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Introduction to Old Yiddish Literature$
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Jean Baumgarten and Jerold C. Frakes

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199276332

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199276332.001.0001

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Bilingualism and the Development of Old Yiddish Literature

Bilingualism and the Development of Old Yiddish Literature

(p.72) 4 Bilingualism and the Development of Old Yiddish Literature
Introduction to Old Yiddish Literature

Jean Baumgarten

, Jerold C. Frakes
Oxford University Press

From the time Jews settled in the Rhine Valley, beginning in the ninth and tenth centuries, Jewish culture was marked by both internal and external bilingualism. Living in the midst of a dominant Christian population, they gradually adopted the coterritorial languages. It was evident that Old Yiddish literature was formed on the basis of two quite distinct traditions. On the one hand, it was influenced by models from coterritorial literatures, such as the chivalric traditions of medieval Europe. On the other hand, it was also affected by classical texts from Jewish literature, from the Bible and aggadic and midrashic texts, to liturgical texts. In the same manner in which the language itself was formed as a fusion of distinct components combined to form an autonomous system, so did literature grow out of the contact between coterritorial literatures and in symbiosis with the Hebrew tradition.

Keywords:   Old Yiddish Literature, coterritorial literatures, bilingualism, Hebrew tradition, Jewish culture

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