and must take this into account before purchasing. I do reiterate that this is a very well designed and thorough introduction to Yiddish.
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